Under the oppressive heat of the Missouri sun, rafts and their passengers float atop the languid current of Coyote Creek as it traces a 900-foot perimeter around Adventure Oasis Water Park's flooded playscape. The sprawling park offers a respite from the summer swelter with water activities and attractions for guests of all ages, highlighted by three towering slides, including the Sidewinder—a 308-foot raft slide—and the Scorpion, a tube slide that emulates passage through a cosmic wormhole or gigantic piece of penne pasta with a 197-foot plunge. The chutes bottom out in a placid pool, where guests can catch their breath or scale Cactus Climb, a climbing wall that hangs over the water. As grownups relax in a deck dotted with striped parasols, younger guests can run amok at Halfpint Paradise, a smaller playground stationed in a shallow pool.
A 25-yard lap pool with multiple lanes awaits more serious swimmers at Roadrunner Pass, which also boasts a diving board for those looking to perfect their swan-dive form or execute the world's first pool cannonball that actually explodes. In addition to free-range fun, Adventure Oasis's friendly waters host swim lessons and aquatic exercise programs.
Greg Beitling refused to stay idle while Americans' lifespans shortened due to obesity-related diseases. Instead, he founded Lit Fitness to help the community retool its approach to eating and exercise. The studio specializes in what they call Large Group Training, or LGT, which challenges students to intense regimens of calisthenics, weightlifting, and short bursts of cardio. Beitling draws upon certifications in personal training and strength-and-conditioning instruction to build workouts that maximize calorie burning and increase lean-muscle mass to help jump-start metabolisms. In addition to increasing their strength, endurance, energy, and flexibility, participants can win prizes such as cash and skinny jeans by tackling the goals they set along the way. Like a trip to the beach with a very modest mermaid, each camp lasts about 50 minutes and requires an ample supply of water and towels. Many of the studio's programs also include nutritional components, which range from healthy-eating workshops to meetings with a dietitian.
For more than 50 years, Cool Crest's owners have enchanted visitors with the fun park's abundance of family-friendly attractions. Flanked by emerald gardens, four 18-hole miniature golf courses lead participants to a bonus 19th hole, which rewards successful shots with a free game. Helpful staff enables drivers to hug the racetrack's corners while strapped into an open-wheel go-kart or, when in season, smack homers from batting cages hurling slow, medium, or fast pitches. Inside, a climbing playland and 7,000-square-foot arcade entertain guests throughout the year. To encourage kids to work as hard as they play, Cool Crest's staff rewards students brandishing recent report cards with up to 20 tokens, depending on their number of A's, B's, or the results from their PhD peer review. In between exhaustive sessions of play, a snack bar staff reenergizes guests with a slice or treat at Frankie's Pizzeria.
In 1963, Vita and Jay Totta opened up their cozy café with a small counter, three tables, and four booths. Within three years, the couple’s following of loyal diners had overgrown their modest space, and they expanded to a larger location with more than twice the seating capacity of the original café. Another steady increase in popularity led the Tottas to create V's Italiano Ristorante as it stands today, which includes a spacious dining room, three private banquet rooms, a lounge, and an outdoor patio. When designing and building the restaurant in 1971, Jay—a professional architect—focused on creating an Old-World atmosphere where guests could enjoy everything from Sunday brunch to romantic candlelight dinners with their tax auditors. Patrons may also venture out to the restaurant's garden patio, where they'll eat by a stone waterfall and under the vines of a grape arbor originally planted by Vita's father.
One nippy Tuesday morning, Oliver H. Gerry swung open a set of doors inside the Grand Avenue Temple in downtown Kansas City. It was January 23, 1912, and that unfurled entranceway symbolized the first day Gerry Optical was open for business. In the 100 years since, professionally trained technicians have prepared eyewear to complement the styles of countless clients, including President Harry Truman and Senator Nancy Kassebaum. Today, each of the store's nine locations carries between 800 and 1,200 frames from brands such as Calvin Klein, Ray-Ban, Prada, and BCBG, and the flagship store on 75th Street also houses its own grinding lab to quickly custom-craft lenses and fix cracks after cartoon eye-popping mishaps. To honor its deep community roots, Gerry Optical gives back by partnering with Lions Clubs International to provide discount eye exams and eyeglasses to underprivileged families.
Clothes and furniture find new life at Red Racks Thrift Stores. Through donations, the staffers at the store's 13 locations fill their racks and shelves with thousands of second-hand items for kids and adults, including name-brand garments from the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, Levi’s, The Loft, and Donna Karan New York. They also stock furniture and other miscellaneous goods, such as books and home décor.
And something odd happens when these items arrive at checkout—the register doesn't ring up any sales tax. That's because Red Racks is a nonprofit organization, and all proceeds go to benefit the Disabled American Veterans, an organization that has advocated on behalf of veterans for more than nine decades. Red Racks' altruistic mission has proved successful so far—the inventory of each store typically turns over every 3–4 weeks.