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Need help with first Kansas City, MO visit.

Need help with first Kansas City, MO visit.

Old Apr 14, 18, 5:37 am
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Question Need help with first Kansas City, MO visit.

In a couple weeks, I will have ~30 hours in Kansas City, arriving on Amtrak Southwest Chief at 7:30 am Friday and departing on Alaska Airlines 3:30 pm Saturday. The four things on my to-do list are the TWA Museum, the two art museums, and BBQ. Renting a car is not an option.

I am trying to decide which area to book hotel - Downtown, Country Club, or airport. There are ~$90++ Priceline Express Deals Downtown (Holiday Inn) and Country Club (Courtyard Marriott), and ~$75+ Hilton MVP rate for the airport area.

The two art museums are open till 9 pm Friday nights, so I could end my day there + maybe some late night BBQ at Joe's, Q39, or Gates if my stomach can take it. Is it safe to take public transportation from the south end into downtown after 10 pm? If I stay in the airport area, I'll start in the south and work my way back up. I know I can Uber to the airport, but is the city bus between downtown and MCI safe late at night? Any sketchy neighborhoods on either route?

Missouri will be my 28th US state.
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Old Apr 14, 18, 8:06 am
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Originally Posted by boxo View Post
In a couple weeks, I will have ~30 hours in Kansas City, arriving on Amtrak Southwest Chief at 7:30 am Friday and departing on Alaska Airlines 3:30 pm Saturday. The four things on my to-do list are the TWA Museum, the two art museums, and BBQ. Renting a car is not an option.

I am trying to decide which area to book hotel - Downtown, Country Club, or airport. There are ~$90++ Priceline Express Deals Downtown (Holiday Inn) and Country Club (Courtyard Marriott), and ~$75+ Hilton MVP rate for the airport area.

The two art museums are open till 9 pm Friday nights, so I could end my day there + maybe some late night BBQ at Joe's, Q39, or Gates if my stomach can take it. Is it safe to take public transportation from the south end into downtown after 10 pm? If I stay in the airport area, I'll start in the south and work my way back up. I know I can Uber to the airport, but is the city bus between downtown and MCI safe late at night? Any sketchy neighborhoods on either route?

Missouri will be my 28th US state.
I can't speak about the safety questions but the Country Club Plaza area is certainly the preferred place to stay. It's the "unique" area of Kansas City, IMHO.
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Old Apr 16, 18, 8:28 pm
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I think the Country Club area is your best place to stay. You can uber or lyft from there to specific places fairly easy. the TWA museum if I'm not mistaken is pretty much by the airport so that is perhaps something you would want to do before you go to your gate as it is near the airport (I think). I really enjoyed the Nelson Art Museum and loved Q 39 for lunch. You just can't go wrong there. Try to get reservations if you go on a busy time hoewever. Have a GREAT [email protected]
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Old Apr 17, 18, 8:52 am
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Originally Posted by boxo View Post
In a couple weeks, I will have ~30 hours in Kansas City, arriving on Amtrak Southwest Chief at 7:30 am Friday and departing on Alaska Airlines 3:30 pm Saturday. The four things on my to-do list are the TWA Museum, the two art museums, and BBQ. Renting a car is not an option.

I am trying to decide which area to book hotel - Downtown, Country Club, or airport. There are ~$90++ Priceline Express Deals Downtown (Holiday Inn) and Country Club (Courtyard Marriott), and ~$75+ Hilton MVP rate for the airport area.

The two art museums are open till 9 pm Friday nights, so I could end my day there + maybe some late night BBQ at Joe's, Q39, or Gates if my stomach can take it. Is it safe to take public transportation from the south end into downtown after 10 pm? If I stay in the airport area, I'll start in the south and work my way back up. I know I can Uber to the airport, but is the city bus between downtown and MCI safe late at night? Any sketchy neighborhoods on either route?

Missouri will be my 28th US state.
Given your intended itinerary, I'd stay downtown-ish. As you're coming in via Amtrak (Union Station is on the south edge of downtown), there are multiple hotels within walking distance nearby in the Crown Center and Crossroads neighborhoods, and most of the other downtown hotels (and downtown in general) are easily accessible on our free streetcar (which terminates just outside Union Station).

