In two of the last three years I’ve made a quick weekend road trip with friends and family from Oklahoma City to Kansas City and back. And I’m becoming a MASSIVE fan of KC because of these experiences!
Just a couple weeks ago me and three boys I mentor packed up with a friend and his son in a mini van and made the journey. It was 36 hours jam packed with activity. Below are a few of the highlights from the trip:
STOP IN WICHITA FOR PICKLE BALL – Days before we left I discovered Chicken N Pickle. As described on their website, Chicken N Pickle is a unique, indoor/outdoor entertainment complex that includes a casual, chef-driven restaurant and sports bar that boasts pickle ball courts, a variety of yard games and enough space to kick back and relax with your favorite peeps.
As soon as I saw pickle ball as a feature I was instantly transported to elementary school gym class. It’s not a common sport to play in OKC, hence the fact that everyone I was traveling with had never even heard of it.
Wichita is about the halfway point between OKC and KC, and I figured this would be a fun place to stop and break up the monotony of the long drive.
And the experience did not disappoint. All reservable courts were taken when we arrived, so we were put on the “Challenge Court”, which is the court that must be shared by all paying participants who are not attached to a reserved court. Basically it’s open play, win or go to the back of the line.
Our group of six happened to be the only participants for about five minutes. My buddy and I let our kids play around a bit. Then, a swarm of other kids hopped in line to play, barking out rules and instructions on how we should be conducting ourselves on the court.
Honestly, we had no idea what the rules were or how to play. We had just let our kids casually knock the ball back and forth.
How should we handle the tension? A challenge!
My friend and I (the only adults at the court) challenged a couple of the kids in line to a game, hoping to kill two birds with one stone. This way we would learn how to play the game, and they would get an opportunity to get on the court and play.
Somehow we managed to rattle off three or four wins in a row. It was just enough time for an adjacent court to open up, at which point all the other kids in line switched courts and gave us the freedom to continue goofing off.
In all seriousness, this place was so much fun and we didn’t even scratch the surface of all the activities they offer. Word on the street is a location may be opening in OKC soon. I hope so!
Recommendation – If you want to play pickle ball with your party only, make sure to reserve a court ahead of time.
EAT DINNER AT Q39 – We chose to eat at Q39 South at the recommendation of a friend. We were surprised when we pulled up at the location. It’s hidden in a little businesses district. It appeared to be a bit upscale, and the prices definitely backed that up.
Overall the atmosphere was great and our waitress was super friendly. She even took some time to talk Thunder basketball with us for a few minutes. We sat on the screened in patio with ceiling fans and enjoyed watching some NBA Summer League action while we ate.
My only disappointment was the portion sizes (small) compared to the meal prices. It’s one of those places that requires you to purchase sides separately. It’s been my experience at most of those establishments that a regular sized order of french fries will feed at least two people. Definitely not the case at Q39.
Recommendation – Try the Burnt End Burger. One of the kids with us ordered this, and we all oohed and aahed over how good it looked.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS GAME – Baseball isn’t high on my entertainment list, but when I’m out of town I’ll try most anything once. Plus, the Royals feature a few promotion nights that allow tickets to be purchased for $6.10. Our group of six paid $52 total for tickets. Even with taxes and fees we still came out under $10 per ticket.
Kauffman Stadium was a sight to see! Favorite details include the large crown jumbotron and their waterfall feature. Make sure to take in an inning from the outfield that overlooks the waterfall. Oh, and make a pass through the Royals Hall of Fame (also on the backside of the outfield) for a history lesson on the team and stadium. It was also neat to see Arrowhead Stadium (where the Kansas City Chiefs play) from the outside, which is located right next to Kauffman.
Recommendation – Plan your trip around a “610 Saturday” game to receive discount tickets. There is a bit of effort required. You must listen to a KC based sports talk show at a specific time to receive a promo code, but it’s well worth it for the savings.
LIFE.CHURCH OVERLAND PARK – It’s always fun to run into a little piece of home while out on the road. Our main priority on Sunday was a trip to the College Basketball Experience, which doesn’t open until 11am. Since we were up early, we made a trip to Overland Park’s Life.Church, which was originally established in the OKC area. Even more fun, they were in the middle of their At The Movies series which is always one of my favorites. They had their lobby decked out in all kinds of Aladdin themes and elements.
In the KC area on a Sunday and want a great church to attend? Check out Life.Church.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL EXPERIENCE – The CBE was the main reason we came. I’d visited with my wife, who is not much of a basketball fan, a couple years ago and we both had a blast. Imagine what a carful of dudes and die hard basketball fans would think.
The CBE is home to the official hall of fame for college basketball. But the real magic of the place exists in all of their interactive skills challenges (timed 3 point and free throw contests, buzzer beater simulation, and lowered goals to dunk on just to name a few). There is a full length basketball court and a smaller sized 3-on-3 court to play on. There are video games, pop-a-shot arcade games, and more!
I seriously can’t get enough of this place. Any time I visit KC, I’ll be making a stop here.
Recommendation – Show up on the second Sunday of the month for a few dollars off admission. Also, try to beat my timed (1:00) free throw score of 19 made. You might even try to beat my timed (1:00) 3 point shootout score of ZERO, ha!
WHERE WE STAYED: Hyatt Place Kansas City/Overland Park/Convention Center – This year, I’ve discovered Hyatt hotel stays can be redeemed at a very reasonable rate with points. Since January, I’ve spent four nights at various Hyatt properties and I didn’t have to pay for any of them. Most of them come with free parking, Wifi, and breakfast provided. All of them had swimming pools and some an accompanying hot tub. The rooms are large and spacious, and each one I’ve been to is clean and presentable.
Hyatt doesn’t currently have a property in the heart of downtown KC, and I was more interested in paying nothing versus spending money or a higher point value on a hotel closer to all the activities.
We crammed 6 people in a hotel room with 2 double size beds and a pull out sofa bed. So the only downside was that I had to sleep on the floor, padded by a few of the couch cushions. Other than that, two thumbs up for this stay. Shoutout to whoever made the best breakfast bacon I’ve ever had in my life!
There you have it. Our Kansas City road trip in a nutshell.
I’ve been to Kansas at least once each year in the last three years. My wife and I also visited KC Schlitterbahn, and one of our favorite experiences was at Exploration Place in Wichita. As mentioned earlier, the more time I spend in the Sunflower state the more I like it.
Have you been to any of the places mentioned above? What are some of your favorite things to do in Kansas? Let me know in the comments section below.