Our Mid-West Mini Roadtrip In A Nutshell

$348.65 + 71,906 Points= Trip For 3: Air, Hotel & Car Rental

Earlier in the summer, Kim, Lucas and I spent five days checking out a part of the U.S. that was pretty much new to us during our Mid-West Mini Roadtrip.

While there weren’t really any amazing sites and things to visit, it was still a fun trip for a relatively low cost. It actually ended up being a great trip for Lucas due to the amount of things that we visited which appealed to him.

During our long drive from Kansas City, Missouri to Omaha, Lucas got to see lots of trains. We also stopped at a couple of transit museums which were right up his alley!

A highlight for me was getting to finally try out some of Kansas City’s famous barbecue!

In the end we visited 4 new states, although not extensively. I would call the trip a success since we accomplished most of the things we set out to do.

Here are some details about each of the states we visited.

Kansas City, Missouri:

The main objectives for me during our visit to Missouri was to spend some time in KC to visit Kauffman Stadium (home of the Royals) and try out lots of barbecue. Both of those things got checked off and didn’t disappoint.

a man and child posing with a mascotWe had a nice time at the Royals game but I wouldn’t consider the stadium to be one of my favorites. It actually seemed a bit dated compared to the newer stadiums that I’ve become accustomed to visiting. The best part of the stadium for me were the views of the field and fountains beyond the outfield while sitting in our seats. Lucas enjoyed the nice kids area (although we did have a hard time getting him to leave the playground).  I also liked checking out the Royals Hall of Fame Museum. We ate before the game so we didn’t explore any of the stadium’s food options.

a plate of food on a table
Gates BBQ

The barbecue as a whole totally lived up to my expectations. We visited a total of 5 places although one was actually in Kansas. Kim and I agreed that we loved two of the places, liked 2 others and weren’t a big fan of one. Overall, we had some amazing burnt ends and ribs (with meat that just fell off the bone) and also really enjoyed many of the BBQ sauces.

Other things we did around KC:

a group of people in a roomLucas had a blast playing at Kaleidoscope although he wasn’t so interested in doing any of the arts & crafts. It’s really intended for kids a bit older than him but he still enjoyed running around and playing in various areas.

While waiting for our time to play at Kaleidoscope we stopped by the Hallmark Visitor’s Center and learned about the history of the card company and how it got started. It is an interesting story but I wouldn’t recommend making a special visit. On the other hand, Kaleidoscope is well worth checking out if you travel with kids and the best part is the price- it’s free!

a painting of a steamboat on a wallWe were fascinated by our visit to the Steamboat Arabia. The Arabia sunk back in 1856, not to be seen again for over a 100 years. The museum tells the story of how the ship was discovered and recovered by a group of 5 men, winging it as they went along. The ship was packed with “200 tons of cargo intended for general stores and homes”. The cargo was recovered and brought back to life with lots of it being displayed in the museum. The contents of the museum make up what a store would’ve looked like back in the mid- 1800s.

A couple of other things we did:

a shuttlecock on a grass fieldStopped by the Nelson-Atkins Museum and Sculpture Park. We had a ton of fun checking out the interesting and interactive sculptures. We didn’t spend a lot of time in the museum itself.

a display case with baseball jerseys and trophiesBeing that I am a big baseball fan, I had to stop at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The visit starts off with an interesting video but overall the museum was not engaging. While I did learn a bit more about the league, I found the museum underwhelming in its layout and how the story was told.

While in Missouri we also visited St Joseph and Independence, stopping at a museum in each area.


a white house with a flag with Amelia Earhart Birthplace in the backgroundOur visit to Kansas was limited to two stops on two different days- a lunch stop for BBQ in Kansas City and the Amelia Earhart Birthplace in Atchison.

While on the way to Omaha, we decided to stop by the Earhart museum since it wasn’t much of a detour. The museum is filled with lots of information and items that belonged to or are related to Amelia. Some things that stood out were lots of photos of her, model planes hanging from the ceiling, her marriage certificate, a bathing suit from when she was 4 years old and props worn by Hillary Swank in the movie Amelia among many other things.

