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.
We 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.
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:
Lucas 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!
We 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:
Being 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.
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.
Our 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.
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.
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.
Lucas 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!”
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!
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.