We’re approaching August which means a few things. It means that everyone’s attention is quickly being directed to the Chiefs and their pre-preseason activities and the Royals are once again becoming a sad footnote. It means that the heat is becoming oppressive and the lawns are quickly yellowing and dying. It means that kids are getting ready to head back to school, which, bringing me to the point of this piece, means the following: families everywhere are ready for their final summer vacation.
But what to do?
Times are tough. Despite Obumbler’s suggestion of an economic recovery and the DOW being in historic places, we’re still all broke and haggard.
We need to conserve, economically. Gone are the Salad Days of steak stuffed with caviar that just got done fucking a veal-lobster. We are a nation of Dollar Menu Minions, and our vacations must be adjusted accordingly. So before you pack your money-sucking shitbag children into the fam-wagon and head out to Six Flags Over Paris, take heed; you probably can’t afford it.
Therefore, I present you with some very easy, very cheap options for the final summer shindig. Give it a shot, won’t you?
Destination: St. Joseph, MO.
Why?: St. Joe gets a bad rap. I don’t know what it is, honestly. Sure, it may have a distinct smell, and it may be a little like Independence’s grown-up cousin who got a job driving a forklift at a distribution facility and quit smoking meth, but it’s much more than that. There’s a great, recently revamped (within the past couple of decades, I guess?) downtown district, neat, older neighborhoods with some attractive Victorian homes, and overall, it’s pretty safe.
Don’t Miss: Glore Psychiatric Museum is fucking neat. Seriously one of the coolest museums I’ve ever been to. Krug Park is great, too. (I think they have bison, but it’s been a long time since I went.) They’ve also got a pretty enjoyable Mexican restaurant called Barbosa’s and it’s basically in a castle or something. All of the St. Josephians love it.
Notable Residents You Might See: Eminem. (Probably not.) Radkey, the young punk band. (Probably not.) Jesse James. (Definitely not.)
Destination: St. Louis, MO.
Why: Look, I know it’s fun to loathe the shit out of St. Louis. They’re all uppity and their baseball fans are so bad they inspired a brilliant Twitter account that does nothing but ridicule their absurdity, but honestly? It’s a cool city. I hate to say it, but it feels like a bigger city than KC, and it feels that way because they don’t seem so hung up about it. It’s weird, and refreshing, and it’s the closest you can get to a big city like Chicago without actually going to Chicago. (But, I mean, given the chance, you should always go to Chicago over St. Louis. Obviously.)
Don’t Miss: A lot. The zoo is outstanding. The Arch. The botanical garden. Downtown, which feels way more like “downtown” than our downtown. (Mostly because there are more people there… you know, un-homeless people who aren’t just waiting for buses and asking you for cigarettes.) The whole Italian area (The Hill, I think) where they have all kinds of Italian food or whatever. White Castle. The Fox Theater, which is way nicer than any of our 300-year-old theaters.
Notable Residents You Might See: Scott Bakula, Maya Angelou (that’d be spooky!), Chuck Berry (not spooky, but could be sexually uncomfortable), Mark Buerhle, Nelly, Evan Peters, the rest of the St. Lunatics who aren’t Nelly, Ike Turner, Marilyn vos Savant.
Destination: Branson, MO.
Why: BECAUSE IT’S FUCKING BRANSON. I know it’s “like Las Vegas if Ned Flanders ran it,” but Branson will always hold a spot in my heart. I like it un-ironically, which I’m not sure a lot of people my age can honestly say. I grew up going there, and, despite its unapologetically right-wing, hardcore conservative-Christian views not necessarily being my bag, I find something about the wholesomeness appealing. You will not be stabbed to death in Branson, I promise.
Don’t Miss: Oh, jeez. Where to begin? GO KARTS! BUMPER BOATS! CHEAP BUFFETS! WAX MUSEUM! OUTLET MALLS! SILVER FUCKING DOLLAR CITY! Oh, and the lake and the little river-landing area and all of the t-shirt shops and the crazy forests and hills and shit.
Notable Residents You Might See: … well, I guess you might see some of the performers? They’re kinds of celebrities. Oh—my distant fourth cousin Bob Leftridge is the emcee of the Baldknobber’s Jamboree… so, yep. (If you see Bob, tell him that cousin Brandon says “hello” and I’m sure he’ll smile politely, nod, shake your hand and then shuffle away, completely unsure of what you’re talking about.)
There you have it—three places in Missouri you can visit after driving from anywhere from 45-minutes-to-four-hours. A short vacation. A time to build memories. A cheap way to impress your children who will never love you. A way to suggest that you actually did something this summer without exerting too much effort.
Congrats, Family Hero!!