April 22, 2016

Thrills & History For Families Visiting North Kansas City

North Kansas City is a fun overnight destination for families. You can fit in Worlds of Fun, barbecue, and a lot of history in less than two days. If you have more time at your disposal, I recommend at least another night, but sometimes, all life gives you is a little more than 24 hours.

Kansas City thrills and history for families

Our trip was sponsored by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company in conjunction with Blog Meets Brand, as well as Visit KC.

A Day At Worlds of Fun

Leave home early in the morning and head straight for the ultimate Midwest theme park, Worlds of Fun (or for the water-loving crowd, Oceans of Fun next door in the summer). Most days, the park opens at 9 or 10 a.m., so check the schedule here.

The Viking Voyager was a ride the whole family could. Both kids laughed the whole ride.

The Viking Voyager was a ride the whole family could. Both kids laughed the whole ride.

Get there early and head for the roller coasters if your kids are old enough – lines can and will grow tremendously by late morning. If you’re traveling with little ones, head for Planet Snoopy and other popular rides that will have long lines eventually, like Le TaxiTour.

Unless you like walking around with soggy shoes, save the rides Fury of the Nile and Viking Voyager for later in the day!

We had never been to Planet Snoopy, and since there are five new rides there, we decided it’d be smart to go there first.

 

This trip was my kids' first visit to Worlds of Fun. Mooch gives Planet Snoopy two thumbs up, it was her favorite area of the entire theme park.

This trip was my kids’ first visit to Worlds of Fun. Mooch gives Planet Snoopy a thumbs up; it was her favorite area of the entire theme park.

There were a lot more rides for youngsters there than I had expected – 21 in all just in Planet Snoopy.

Mooch could’ve spent the whole day there.

My 4-year-old testing out one of the new rides at Worlds of Fun, Snoopy's Space Buggies.

My 4-year-old testing out one of the new rides at Worlds of Fun, Snoopy’s Space Buggies.

The area is definitely geared toward a younger crowd, but my 6-year-old enjoyed himself.

A taste for rollercoasters started here at Planet Snoopy, but being a smidge over 48 inches tall meant that Farley was going to prefer the bigger hills later on.

A taste for roller coasters started here at Planet Snoopy, but being a smidge over 48 inches tall meant that Farley was going to prefer the bigger thrills later on.

Once he realized he was tall enough for most roller coasters, though, he decided to venture out into the rest of the park. I wish the idea occurred to him sooner, since by mid-afternoon, everyone and their grandma were in line for roller coasters.

Lines are a fact of life for popular thrill rides, so it’s smart that you can buy a Fast Lane pass to skip the lines. After waiting to get on the Spinning Dragons, I was seeing the real value of the Fast Lane!

(Pssst: For a complete park review with little ones, visit the blog next week!)

Lunch was a small bite from the ’50s themed restaurants, Coasters Drive-In.

Coasters Drive-In was a '50s-themed diner. Peak lunchtime could mean a lengthy wait for burgers, fries and shakes.

Coasters Drive-In was a ’50s-themed diner. Peak lunchtime could mean a lengthy wait for burgers, fries and shakes.

The line for food there was long, too, but that was the case everywhere since it was the typical lunchtime.

There are a lot of choices for meals, from barbecue and fried chicken, to turkey legs and street tacos, plus a ton of chain restaurants.

Street tacos, pizza and tons of other food choices are found throughout the park. I heard the turkey drumsticks were must-tries.

Street tacos, pizza and tons of other food choices are found throughout the park. I heard the turkey drumsticks were must-tries.

Dessert was fudge from Peppermint Patty’s Candy Shop. We sampled a couple free bites before settling on a chocolate square to split. It’s worth stopping in even just for a taste – it’s so good!

Many people can spend a full day at the park, but it’s tiring for little ones. At around 5, our kids (who are 4 and 6, to give you perspective) were turning on us. I might’ve been losing my mind too.

Embarrassing my kids is my specialty.

Embarrassing my kids is my specialty.

It was time to leave.

We had no other plans for the night besides takeout dinner and pool time.

Staying Overnight In North Kansas City

There are dozens of hotel choices near Worlds of Fun, including on-site on the theme park’s resort complex. We wanted someplace nearby for a quick escape from the park, and Courtyard by Marriott at Briarcliff was a great option.

In a city known for its fountains, Courtyard by Marriott at Briarcliff can brag about the one near it.

Kansas City is the city of fountains so naturally Courtyard by Marriott at Briarcliff has one.

After about a 10-minute drive from Worlds of Fun, we were checking in. Before long, it was pool time.

Sunset view from the hotel's small whirlpool. I'll take it after a full day of walking around Worlds of Fun.

Sunset view from the hotel’s small whirlpool. I’ll take it after a full day of walking around Worlds of Fun.

While one of us took the kids to the pool and whirlpool, the other picked up our takeout order from one of my family’s favorite Kansas City barbecue spots, Smokehouse Barbecue (the Gladstone location). We split orders of ribs, smoked turkey, brisket, barbecue beans (you must try these), steamed veggies and cheesy corn. It was overindulgent and so good.

Historic Adventures In North Kansas City & St. Joseph

Our morning in North Kansas City – after an early jaunt to the pool – started with breakfast at a popular North Kansas City spot, Corner Café.

Four people couldn't finish this cinnamon roll on top of regular breakfast orders. Plan accordingly.

Four people couldn’t finish this cinnamon roll on top of regular breakfast orders at Corner Cafe. Plan accordingly.

