5 Ways to Play in Fall and Winter

Meteorologists are predicting the winter of 2016 to be a warm one! Take advantage of it with plenty of ways to play this fall and winter. #CLIFkids [ad]

Just a few days ago, meteorologists in Kansas City started releasing their weather reports for winter 2016. Most of them agreed– winter would be mild, and at times unseasonably warm, with little snow. While that may be a bummer for snow-lovers, it’s a great thing for everyone who loves to play outside! This fall and winter is going to be a great one for PLAY, and today, I’m sharing my 5 favorite ways to play in fall and winter (with a few tips on where to play in Kansas City, too)!

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Top 10 Kansas City Fall Activities (For Families)

Looking for something awesome to do this fall in Kansas City? Here's the full list of the top 10 best things to do in Kansas City during the fall if you have a family or children! These are all family friendly and oh-so-fun, so start tackling your Fall Bucket List now!

It is no secret that I absolutely love Kansas City. Everything about living here is so great– it seems like the best of all worlds with it’s small town feel and big city thrill, the fantastic weather (we are so lucky to experience all four seasons, including this beautiful fall weather that we’ve already gotten a taste of this year)… just everything. So whether you’re from here, or you’re just visiting this fall, there is plenty to do if you have a family– from animals to pumpkins and everything in between, this list has you covered with all of the coolest things to do in KC this fall– both on specific weekends and all autumn long. It’s your ultimate Kansas City Fall Bucket List!

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Must-Have Annual Memberships for Kansas City Families!

Looking for the perfect gift or great summer activity for your family? If you live in or near Kansas City, here is the run-down of what memberships to get (and which ones to skip!) so you can spend your money wisely, and save by getting an annual pass!

 

This winter, I had what many of my friends referred to as my “grinch year.” I was up to my eyeballs in too many toys, and I put a ban on the entire family– NO. TOYS. PERIOD. I was not going to let another toy come into my house when we were overloaded even after getting rid of a bunch. Instead, I encouraged my family to consider ideas that might be more long-lasting and educational, but still fun (like subscription boxes or annual memberships). I also put my money where my mouth was and got my son an annual pass to SeaLife Aquarium, the Legoland Discovery Center, and to Union Station, 3 places we visited last fall and loved.

And this summer? I’m so thankful for my grinch year, because the memberships we have now are perfect for our summer fun, and we’ve been getting tons of use out of each. So, now that my son and I are well-versed in what memberships are worth it in the KC area (and which you might want to skip).

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Kansas City Crown Center Staycation Guide: Day 2

Looking for the best Kansas City staycation or vacation? You can't miss out on a Crown Center staycation! It's perfect for families of all ages (and only minutes away from P&L for adults, too!) Here's a roundup and review of the best things to do!

If you tuned in last Wednesday, you saw a glimpse at the first day of our Crown Center staycation, where I reviewed the Sheraton Crown Center and shared why we love Minsky’s so much. I also talked about why the pool deck of the Sheraton has, hands-down, the best sunset view in Kansas City.

But the first day was hardly the only exciting thing about our awesome staycation. Day two had a lot of really exciting things in store, including Sea Life Aquarium, Legoland Discovery Center, and Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant!

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Kansas City Crown Center Staycation Guide: Day 1

Looking for the best Kansas City staycation or vacation? You can't miss out on a Crown Center staycation! It's perfect for families of all ages (and only minutes away from P&L for adults, too!) Here's a roundup and review of the best things to do!

Though I haven’t lived too far south of the metro for most of my life, and while I have been to Crown Center and seen a few of the sites and activities at one time or another, there was still plenty I was missing out on. For the longest time, I was spending my vacation time, energy, and money outside of my own city, trying to see other places. Then I got it through my thick skull that I needed a vacation, pronto. When a local homeschooling week offer came across my inbox, I knew I needed to take the leap and plan a Crown Center vacation for my little one, whether or not we went during that week. There was just way too much family-friendly stuff for us to miss out on Crown Center!

Our staycation started on a Monday afternoon when we first arrived at Crown Center. We were staying at the Sheraton Crown Center in Kansas City. The Sheraton hotel is one of two hotels that connects directly to Crown Center, which is really convenient– you park once and that’s all you have to do the entire time, since you can essentially walk wherever you’d like to go.

I will note that, regardless of what anyone might tell you when you book your hotel, the parking is $16 per night. I’d initially been informed that it was $16 for the duration of the stay, so I wasn’t a happy camper. However, the Sheraton worked really hard to make it right, which was awesome of them. You’ll also want to note that when driving to the Sheraton, the parking garage has the address of the Sheraton on it, not the Sheraton hotel name– I drove past it three times looking for a parking garage that said “Sheraton.” Oops. Keep an eye out for the garage and you can’t miss it, but if you’re expecting a clearly marked Sheraton garage, you’ll run into problems like I did.