The museum isn’t a must-visit kind of site by any means but it does make for a nice 30-45 minute visit if you happen to be close by.


a person standing in front of a trainOur original plan was to head to Des Moines after visiting Omaha but we decided to switch things to have an extra day in KC. While driving from Missouri to Nebraska, a good portion of the way ended up being on roads in Iowa.

I had read about the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs but didn’t plan to stop there. I spotted a sign on the highway for the museum and decided to stop so Lucas could have a little fun. Our visit was brief but we saw lots of interesting artifacts as well as learned about how the railroad was built.

It would’ve been nice to have had more time here but it was still a worthy stop.

Omaha, Nebraska

While reading into Omaha we found a few things of interest to do with the main stops being the zoo (rated one of the top in the country) and Union Station. Otherwise we enjoyed some outdoor sites including a bridge which crosses borders and a statue which led to an encounter with a top chef.

a boy sitting next to a statue of a girlWe started our visit to Omaha with a stop at the impressive Union Station, home to the Durham Museum.

When you enter the building it feels like you are stepping back in time.  The main floor looks like it is still a working train station with old wooden benches, ticket booths and mannequins displayed like clerks and passengers waiting for their train.

The museum has lots of interesting exhibits on display once you head downstairs. We did wander throughout but spent the bulk of our time in the gallery featuring transportation.

a child standing on a yellow trainLucas loved checking out the old vehicles. Highlights were going on quite a few trains and a streetcar from the 1940’s. We played a fun game of hide and seek, which was more me running ahead through the old sleeper & lounge cars and then doubling back to surprise him.

One other highlight was a temporary exhibit called Design Zone. The area had a variety of fun yet confusing games and activities which (according to the Durham Museum’s site) “focuses on creative problem solving using algebraic thinking in a context that is relevant, educational and fun!”

a house with a driveway and trees
Warren Buffet’s Home

After leaving our airbnb accommodation, I had to make a quick stop. I couldn’t leave Omaha without checking out the home of one of the wealthiest people in the world, Warren Buffet. The home looks to be very nice but not what you would expect from someone with such a fortune. I later read that the home was purchased in 1957 for $31,500!

a bear lying on a tree branchWhile I’m not a big fan of zoos, we had to visit Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, considered one of the top in the country.

The zoo is massive but while you walk around there always seemed to be animals around to see. (I remember a visit last summer to the Bronx Zoo. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid. We didn’t love it due to the fact of everything being so spread out.)

We spent a few hours there and had a great time, seeing lots of amazing animals. My favorite part was seeing all of the bears, especially the sun bear in the photo above.

However, there were times when I have to say Kim and I felt bad for some of the animals. The mountain and lowland gorillas seemed like they weren’t the happiest and would love more space to roam. (Maybe we felt this way since we’ve seen mountain gorillas in their natural habitat in Uganda.) Overall though, the zoo is really impressive and well worth a visit.

That wraps up the recap of our short trip out to the Mid-West. The trip was a lot of fun and I look forward to heading back to the area in the future.

5 thoughts on “Our Mid-West Mini Roadtrip In A Nutshell

  1. Great trip report, I enjoyed reading it. I’ve been through that area but never explored it, I’ll have to add it to my list. The husband loves war museums, anything related to aviation, and old trains.

  2. Glad you had a good time in my area. It’s hard to do it all but I’m confused about the statement of being in Kansas to eat BBQ. It isn’t called “Kansas” city for no reason. Half the metro area is in Kansas. Also many of the new sporting events. You missed the minor league stadium on the west side. It also sounds like you missed the WW1 museum, KC Union station and the Stratigic Air Command Muesum in Omaha. Maybe next time.
    Glad you made it to Gates BBQ. Most people end up at some non-KC place like famous Dave’s or Oklahoma Joes and then write a review about KC BBQ.

    1. DaninMCI- Thanks! We really did enjoy the area and would love to visit again. If I’m understanding correctly, you are confused as to how I ate BBQ in Kansas. One place out of the 5 that we tried out is located in the state of Kansas although still part of KC.

      We did miss out on quite a bit. WW1 was on our list but thought it would be better to skip this time around. We did make it to KC’s Union Station during our last day. We also opted to skip the Strategic Air Command in Omaha due to a lack of time.

      We loved Gates and Oklahome Joe’s (that was our BBQ in Kansas) and I plan to write a full post on all of the BBQ that we tried out.

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