Kansas City International Airport

What to do in Kansas City

The City of Fountains

Kansas City is well-known for its tangy barbecue, its jazz and blues history and its more than 200 fountains, some of which date back to the days when horses were said to outnumber people in the city.

“The American Humane Society began putting water troughs at every corner to keep the horses hydrated and, over time, the fountains became more ornate and more popular,” said Derek Klaus of Visit KC. “Now the City of Fountains Foundation maintains a database of more than 215 local fountains.”

Today, the City of Fountains is cosmopolitan, yet authentic. While $10 billion worth of investment has been poured into the region, this city of more than 2 million people still treasures its easy-going Midwestern vibe.

“Kansas City is at the heart of American creativity — a home for arts, culture and innovation,” said Tim Cowden, CEO of the Kansas City Area Development Council.

As the home to major companies such as GarminSprintH&R BlockCerner, Hallmark Cards and Russell Stover Chocolates, plenty of business travelers find themselves swinging through the city for work.

“Visiting business travelers are always impressed by our thriving downtown, which includes a streetcar, galleries and dining options ranging from world-class BBQ at Jack Stack to cocktails at the Monarch Bar and whiskey tasting at the J. Rieger Distillery,” Cowden said.

If you’re in town for a business trip with just a few hours to spare, we’ve gathered some tips to help you make the most of your off-duty hours.

Downtown Kansas C

If a downtown meeting wraps up early, head over to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which is a short walk or Uber ride from the Plaza (officially, Country Club Plaza), a 15-block shopping, dining and entertainment district dotted with fountains.

Admission is free to the museum’s permanent collection and many of its temporary exhibitions, so it’s easy to stop in for a short tour of some of the museum’s vast holdings. For a quick bite, the museum has a restaurant and coffee shop and is open on Thursdays and Fridays until 9 p.m. There’s even a happy hour on Thursday evenings starting at 5 p.m.

Back on the Plaza you can take care of that age-old question: “What did you bring me?” The Made in KC Marketplace on the Plaza carries work by more than 200 area artists, designers and makers and has both a cafe and a bar.

And since you’re in Kansas City, you might want to tuck into some world-class Kansas City barbecue, known for the thick, rich tomato sauce lathered on during and after the cooking process.

“We slow-smoke our barbecue for several hours—sometimes up to 18—for that ‘low and slow’ Kansas City technique,” said Derek Klaus of Visit KC

One of five branches of Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue is on the Plaza as well. And if that’s not enough barbecue for you, the KC BBQ Experience app leads you to 100 more BBQ spots around town to explore between meetings.

If you haven’t changed out of your business attire and fancy an after-meeting cocktail in an opulent setting, stop into The Monarch Cocktail Bar & Lounge, in the West Plaza district where the drinks take their inspiration from the flight paths of the Monarch butterfly.

For example, many cocktails celebrating the Monarch’s journey from Canada through the U.S. Midwest and into Mexico pair whiskeys and rums with citrus and fresh fruits.

Jazz and baseball history – plus a great selfie spot

Kansas City’s downtown 18th and Vine historic district is home to both the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and they are conveniently co-located in the same building.

The American Jazz Museum has listening stations and displays memorabilia and personal items that tell the stories of jazz legends. Don’t miss a rare treasure: Charlie Parker’s Grafton saxophone.

The museum’s Blue Room Jazz Club hosts live music four times a week, with several early shows that shouldn’t interfere with those morning meetings.

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum features photographs, historical artifacts and interactive computer stations that document the story of the players and the teams from after the Civil War through to the 1960s. A mock baseball diamond with 10 life-size sculptures of the league’s greats is a popular centerpiece exhibit.

Two blocks away is the Paseo YMCA, the founding site of the Negro Baseball Leagues in 1920. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and outside there’s now a small baseball diamond where you can run the bases and take a photo in front of a large mural portraying Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson, Buck O’Neil and other Negro Leagues players who also played in the major leagues.

Wonders from down under

If you’ve finished your meetings and have a late afternoon or early evening flight, try one of these bonus attractions located not far from downtown.

The KC Streetcar is free to ride and will take you from downtown to the historic River Market area, and its year-round weekend farmers’ market.

The River Market is also home to the Arabia Steamboat Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of pre-Civil War artifacts.

The fully loaded Steamboat Arabia sank on the Missouri River in September 1856. The steamer lay beneath the water for decades. But with erosion, the river chaged course and a century later, the Arabia and its 60 tons of still-intact cargo was dug up from beneath a Kansas cornfield in 1988. The recovered treasure is on display. It includes everything from dishware and fine jewelry to guns, toys and still edible food.

For history with a twist, Uber over to the J. Rieger & Co. in the East Bottoms neighborhood, which celebrates the resurrection of a local distillery with roots dating back to 1887.

In addition to daily distillery tours (samples included), the site houses The Monogram Lounge (cocktails, coffee and small plates) and the swank Hey! Hey! Club.

Bonus: Anyone is welcome to take a ride on the 40-foot indoor slide.

A few bonus items:

I ran out of room in the CNBC story for two other Kansas City treasures.

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures is two world-class museums in one.

The toy side is home to one of the country’s largest collection of antique toys.

The miniatures side of the museum is filled with the world’s largest collection of fine scale miniatures. They may look like toy-sized, but they are highly crafted works of art that are not for children at all.

Kanas City International Airport (KCI)

You’ll likely arrive in Kansas City by airplane and wonder what’s up at Kansas City International Airport (KCI).

It’s getting a much-needed new terminal and has promised it will be ready to welcome everyone who will visit the city when it hosts the 2023 NFL Draft.

