Traveling has been a huge part of my life. My family has never lived in the same city as our extended family. So we found ourselves driving 4 to 8 hours each summer to North Carolina to visit relatives. My parents would also arrange a family trip to some place new—a different location each year. These yearly vacations would later prompt me to travel all over the world.
Exploring new places means trying new foods, uncovering histories, understanding cultures. I know that many artists will sketch when they travel. I have never really been that way. I prefer documenting with my camera. Photos can capture colors, textures, and moods that are very difficult to depict in a quick drawing.
I happen to be traveling a lot this year, so I decided to start this “Explore” series. Each trip, I’ll post images and stories about what I have seen, heard, tasted, and felt. I will also point out things that inspire or attract me. My hope is that sharing my travel experiences will encourage you to look more closely at your surroundings—familiar and unfamiliar.
LOCATION : Kansas City, Missouri, USA
DATES : June 27–29, 2016
OCCASION : Father-in-law’s birthday
When my husband and I first met, we realized we had a lot in common. Similar upbringings. Close ties to family. A love of traveling. And the St. Louis Cardinals. Within the first year of knowing one another, the Cardinals won the World Series. We took that as a good sign.
It was a no-brainer to join my in-laws in Kansas City for a couple days to see the Cardinals play the Royals. Neither Devin or I had ever been to KC, so the idea of barbecue and baseball was way too good to pass up.
With less than 36 hours in the city, we tried to hit some really good spots near the hotel. Fortunately, we stayed right across from the Country Club Plaza, allowing easy access to great food, shopping, and sights.
Since I’m all about visual storytelling, I’ll let the photos do most of the talking.
06.27.16 : Monday
Much consideration has gone into the art and architecture in the Plaza. This statue of the former Prime Minister of the UK is one of several commemorations of historical figures throughout the area.
06.28.16 : Tuesday
The look of the Plaza is completely unexpected in a midwestern metropolis. Tiled rooftops, walls, and walkways transport you to Seville, Spain—completely intentional. The structural and urban architecture were designed in the early 1920s (one of my favorite artistic time periods) by Edward Buehler Delk, funded and founded by developer J.C. Nichols.
Despite the morning rain, we ventured out for coffee. We ended up at a place with a familiar name. I remembered Kaldi’s Coffee from my college days in St. Louis. Since then, they seem to have expanded all the way across Missouri and into a couple other states, as well. They made me an awesome soy cappuccino: rich, creamy, and not skimpy on the milk + coffee! 😆
The sky cleared up nicely by the afternoon. Morning’s rain cooled things off for about an hour. Then the heat settled in. I’d still take that midwest heat over Houston’s. 😓
It was my father-in-law’s birthday and we were in Kansas City, so we knew we were gonna eat a sh**t ton of barbecue. And we did. And it was delicious. The concierge at the hotel recommended Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue—a short walk away from where we were staying. In hindsight, a farther walk would have been better. We definitely needed to burn some calories after that meal. 😞
We kept passing windows and doors with this logo on them. It’s the logo for Country Club Plaza, which is now privately owned. The design is right up my alley: simple shapes and thick lines that allude to the Spanish architecture.
One of two times we’ll get to see the Cardinals this year. They lost to the Royals the night before, so we really wanted to see a win that night. Yadi and the guys did not disappoint!
Intercontinental Kansas City At The Plaza : Definitely not the cheapest place, but there are several hotels in the area to choose from. I’m sure there are some nice Airbnb spots, as well.
Kaldi’s Coffee : Great Midwest-based coffee shop, serving carefully selected seasonal coffees, fresh smoothies, and tasty treats.
Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue : If you like smoked meats, this is your place (at least to start). We got other BBQ recommendations from various sources, but if you’re staying in the Plaza, Jack Stack is a fine choice.
Country Club Plaza : This area is walkable and full for great art and architecture. Most of the shops and restaurants are high-end, but there are some more affordable options, as well.
Kauffman Stadium : Love baseball? No? Well, as long as you don’t absolutely hate the game, try to make it out to the ballpark. It has a great atmosphere and super-friendly staff. And, yeah, their baseball team is pretty good, too. 😒
For a summer trip to Kansas City, I packed the following:
- Dressy top (for nice dinner)
- Travel pants (medium weight, easy to clean, doesn’t tend to wrinkle)
- Tank tops (Cardinals gear, of course)
- Dressy sandals
- Poncho (actually forgot this, but it would have been great to have, just in case)
- iPhone (for taking and editing photos, amongst other things)
Do you have any travel plans this summer? What types of things do you look for while exploring a new place?