Leftridge: Quick, Cheap Family Vacation Ideas

Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 9.13.18 PMWe’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.)

Fox_Theater_nightDon’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.


You might see Baldknobbers.

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!!

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23 Responses to Leftridge: Quick, Cheap Family Vacation Ideas

  1. the dude says:

    Kansas edition Lefty, Kansas edition.
    The peanut gallery needs to hear about the biggest ball of twine or the largest hand dug well or the trailer park in Doodahland noted for baiting 123 tornadoes. Don’t forget Mt. Sunflower!!!!

    • Lance The Intern says:

      You forgot the largest electric shovel in the world, “Big Brutus”….

    • Brandon Leftridge says:

      Good point. I didn’t even realize until you said it that these are all MO places.

      • mike t. says:

        hey, all kidding aside… KS has some great attractions…

        um…. the Cosmosphere in Hutch springs to mind… um…. I think there’s a casino somewhere near Wichita. Dodge City, yep, that’s gotta be on the list if you can stand the smell and don’t mind the kitschy re-creation. (of course, Garden City smells worse, but there’s nothing there anyway.) speaking of cowtowns, Abilene is right up there with their old town re-creation too and of course Ike’s presidential library. whoohoo.

        How much longer to Denver?

  2. Orphan of the Road says:

    Don’t forget to see The Jockey Club and Nate’s in Sedalia.

  3. rkcal says:

    You never realize how far away KC is from any place remotely interesting when you sit down with your sig. other and try to plan a driving weekend getaway. Time stands still when you’re debating the merits of Omaha vs. Wichita.

    • harley says:

      lfty they moved…I’ve eaten probably 200 of those…and never
      choked once….great idea as a midway point to the lake.

    • Brandon Leftridge says:

      Hahaha. Omaha all the way, right??

      • mike t. says:

        well, I can’t say much about Omaha since I haven’t been there in years, but it wouldn’t take a whole lot to beat out Wichita.

        that said, if you’re a car guy, you go to Wichita in mid-August (yeah, I know) for the Blacktop Nationals.

  4. harley says:

    we always ate at the wheel inside. there was this older overweight lady who was just
    ariot. by the time we got to Sedalia on our trip to the lake we were lit…hell
    putin would ha ve seemed funny….but this lady was a screamer….then of course
    on the way back there was one place to stop…dickie doos bar b q for the best
    freaking ribs I ever ate……Sedalia….how could the beard 1000 miss this
    eaters paradise????????????????????????????????

  5. harley says:

    another great piece lefty….get your resume…i’ll send it to my
    friend paul rudd….you are wasting your talent here in kc….luv it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • the dude says:

      Oh yes, by all means please DO send it to your ‘friend’ Paul Rudd.
      Please do harlinator, please do.

  6. Jim Mo says:

    It seems like the author wrote this 15 years ago and just blew off the dust and trotted it out again. He suggests a park in St Joe than admits he hasn’t been there any many years? Particularly interesting is his observation of downtown St. Louis which is full of homeless and thugs especially after the work day is done or on the weekends. Not a great place for kids. Kansas Cities downtown actually has residents and is thriving unlike St. Louis. What part of Chicago do you visit that reminds you of St. Louis ?because I’ve never seen it and I will make sure to continue to avoid it.
    So far the comments section has better ideas than the article itself.

  7. randyraley says:

    Errr, sorry 16,000 people have moved to St. Louis City over the last four years. Most of them downtown. St. Louis (St. Louis?) is now one of the big destinations for start up companies. Go figure.
    Yes, it has it’s problems, but you probably will never have business in places where there are problems. And it’s always nice to see an article that includes the phrases “uppity” and “Cardinal baseball fans” in one sentence.
    So over it.

    • Brandon Leftridge says:

      Come on, Randy– I said I LIKE St. Louis!

      And to be honest, I’VE had nothing but good experiences with their fans… that said, they have a reputation for a reason.

      • the dude says:

        Yeah Lefty, only people from the Lou get to bag on the LOU!!!!
        And that excludes YOU!!

      • the dude says:

        And what is it with KC people and the serious little man syndrome and feeling that they have to make up for the fact they are a flyover cowtown? People in STL could care less about that crap, they know they are not Chi-town or any big coastal city and are Ok with that.

  8. The ghost of car crash victim killed by Augie Busch says:

    What the hell is wrong with this author? This is the worst Rand McNally travel guide Ive ever read. Chicago is nothing like St Louis, they kill way more people in chi town. Hearne you need to fire this guy or at least cut his pay. Hire that Harley dude, hw knows Paul Rudd and onced fluffed Eric Stonestreet. That or maybe people could lighten up and stop getting defensive over someone pointing out the suckage that is St louis and Chicago. 2 words, Rahm Emanuel. nuff said.

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