How to Have a Boatload of Fun in KC

You can have a boatload of fun in KC without even sticking your toe in the water. Here are five boaty things to do this weekend that include a recovered sunken-ship, a divey lounge, and riverboat casino (or two), and a mermaid-saturated restaurant marked by a marooned boat in Kansas City.

Plus, if you’re visiting during the summer, you’re trip to KC will definitely be more fun if you squeeze in your swimming suit and an outing to Oceans of Fun to immerse yourself in waves, riptides, and swim-up bars.

Get your GPS and let’s row.

Arabia Steamboat Museum

400 Grand Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64105
(816) 471-1856

The Arabia Steamboat sank in the Missouri River near Kansas City Sept. 1856. Residents rediscovered it in a cornfield in 1988. Now you can see one of the largest pre-civil war collections of memorabilia, which was excavated from the ship and placed in a 30,000 square-foot museum in the River Market in 1991.

More than 80,000 people visit the museum each year to see 4,000 boots and shoes, 247 hats, 235 ax heads, 29 jars of pickles, 328 pocket knives and one child’s doll. You’ll learn that people were a lot smaller back then and they packed a whole lot more to survive the challenges of the new frontier. More than 220 tons of cargo went down with the ship.

Bring a hankie to Arabia Steamboat. When you hear the story about Lawrence the mule, you may get weepy.

The Ship

1217 Union
Kansas City, MO 64101

fun in KC
Dance the night on a real ship deck at The Ship: Photo Credit: Scooter’s Bar Guide

When the Ship first opened after prohibition in 1935, it reportedly attracted a diverse crowd from judges and politicians to prostitutes and hoodlums. In 1995, the Ship was decommissioned by the city to make room for a park. In 2004, current Ship owners, Josh Mobley and Bob Asher, recovered the Ship’s parts from the basement of a West Bottoms warehouse and began carefully reconstructing The Ship as close to the original details as possible in her new location at 1217 Union Street.

Mobley and Asher reopened the Ship in 2014 and have been serving strong drinks, savory food and jazzy live music ever since. If you want to come aboard for a good time, check the website first to make sure a private event isn’t taking place. Then put on your sailor hat and head down to its port, which is well lit but GPS challenging.

If you get too smashed, grab an orange life preserver off the bathroom wall.

Fun in KC at Hi-Dive Lounge

1411 W. 39th St.
Kansas City, MO 64111
(816) 931-5800

Hi-Dive is a laid-back lounge where you can drop in for meatloaf, a martini, or a $2.50 canned beer out of the vending machine. The logo at the Hi Dive resembles Esther Williams jumping into something wet and wonderful. Drop by for some chicken wings and a Cuervo when you’re near 39th street, which is also known as Restaurant Row.

Sticking to the shipwrecked in KC theme, order a Logboat Shiphead Ginger Wheat for $6.

Fun in KC at The Reef

9000 N.W. Polo Drive
Kansas City, MO 64153
(816) 587-9999

Enjoy a trip to the sea and its delicacies by visiting the Reef in Kansas City’s northland. The Reef is open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday. It will be soon open to for brunch and happy hour so you can have even more fun in KC.

While some say the restaurant is “over-themed,” others say it transports them to the bow of a ship crashing through the white caps of the ocean while fishermen hoist in nets filled with crab and lobster. This is a good visual because the restaurant is known for its seafood and steak.

To get to the Reef head north on I-29 toward Kansas City International Airport until you see a boat shipwrecked along the highway. The Reef’s owner, John “Woody” Woodruff says the boat brings in 40 percent of his diners.

Fun in KC at Oceans of Fun

4545 Worlds of Fun Ave.
Kansas City, MO 64161

Though Kansas City has no ocean nearby, it has Oceans of Fun. Oceans of Fun is 63-acre tropical-themed waterpark that opened in 1982. At that time, it was the largest waterpark in the world. It remains the largest waterpark in the Midwest.

Millions of people flock to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun (sister parks that are adjoined) to have fun in the sun each summer. The park was started by Lamar Hunt in the 70s for an estimated $20 million and sold to Cedar Fair Entertainment for $40 million

The 2021 waterpark seasons starts at 11 a.m. on May 29. Individual tickets start at $35. Enjoy waterslides, a million-gallon wave pool, and floating rivers. If heights are no problem for you, go down Hurricane Falls, a 72-foot-tall super slide.

Castaway Cove is an adults-only area for moms and dads to decompress, drink or read a book.

If you need a mid-day wake-up call, scoot over to Splash Island to try the interactive splash pad or Buccaneer Bay, a five-acre lake with swan paddleboats.

Fun in KC at Argosy Casino

777 NW Argosy Casino Parkway
Riverside, MO 64150

Kansas City has six gambling casinos. All but two of KC’s casinos are riverboat casinos, thus the phrase, “I’m going to the boats.”

Visiting the boats is the most popular attraction Kansas City has to offer. The Missouri Gaming Commission says that the three casinos, north of the Missouri River alone, see over 6.3 million visitors a year.

No trip to Kansas City would be complete without visiting the original riverboat casino – Argosy Casino Hotel & Spa. Argosy was KC’s first riverboat casino. It opened in June 1994 and took guests for gambling cruises along the Missouri River.

From 1996 to 2005, Argosy docked for good, and underwent a number of multimillion-dollar renovations, doubling the size of the gaming floor, adding hotel, spa and meeting space.

Argosy has 62,000 square feet of gaming, 1,500 slot machines, 32 tables games, five restaurants, and a 258-room hotel to check into if you’re too exhausted to drive home.

There’s more places to whet your appetite and quench your thirst for fun in KC. Be sure to subscribe to get monthly updates of KC events and attactions.

Brenda Geiger
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