Discover Creative Inspiration in a Midwestern Metropolis

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.

The trip

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

8:29 PM

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.

Churchill Statue Kansas City
You’ll find statues of dignitaries and historical figures throughout the Plaza.
The Plaza Kansas City
Soft blue clouds were deceptive as we crossed Brush Creek to head to dinner. We had hoped the temp would lower after sundown. That was not the case. 😓

06.28.16 : Tuesday

9:42 AM

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.

Fountain in Kansas City
Saw this funny fountain on the side of a building and just had to take a photo.
Tiled Wall Kansas City
Gorgeous colors and wonderful rendering of a Spanish town in this tiled piece. Wouldn’t mind having a wall like this in my home (eventually).
Tiles in the Plaza Kansas City
Some of the beautiful tiles along sidewalks in the Plaza. Definitely saving this color palette: sapphire + terra cotta + burnt orange + Carolina clay + chocolate + cream.

9:57 AM

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! 😆

Kaldi’s Coffee Kansas City
The foam on top of my soy cappuccino was so pretty. I hated to mess it up by, you know, drinking it. 😏
Kaldi’s Coffee Kansas City
While waiting on our coffee orders, I glanced up at the ceiling and saw this great composition.

12:52 PM

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. 😓

Brush Creek Kansas City
The Plaza was an easy walk across Brush Creek from our hotel. The structural features on either side of the creek make it pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly.
Bell Tower in Kansas City
The morning rain moved out and exposed crystal blue skies. A beautiful backdrop to the terra cotta, cerulean, and cream in the architecture.

1:14 PM

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. 😞

BBQ Kansas City
Fantastic barbecue from Fiorella’s Jack Stack. I’m good on beef and pork for at least a month.

2:34 PM

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.

Country Club Plaza Logo
I saw this logo throughout the Plaza and finally stopped to take a picture of it. Love how it describes cultural elements with simple curves and lines.

7:32 PM

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!

Baseball Game in Kansas City
Our incredible seats behind home plate. Kauffman Stadium is a really nice venue and the people were extremely friendly and helpful, even with the Cardinals’ win! 😆

Trip Details

Stay

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.

Eat

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.

See

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. 😒

Pack

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)
  • Skirt
  • Leggings
  • Dressy sandals
  • Sneakers
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Poncho (actually forgot this, but it would have been great to have, just in case)
  • iPhone (for taking and editing photos, amongst other things)

Your turn

Do you have any travel plans this summer? What types of things do you look for while exploring a new place?

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