Archive for Sunday, September 27, 2015

Kansas City Connection: Group golf and a great escape

September 27, 2015

Eating, drinking and live entertainment are the typical touchstones for this column, but this week I’d like to first examine some of the more activity-based attractions in the Kansas City area, including a few that just opened in 2015.

If you’re near Interstate 435 and Nall and notice the massive new floodlights, poles and ball nets on the horizon, it’s not a new baseball complex — it’s the brand-new TopGolf Overland Park, an entertainment center featuring a bar, grill and a point-scoring golf game similar to a driving range with a target system.

Much like a bowling alley, groups of up to six people are seated in individual “bays,” which are equipped with chairs, HDTVs and a scoring system for the TopGolf game. Servers take your order and deliver drinks and food ranging from alcoholic punch bowls, beers and mimosas to appetizers, specialty burgers and even “injectable” donut holes (served with syringes full of jam).

While the TopGolf competition is trickier for the beginner than, say, bumper bowling, it’s a delight for golfers of all skill levels who want a break from the driving range, a chance for bragging rights with their friends, or just a nice night and a few beers out in the open air seating (warmed up via an infrared heating system on cool nights).

Renting a bay costs either $20 or $40 an hour depending on peak times — not a considerable expense when split between friends. Reservations must be made in person (unless you purchase a priority membership for an annual or monthly fee), so arrive early if you’re hoping to tee off at a popular time like Saturday night.

TopGolf is located at 10611 Nall Ave., and is open from 9 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and until 2 a.m. on weekends. Visit topgolf.com/us/overland-park for more information.

Hitting golf balls and having a few drinks with friends offers a nice escape from everyday concerns, while another new Kansas City enterprise provides entertainment to visitors in the form of escape itself.

Breakout KC

Breakout KC opened in the spring in the City Market, and has been thrilling groups of people with a one-of-a-kind experience in which they are given 60 minutes to put together a series of clues in time to enter the correct code and escape. Four different rooms/scenarios are offered, including a hotel suite and a casino inspired by the neighborhood’s crime-ridden past and another fashioned after the style and era of Harry S. Truman.

My friend and her family chose the most difficult game room and were unsuccessful — not surprising considering the success rates for the rooms range from 18 to 34 percent. But she said the experience made for a riveting hour of problem solving and conversation, and was a great way to celebrate her brother’s birthday.

Breakout KC sessions can be booked for $28 a person online at breakoutkc.com. If you’re going as a group, you can book all 8 spaces per room at once. If not, you will be paired up with strangers who will soon become your allies in seeking escape.

Breakout KC is located at 114 W. Third St. #101 in KCMO and is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Or if you’re not in a hurry to solve some puzzles, the Journal-World recently reported that Breakout would be coming to Lawrence and opening at a yet-to-be announced location here possibly by Thanksgiving.

Cool Crest

I’ve relied on the testimonials of friends for the above locations, but I have recently been to one of the area’s most famous centers for all-ages entertainment: Cool Crest Family Fun Center in Independence, Mo., which has been open for over 60 years.

Cool Crest offers mini golf, batting cages, go-kart racing and an arcade, with Frankie’s Pizzeria on site to satisfy any hunger pangs. The arcade and the batting cages feel reasonably up to date, but the mini golf courses have a pleasantly outdated feel — a remnant of the original owners’ meticulous gardening and eye for detail. The go-carts felt (and smelled) like riding around in a juiced-up lawn mower. In other words, it was a blast.

Cool Crest is located at 10735 E. U.S. Highway 40 in Independence, not far from the Truman Sports Complex, and can be found online at coolcrest.com. Cool Crest is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and an hour later on Friday and Saturday.

Renaissance Festival

Finally, if you prefer more olde fashioned activities like archery, jousting, devouring turkey legs or chugging flagons of mead, you’ll be right at home at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival in nearby Bonner Springs. The fest occupies a large, partially forested plot of land, “15 minutes and 500 years west of Kansas City.”

The volunteers and workers at the festival are decked out in elaborate costumes, and a wide variety of games, activities, crafts and performances keep visitors of all ages entertained.

Ren Fest is open weekends from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Oct. 18, and is also open Columbus Day on Oct. 12. Tickets cost $11.95 for kids aged 5 to 12 and $20.95 for adults. Visit kcrenfest.com for more information.

— Lucas Wetzel is a writer and editor from Kansas City, Mo. Know of an upcoming event in Kansas City you’d like to see featured in Kansas City Connection? Email us about it at kcconnection@ljworld.com.

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