BBQ, Magic Mike, and the Little Apple: My weekend in and around Kansas City

So as many of you know, I’m a travel agent, and with that comes a few perks – such as winning a round-trip ticket with Southwest Airlines (my favorite domestic airline at that)! That was pretty awesome, but the tough part was deciding where to go! I didn’t want to go too far from Milwaukee because I didn’t have any more vacation days and it seemed silly to go to Puerto Rico for just a quick weekend as I’d like more time there than that. 

So when we decided to close our office for July 3rd since many of our suppliers were going to be closed as well, I called up one of my best friends, Cassie, who lives in Manhattan, Kansas (the “Little Apple”, tee hee – her husband is stationed in Fort Riley) and asked if I could come for a visit! A week and a one-hour flight later I landed in Kansas City early in the morning and was greeted by Cassie’s smiling face. We’ve been friends since high school and neither of us has any of our friends around us where we live, so we were both craving some major girl time.

First things first was breakfast (yes, I got there early enough for that!). Cassie’s only been in Kansas for a short while now but has learned of a few good places around the city. We headed right over to Chez Elle, and crepe/coffeehouse with an amazing menu. I’ve got my terrible sweet tooth so I ordered the Pomme Tarte for its warm apple crisp goodness and Cassie got the Acropolis with chicken, olives, and feta cheese to satisfy her savory side.

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The delicious menu at Chez Elle!

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Since Cassie actually lives a couple hours away from the city we had decided to get a hotel room for the night – we had too many festivities planned for the day to worry about driving home! We checked into our hotel for the night and went on our way, first getting pedicures (a rare but new favorite treat for me) and then wandering around the city to work up our appetites for lunch. Since it was getting hot outside (sorry, we’re Wisconsin girls who are used to icy cold weather) we ventured to a big mall to do some shoe shopping for a friend’s upcoming wedding.

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We’ll eat here next time!
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Outside the parking garage at the library – way cool!

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I definitely have to say that the best part of the day, and what I think should be someone’s number one reason to visit KC, was our dinner at Joe’s Kansas City Barbecue. Also a gas station (really) and totally unnoticeable for the average tourist, we made sure to be there by 5pm and not lollygag in the mall because this little place fills up FAST. We weren’t even that hungry yet and the line was outside the door and beginning to wrap around the building. If you haven’t heard of Joe’s KC BBQ then you need to turn on the Food Network and book your flight to Kansas City right now. I’m honestly not much of a meat eater but I do like the occasional ribs – and I’m pretty sure I could eat this for days and not get sick of it. Without exaggerating, these were the best ribs I’ve ever had in my life and might be the best I ever will have. I wonder if they do mail orders? I need more of this in my life #sorrynotsorry.

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We’re almost at the front doors! Only another 45 minute wait inside 🙂

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I wonder if I could get through even a half rack?
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My girl Cassie and I!

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Some of the many awards decorating the walls!
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The main event! A half rack… that I didn’t even half-way get through! But mmmmmmm!
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Literally just a gas station!

Later, after our stomachs calmed down a bit, we had planned a little swing at a wine bar before heading over to a movie, which may or may not have been Magic Mike XXL. Tannin had an amazing selection of wine, and I got my typical Cabernet, which was awesome! I wish I had written down the name of it but I was way too excited about Magic Mike to care 🙂

The Mainstreet Theater was putting on a special “Hootin and Hollerin” show, which it’s kind of known for. Can you imagine getting to watch Magic Mike in the theater and being allowed to whoop and yell how you feel? Not only did we get to do that but they gave us Magic Mike dollar bills to make it rain up in there! We were also able to order food and drinks, so I enjoyed my Blue Hawaiian while swooning over Joe Manganiello.

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We had a fun night, to say the least 🙂

The next morning we woke up and headed toward Manhattan, Kansas. I’m pretty used to driving through cornfields and boring scenery, but I have to say that Kansas’ landscape is hilly and beautiful! I wish I could have snapped a few pics but cameras can’t capture the same beauty.

We hung around for the morning at their apartment and ate some delicious Adobo chicken made by Cassie’s husband, who is Filipino. Again, I’m not much of a meat person but OMG this was awesome. I tried my hand at it a few weeks and it just wasn’t the same. Super impressed, Ben!

We didn’t have much planned for the day as we were worn out from barbecue and excitement over Magic Mike from the previous day. Being July 4th, the most patriotic thing we could do that was tour Fort Riley, where Cassie’s husband is stationed. I’ve never been on a military base before so I didn’t know what to expect. It took about 20 minutes for me to be approved (which was a cool experience in itself – they don’t just let anybody in there yanno) and we were inside the gates! It was pretty cool getting saluted too 🙂

Fort Riley is pretty much a little city in itself. There are neighborhoods full of different houses, apartments, and even some semi-mansions (the higher-ups get better digs – you can tell a person’s ranking by their house basically). They have gas stations, grocery stores, pools and even schools. It’s pretty amazing but I’m not sure if I would want that – you literally live where you work. The fort was huge though – very easy to get lost and you definitely need a car to get around. I’m pretty sure there were more people living there than in my home town back in Wisconsin. I highly suggest touring a fort if you have the opportunity! They even had some old tanks lying around that you can play with (okay not really but you can climb on them).

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Inside the tank! I wonder how many birds’ nests are inside?

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Couldn’t resist! We’re not twelve or anything…

Later on we went to Wamego, KS for the “biggest carnival in the state” and fireworks. Upon arrival we found it was basically a Ferris wheel with some food stands, soooooo no. We did stop in the Wizard of Oz museum but didn’t feel like paying to go through (although if you’re an actual fan that would be a fun experience). So we went back home to increase our patriotism by watching Captain America World Police (again… #sorrynotsorry).

All in all I definitely suggest a weekend in Kansas City – it’s fun, clean, and friendly with the best barbecue in the country (so far that I’ve had at least). Not to mention easy to get to as it’s smack dab in the middle of the USA! Yay Kansas!

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