Super Fun Guide to Spring Break in Kansas City

Since we moved from Kansas City, Missouri to Northwest Arkansas, I’ve missed the obvious things, like my parents living a few miles away and the not-so-obvious things like the occasional shopping trip to Trader Joe’s.

It’s interesting to get an outside perspective of the city I grew up in. For us, the biggest attractions in KC are friends and family, but I’ve had several people ask me about things to do in Kansas City.

Spring break is coming up in mid-March so I’m tentatively planning a trip back home. Today I bring you my favorite family-friendly activities in the land of fountains, barbecue and Chiefs football.

Downtown KC Adventure

My girls are 4 and 2-years-old, so taking them on city excursions can seem daunting, but downtown Kansas City has a lot to offer young families.

Historic City Market

Kansas City's Historic City Market is open Saturdays and Sundays year round. You can browse the stalls for fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers.
Celebrate Mardi Gras at Beignet, a New Orleans style restaurant. Fat Tuesday is March 5.

The City Market is open Saturdays and Sundays year round. You can browse the stalls for fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers. This is a great place to people-watch and enjoy one-of-a-kind dining experiences at the many restaurants. My favorite morning treat is sitting outside of Beignet and savoring the sweet powdered sugar goodness of one of their signature french doughnuts.

KC Streetcar

Taking a ride on the KC Streetcar is free, fun and it takes you all the way from the City Market to my favorite building in Kansas City, Union Station
Explore more routes at kcstreetcar.org

Taking a ride on the KC Streetcar is free, fun and it takes you all the way from the City Market to my favorite building in Kansas City, Union Station.

Union Station

Union Station is an active Amtrak train station. It is also home to Science City, a Planetarium, Extreme Screen, rotating exhibits like "Dinosaurs Revealed" and restaurants. Most of all I love the architecture of this historic building.  It's a great place to take a family photo!

Union Station is an active Amtrak train station. It is also home to Science City, a Planetarium, Extreme Screen, rotating exhibits like “Dinosaurs Revealed” and restaurants. Most of all I love the architecture of this historic building. It’s a great place to take a family photo!

Crown Center

Union Station and Crown Center are connected with a sky walk. Crown Center is home to unique restaurants and shops. My girls like going to Fritz Railroad Restaurant because their food is delivered by toy train. It’s really fun. Outside Crown Center you will see fantastic fountain displays. Check the calendar of events, because there are often events held in the pavilion.

Kansas City Barbecue

Kansas City is known for barbecue and everyone has their favorite. If you want to stay in the downtown area, I’d suggest eating at Jack Stack Barbecue in the Freight House district and buying a bottle or two of their signature barbecue sauces as a tasty souvenir.

Kansas City Zoo

You could easily spend a day seeing all of your favorite animals at the Kansas City Zoo.

The Kansas City Zoo is open year-round. It’s located in Swope Park which is a 15 minute drive from downtown. You could easily spend a day seeing all of your favorite animals. Our girls love the polar bears, penguins, tigers, giraffes and elephants. We also like riding on the carousel and taking the tram, so I suggest splurging on a pass that includes rides.

Country Club Plaza

Visiting the Country Club Plaza with it’s Spanish architecture, fountains, and high-end retail shopping feels like a special treat. For a family dinner on the town, I’d suggest Bo Ling’s, Brio Tuscan Grille, Buca de Beppo, or the Cheesecake Factory.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is located near the Plaza. The museum is free (although you may have to pay for parking) and often hosts family-friendly events. My girls enjoy the Sculpture Park on sunny days.
Iconic Shuttlecock Statues

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is located near the Plaza. The museum is free (although you may have to pay for parking) and often hosts family-friendly events. My girls enjoy the Sculpture Park on sunny days.

Loose Park

Loose Park is one of our favorite parks in Kansas City. It is located near the Plaza and has a great playground, rose garden and a beautiful pond. The homes that surround the park exude historic charm.

Loose Park is one of our favorite parks in Kansas City. It is located near the Plaza and has a great playground, rose garden and a beautiful pond. The homes that surround the park exude historic charm.

Brookside

The Annual Brookside Warm Up Parade is Saturday, March 16, 2019 at 2pm.
Pack Your Green! The Annual Brookside Warm Up Parade is Saturday, March 16, 2019 at 2pm.

If historic charm is your thing, head 5 minutes down the road to Brookside. I suggest trying out local coffee favorite, The Roasterie Cafe before browsing the neighborhood’s shops.

And wait, there is so much more…

Kansas City Royals Baseball opening day is March 28

Our spring break is mid-March, but there are a few extra events taking place this spring that I MUST share.

  1. Kansas City Royals Baseball opening day is March 28
  2. It’s March Madness! Kansas City hosts college NCAA basketball tournament March 29-31
  3. Deanna Rose Farmstead opens for the season, April 1. It’s located in Overland Park, KS (a suburb of KC). Honestly, I could write a whole other post on things to do near OP!

I hope this gives you a lot of great ideas for fun family adventures in Kansas City, Missouri… my beloved hometown! I’d love to hear what you think of my list.

Happy Travels – Kelly

Hiking Kessler Mountain Trails in Fayetteville, Arkansas

When I meet people these days I typically ask them about their favorite local restaurants and their favorite places to hike near our new home in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We’ve got a lot of great hiking suggestions, but Kessler Mountain was on the top of many lists. When we were blessed with a warm winter morning, we decided we would seize the opportunity to explore Kessler Mountain Regional Park.

Here is a link to the Kessler Trail map. There are 10 trails in the park with different levels of difficulty.

Kessler Mountain Regional Park in Fayetteville Arkansas. Hiking.
Kessler Mountain Regional Park

We decided to start on the Last Call trail which is 1.2 miles. Portions of the trail were muddy from recent rain, but for the most part we enjoyed good hiking conditions.

Family Hiking trails in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Northwest Arkansas. Hiking.

As first time visitors, we appreciated the directional trail signage.

Last Call and Terrapin Station trails in Kessler Mountain

Hiking with toddlers means exploring every rock, tree and bridge we cross.

Kessler Mountain.
Kessler Mountain

The trails were well used by both hikers and mountain bikers. The rule is mountain bikers should yield to hikers, but we definitely kept our eyes and ears open to make sure the girls were safely out of the way. Everyone was very polite and patient with us!

Kessler Mountain Fayetteville Arkansas

When we reached the end of Last Call, we had a few options. 1. turn around to go back. 2. take a right uphill towards Terrapin Station trail. 3. take a left downhill towards Terrapin Station trail.

Out of curiosity, we headed uphill and found the main reason to continue is to join up with other trails like Crazy Mary. (I was kind of hoping for a lookout, but we didn’t see much besides water towers) So, we turned around and headed downhill on the Terrapin Station trail which is .9 miles. This was our favorite portion of the hike because it felt the most secluded.

Bluffs Fayetteville Arkansas
Awesome bluffs and rock formations

I think winter is a great time to hike because you get great views of bluffs and rocks that you might miss when the trees are thick and green. I also don’t worry as much about snakes, ticks and mosquitoes.

Winter hiking northwest arkansas
These rocks reminded me of the trolls in the movie Frozen. Just me!?

Soon after the trail split between Terrapin Station and Chinkapin Oak, it joined back into the Last Call trail and zig zagged back down to our starting point.

terrapin station and chinkapin oak

We promised our girls a cookie and play time at the park’s playground as a reward for good behavior on the hike. We were blown away by how great they did. Our four-year-old walked all 2.5 miles on her own! And, our two-year-old walked impressive stretches and rode happily on Dad’s shoulders for the remainder.

playground at Kessler mountain park in Fayetteville arkansas
The playground at Kessler Mountain is a fun outdoor themed space for little ones to climb and slide.

Near the playground, a path connects to the paved Cato Springs Trail which is 3 miles long and joins the Razorback Greenway Trail. (according to an article we found from the Fayetteville Flyer)

I was curious about the unique names of some of the trails in the park and started googling them when we got home. Terrapin Station is the name of a Grateful Dead album. Crazy Mary is a Pearl Jam song. Is this a coincidence? Or, am I starting to figure out the theme? If someone knows the answer, please share!

Now that we’ve been to Kessler Mountain Park, I can see why others recommended it. We can’t wait to go back and explore more of the trails.

Falling for Fayetteville – Our 9 Favorite Things Since Moving to Northwest Arkansas Last Month

We’ve been in our new home in Fayetteville, Arkansas for a little over a month and I have to tell you – I’m very excited about all that Northwest Arkansas has to offer. From art to nature, here are my 9 ‘first-loves’ in Fayetteville:

1. Crystal Bridges Museum of Art

Making snow monsters art project at Crystal Bridges Museum of Art

Crystal Bridges is located in Bentonville, Arkansas. I went to Crystal Bridges on a girls road trip with my sister a few years ago and enjoyed the art and fabulous Eleven Restaurant. I couldn’t wait to take the girls to the museum for a Preschool Playdate in January which featured a musical performance, winter themed play activities and an art project. My girls are art maniacs, they color everything – even themselves! They absolutely LOVED Crystal Bridges and can’t wait to go back for the next preschool playdate in February.

2. Scott Family Amazeum

Climbing high on the Canopy at the Amazeum

The Amazeum is located right down the street from Crystal Bridges. This place is packed with interactive exhibits. I think our current favorites include the cave, climbing canopy, and homestead cabin. We had such a blast we decided to get a family membership.