Looking for a great place to stay in KC? Check out this review of the Sheraton Crown Center!

At the front desk, I talked to the really awesome desk attendant, who actually happens to be from the small town right next to mine. Because Sheraton internet is $10 each night, I asked if there was anything he could do for me there, and he was able to waive that fee– the point there is that it never hurts to ask for an upgrade or a special something thrown in when you’re checking into a hotel. When I had booked my room, they actually had me on a lower floor, but when I got there, he was quick to tell me that another room on a higher floor was available, and we were moved up to the 28th floor! Zach loved looking at the amazing view from our window, and watching all of the buses drive by. I’m so glad we were able to stay on the 28th floor, because one of the best parts of our stay was the incredible view.

Even though an SPG rewards account can’t guarantee you upgrades, getting one is a great idea, because it’s free, and if you stay at any of the Starwood Preferred Group hotels (including Sheraton, Westin, and many others), you’ll earn points for your stays that can be redeemed for free nights or even airline miles– it’s worth joining the club!

Finally, the desk attendant also asked us if we’d like to forgo housekeeping. If you’re making a short stay, it’s a wise choice– you’ll get a voucher for $5 off at the hotel restaurants if you do! To me, if I’m staying just a couple of nights, I’m fine using the same towels and sheets. How many of us really change our towels and sheets every night at home? Housekeeping on a two night stay just isn’t necessary for me, and saving $5 is awesome!

Looking for incredible Kansas City pizza? This review talks about why Minsky's pizza is the way to go!

For dinner, we decided to order Minsky’s Pizza. Our thought process was essentially that we wanted affordable pizza that would deliver to our hotel, and Minsky’s did just that. Plus, I’d read some good reviews online, and Minsky’s has the distinction of being rated Kansas City’s Best Pizza since 1976– no small feat! While there were definitely other pizza places that delivered to our hotel with a wider variety of options (like a pizza/deli that had cake!), Minsky’s was by far the most affordable choice, and it’s high rating for gourmet pizza made it a must-try. For around $30 including tax, tip, and delivery, we got a large cheese pizza, a good sized order of breadsticks, and some breaded mushrooms. Not bad!

One thing to note that threw me a bit was that even if they ask for your room number on the phone, Sheraton does not allow the pizza delivery to go up to your room (it’s a safety concern). You’ll need to meet them in the lobby, so be ready– they call when they’re approaching and you head down to pick it up. I was totally unaware of this (because I’d stayed in other hotels where pizza deliveries go right to your room), so I wanted to share this detail.

Review of Sheraton hotel at Crown Center in Kansas City

Because the Sheraton has a mini fridge in-room, we were able to save leftovers for a midnight snack. We are a big fan of bringing our own snacks and breakfast foods along to cut down on the expenses that room service incurs (the Sheraton doesn’t have a complementary breakfast, but there is complementary bottled water and coffee in your room!), so we paired our pizza with grapes we had brought along.

After dinner, we decided to head over for a swim. The Sheraton has an outdoor pool, but it’s heated, meaning even when it’s chilly, you are able to go for a swim. To get to the pool, you need to go down to the Mezzanine level from your room, then go across a walkway and over to a small, gold elevator. That will then take you up to the health club, where you can take the stairs or another elevator up to the key-access pool. If you get lost, the front desk is always happy to give directions as to which elevators to take and where they’re at.

Kansas City-- sunset over Union Station, as photographed from the Sheraton Crown Center pool deck

One unique feature of the pool is the little tunnel– there’s an area where you can enter the pool indoors (no larger than a hot tub) and then swim out through a tunnel. In the cooler months, it helps you get adjusted to the water before hitting the cool air, and allows you to exit and enter in a heated room instead of the cold breeze. Plus, what kids don’t love swimming through a short tunnel? My big recommendation with the pool is to visit around sunset. Whether or not you choose to swim, the pool deck is the best place to watch the sunset– it’ll set just past Union Station, giving you an amazing view. We loved watching sunset over Union Station from the pool– it’s the perfect viewing place! Because the pool is open from 5am until 10pm, there are plenty of hours in the day for a dip in the pool.

I will note that, when we returned from the pool, we had thought we’d watch a little TV before bed. There’s very little children’s programming on the hotel TV, so if that’s part of your routine, I’d suggest just bringing some books to read or a device like we did, so we could Netflix on our┬áKindle. There is PBS, but that programming ends around 5 or 6pm, and then there’s Nick, but that programming ends fairly early before switching to Nick at Night, also, so definitely plan to bring a backup plan for kiddos.

Overall, we had a wonderful experience at the Sheraton hotel, and definitely plan to stay there again the next time we’re in Kansas City. I’m also a huge fan of Minsky’s pizza now, and can’t wait until I’m able to grab those breaded mushrooms again– yum!

 

Stay tuned to hear more about our staycation adventure, with reviews of other great Crown Center hot spots like Legoland, Sea Life Aquarium, and Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant!