This summer looks a lot different than what we envisioned when we were shivering and dreaming of sun back in January. But social distancing need not keep you away from fun. Celebrate the summer and stay safe with these ten ideas that support local businesses and give your streaming services a much-needed break.
Learn to Play an Instrument With Remote Music Lessons
If YouTube tutorials aren’t quite enough to advance your musical talents, may we suggest you head back to school? The School of Rock, that is. Students of all ages (yes, even adults), can learn the ins and outs of the guitar, piano, drums, bass, or their own vocal talents remotely during one-on-one lessons with local instructors from the music school, which has locations in Overland Park, Parkville, and Lee’s Summit. For those more interested in listening to live music than playing it, the Kansas City Symphony has been hosting regular weekend streaming concerts. Many local artists are also taking to their feeds to perform, so make sure you’re following your faves.
Plan a Driving Tour of KC Sites
All those colorful murals you see on Instagram? Now is the perfect time to check them out IRL, along with other Kansas City landmarks, whether it’s the iconic fountains or historic architecture. Do a little research, craft your itinerary and hit the road. Our suggestions: The “Kansas City I’m So in Love” mural at 20th and McGee Streets in the Crossroads, the majestic Henry Wollman Bloch Fountain between Union Station and Liberty Memorial choreographed with an ever-changing pattern of displays, and Kansas City’s first skyscraper, the neoclassic-style New York Life Building on West 9th Street.
Visit a Local Farm (virtually)
Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about life on the farm is just a Zoom call away, courtesy of Storm Dancer Farm’s virtual visits. The Smithville-based operation is home to poultry, sheep, and cattle, plus lots of adorable goats you can get up close and personal with—from a safe and smell-free distance. Options for video visits include a full farm tour, a custom lesson on the topics of your choice, or an in-depth look at how the farm uses goats to help control weeds and brush in a low-emission, highly entertaining way, but the crew is also happy to accommodate other ideas.
Get Creative With Crane Yard Clay
Chalk drawings are cool and all, but Crane Yard Clay can help your family up its art game. The store is selling paint-at-home kits that come with pottery pieces to decorate, brushes, glaze colors and instructional ideas. Once you’re done painting, bring them back to Crane Yard Clay to have them fired. Within a week, the food- and microwave-safe pieces are ready for pick up and use. Crane also makes kits for kids, complete with low-fire clay so they can get their hands dirty and let their imaginations run wild. For a more in-depth pottery education, check out a variety of classes taught via zoom for just $15.
Get Cooking With the Culinary Center of Kansas City
Staying inside is a whole lot more fun when you’ve got delicious food to eat. The Culinary Center of Kansas City is here to help, offering live classes online so you can perfect your skills without leaving the house. Once you’ve registered for a class, expect a link to a private Facebook group and a list of the ingredients you’ll need to get cooking. Online classes scheduled for this summer include Cajun favorites and an intriguing cheese-making workshop but check the website for the latest and greatest offerings.
Pull Up to the Boulevard Drive-In
You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your car to take in a show at the Boulevard Drive-In Theatre. The iconic local cinema reopened for the season with new policies to keep guests safe—the concession stand is closed, so pack your own treats accordingly. The pause on big screen releases means the lineup includes classic films like The Big Lebowski and Monty Python and the Holy Grail along with more recent hits. But regardless of what’s showing, the drive-in experience is a joyful throwback to simpler times. Bonus: Kids 11 and under always get free admission.
Hire an Ice Cream Truck For Your Neighborhood
Few things conjure up the feeling of summer like the tune of an ice cream truck and the glee that follows. Recreate the experience on your terms by bringing Melt Box KC to your neighborhood and marvel at the upgraded treats. No half-melted drumsticks or slightly deformed popsicles here. Instead, the ice cream food truck serves up flavors like loaded French toast, chocolate cherry bomb, and matcha green tea in addition to the classics with an array of toppings and sauces. The sweet treats are available in a cup or the truck’s special “Melt Monster.” The signature item is a sweet bun stuffed with ice cream, sealed, and topped with your sauce of choice.
Picnic Like a Pro
Pack a basket filled with local goodies and switch up your dining scenery with a good old-fashioned picnic. The French Market, Better Cheddar, and Ibis Bakery are among our go-tos when it comes to food, but what about the booze? Loads of local bars and restaurants are now offering bottled cocktails, and you also can’t go wrong with a bottle of wine. Weston-based Vox Vineyards offers curbside pickup of their vino made with Midwest heritage grapes, and during select events, guests are encouraged to bring a picnic with them to enjoy at the vineyard. Beyond providing a scenic setting, the vineyard is set up with interactive tasting stations positioned throughout which allow guests to learn about grape details, tasting notes, and more.
Make a KC Bingo Card to Celebrate All Things Local
From owning a piece of swag celebrating every Kansas City pro sports team to finally trying that one barbecue spot you’ve never made it to, KC is full of opportunities that might blend into the background during daily life. But not this summer. Craft a bingo card filled with local activities you’ve always wanted to do and make exploring the city and supporting local businesses into a game of discovery. If that sounds like too much work, Visit KC has crafted its own downloadable card, which includes DIY crafts with help from Hallmark and tuning into the Kansas City Zoo’s 24/7 animal cams. (Staying at home and washing your hands is the free space, naturally).
Take It Outside
When all else fails, take a hike. Powell Gardens is open to the public with advanced timed tickets to ensure appropriate safety measures are implemented. While you’re there, check out the seven spectacularly themed gardens, a summer exhibition highlighting the transformative power of play, and snacks and beverages by chef Michael Foust. Looking for something on the other side of the state line? The Overland Park Arboretum boasts almost six miles of paved and wood-chipped trails in addition to peaceful gardens. Wherever you are, city parks and trails are open across the metro to offer a break from familiar surroundings and a breath of fresh air.