Just this past weekend, my fiancee and I decided to take a weekend trip to Kansas City, Missouri (“KC”), a 3-hour drive from our home in Northwest Arkansas. Growing up, I have traveled to many different places in the world, but our current reality is that we have neither the means nor the time to travel too far from home. This, however, has enabled us to discover places within driving distance from our home.
KC is a fairly large city, with a urban population of around 0.5 million and a metro population of around 2 million. Prior to this trip, I only knew KC as the home of the Chiefs (yours truly was this year’s fantasy champ thanks to Jamaal Charles & KC D/ST) and BBQ. Driving through KC, my first impression was that it seemed like it was once a robust industrial town, but has taken a hit at some point in its recent history. The omnipresent old/abandoned buildings reminded me of my youth in Russia, but I did my best to not make hasty judgments.
We first went to this downtown bar called Beer Kitchen. I knew we were going to arrive around 7 pm and that we’d be starving. This place had a lot of good reviews on Yelp, so we decided to give it a try. My fiancee and I both got an obscure stout (pun intended), and I don’t remember why, neither of us like stout. Then, we ordered some garlic fries and we each got a burger. The food was fantastic, no doubt. Ideally, however, it would’ve been more than enough to order only one burger and the fries to share. As for the beer, while I’d be ok with dropping a dozen dollars for a good Belgian on very special occasions, $9/beer for an average stout was a mistake. I left with a bit of what I call the “frugal man’s remorse”, but I wasn’t going to let this ruin our trip.
We stayed in a EconoLodge in North Kansas City. Before you judge me, just know that we all put different amount of importance to different things in life. Lodging is important to us too, but I’m ok with staying anywhere as long as it’s safe, clean, cheap and is in a good location. I have a specific method in finding decent places to stay, but I’ll save that for another blog-entry. It suffices to say that we only drove about 10 minutes from downtown to the hotel and had a hearty bowl of cereal + a waffle all for $45.
Before we ventured out of Arkansas, I already planned what we would do/see in KC. I’ve learned over the years that it doesn’t take much money to tour a new place. Let’s start with the highlight of our trip: the tour of Boulevard Brewing Company.
Boulevard offers free public tours. You show up when the Brewery opens at 10 to stand in line for a ticket. We opted for the 10:45 am tour since we were already there (and who doesn’t like beer before noon anyway). The tour begins with a short intro, video and a sample of their basic unfiltered wheat beer. The tour guide then takes you through the old brewhouse and into the new smokestack. The tour ends in a beautifully designed tasting room, with long, wooden biergarten style seating. Each person can try 3 additional beers in the tasting room. I opted for the Tank 7, a similar Belgian-style they were working on, and an IPA. M and I both left with our bellies full of beer and a smile on our faces.
Going out of chronological order here, we paid Aldi a visit since our Aldi doesn’t sell alcohol. We bought about 4 different types of Winking Owl wine for about $2.50 a pop. Thoroughly impressed with the Chardonnay and the Merlot. We also went to lunch at the famous Arthur Bryant’s. No offense to any Kansas Citian, but it was meh. We have better bbq in Arkansas. We also walked around the Plaza and visited the Nelson Atkins art musem (free admission). We ended the day with a trip to Trader Joe’s to stock up on the goodies we can’t get in Arkansas and dinner a a Vietnamese restaurant.
- Hotel/Breakfast: $45
- Boulevard Brewery: free
- BBQ Ribs Lunch @ Arthur Bryant’s: $25
- Art Museum and walk about the plaza: free
- Gas to and from KC: $35
- Wine from Aldi: $18
- Dinner/drinks at the Beer Kitchen: $55
- Trader Joe’s: $80
- Dinner @ Cafe Vietnam: $17
Grand total for our weekend getaway to KC: $275
Not the cheapest getaway we’ve done. But I’ll write-off the expenses at Trader Joe’s since it was groceries and the wine at Aldi since we were going to booze one way or another. Not bad for our last weekend away before the bar exam steals my soul.
Anything we missed in KCMO we should check out?