In the meantime, the coolest amenities you’ll find at KCI are the SouveNEAR vending machines filled with gifts, souvenirs and unusual items made by Kansas City artists. So there’s no excuse to go arrive home empty-handed.

Airports want you to go away

File this under: you can’t win if you don’t play.

Several airports around the country are holding contests and drawings that include free airplane tickets as the prizes.

Indianapolis airport art

The deadline is Wednesday, Dec 1, 2010 to enter Indianapolis International Airport’s “Show us your favorite things @ IND” You Tube contest.

To enter: make a short video (three minutes or less) showing what you like best about that airport.

The airport will choose five finalists and post those videos on the airport’s YouTube channel for public voting.

The grand prize is a free trip to Orlando or Tampa. Two runners-up will receive flip camcorders.  Entries must be uploaded by midnight on December 1.  Official contest rules are posted at www.indcontest.com.

Las Vegas International Airport’s Korean Air ticket giveaway ends Dec. 8th, 2010 around noon Pacific time, so you still have about a week to enter your name for a chance to win one of two pair of round-trip tickets between Las Vegas and Seoul.

Portland International Airport is giving away a pair of tickets from Portland to Toronto as part of its Holidays Take Flight celebration.  Deadline entry is January 2, 2011.

Airplane with christmas bow

And Kansas City International Airport is giving away a pair of tickets Kanasas City to one of 44 nonstop destinations.

(See list – and rules here). Deadline to enter is January 10, 2011.

Good luck – and don’t forget to bring home some souvenirs for StuckatTheAirport.com.

Tidbits for travelers: LAX views, Orlando news, & KCI cruise

Here’s great news for anyone who finds themselves stuck at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on the weekend.

The Observation Deck at the top of the Theme Building, which has been closed since 9/11, will finally re-open to the public this Saturday.

(A view of the old version of the observation deck; courtesy LAX. New version: under wraps!)

There will be a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday morning (June 21, 2010) but the official public hours of the deck will be Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Go take a look through the new telescopes and enjoy the view!

Orlando Airport getting Google-ized?


According to this story in the Orlando Sentinel, the Orlando International Airport (MCO) is in discussion with Google for a two-year deal in which Google would pay the airport more than $100,000 a year to sponsor the existing (free) airport Wi-Fi and provide a variety of other amenities, including free Internet kiosks for passengers traveling without laptops and phone booths at the international gates offering free long distance calling.

Sounds like Google is talking to other airports about this same sort of ‘experiment,’ but no word yet on where.

And this sounds like fun:

(courtesy Hot Rod)

This Saturday (June 19th, 2010) Kansas City International Airport will be hosting its fourth KCI Cruise. Not a sailing ship cruise, but the sort of cruise where hundreds – in this case up to 500 – owners of classic, muscle and special-interest automobiles gather in a parking lot to show off their cool cars.

The event runs from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. (weather permitting; wouldn’t want anything to happen to those cars!) and money raised from the sales of donated food and prizes will go to area charities. The prizes are nothing to sneeze at. They’ll be giving away Frontier Airlines tickets, Chiefs and Royals tickets, Justin Bieber concert tickets (!), hotel stays and more. For more details and for directions to the event, see the KCI Cruise page on the Kansas City International Airport website.

More airport freebies – for people & pets – for Thanksgiving travel

turkey

It may be stressful traveling this week through the nation’s airports, but there are some freebies and special events being rolled out that you may find useful and entertaining.

In addition to the events we listed yesterday at Boston’s Logan International Airport and Detroit Metropolitan Airport, you’ll find:

valet parking icon

Two days of free valet parking at Kansas City International Airport (MCI). To get a coupon for the free parking, fill out this form.

MSP Spoonfuls of Stories

Through Wednesday, November 25, 2009, you can stop by any Travelers Assistance Info Booth at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) and pick up a free children’s book, courtesy of Cheerios and The Spoonful of Stories program. The books include: “Junkyard Fort”, by Jon Scieszka, “Tea for Ruby”, by The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, “Sleepyhead”, by Karma Wilson, “Ballyhoo Bay”, by Judy Sierra, and “What’s Under the Bed?”, by Joe Fenton.

ATL DOG PARK

And don’t forget that many airports around the country have opened on-site dog relief parks.  The latest to open is at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), which now has a dog park with two sculptures by Doug Makemson of Commerce, GA, who says:

“The model for “Abby” was my beloved yellow lab, Abby, who was always willing to strike a pose. She had a full life and a mercifully rapid demise a few weeks after the sculpture was completed. She was the world’s best dog; I miss her. The sculpture is made mostly from parts of a backhoe and a bulldozer, and the stone is Gneiss, a type of granite, from an old quarry near Glade, Georgia. For me, “Abby” the sculpture will always make me remember Abby the dog, the most loyal friend I ever had.

You can see the sculptures – and a happy dog in the park – in this cute one minute video ATL airport posted to celebrate the opening of the dog park.

Happy Thanksgiving – more airport freebies tomorrow!

TURKEY big

Clowns, chimps and, yes, squirrels at the airport

squirrel

It’s getting sort of silly out there in air travel-ville.

A while ago the folks at Kansas City International Airport (KCI) hired a chimp to show how easy it was to use that airport:

Then the airport hired a bunch of clowns to help promote the economy parking lot.

And, now American Airlines is rushing to remind everyone that the company’s commercials were “squirrelized” long before an inquisitive squirrel horned in on a photo a couple was taking at Canada’s Banff National Park.

The airline is rolling out a photo contest that will award airline tickets to some lucky duck who submits a squirrelized photo, but in the meantime, they’ve made a few squirrelized samples of their own:

squirrel 2

And you thought a naked guy on an airplane was news!