From Texas to Beyond

Local, Near and Far: Our journey of exploring the world.

Month: August 2015 (page 1 of 4)

Kansas City Union Station

img_1244Located conveniently near the University of Missouri at Kansas City, Crown Center, the World War I Monument, and the Crossroads District is the historic Kansas City Union Station. It is full of history, beautiful architecture, and it is definitely worth the stop to marvel at the grandeur of this iconic Kansas City building.

Built in 1914, Union Station at the height of its use accommodated hundreds of thousands of people each year; not only was it a rail hub, it also had a restaurant, cigar shop, barber shop, and railroad offices. Closed in the 1980s, Union Station was neglected with frequent talk of demolition, however in 1996 a bi-state initiative was passed that would fund restoration which was completed in 1999.

In addition to being a stop along the Amtrak rail and as a part of the renovation, Union Station has several exhibits within the building. These include a permanent exhibit on the American railway system, dedicated space for traveling exhibits, a planetarium, Science City: an interactive science center, and an active theater district. Union Station also has several shops and restaurants, and event space available for rent. As a kid I remember visiting both the planetarium and Science City, which are perfect family-friendly attractions.

The Grand Hall in Union Station is one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in the building with its 95-foot tall ceiling, three 3,500-pound chandeliers, and a six-foot wide clock hanging in the central arch. If you happen upon the space during the weekend, you’ll find a wedding party or two snapping photos!

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Parking: On the west side of Union Station is a four level parking garage. There is a fee for parking based on how long you’ll be visiting. Limited parking is also available in front of the building on Pershing Street.

Tickets: If you’re interested in just checking out the architecture, there is no cost to enter the building. Both the permanent and traveling exhibits have a fee; the ticket prices vary based on the exhibit you’re interested in visiting. I’d check the Union Station website for exact pricing and to purchase online ahead of time to avoid a wait.

Hours: Union Station itself opens up at 6:00AM every day and closes at midnight; each exhibit hosts its hours and day on an individual basis (similar to the ticket pricing). Checking the website for hours will be your best bet.

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Being such a piece of Kansas City history, and because it is located just across the street from the World War I Monument, I thought Matt would enjoy the architecture and beauty of the building itself. Union Station is truly a beautiful restored building with interesting exhibits, a cultural and educational hub, and a wonderful Kansas City icon.

In Case You Missed It…Denton, TX

Every couple weeks we’ll be collecting links from past posts grouped together by location; we thought it handy to have everything in one convenient location as you plan your upcoming travels. We just finished a couple different series featuring Denton, TX, so here’s your recap:

Denton County Courthouse and SquareA Day Trip to Denton Overview: With so many options, a day trip to Denton from the DFW area is a perfect way to spend a day.

 

 

Hiking at Ray Roberts Lake State Park: One of Texas Monthly’s 30 best hikes in Texas, we celebrated Valentine’s Day with a hike on the Greenbelt Corridor Trail at Ray Roberts Lake State Park.

Hiking the Greenbelt at Ray Roberts

Hiking the Greenbelt at Ray Roberts

An Evening at the Denton Square: Rebekah and I celebrated Valentine’s Day under the festive white lights of the Denton Square while enjoying the atmosphere, food, ice cream and shops.

J&J's Pizza 3J&J’s Pizza on the Square: If you’re on the Denton County Courthouse Square, you must stop at J&J’s Pizza and enjoy their delicious homemade sauce and sausage.

 

Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream: For a refreshing homemade treat, stop by Beth Marie’s Ice Cream on the Denton County Courthouse Square. It is sure to please!Beth Marie's Ice Cream 8 - Raspberry Truffle

 

Gates Bar-B-Q

“Hi, may I help you?” are some of the finest words spoken to every customer at Gates Bar-B-Q. During the lunch rush and shouted across the dining area, you know you’re in my personal favorite Kansas City barbeque restaurant.

We of course can’t have a series on Kansas City without taking a break to discuss the barbeque. Just like our other posts on Tex-Mex, breweries, and Texas barbeque, you’ll find that a variety of opinions exist about what constitutes good Kansas City barbeque. K.C. Masterpiece is often hailed as the finest in the land, and I have nothing against them (except that I don’t particularly care for sweet sauce), but my heart belongs to Gates (and Matt).

Founded in 1946, by the Gates Family, Gate’s Bar-B-Q was initially successful because of their sauce; as the business and name grew in popularity, so did the demand for the sauce and in 1975, the decision was made to market the sauce in local grocery stores. Since 1982, Gates has been on a quest (and been successful) to get their brand into many large national markets. In addition to their sauces, Gates also markets a variety of rubs and seasonings so customers can take the taste of Gates home with them. Gates is dedicated to the exceptional service–they do depict a dapper gentleman in a tux on every bottle–friendly customer relations, and quality products.

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So, on our trip to Kansas City, I had to take Matt to Gates. He needed to experience the meats, the sauce, the ambiance, and service and then finally admit that maybe Kansas City barbeque is legit. Let me make a note here, that Matt had previously tasted Gates because yes, my parents purchase it and have it shipped to them, but he had yet to get the full experience. My all time favorite thing at Gates has been and will most likely always be, burnt ends. You see, burnt ends are a Kansas City tradition, and in case you aren’t familiar, they are the pieces of meat cut from the point half of a smoked brisket. Flavorful and with lots of ‘bark’, the pieces of meat are usually chopped and served cubed over a piece of toast and smothered in sauce. Add pickles and onions if that’s your thing. Who even knows what Matt had when we went there, it wasn’t the burnt ends, that’s for sure!

