Note the small string of lights wrapping one of the Bigfoot items. It’s a charming signal that the holidays are coming right up. And a gentle reminder that there are lots of reasons to do all your holiday shopping at airports.
We agree. Stay tuned for more gift-worthy items we’re finding in airport shops this year.
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 Garmin, Sprint, H&R Block, Cerner, 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
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
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
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 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.
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.
Here are some more new shops to look for at the airports in Sacaremento and Las Vegas.
The folks at SouveNEAR, who place vending machines filled with work made by local artists at airports, are expanding their network.
Created to be “an indie craft fair in a box,” SouveNEAR fills these vending machines with an eclectic collection of art prints and originals, T-shirts and apparel, handmade jewelry, gourmet food items and other travel-sized mementos. Prices range from $5.00-$50.00.
Right now they’ve got their art-filled machines in multiple locations at Kansas City International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, Oakland International Airport and Cincinatti-Northern Kentucky International Airport.
Here at Stuck at The Airport, we’re big fans of the fun, locally-themed souvenirs that are for sale in many airport souvenir shops.
We know there are alot of people who collect shot glass or key chains as a souvenir from the places they visit. But we’re especially fond of the bit more creative, locally-themed chocolate candy “poop” that is for sale in these shops.
We know these items are great gift items and big sellers, but we suspect a lot of these candy food gifts never get eaten.
(Although in my house, they’d be categorized as ’emergency’ food..)
Examples in our ‘souvenir poop’ collection include everything from Big Foot Poop found at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to the Koala Poo spotted in at the airport in Sydney, Australia.
Now we have one more packet to add to the collection.
At McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas this week, we found some Alien Poop mints in the Area 51 section of a souvenir shop.
Silly? Yes, of course. But when you are Stuck at the Airport, entertainment comes in many forms.
Please be on the lookout for fun, inexpensive, locally-themed souvenirs in airport gift shops and send us a photo. If your snap is featured here during Souvenir Sunday, we’ll send you a fun travel-themed souvenir.
Stuck at the Airport has been in Houston this week taking part in the citywide celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing and the first time humans walked on the Moon.
While here, we visited Space Center Houston, the science and space exploration center where the public gets a chance to see (and touch!) Moon rocks and learn first hand about what it takes to go into – and come back from – space.
There’s also a great gift shop. And for Souvenir Sunday, we’re sharing some of the fun gifts we’re taking home.
Thanks for joining us this week while we celebrated the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Lunar Mission.