We have a bus rapid transit route - the Main MAX - that goes between downtown and the Country Club Plaza (and has a stop within a few blocks of the art museums) every 10-15 minutes and runs until midnight. It's safe to ride, and a daypass for the bus system is $3. You can buy tickets/passes via the RideKC mobile app.

FWIW, Joe's BBQ is now available downtown at the County Road Ice House. While I'm a fan of Q39, Char Bar in Westport is also quite good and is a bit easier to get to via public transport; the neighborhood has a number of bars/restaurants as well.

Finally, the TWA Museum is at the *downtown* airport (MKC), while MCI is at the far northern edge of the metro. The 229 bus route (which is also perfectly safe to ride) only runs hourly between downtown and the airport...and it takes nearly an hour to get there, while it's about 20 minutes (and about $25) from downtown via Uber/Lyft. So...it's your standard "is your time or money more valuable?" tradeoff.

Whatever you decide to do, enjoy your time in KC. Hopefully the weather cooperates while you're here, and don't judge us too harshly for how terrible MCI is - a new terminal will be built in the next 3-4 years. :-)
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Old Apr 22, 18, 3:37 pm
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The TWA museum is by an airport---the downtown airport KCMO--not KMCI. Nifty thing to do. Agree on Country Club area.
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Old Apr 22, 18, 11:29 pm
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I'm still on the fence with 3 backup rezs.
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Old Apr 25, 18, 2:04 am
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With BBQ you've also got Arthur Bryant's for the huge sandwiches, fries and sauces (and pictures of presidents who've been there) and, at the high end, Jack Stack, which I'm really partial to (I think they're in the CCP area even though I usually go to O-Park or Martin City). The crown prime beef ribs and cheesy corn bake are franchise builders, plus they have the other sliced meats and ribs in various configurations.

The Nelson-Atkins punches above its weight on museums, and there's also the well-established national WWI museum (speaking of unique).

I also like to go out to Lawrence if the timing is good...it's a movie-set version of a college town
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Old Apr 30, 18, 1:39 pm
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I am home. My 30 hours in KC went well except for a couple hiccups.

It wasn't until I was off the train at 7 am, groggily sitting inside Union Station, that I committed to making a reservation. I checked Priceline Express Deals again for the gazillionth time and the 3.5* hotel I knew was going to be the Holiday Inn Downtown Aladdin dropped in price to $76+ (~$101 incl taxes). The streetcar took me to 12th & Main St, I walked a couple blocks uphill and around the corner, and was allowed to check in before 9 am. Winning!

After a shower and rest, I ubered to the TWA Museum. A couple hours later, I ubered to Q39 (my favorite of 3) and had a sliced burned ends on a bun, then crossed the border to have a Smokie Joe (pork and beef on a bun) at Joe's KC. By that time, it was 4:30ish and I either was ready to walk off my BBQ coma at the museums or curl up into a ball and nap.

At Nelson-Atkins, I unknowingly struck up a conversation with the right person while in the restroom. A museum security person later found me and said I was invited to be a guest at the cocktail reception going on in the Isamu Noguchi Court. Out of the ordinary circumstances led to an extraordinary experience sitting down to talk with a museum trustee and the museum's curatorial director. By the time I finished walking through both buildings, it was 8 pm and I was exhausted from consecutive nights of too little sleep. The Nelson-Atkins was sooo much more than I expected. The Kemper museum will have to wait till next time.

On the way back to the Aladdin downtown, I asked my Uber driver to stop in at Gates to pick up my phone order. The driver picked up off the counter my order while I was paying at the register and carried it out to the car. Once dropped off and in my room, I had fries and onion rings I didn't order. Gates online menu doesn't list prices, so I don't know if I was charged for one, both or neither. Apparently Gates doesn't write orders down. They shout items toward the kitchen. So if you go to Gates for take-out, double check your bag.

