Home of Kansas Speedway
A lot of NASCAR fans tend to get caught up in raceday excitement and forget that there are other things to do around the tracks. Sometimes, race fans don't always want to just hang around the track. I have not been to or visited all of these places but many of these have been suggested by fans or natives of the towns and states or even by folks in the NASCAR industry themselves! Others have come from websites or the chambers of commerce. So sit back and take an armchair road trip with me across the circuit...
Author’s note: This week I’m focusing on things to do free in Kansas City and the surrounding area! We all know many NASCAR fans in this economy are traveling on a budget and may not be able to afford admission into things they might want to see in the cities they visit. So this week, every one of my five things are free!
The Frontier Army Museum
The museum has collected and preserved artifacts that tell the tale of the Frontier Army from 1804 to 1916 and of Fort Leavenworth. The fort is the oldest active military post west of the Mississippi. Leavenworth has served as a military post since 1827. The museum provides wonderful insights into army life on the frontier during the Civil War. Of the Fort’s 5,634 acres, 214 of them are dedicated to a National Historic Landmark District.
If you want to honor and remember those who’ve died fighting for our country, the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery is located nearby. Buried here are Medal of Honor recipients, Operation Desert Storm soldiers, and even some Confederate prisoners of war.
If you have a taste for our nation’s history, be sure to check out the museum, fort, and cemetery. Best of all, it’s all free! Visit the Frontier Army Museum’s website or this Fort Leavenworth information site for hours of operation.
Hallmark Visitor’s Center
“If you switch the R and the C in racing, you get caring.” Mark Martin said it on the Letterman show in 2007 and today, if you’re visiting Kansas City, you can see how it rings true.
Located on the Missouri side of Kansas City, the Hallmark Visitor’s Center is dedicated to those little “chicken soup for the soul” moments that awe and inspire. The center has many permanent exhibits to visit as well as occasional special exhibits.
Parking and admission are FREE! And at the end, stop by the reception desk for your free souvenir! Visit their website for more information and virtual tours.
Harley Davidson Vehicle and Powertrain Operations Tours
From Hallmark to Harley Davidson, the Missouri end of Kansas City offers a variety of sightseeing opportunities for everyone. If sweet and sentimental isn’t your thing, you might want to check out this destination geared toward enthusiasts of the popular motorcycle manufacturer.
You will have the opportunity to take a guided tour through the 358,000-square-foot facility and watch the birth of one of these highly popular American-made machines. From gas tanks to fresh painted frames and highly sophisticated welding technology, fulfill all your testosterone powered dreams.
Tours of the operations plant are FREE but on a first come, first serve basis. Check out their website for hours of operation and tour schedules.
Travelling with children? Kids can get restless and all that pent up energy might be driving you crazy. Kaleidoscope by Hallmark is a children’s art studio where your kids can participate in independent art sessions geared toward their young and creative minds and to keep yours sane while you relax and take a break. If you want to participate, however, there are also family-oriented sessions so you can bond with your little ones.
The art studio is conveniently situated near the Hallmark visitor’s center. Admission is FREE and on a first come, first serve basis. Visit their website for more information and hours of operation.
Bizarre: Roadside Attractions
Every state and many towns have them. You’ve seen them. You probably wondered “what the #*%^@?” while driving past them. yeah, I’m talking about roadside attractions.
Everything’s up to date in Kansas City but for the domestic housewife, she might be happy to see this sculpture of a primitive iron to appreciate the modern conveniences of dry cleaning. It may not be a skyscraper but this T-rex statue stands more than seven stories high! At the end of your journey through Kansas City, you can have your meal delivered by train.
I’d say they’ve gone about as fur as they can go but if you’re itching for more, be sure to check out www.RoadsideAmerica.com for some more bizarre, offbeat, and fun destinations.