Gates, as I’ve mentioned before, is known for their sauce, which I’ll do my best to describe. The taste of the Classic flavor is smokey, peppery, and spicy, with a perfect blend of tomato and vinegar for the base. The consistency is my ideal: it stays on the meat, doesn’t run down your arms, and yet isn’t gloopy. It tastes excellent with beef and pork, and complements chicken well, although not as well as others. As I’m describing the sauce, my mouth is watering and I’m reminded that we’re running low. I better give my brother a call and have him send us a couple more bottles!

 

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

I love museums and I love art. By no means am I an expert in art or even a novice. I just love seeing people use the gifts that they have been given. The way the brushstrokes move across the canvas or a piece of bronze is sculpted into something beautiful amazes me. I have had the opportunity to visit several museums throughout the world and the one I get to talk about today is one of my favorites.

During our trip to Kansas City, Rachel was raving about the Nelson-Atkins Museum. She knew I would enjoy it, and she was right. I tried not to have to high of expectations but after looking at their website and seeing what pieces they offered, I was excited.

Located three blocks northeast of the Country Club Plaza shopping district is the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The museum is home to more than 35,000 works of art from all over the world. Unlike many specialized museums, the Nelson-Atkins is a general art museum that essentially provides the visitor with the opportunity to see various styles of artwork, including photography, sculptures, modern and contemporary, and European art to name a few. In addition, it is always helpful to check their website for the traveling special collections that they have on display.

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Some of my particular favorite paintings are Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness from my favorite artist (and obviously David’s), Caravaggio. Some of the amazing European works of art that are offered include works from Titian, Rembrandt, Poussin, Monet, Pissarro, Caillebotte, Manet, Goya, and Degas.

As for modern art, the major artists include Rothko, Pollock, Warhol, Rauschenberg, among other notable artists. The museum features a special sculpture collection by Isamu Noguchi which is a pleasant surprise since most Noguchi sculptures are in New York and Japan.

But, one of the most amazing things about the museum are all the sculptures. The Nelson-Atkins features some of the most amazing sculptures I have seen. The Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park is an a great place to see art, but also a nice spot for a picnic. The sculpture park offers an interactive guide and an audio guide online in case you would like to learn more about these great pieces (which is highly suggested). Some of the more famous or recognizable pieces are the four shuttlecocks by Coosje van Bruggen, the “two planes” by George Rickey, Standing Figures (30 total) by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Rush Hour by George Segal, The Large Bather by Auguste Renoir, and last but not least The Thinker by Auguste Rodin.

Visit:  The museum is free to visit and is open from 10:00AM to 5:00PM on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. The museum is open until 9:00PM on Thursday and Friday, and closed Monday and Tuesday. While the museum is free (which is amazing), parking does cost $8 although it is free for members. A typical trip to the museum could go from 1.5 to 2 hours. Obviously, it could take longer depending on the crowds and how fast you go through a museum, but this is one you don’t want to rush through. If you have the opportunity and time to jump on a tour, please do as those are very educational and fun. When you are in the area, be sure to save time to check out the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art as well. Photography is allowed which is nice.

We made the most of our time in the area by checking out the Nelson-Atkins, the Kemper, and the surrounding neighborhood since there is so much to do in the area. No trip to Kansas City is complete without a visit to this wonderful museum. It is a wonderful family friendly activity, but also offers a nice date night experience since it is open later on Fridays. If you go during the night or dusk, check out the Sun and 34 moons exhibit outside as it is really beautiful. If you do get hungry, there is a café inside that has a nice selection of food and desserts.

Kansas City, MO Overview

IMG_1270 copyI am the token non-Texan here at From Texas to Beyond, and Kansas City, MO is my hometown; it holds a very special place in my heart as I spent the first 18 years of my life there. It is a beautiful, diverse, and unique town that is proud of its history and truly reflects Midwestern charm.

One of our weekend getaways during our first year of marriage and time in Chicago was to my hometown. We had visited San Antonio (Matt’s stomping grounds) multiple times, but he had never seen Kansas City–or tasted Kansas City barbeque–which is probably the bigger crime!

It’s about a 8-9 hour drive from Chicago to Kansas City, so when we first decided to visit, we searched options for routes to drive, etc. BUT, also wanting to have a quick weekend trip, we decided ultimately to see if we could find a relatively inexpensive flight. Thankfully at the time, we had built up some miles using our credit card and were able to find plane tickets for only $10! Score! That totally beat trying to make the drive!

Once we had settled on flying, I made the remaining preparations for a rental car, hotel, and figuring out places and restaurants I could share with Matt, as well as making arrangements with friends and family who lived in the area. Last but not least, we set out to see if we could obtain some Chiefs tickets!

Our itinerary had us coming into Kansas City Friday morning and leaving early enough Monday morning so that Matt could still get to work that day. Considering all the people I wanted to see and introduce Matt to, as well as visit the places I had in mind, we would have a jam packed weekend. It was so fun to be able to put this itinerary together, I wanted to give Matt a picture of my growing up experience as well as do some touristy things that I remembered enjoying as a teen.

You’ll be hearing from both of us over the next couple weeks as we recount our time and I hope you’ll enjoy getting a glimpse of my hometown as well as inspire you to visit this Midwestern gem! We’ll be featuring the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gates Bar-B-Q, the Harley Davidson Factory Tour, the Country Club Plaza, Union Station, and the National World War I Museum & Memorial; stay tuned the next couple weeks for reviews, photos, and recaps!

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