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

Category: Missouri (page 1 of 2)

In Case You Missed It…Kansas City, MO

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. Not long ago, we featured a series on Kansas City, MO so here’s your recap:img_1304

Kansas City, MO Overview: Explore my (Rachel) hometown of Kansas City, MO with us on our series that features this quintessential Midwestern town.

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The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: One of the most amazing museums in the country, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has some of the finest pieces you will find anywhere

 

 

Gates Bar-B-Q: Gates Bar-B-Q is dedicated to family traditions, friendly customer service, and delicious sauces, meats, and
barbeque in Kansas City.img_2076 copy

Kansas City Union Station: Kansas City Union Station is full of history, beautiful architecture, and is definitely worth the stop to marvel at the grandeur of this iconic Kansas City building.

IMG_1233Harley-Davidson Factory Tour: A great way to spend time in Kansas City is by exploring the great tours offered by the Harley-Davidson Factory.

Country Club Plaza: “The Plaza” in Kansas City is a swanky district known for its fine dining, upscale shopping, chic hotels, and location for many annual events.

National World War I Museum & Memorial: The National World War I Museum & Memorial is a beautiful piece of Kansas City history and architecture built to honor those who gave their lives in the Great War.

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National World War I Museum & Memorial

WW1-1As we wrap up our series on Kansas City, we have to feature a post on the National World War I Museum and Memorial; this beautiful structure and Museum has been recognized by Congress as the nation’s official World War I Museum and designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Shortly after World War I concluded, a group of leaders in Kansas City formed the Liberty Memorial Association and sought to commemorate a lasting memorial to those who had served in the war. In 1919, money was raised by this group to start construction on that memorial, and in 1921, the site of the memorial was dedicated by five supreme Allied commanders.  Once construction was complete in 1926, the Liberty Memorial was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge.

In 1994, after concerns over safety and the deterioration of the Liberty Memorial, it was closed. However, in 1998, Kansas Citians gathered together yet again to raise funds for restoration and to build a space for the showcasing of various World War I items that had been collected. The World War I Museum opened in 2006. In 2014, the Museum and Liberty Memorial were officially recognized as the National World War I Museum & Memorial.

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The most prominent features of the Memorial are the 268-foot tall Liberty Memorial Tower, four 40-foot tall Guardian Spirits that sit atop the Tower, two Assyrian Sphinxes, Memory Hall, and Exhibit Hall. Each piece of the Memorial have special significance, honoring the fallen from World War I. You can learn more about that here. The museum itself is a great way to learn about World War I, with exhibits that feature life-size trenches, a Renault FT-17 tank, and a crater that allows the visitor to see the destruction incurred from a 17-inch howitzer shell.

Planning Your Visit: The Memorial grounds are available to visitors to walk through at no charge. The Museum does have an admission fee; it includes a 2-day pass that comes with access to all galleries, and a visit to the top of the Liberty Memorial Tower over two consecutive days. Prices vary based on age. Museum hours vary seasonally, but regular hours the Museum is open are Tuesday-Sunday, from 10:00AM to 5:00PM although be aware that some exhibits close early. Parking is available on the south side of the Memorial in the U-shaped drive, or at visitor’s parking on the west side of the Memorial. If you’re up for the hike, there is also street parking available on Pershing Street.

Seeing the World War I Memorial was definitely on our list of things to do while in Kansas City. The Liberty Memorial Tower is an iconic piece of Kansas City skyline and it is steeped in history. There is an aura of sacredness, humility, and reverence on the grounds and as you walk the campus, thinking about those who gave their lives; what a beautiful way to commemorate the sacrifices that were made.

Country Club Plaza

The Country Club Plaza, better known as “The Plaza” in Kansas City is a swanky district known for its fine dining, upscale shopping, chic hotels, and a place where a number of annual events take place that draw in hundreds of thousands of Kansas Citians each year.

IMG_1318The Plaza is a 15-block district that has over 150 shops and restaurants as well as beautiful architecture and fountains. The availability of fine dining attracts a variety of palates, cuisines, and atmospheres whether you’re looking for a night out or a quiet brunch. The shopping available is remarkable boasting a selection of both high end brands and boutiques. If you’re staying in Kansas City, The Plaza is certainly known for its centrality, making it a convenient place to find a hotel during your stay.

