Recently, we spent a few days in Kansas City, Mo. which was a nice break from the usual for me. KC is a very manageable destination with a handful of cool neighborhoods, museums, shopping, eateries, and bars all conveniently located along a main stretch. A car is a must here, but the good news is that things are fairly close if you stay in the city. We stayed across Country Club Plaza at the Raphael Hotel.
The Raphael is a cozy boutique hotel in a great location across the street from the Plaza, has nice rooms (especially the suite), excellent service, and a decent restaurant downstairs. Thursday through Saturday there is a jazz band that plays on the lawn in front of the hotel where you can order drinks and appetizers to enjoy while taking in the music. During the summer, this is the cocktail hour that can’t be beat.
Of course we wanted to venture out, so we took a drive through downtown on the way to Crossorads. Unlike some, KC’s downtown is neat and tidy and not crazy congested so it’s not too scary to drive around the one way streets. Best of all? Little to no traffic on these streets.
Once we arrived in Crossroads, we stumbled upon this rabid bat that was part of a larger piece that took up an entire wall in an alley. For more, click here. We didn’t have too much time to take photos being that we were starving and making a bee line for Pizza Bella (more on PB in a separate post).
One of the things I was most looking forward to (besides revisiting my favorite eating places) was touring some historic homes. With a little planning, we were able to see a few homes in a weekend. The Thomas Hart Benton home was very close to our hotel so that was a good place to start. Initially, I was only interested in touring homes for their architectural qualities and historic importance, but the THB tour was so much more than that. We were the only ones to arrive at the time so we got a tour all to ourselves, had an excellent guide, and learned a lot about THB, the artist/muralist. It was a good thing we stopped by the house before heading to the Nelson- Atkins Museum because now we could fully appreciate THB’s technique.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum is awesome. The grounds are beautiful and expansive and these shuttlecocks are always amusing to look at. Currently on special exhibit at the NA is are decorative arts from World’s Fair’s. We didn’t see that one, but instead opted to check out the rest of the permanent collection. We were on a mission to find the Thomas Hart Benson works, especially Persephone.
Here we are in Independence, MO. I dragged us here with a hangover to check out the Vaile Mansion. It’s a Victorian built in 1881 with a colorful history- it was once a hospital/sanitarium. Remarkably restored, the Vaile Mansion is complete with period furniture, some original pieces, and a not- to- be- missed spectacular floral wreath made of human hair. It’s located in the parlour to the right of the entrance, around the corner from the fireplace. Also, make sure to check out the grotesques in the upstairs sitting room. If you look closely, there are grotesque little faces in the wood grain, all unique and very fascinating.
Too bad we didn’t have more time to spend in Independence, because there was yet another Victorian I would have liked to see, the Bingham-Waggoner House. Not to mention, there was a roadside antique shop where I could have spent way too much time.
Our last stop was the John Wornall House, a Greek Revival style former plantation home with its own herb garden out back.
As you can see, KC has a lot to offer and makes a fun destination for a long 3-4 day weekend get-away.
If you visit KC…
*Vaile Mansion (Independence, MO)
Bingham-Waggoner Estate (Independence, MO)
Leila’s Hair Museum (Independence, MO) *If you’re into Victorian hair jewelry and wreaths, I heard this the place to see.
*Fireflys at dusk in Mill Creek Park
*Shopping at Country Club Plaza
*Vintage shopping at Re-Runs (Westport)
*Rivermarket outdoor produce market and eateries
*River Market Antique Mall (4 floors packed with interesting finds)
*Check out the monster wall at 18th & Baltimore (Crossroads)
www.pitch.com for current events
http://traveltips.usatoday.com/historic-homes-tours-kansas-city-17019.html for KC historic home information
http://www.vpa.org/museumsmo.html for Missouri historic home museums
*places I’ve been to and enjoyed
I can’t wait to share my favorite eating places and some new ones we discovered. Coming soon…