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.
Known for its history as a pioneer town and home to former president Harry S. Truman, Independence welcomes visitors to its storied sites, making them more accessible with free trolley rides. Tour the 1859 Jail and Marshal's Home and Museum to glimpse a dwelling for law breakers next to a dwelling for a law keeper, and the clandestine tryst between the abodes that resulted in a museum. The Bingham-Waggoner Estate preserves many of the original art and furnishings of the famed Bingham and Waggoner families, while the National Frontier Trails Museum hails the starting point of the westbound pioneers with bronzed pieces of nuts, raisins, and chocolate bits tracing a path westward.
Diamond Bowl, a refreshing fusion of bowling alley and robust restaurant, serves as a hangout for pin-battering rollers hungry for lane-thundering action and thirsty for food. Games ($5) on Diamond’s eight lanes keep hook-happy fingers limber, and shoes ($3) safeguard feet from toe-stomping sore losers. Follow up your fourth turkey with tangible foodstuffs from Diamond's full menu, such as the blackened-salmon sandwich on a kaiser roll ($7.99), the well-rounded bowling burger ($7.49), or the crispy chicken-tender salad ($8.99). Serious contenders can take a break from finger calisthenics to enroll in one of Diamond Bowl's leagues, and casual players can pair their match play with drinks from Diamond’s fully stocked bar, or they can watch a less phalange-intensive sport on one of nine crystalline HD TVs. Hourly games are also available.
When writer Richard Faulk set out to catalog the nation's oddest corners for his book Gross America, Leila's Hair Museum was an obvious choice. There, Leila Cohoon preserves and furthers the off-kilter artform of hair-based crafts, which stretches back to the 1700s and beyond. In a piece for CNN.com, Faulk notes that, in pre-photography days, Victorian artisans would "[weave] jewelry and decorative lace out of human hair" as a means of remembering departed loved ones, with "successive generations [sometimes adding] to the lacework to create a genealogical record, much like a family bible". In addition to these personal mementoes, Leila's collection includes 400 hair-based wreaths dating before 1900, and numerous reliquaries said to contain the hair of Mary, mother of Jesus, St. Anne, grandmother of Jesus, and pieces of the cross. Hair pieces belonging to Michael Jackson, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Lincoln, and other presidents also reside here. Although not hair-related, the museum also features a brooch that is said to contain threads from the coat of Joseph, father of Jesus. The quirky outpost has attracted the attention of racontours other than Faulk, too--noted gadabout Anthony Bourdain also paid a visit during an episode of his show No Reservations.
Paradise Park started its life as a simple miniature-golf course in 1992. Since then, the park has grown with Lee's Summit, mirroring the suburb's population growth with additions that have turned it into a sprawling temple to family fun. Outdoors, guests can still show off their putts and best gopher impressions on the miniature-golf course, or head over to the go-kart track to face off against fellow drivers on a 1,000-foot road-inspired course. Inside the park's huge indoor area, kids play and learn at the Children's Edutainment Center or blast each other with air-propelled balls at the Foam Factory. A game room harks back to the arcades of old with token-fed classics such as Ms. Pac-Man, as well as offering new amusements including a SpongeBob SquarePants game.
Landmark 2 Skate Center evokes memories of a bygone American era when you could take your best gal out to the roller rink, buy her a shake at the soda fountain, and text her goodnight on the wooden cell phone you whittled yourself. The skating facility exudes an old-school, family-friendly charm, especially with its shimmering disco balls, collection of stand-up arcade games, and plastic booths that are Coke-label red. Skaters of all ages can glide across the sprawling rink, practicing turns with sleek blades and making lazy figure-eights with classic skates. Meanwhile, staffers bustle about behind the snack bar, doling out snacks and soda pops. Come Saturday night, a live DJ ramps things up a notch, filling the air with upbeat tunes and pop hits. Four times a year, the large skate center offers skating classes for both beginner and intermediate students.