Tip: We didn’t realize that the museum is closed on Tuesdays so we made the trip up to Bentonville and had to find another activity. We decided to try out the Walmart Museum which is located on the square. I treated the girls to an ice cream cone with extra sprinkles at the Spark Café Soda Fountain. (Spark Café is adorable) The girls had a little too much sugar for the ride home, so we walked down the street to Dave Peel Park which was a convenient and fun place to burn off energy.

3. The Winery at Sassafras Springs Vineyard

Sassafras Winery in Springdale, Arkansas offers a cozy space to enjoy both local and international wines. I can’t wait to go back in warm weather to enjoy the decks and patios.

4. Lake Fayetteville

Winter hike around Lake Fayetteville

My daughter and I took a 2.5 mile hike on a trail around Lake Fayetteville. The trail went through the woods with views of the lake. I was surprised that we could find such a beautiful spot without leaving the city. There was a playground in the parking area which was an added bonus!

5. Wilson Park Castle

Wilson Park Castle

My girls enjoy the great playgrounds, musical instruments and creek at Wilson Park which is conveniently located near downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas. At the edge of the park, we discovered the ‘castle’ which is a magical spot for my little girls who are princesses at heart.

6. Fayetteville Downtown Square and Gardens

Holiday light display in Fayetteville Downtown Square

‘Ohhhh! Ahhh!’ exclaimed our youngest daughter as we drove into downtown Fayetteville to look at the twinkling, colorful lights that lit up the square during the holidays. The atmosphere was truly festive and our four-year-old even went on a pony ride which was her first experience riding in a saddle.

7. Fayetteville Public Library

Holiday book tree at Fayetteville Public Library

We enjoy weekly trips to check out books at Fayetteville Public Library. We like the kids story times and the roof top deck on warmer winter days. The gorgeous library is located in downtown Fayetteville which makes a fun weekly excursion. I also appreciate that there is a remote drop-off box at the Bank of Fayetteville close to my house. So handy!

8. Gorgeous Scenery

Northwest Arkansas

Windy roads and rolling hills (mountains!?) lead to our new home. We have access to the White River less than a mile away which feeds into Beaver Lake. Bike trails abound – the Razorback Greenway trail is 36 miles and connects Bella Vista, Arkansas through Fayetteville. We have no excuse to get bored with all of these outdoor activities in our backyard.

Friendly Neighbors

Nothing says welcome to the neighborhood like brownies

Arkansas seems to mix a little Midwest friendliness with Southern charm and the result is neighbors who go out of their way to make you feel welcome. For this, we are most grateful!

19 Goals in 2019

I recently shared my 19 in 2019 list on facebook and instagram and I enjoyed the reactions I got from my friends and family. It was all very encouraging. I got the idea from the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast. It’s not surprising that most of my list has to do with traveling, hiking, and family.

  1. make daily green smoothies for girls and me
  2. grow veggies/herb garden and apple orchard
  3. go on new summit hike with my husband
  4. hike with my Dad and brother up Hallett
  5. celebrate Mom’s 60th birthday with a family trip
  6. girls trip to Dallas
  7. attend Dad’s football hall-of-fame induction
  8. hire 3-4 reliable babysitters
  9. join a book club
  10. take a writing or photography class
  11. do an ironic cross stitch
  12. take girls to 2 new states
  13. explore Arkansas
  14. keep 3+ house plants alive
  15. join moms group in Arkansas
  16. get girls passports
  17. take my oldest daughter (4 years old) to her first movie
  18. start family Friday night game and movie tradition
  19. get my hair cut each quarter
‘Green Smoothie’ (Goal #1)

Hike with Hike it Baby (Goal #13 and #15)

January Progress!

I’ve made progress on finding a mom’s group in Arkansas (#15) which has also helped me explore our new state (#13). I joined Hike it Baby which brings together young families who love to explore nature. The group welcomes both moms and dads, so it’s not your typical ‘moms group’, but I’m ok with that. Hike it Baby is a national organization – you can learn more at hikeitbaby.com.

Hike it Baby Blog

Hike it Baby also has a blog featuring fun and helpful articles about getting outdoors with little kids. I was excited to have a post published a few years ago called “What’s in My Pack?“. I wrote it when our oldest was a baby. I’m sure the post would be completely different if I re-wrote it now that we have a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old.

Hall of Fame

Last weekend I was thrilled to check #7 off my list. We attended my Dad’s induction into Missouri State University’s Sports Hall of Fame. My father received the honor for his success as a linebacker. He holds several football records for most tackles that haven’t been broken for over 35 years. Way to go Dad!