Service was quick and we were soon on our way to our first destination of the day: Shoal Creek Living History Museum in Hodge Park. Shoal Creek is a free living history museum that celebrates Missouri history (on select weekends you can find reenactments).

We were stuffed from breakfast so the tranquil walk around the trails was welcomed.

Shoal Creek Living History Museum is a free historical park to explore in North Kansas City. It's so peaceful there!

Shoal Creek Living History Museum is a free historical park to explore in North Kansas City. It’s so peaceful there!

It was like the ying to Worlds of Fun’s yang. Quiet and open space, with nothing but the sound of birds and my daughter yelling at my son to break the tranquility.

It also has an American bison enclosure.

American Bison once freely roamed the very plains Shoal Creek Living History Museum is located on. Now, they're safely kept in a huge enclosure at the park.

American Bison once freely roamed the very plains Shoal Creek Living History Museum is located on. Now, they’re safely kept in a huge enclosure at the park.

That was a pleasant surprise – I knew we’d see the old buildings, but didn’t expect this kind of wildlife.

They were used to people, and came up to the fence. Word to the wise, though, at least one was a little surly and charged at my camera-wielding husband.

Relaxed and a little worn from the hike, we finished our trip with a stop in St. Joseph, Mo. The city is located between Kansas City and Omaha.

The Patee House Museum is ranked one of the Top 10 Western Museums in the US. It's located in St. Joseph, Missouri.

The Patee House Museum is ranked one of the Top 10 Western Museums in the US. It’s located in St. Joseph, Missouri.

We were headed to the Patee House Museum first. It’s not located right off Interstate 29 so you’re forgiven for not stopping here before. It was a first for us too. Don’t let the neighborhood steer you away. The area has seen better days, but this museum is well worth a visit.

I can’t stress that enough! This museum is ranked among the Top 10 Western Museums in the country, and it was the best I’ve ever seen.

Patee House has had many lives over the years: Hotel, headquarters of the Pony Express, girls college…etc. Now it’s a western museum stuffed to the gills with colorful and well-preserved artifacts. It’s a historical wonder house.

And the great thing is, it’s a wonderful place to bring the kids, with opportunities to get climb onto a steam engine, make a mini carousel play and peek at oddities from yesteryear.

My 4 -year-old is in the background waving at me to "Come on!" There's so much to take in when you enter the main hall of the Patee House Museum!

My 4 -year-old is in the background waving at me to “Come on!” There’s so much to take in when you enter the main hall of the Patee House Museum!

Two floors are filled with rooms and recreated scenes from our past, with large train engines filling the center of the museum. You’ll want to photograph it all.

For kids, the highlights will undoubtedly be the train in the middle of the main floor, the working carousel and the Buffalo Saloon.

Don't miss the Buffalo Saloon inside the Patee House Museum. You can order $1 soda or sarsparilla, and popcorn. But, the favorite thing in the room was the Nickelodian that played random tunes for a quarter. My daughter had a dance party!

Don’t miss the Buffalo Saloon inside the Patee House Museum. You can order $1 soda or sarsparilla, and popcorn. But, the favorite thing in the room was the Nickelodian that played random tunes for a quarter. My daughter had a dance party!

The saloon was my family’s favorite spot, where we threw down a $1 for sarsparilla and several spins on the nickelodian (25 cents was a small price for such entertainment). You can also get some popcorn there.

Be sure to venture into some of the other rooms, though, as my daughter found the toy room where she could turn on a miniature carousel with a touch of a button.

We could’ve easily spent two hours here, but my son started getting sick, so we wrapped things up early. While he rested, my daughter and I walked to the final historical site of the day.

Literally out back of the museum is the Jesse James House. It’s the infamous house where the outlaw was shot and killed – the bullet hole is easily visible.

Jesse James House 5

I wouldn’t recommend bringing small children here – mine didn’t know who Jesse James was and so without any background for them to go on, they were uninterested in touring the house. It was all a little macabre to walk around the small house and seeing a replica of his scull (post-gunshot) and photos of him dead.

Of course, my daughter immediately sees this display at the Jesse James House.

Of course, my daughter immediately is drawn to this display of Jesse James’ teeth castings at the Jesse James House.

Soooo, this one’s more of a specialty stop for Jesse James aficionados. If you fall into that category, you’d be better reading posts by The Walking Tourists (see this recent one touring a bank once robbed by the Jesse James Gang or this one recapping a visit to St. Jo).

If you go

Worlds of Fun

Where: 4545 Worlds of Fun Ave, Kansas City, Mo.

Website

 

Courtyard by Marriott at Briarcliff

Where: 4000 N. Mulberry Drive, Kansas City, Mo.

Website

 

Shoal Creek Living History Museum

Where: 7000 NE Barry Rd, Kansas City, Mo.

Website

 

Patee House Museum

Where: 1202 Penn St., St. Joseph, Mo.

Website

 

Jesse James House

Where: 1202 Penn St., St. Joseph, Mo.

Website

 

Read about our experiences in the places mentioned above:

6 Truths Parents Learn at Worlds of Fun

Where to Stay If You’re Going to Worlds of Fun

Exploring the Patee House Museum With Kids

Exploring the Shoal Creek Living History Museum With Kids 

 

Comments

  1. I need to keep this post on my radar. We will only go places for the weekends this year. We have friends and family in KC, so we’ll go there. My boys have never been to Worlds of Fun. I hate rides that move me all over the place, but the boys love it.

    • I think you guys would really like Patee House Museum, and you’re right, the boys will like the rides at Worlds of Fun. There are enough lowkey rides there that I think you’d like it too.

Speak Your Mind

*