I decided since I'd done the TWA Museum the day before, not on my way to the airport as I originally planned, I would have a leisurely morning, then take the public bus to MCI. Travel time would be double a car ride, but so significantly cheaper. Allowing a comfortable cushion of time to get to the bus stop 3 blocks away, a sign directed me to an alternate stop at 8th & Broadway because of road construction. After sitting there for 15+ minutes, I heard the bus down the street turning the corner from 7th St, away from me. F*#k, on weekends, the 229 bus only runs hourly! My $1.50 bus to the airport turned into a $45 Uber ride. In hindsight, I think I would have been okay waiting for the next bus because of the way TSA checkpoints are set up at MCI (Terminal B) - one checkpoint per 2 gates which are only opened 1 hour prior to departure. Oh well, lessons learned.

Last edited by boxo; Apr 30, 18 at 4:25 pm
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Old Apr 30, 18, 4:32 pm
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Originally Posted by boxo View Post
I am home. My 30 hours in KC went well except for a couple hiccups.

It wasn't until I was off the train at 7 am, groggily sitting inside Union Station, that I committed to making a reservation. I checked Priceline Express Deals again for the gazillionth time and the 3.5* hotel I knew was going to be the Holiday Inn Downtown Aladdin dropped in price to $76+ (~$101 incl taxes). The streetcar took me to 12th & Main St, I walked a couple blocks uphill and around the corner, and was allowed to check in before 9 am. Winning!

After a shower and rest, I ubered to the TWA Museum. A couple hours later, I ubered to Q39 (my favorite of 3) and had a sliced burned ends on a bun, then crossed the border to have a Smokie Joe (pork and beef on a bun) at Joe's KC. By that time, it was 4:30ish and I either was ready to walk off my BBQ coma at the museums or curl up into a ball and nap.

At Nelson-Atkins, I unknowingly struck up a conversation with the right person while in the restroom. A museum security person later found me and said I was invited to be a guest at the cocktail reception going on in the Isamu Noguchi Court. Out of the ordinary circumstances led to an extraordinary experience sitting down to talk with a museum trustee and the museum's curatorial director. By the time I finished walking through both buildings, it was 8 pm and I was exhausted from consecutive nights of too little sleep. The Nelson-Atkins was sooo much more than I expected. The Kemper museum will have to wait till next time.

On the way back to the Aladdin downtown, I asked my Uber driver to stop in at Gates to pick up my phone order. The driver picked up off the counter my order while I was paying at the register and carried it out to the car. Once dropped off and in my room, I had fries and onion rings I didn't order. Gates online menu doesn't list prices, so I don't know if I was charged for one, both or neither. Apparently Gates doesn't write orders down. They shout items toward the kitchen. So if you go to Gates for take-out, double check your bag.

I decided since I'd done the TWA Museum the day before, not on my way to the airport as I originally planned, I would have a leisurely morning, then take the public bus to MCI. Travel time would be double a car ride, but so significantly cheaper. Allowing a comfortable cushion of time to get to the bus stop 3 blocks away, a sign directed me to an alternate stop at 8th & Broadway because of road construction. After sitting there for 15+ minutes, I heard the bus down the street turning the corner from 7th St, away from me. F*#k, on weekends, the 229 bus only runs hourly! My $1.50 bus to the airport turned into a $45 Uber ride. In hindsight, I think I would have been okay waiting for the next bus because of the way TSA checkpoints are set up at MCI (Terminal B) - one checkpoint per 2 gates which are only opened 1 hour prior to departure. Oh well, lessons learned.
Glad you had a great time! Trusting our public transit was definitely a risky move - I've lived in Kansas City for six years and not once taken a bus for a reason. It's one of the worst public transit cities in the country. But hey, you got to experience our relic of an airport before they begin construction on the new one!
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Old Apr 30, 18, 4:58 pm
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Originally Posted by alman84 View Post
Glad you had a great time! Trusting our public transit was definitely a risky move - I've lived in Kansas City for six years and not once taken a bus for a reason. It's one of the worst public transit cities in the country. But hey, you got to experience our relic of an airport before they begin construction on the new one!
I don't drive anymore so am accustomed to using good/bad/ugly public transportation. This trip was unusual in the amount of ubering I did. The streetcar experience was fine. It was clean and easy the one ride I took. I hope some day they expand as far south at Country Club Plaza and as far north as the airport. I know, I know, as every uber driver said, wishful thinking.
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Old Apr 20, 19, 11:42 pm
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And here I am, a year later, planning my second visit to KC for a few days before heading to Iowa for a family event...

