If you've ever been to Missouri, there's a good chance you've been to Kansas City. The metro area encompasses more than two million people across the Kansas-Missouri border.
On the first day of our trip, we stopped in at Union Station in Downtown Kansas City. Built in 1914, the building was originally a working train station. In its prime, it accommodated tens of thousands of passengers every year...until it was closed in the 1980s. The Station sat empty and neglected for a time, but was later renovated in 1999. The elegant building is a beauty to behold. You can almost hear the whispers of people from the past and picture them passing by with old suitcases in-hand. Definitely worth a visit.
Science City is housed in Union Station and our girls had a blast with all of the hands-on exhibits. Ideal for ages ten and under, the science center has a dino lab, sky bike, engineerium, test kitchen, model railroad, and more.
When our stomachs rumbled, we walked across to the building next door - the Hallmark Crown Center. The 85-acre complex is the headquarters of Hallmark. Inside are restaurants, shops, condos, and two hotels. Since I held a summer job at a Hallmark Gold Crown store in college, I have many fond memories of thumbing through the cards and putting up displays. I love that the legacy of Hallmark is all about caring for people - in good times and bad.
Crayola Cafe, located within the center, is "a celebration of food, color, and fun." The healthy foods on the kids menu were a refreshing change of pace from ordinary kids meal options. Our girls shared a Shake It Up Cobb Salad that came with Apple Fries (sliced apples with a sprinkle of cinnamon), while I gobbled up my Chicken Stir Fry and Tim had a turkey sandwich. After the meal, we couldn't resist the super fun mud sundae, complete with gummy worms. Two thumbs up for this colorful and HEALTHFUL food venue.
After lunch, we walked to Kaleidoscope, a free family art room. Reserve your complimentary tickets for a 40-minute session where you kids can use tissue paper, construction paper, markers, paints, ribbons, and other leftover supplies from Hallmark Cards to craft their own creations. My little artists were in heaven and buzzed from station to station like little bumblebees on a mission.
While in the KC metro area, we stayed one night at the Great Wolf Lodge on the Kansas side of Kansas City. After staying at hotels all over the USA, the Great Wolf Lodge remains at the top of my short list for family-friendly hotels. The resort offers spacious suite-style rooms with camping decor, a character storytime every night at bedtime, a children's play area, and an arcade. Not to mention access to one of the best waterparks in the state!
We also had the opportunity to dine with some dangerous dinosaurs at T-REX Cafe. One of only two T-REX restaurants in the USA, the Kansas City location is absolutely enchanting. Walking inside the doors is like stepping into a theme park. Huge dinos are everywhere, along with rushing waterfalls and aquariums with colorful fish. Every 30 minutes, the ceilings light up for a meteor show. No need to worry that there will be boredom at the table. Kids have plenty to look at. Locals will want to take note that kids eat for $2.99 every Wednesday and that the restaurant always makes birthday kids feel extra-special. Since the prices are a little steep for every-day dinners, consider coming in for dessert. The "Chocolate Extinction" dish is sure to vanish from existence within minutes of arriving at your table.
Have you ever been to Kansas City with kids? What travel recommendations would you add?
* Special thanks to Visit KC for providing complimentary accommodations and attraction passes.