Though it was once the sport of choice for the nation’s well-heeled gentry, croquet slowly found itself relegated to being a game played at family reunions with equipment found in your grandparent’s basement. Wanting to halt one of their favorite childhood pastimes slide into obscurity, the team at Kactus Creek Croquet Club decided to open up a six-wicket club specializing in these fun, less-formal games of American golf croquet. Greenery, a large waterfall—and the club’s namesake cacti—surround the USCA-certified club, creating a scenic spot for guests to learn the game under the helpful eye of an onsite instructor or hone their skills with an afternoon of match play. The club’s groundskeepers maintain the cushy hybrid bermuda grass to a fast golf-green quality with water supplied by caught rainwater, preserving the environment without having to buy pedal-operated golf carts.
The next time you’re at Paul & Jack’s Tavern, sidle up to the bar and ask the local sitting next to you to describe the tavern’s original owners. Following an initial smile, you’re likely to be met with a blank stare. That’s because brothers Paul and Jack founded their eponymous bar and grill all the way back in 1948—a time when North Kansas City still lacked a laid-back tavern where the neighborhood’s diverse crowd could gather for live entertainment and old-fashioned American burgers and chili.
Though the tavern’s popularity has climbed steadily in the six decades since the brothers opened their doors for business, its menu remains a testament to mid-century Americana. The dining room tends to be rowdiest around lunchtime, when crowds descend to sample footlong hot dogs, deli sandwiches, and bowls of chili still made according to a 50-year-old recipe. Later in the evening, after dinners of USDA Choice steaks and deep-fried catfish, guests can head out to the enclosed back patio and throw bouquets of hot wings at the live-music performers they most enjoy.
For years, David Allison and Ryan Gerster—both standup comedians—worked as bartenders and cooks at bars and pubs, alternating work nights with comedy gigs. So when they decided to team up and take the reins at First Ward House, a storied saloon first opened as a hotel in 1878, they already had a vision for the place. "We've worked in bars and we know what people want," Allison told a writer for St. Joseph News-Press. Their formula consists of a broad selection of beers and spirits, live bands, and nourishment that ranges from specialty burgers to late-night pulled-pork tacos.
Dark wood floors and exposed brick walls lend First Ward House a timeless ambiance in which visitors can entertain themselves with games of Keno, billiards, and pool. With its close proximity to the historic French River Trade Route and the paths of the Pony Express, the pub is rumored to be haunted by spirits who finish patrons' beers when they're not looking.
The performance begins with Kansas City Symphony Music Director Michael Stern leading the ensemble through Maurice Ravel's 1919 Le Tombeau de Couperin, a four-movement orchestral homage to baroque composer François Couperin. Next, the evocative melody of Samuel Barber's 1947 lyric rhapsody for orchestra and voice, Knoxville: Summer of 1915, fills the air as Ms. Murphy narrates scenes from author James Agee's dreamlike childhood memoir. After a brief intermission for flutes of champagne and handfuls of de-sloppied sloppy joes (also known as Dapper Dans), Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 4 sneaks into the concert hall with the jingle of two sleigh bells, then erupts into a ghostly scherzo that builds to a solemn march before finally reaching a gentle conclusion with the soprano's bucolic, childlike warbling.
Roving Imp Theater & Coffee House—the only improv venue in Kansas—showcases the madcapped, off-the-cuff antics of improvateurs culled from across the U.S. and abroad. Comedic illusionists conjure one-act plays, making characters, scenes, and plots appear out of thin air using a complicated system of smoke, mirrors, and audience suggestions. The schedule changes as regularly as the star performer in a one-man adaptation of Cats, but recurring acts include Serial Cereal, an improvised sitcom that follows a family of wrestlers through weekly episodes, and RI Spectacular, a Whose Line Is It Anyway?-style game show.