Here’s one more to file under “Places that totally surprised me”: Kansas City, KANSAS. No, no, not Kansas City, Missouri, or “KCMO”. I’m talking about its sister (or is it cousin?), “KCK”, just across the Kansas River.
I was surprised by just how much there is to see and do in KCK. Even more so, I was surprised to learn that KCK is the third largest city in Kansas; and is the Soccer Capital of America. It’s this last claim that surprised me the most. I don’t know where I would have expected the Soccer Capital of America to be, but I can tell you I would never have thought it would be Kansas City, Kansas.
I spent a few days in KCK and while the soccer presence is prominent, there are even more sports and adventures to experience. To sweeten the deal, just about all of the activities are suitable for family members of all ages. So, from this sports fan and outdoors enthusiast, the top five things to do in Kansas City, Kansas:
Feel the heat in The Cauldron at Sporting KC
Seeing as KCK is the Soccer Capital of America, it seems appropriate to begin this list with the city’s Major League Soccer (MLS) team. Sporting KC plays its home games at Children’s Mercy Park, a modern and fairly new stadium that holds almost 18,500 soccer fans. I have seen a good number of sports stadiums in my life, from hockey rinks to soccer fields, and Children’s Mercy Park is one for all other organizations to look up to. It is sleek – dare I say, even sexy? – and fan-friendly. In fact, the stadium’s canopy is designed to protect every seated section from the rain. So, no matter the weather, Sporting KC and Children’s Mercy Park have you covered (literally). Additionally, like soccer (or football) teams around the world, Sporting KC has its own fan section; in KCK, it’s known as The Cauldron. Members of The Cauldron stand, cheer, chant, stomp, and create a general ruckus throughout the entire game. Even if you’re not in the middle of The Cauldron, it’s still great fun to witness and their enthusiasm is infectious.
Paddle with Kansas City Kayak & Canoe LLC
When it comes to paddling in KCK, you’ve got not one but two rivers to choose from: the Kansas and the Missouri. Paddle one or paddle both with Kansas City Kayak & Canoe LLC. You can rent canoes and kayaks and go it on your own, or you may opt for a guided paddle. Either way, be ready for an enjoyable time on the water in the middle of a major U.S. metropolis. To add a bit of a history lesson to your leisure activity, put in at Kaw Point Park at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers. Kaw Point is the spot where the Lewis & Clark Expedition stopped and camped for three days in 1804. Today, there is a statue at the park commemorating their landing, as well as hiking trails, a boat ramp, and an outdoor amphitheater.
Fun at the old ballgame with Kansas City T-Bones
Don’t get excited. No one is getting a steak. You can treat the family to some hot dogs, though, at a T-Bones baseball game. The Kansas City T-Bones are members of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball League, which means they are not affiliated with a Major League Baseball team. But don’t let that keep you from enjoying family fun at the old ball game! The organization holds nightly promotions and between-inning shenanigans during every game (think tricycle races and bat spins). A T-Bones game is the ultimate in family fun and it won’t put you in the poor house. Stadium parking is free and most game tickets are less than $10.
Rise to the challenge at Zip KC
Get the adrenaline pumping, defy gravity, and rise to the challenge at Zip KC! There are nine zip lines making up more than a mile of sky-high courses. There are five zip line tours to choose from depending on your family’s level of adventure, time constraints, and budget. For a different kind of challenge, enlist the family in Zip KC’s Ninja Training Obstacle Tour. It is a 2-hour guided hiking tour through the woods and over rocky terrain along the bluffs of the Kansas River. Some of the obstacles you will face are rope climbs, balance beams, and hurdles. The most unique (to me, and also the most challenging) is the vertigo bus. It is a school bus safely positioned on a bluff at a precarious angle. Hikers enter the bus through the traditional door and climb up the center aisle, exiting at the back of the bus. The angle at which the bus sits challenges not only your quads but also your equilibrium.
Satisfy your need for speed at Kansas Speedway
Kansas Speedway is a must-visit for racing enthusiasts and speed demons! The track hosts two NASCAR race weekends per year. Those weekends end up being more than just races, though; they’re full-on entertainment experiences. Race fans show up in RVs and camp at one of the track’s 6 campgrounds, making for a fun and festive atmosphere. In addition to the two races, Kansas Speedway also hosts about 200 non-race events every year, including the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Choose from an array of options to have your own driving experience, from a NASCAR ride-along to the Kings Experience, which allows guests double the track drive time.
If you go…
- Stay at the new Homewood Suites by Hilton Kansas City Speedway. Spacious all-suite rooms and complimentary breakfast! Plus, this property is pretty much brand new (opened in early 2018).
- Eat at Slap’s BBQ in KCK’s Strawberry Hill neighborhood. The award-winning BBQ joint is no-frills because the focus is on the food. Not only are the BBQ meats to die for, so are the side dishes, namely the cheesy corn and sweet potato fries.
I was hosted by Visit Kansas City Kansas for a weekend of sports and adventure. All thoughts and opinions here are, as always, 100% my own.