But this time, I have a question about the stretch of I-35 to Des Moines. Is there anything of interest to see or eat off the highway? We can take the Jefferson Line bus for 2 x $37 or rent a one-way car for $90.
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Old Apr 22, 19, 6:47 am
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Originally Posted by boxo View Post
And here I am, a year later, planning my second visit to KC for a few days before heading to Iowa for a family event...

But this time, I have a question about the stretch of I-35 to Des Moines. Is there anything of interest to see or eat off the highway? We can take the Jefferson Line bus for 2 x $37 or rent a one-way car for $90.
I've driven that route many times between KC and Chicago. There's nothing to see or do, in my opinion. It's one of the more boring drives I've done...although KC to Denver may be worse. But for a difference of $16 + gas, I would imagine a car would get you through that boring drive much faster than a bus, and that would be important to me. There are at least a few places to stop to gas up and get McDonald's.
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Old Apr 22, 19, 9:38 am
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Originally Posted by boxo View Post
And here I am, a year later, planning my second visit to KC for a few days before heading to Iowa for a family event...

But this time, I have a question about the stretch of I-35 to Des Moines. Is there anything of interest to see or eat off the highway? We can take the Jefferson Line bus for 2 x $37 or rent a one-way car for $90.
Get the rental car -- you'll also be able to use it on both ends of your journey. There are picturesque covered bridges on the Iowa side of I-35 (there was a fictional book that popularized them thirty years ago: The Bridges of Madison County).

The Kansas City streetcar will be extended to the Plaza in the next few years (and beyond -- so far the approved terminus will be at the University of Missouri at Kansas City -- and perhaps one day southward to Brookside). Nearby UMKC is the national Toy and Miniature Museum -- worth a visit. The World War I Museum and the Liberty Memorial near Union Station are worth a detour. I am in downtown KC today, and the whole city is ablaze with blossoms and flowering trees.
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Old Apr 26, 19, 2:20 pm
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@boxo: Sounds like you’ve got some solid recommendations. I stay away from Arthur Bryant’s and Gates as I’ve never found the food to be very good and the service is somewhat poor. I’d definitely check out Q39, Jack Stack, Oklahoma Joe’s (yes, I know it’s called KC Joe’s.....), LC’s (near the K) and Char Bar. I would also highly recommend Slap’s BBQ which is just east of “Downtown” KCK. It’s maybe a 10~ minute drive from Downtown KCMO, but well worth it. @jackal or @CMK10 both seemed to enjoy it considerably on their visits.

Originally Posted by tvnwz View Post
The TWA museum is by an airport---the downtown airport KCMO--not KMCI. Nifty thing to do. Agree on Country Club area.
KMKC to be precise
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Old Apr 26, 19, 2:56 pm
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Originally Posted by FriendlySkies View Post
KMKC to be precise
MKC -- Municipal airport, Kansas City (old timers still call it Municipal, although it has been re-named after our still-living 1970s Mayor, Charlie Wheeler.)
MCI -- Mid-Continent International airport (which everyone locally calls KCI)

I don't know why the acronyms got so mixed up in KC aviation, but there it is.

BTW, KC has the current US big-city record for most living ex-mayors (stretching back to 1971):
Charlie Wheeler (born in 1926 and still advocating for "grands travaux": the Olympics, a heavy-rail subway)
Dick Berkley
Emanuel Cleaver
Kay Barnes
Mark Funkhouser
Sly James (term ending shortly)

...and another morsel of trivia. Maybe "something in the water" -- one hundred or so years ago in 1923, KC also held that record...
George Shelley (elected 1878)
Leander Talbot
Webster Davis
James Reed
Tom Crittenden
Darius Brown
George Edwards
Sam Strother
Frank Cromwell (term ended 1924)
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