Friday, September 28, 2012

Kansas Road Trip 2012: Crown Center, the Link and Union Station

We first visited the Crown Center and surrounding area last year and we were amazed by everything in the district.  This year we went back, and even though we went on a Sunday afternoon when things were pretty slow, it is easy to see why the Crown Center district in Kansas City is still one of the most impressive mixed use developments in the United States.

Crown Center was opened in 1971 and is named for the crown logo of Hallmark Cards.  The Crown Center development, which is close to 100 acres, was the grand idea of the founder of Hallmark.  Today the Crown Center is home to lots of really cool attractions and a great shopping center anchored by Halls.  For those playing the home game, Halls department stores are part of Hallmark, too.

Inside Crown Center is Legoland, a huge sea life aquarium and several theaters, so if you are traveling with kids this is a great place to visit in Kansas City.  Crown Center is connected to other parts of the district by the Link which is an elevated climate-controlled pedestrian walkway, and you can follow this thing all the way from Crown Center to the historic Kansas City Union Station.  This fall the KC Union Station is hosting a special Titanic exhibit but the building is home to several really cool attractions including a planetarium, science city, and a railroad exhibit.  It is free to go inside Union Station and explore the building, but there is a charge for most of the special attractions.  Still, if you have kids or are young at heart, it will be well worth the money.

This post really doesn't go Crown Center or Union Station justice - you really have to go see this area yourself.  And save time to check out the World War I Liberty Memorial.  We'll have pictures of the Liberty Memorial to show you in an upcoming post, and trust us when we say that this thing is seriously impressive.  Plus it's where you'll find the best view of the Kansas City skyline for photography.  We've still got more to share with you from our Kansas Road Trip 2012 so keep reading Josh and Joe Travels!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kansas Road Trip 2012: Shawnee Indian Mission

Driving across the Shawnee Mission Parkway on our way to Country Club Plaza and UMKC we had probably passed the small sign for the Shawnee Indian Mission dozens of times over the past few years.  So this year we decided to stop.

The Shawnee Indiana Mission historic site is just blocks off the parkway and is a collection of historic buildings dating back to the 1800's when the mission was founded as a manual training school for young boys and girls.  Boys and girls at the mission went to school about six hours each day except on weekends when school was only three hours.  Girls helped with sewing, laundry, cooking and other duties while the boys worked in the farm and shop.  Bedtime was 8:00pm because the boys and girls got up at four in the morning.

The historic Shawnee Indian Mission site can be toured for just a few dollars a person, but we think their annual fall fair would be the best time to visit.  During the fall fair they have demonstrations, storytellers, crafts and even a play.  Check out their website for more information and look for more tips on great places to visit in Kansas City right here on Josh and Joe Travels!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Kansas Road Trip 2012: Stroud's Fried Chicken

Stroud's Restaurant in Kansas City is famous for pan fried chicken and we love to eat with the locals when we travel, so it's no surprise that Stroud's was at the top of our list for a Sunday meal.  There are two Stroud's locations in Kansas City and we go to the one on Shawnee Mission Parkway not far from Country Club Plaza and UMKC.  We actually really enjoy the drive across Shawnee Mission Parkway, and we have a post coming up about our visit to the Shawnee Mission historic site, so keep reading Josh and Joe Travels to get a glimpse of the area before Stroud's started cooking up the best pan fried chicken in Kansas City.

Stroud's is all about pan fried chicken, and they serve it up family style, so when you go for the first time be ready for them to bring lots of food to your table.  The menu at Stroud's lets you order fried chicken to share, then get soup, salad, potato and vegetables for each person.  The first time we went we ordered separately and almost got more chicken than we could eat.  Now that we've caught on to this sharing thing we get exactly what we want and we both leave full.

The chicken is really good like you would expect from a place like Stroud's - really tender and juicy big pieces of pan fried chicken.  But if you've never had freshly made pan fried chicken be ready to wait a few extra minutes while you enjoy some of the best chicken soup Joe's ever tasted.  Josh loves the cinnamon roles.  These things come out of kitchen piping hot so be sure to save room.  Stroud's is super family friendly even though they have a great bar with big screen TVs to watch football.  The day we visited they had a big wedding party come in for a meal.  This place is affordable, too.  We shared four pieces of chicken and with tax and tip our bill was under forty bucks.

Kansas City has great food and great places to visit, so keep reading Josh and Joe Travels to read more about the best places to stop in Kansas!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kansas Road Trip 2012: Country Club Plaza and the Plaza Art Fair

We love Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, and we were especially thrilled to be in KC this year on the weekend of the annual Plaza Art Fair.  Country Club Plaza is one of the most extraordinary shopping districts we've ever visited, with unique architecture, great restaurants and apartments lining greenways and parks.  It really is impressive, and it's in Kansas City.

Country Club Plaza is right next to UMKC where we go to see the IUPUI Jags take on the Kangaroos for a conference volleyball matchup.  We could really go on and on about Country Club Plaza, but this year we have pictures to show you of the Plaza Art Fair, which featured over 200 artists, more than two dozen plaza restaurants and three live music stages.

Plaza Art Fair is probably one of the largest art fairs we've ever visited, and it was especially cool to see all the artist in their white tents lining the streets of the plaza.  If you are every in KC, don't miss Country Club Plaza!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Kansas Road Trip 2012: Moon Marble in Bonner Springs

A few years ago, Joe spotted a brochure for Moon Marble in the brochure rack at our hotel in Kansas, and on a hunch that it would be good, hijacked our morning to make a trip out to Bonner Springs to visit Moon Marble for the very first time.  This year, Joe went straight to the back of the store to the marble counters having spent all year waiting to buy another handmade Bruce marble.  And this year, Joe got two.