Some of my favorite things that The Plaza offers though, are its annual events. When we made our trip to Kansas City in October, we happened to be there the same time as the Waterfire Festival. Although this festival is relatively new to Kansas City (it started in 2008), it is a beautiful and unique experience featuring fire, water, and music. As The Plaza sits along Brush Creek on the south side, it is in the perfect place to host such a festival full of floating bonfires. We had a wonderful time catching up with some of my friends from college and enjoying the show; this was certainly a highlight of our time at The Plaza!

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The Plaza at Night, courtesy of Wikipedia

Other annual events include the Plaza Art Fair, which is a stunning display featuring over 240 artists, stages for music, and restaurant booths; this event usually takes place in September. And lastly, the beautiful KCP&L Plaza Lights. Since 1929, Kansas City Power & Light has illuminated the trees, buildings, and architecture of The Plaza for a beautiful light display reminding me that it is the Christmas season in Kansas City. Thanksgiving evening, thousands of locals gather to watch them “flip the switch” with a lighting ceremony and concert; the lights are kept on through mid-January for the holidays. I wish we had seen that too!

For a full list of the shops and restaurants available at The Plaza, check out their website. There is also information there regarding parking, which is available in several garages throughout the district or on the street.

Harley-Davidson Factory Tour

IMG_1231One passion that began in my early years and has continued into my adulthood is that of motorcycles. I have been so fascinated with them and have always desired to have one. Due to many reasons, I have never been able to actually own a motorcycle. In addition to my motorcycle passion is an interest in how things are made. So when Rachel was planning our trip to Kansas City, we saw that the Harley-Davidson Factory Tour was high on several lists of things to do. I had no idea there was a factory in the area but immediately upon seeing this information, I knew I wanted to go.

The Harley-Davidson factory in KC is called the Vehicle and Powertrain Operations Facility. This factory produces, from fabrication to finish, the Sporster, Dyna, Street, some Softail models and my personal favorite, the V-Rod. They also make some of the Revolution and Revolution X powertrains for the V-Rods and Street families.

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The factory offers two different types of tours, a free one and a “Steel Toe” tour that cost $35 ($30 if you are a member). The free tour is a first come, first serve tour that goes from 9:00AM to 1:30PM Monday thru Friday. It is a general tour that has a limited view of the assembly line and certain fabrication areas. With this tour, you will walk the safe aisles of the production facility and seeing how parts of the bike are assembled or made, like the frames and fuel tanks. The tour lasts about an hour. These tours fill up pretty fast so by the time you arrive, you may have to wait for a while. When we went, we had to wait for about 30 minutes for the next available tour. But, since the tour starts in the gift shop, you have the chance to buy any gifts that you may want. Also, the gift shop shows a high level overview of the manufacturing process of the motorcycles being built. It gives the visitor a chance to look inside the engine and some other components that are generally not available. You can also sit on several current production bikes to get a feel and take some snazzy photos.

The “Steel Toe” tour is for the more hardcore Harley enthusiasts or those that enjoy the manufacturing process. This tour gives the visitor a chance to get up close and personal with the bikes and takes the visitor through the entire manufacturing process, including the “employee only” paint and polish area. This tour goes more in depth and to more areas than the free one. The factory will provide the necessary safety gear like a vest, glasses and the steel toe protection, so there is no need to wear your steel toe boots. There are only two sessions that occur daily Monday thru Thursday.  They are not always available depending on the production time or model launch, so be sure to check the website. It is recommended to gets reservations to do this tour as they do sell out, but they can be reserved online.

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Since I have been around the manufacturing line a lot in my work career and we were on a short time table, we did the free tour. Depending on your love for HD, it will depend on if the $35 pricetag is worth it. The free tour is still wonderful and allows the visitor to see a lot of the factory and how things are made. The tour guides are great and except for a few noisy spots, the information is easy to hear. Overall this was a great experience for us and highly suggest doing the tour. Please note, that children under 12 are not allowed on the factory tour so if you have kids, you may want to check with the factory before getting tickets or signing up.

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.

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