Moon Marble is a toy store in Bonner Springs, Kansas, that has one of the best selections of toys, games and novelties in Kansas.  But most important, they handmake marbles at Moon, and each one is uniquely special, two never coming out quite the same.  Going to the Moon has become an annual tradition for us, and this year when we pulled into the parking lot there was a big space blocked off for a bus.  It reminded us that they do marble making demonstrations in the back of the store, which is really too cool to pass up when you visit.  If you even think twice on skipping the marble making demo, just ask yourself, when are you likely to see someone handmake a marble again in your life?  If you can't quickly think of another time, then grab a seat on the wooden bleachers and enjoy the 15 minute show.

Joe has bought a new handmade marble at the Moon every year and loves the designs by artisan and owner Bruce Breslow.  Josh has a few crafted by Ernie.  These are handmade pieces of art unlike anything else, and you can get one for as little as about twenty bucks.  We love the Moon, but if you want to find out what an "end of day" marble is, you'll have to go to Moon Marble in Bonner Springs!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Kansas Road Trip 2012: Papa Bob's BBQ in Bonner Springs

We love great BBQ, so we just had to make a stop at Papa Bob's BBQ in Bonner Springs after we saw their signature "Destroyer" sandwich on Man vs Food.  We knew right away that we wouldn't be ordering the "Destroyer" - much less the "Ultimate Destroyer" which cost almost sixty bucks - but we did know we would have a great lunch.

Papa Bob's is an unassuming little white building located on K-32 lust  few miles off 435, so if you're in KC you've got no excuse not to hit this place for lunch or dinner.  The place looks small when you walk inside, complete with a lunch counter, but their is a big dining room with plenty of tables just off to the side.  And if you go back in that dining room, look for the United States map.  When we visited, we talked a bit with Bob's wife and she gave us a push pin to put on the map.  So now we're one of those orange pins near Indianapolis on the big map in Papa Bob's.  How cool is that?

Papa Bob's BBQ has an extensive menu for a BBQ joint.  They've got all the regular staples of smoked meats like pulled pork and smoked beef and turkey, plus ribs and burnt ends.  Joe got a sandwich piled high with two meats on the recommendation of our server - pulled pork and sliced turkey.  The smoked corned beef on rye was too much for Josh to resist, and the fries are just as crispy as they say on the menu.  If you've never had smoked corned beef, this stuff is awesome so don't be afraid to order it when you visit Papa Bob's in Bonner Springs.  This place is affordable for lunch.  We got out of there for under $30 including tax and tip, and they take Visa and Mastercard just in case you order more food than you've got cash in your pocket.

There is lots of great food in Kansas City and we can't wait to tell you all about it, so keep watching Josh and Joe Travels to find the best places to eat in Kansas City!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Kansas Road Trip 2012: Visit Historic Bonner Springs

After a summer filled with fairs and festivals, it was good to get back on the open road for our annual Kansas Road Trip.  We've been visiting Kansas City every fall for several years and Bonner Springs has quickly become one of our favorite stops.  Bonner Springs is on the west side of Kansas City just outside the loop, so even if you are staying downtown, this historic area is just a few minutes away.  Bonner Springs is home to one of our absolute favorite stores in the country - Moon Marble - so keep checking for our post coming up soon about our 2012 trip to the moon.

Before the Moon opened, we had a few extra minutes to walk around downtown Bonner Springs, which is filled with thrift stores and antique shops that actually open early enough on a Saturday morning to check out before lunch.  Bonner Springs is a river town, so count on seeing some unique architecture.  Our first few trips to the Moon we missed downtown Bonner Springs entirely, so if you go be sure to check it out, and keep reading Josh and Joe Travels to see pictures from our favorite spots in Bonner Springs!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Georgetown Fair Queen: 2012 fair week pictures delivered

This week we traveled to Georgetown, Illinois, to visit our friends at the Georgetown Fair Queen Pageant to deliver the pictures from fair week in August.  We had been working on the pictures pretty much every day since the end of the fair in August, so it was very satisfying for us to deliver the pictures to 2012 Miss Georgetown Fair Hayley Lockwood.

As the official photographers of the Georgetown Fair Queen we don't just photograph the pageant.  We photograph the fair queen year round, and our coverage of the new queen actually starts in July at the queen's tea and contestant orientation.  We don't know at that point who will be the next Georgetown Fair Queen, but we know she is in there somewhere as we photograph the practices and take the headshots for the newspaper.  Once the new queen is crowned, we go back through the pictures of all those events, and if we get lucky, we can really illustrate the queen's journey from becoming a contestant in July to being crowned in August.

Albums are our favorite way to show pictures and this year we really stepped things up in terms of what we delivered.  Last year we found out that most fair queens in Illinois bring their scrapbooks to regional meetings where the state fair queen picks the best book.  We took that as a challenge to make sure the Georgetown Fair Queen has a scrapbook filled with high quality pictures, and we think we've achieved that goal.  This year we delivered a total of 10 albums, and because everybody loves to look at pictures on their computers and share them electronically, we delivered a total of 9 photo CDs with print releases.  And even though we are volunteers with Georgetown Fair Queen Pageant, everyone still gets the boutique packaging, the custom designed CD cases and the tissue-wrapped books.

With the 2012 Georgetown Fair Queen pictures delivered, we are eager to get back on the road for our fall adventures.  We are looking forward to posting lots of pictures from our annual Kansas road trip which is coming up soon, and we have stops planned in St. Louis, Kansas City and Lawrence just to name a few.  We'll also be giving you an insiders look at Key West during Fantasy Fest and showing you how to ditch the common tourist spots to see the best of the Florida Keys.  You will see it all right here at Josh and Joe Travels!