Ultimate Road Trips: Midwest
This road trip will take you from Kansas City, Mo., to Chicago, stopping for baseball games all along the way. On top of seeing three different levels of pro baseball, you’ll head out to Ray Kinsella’s homestead in Iowa to take part in the fourth annual Team of Dreams event.
What To See: Start the trip off right with big league game. And enjoy some furry friends because it’s bark in the park night at Kauffman Stadium. Despite being one of the older big league parks—it opened in 1973—Kauffman offers a newly renovated and modern experience.
Where Else To Go: Check out the Royals Hall of Fame, located in the outfield and free of charge, to learn more about the heroics of Kansas City greats like George Brett and Bret Saberhagen. And since you’ve got all day before the game, make your way over to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, where decades of baseball history are on exhibit for all to see. It’s one of the must-sees for any baseball fan’s bucket list.
What To Eat: The journey is half the experience on road trips so make sure to eat up at many of Kansas City’s local landmarks. If you’re in the Midwest, you’ve got to try barbecue, and Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que has reached legendary status. Get there early enough on Wednesday night and you might be able to walk away with some burnt ends or a Z-man. Understand that thanks to its popularity, you’ll likely be standing in line for a while. Since there’s a day-long gap between KC and the next stop, feel free to spend Thursday in the city or head out bright and early to Omaha.
Next Stop: 183 miles; two hours, 49 minutes drive time.
Werner Park Friday, Sept. 1, 7:05 p.m. Iowa Cubs vs. Omaha Storm Chasers What To See: The College World Series might be over, but Omaha is still bustling with baseball. The Royals’ Triple-A affiliate, the Omaha Storm Chasers, plays host to prospects waiting for their chance to impact the big leagues. But with September callups taking effect, you might get treated to prospects from the lower levels participating in their first Nebraska contest. Friday night’s matchup features post-game fireworks and a signed mystery baseball auction.
Where Else To Go: If you’ve got time to spare before or after the game, head to the Henry Doorly Zoo to see what some call the best zoo on the planet. Or go further downtown and walk around TD Ameritrade Park, annual home to the College World Series. If neither animals nor ballpark facades are your thing, the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge allows visitors amazing views of the Missouri River.
What To Eat: Before you head to the park, grab dinner at the Drover. A trip to Omaha wouldn’t be complete without a couple of whiskey steaks. An ice cream or milkshake from Zesto’s is always a good idea as well.
Next Stop: 318 miles; four hours, 43 minutes drive time.
Modern Woodmen Park Saturday, Sept. 2, 6:35 p.m. Wisconsin Timber Rattlers vs. Quad Cities River Bandits What To See: Modern Woodmen Park sits attentively on the edge of the Mississippi River. It’s home to the Quad Cities River Bandits, the low Class A affiliate of the Astros. For many players, it’s one of the first stops on their minor league journey.
Where Else To Go: If you’re looking for things to do during the day, there are two nearby parks on the Mississippi that make for great recesses from the action. Vander Veer Botanical Park and Credit Island host beautiful wildlife and outdoor spaces perfectly suited for just for hanging about. Modern Woodmen Park has an amusement park around the stadium, as well, with the Ferris Wheel, bumper cars and a bounce house.
What To Eat: Catch the game in the evening, but be sure to grab some Whitey’s Ice Cream ahead of time; it’s an east Iowa staple. The other recommended pickup is a pork tenderloin sandwich, which is available at a variety of restaurants in the area.
Next Stop: 91 miles; one hour, 34 minutes drive time.
Hotel Julien Dubuque Sunday, Sept. 3, 9:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
What To See: Wake up bright and early to get up to Dubuque, about a 75-minute drive north, to grab breakfast with former major league stars at the Hotel Julien. The buffet begins at 9 a.m. with a Q&A session kicking off at 9:30, where everyone from Reggie Jackson to Rod Carew to Steve Carlton will answer your questions. Rest up before the real fun gets started in the afternoon over at the Field of Dreams movie site.
What to see: Pack some sunscreen because the cornfields open up at Noon, giving you just enough time to play catch and eat lunch while the place fills up. A silent auction begins at 2 p.m. with another Q&A session and autograph signings beginning at 3 p.m. What follows is the main event. Watch the stars of yesteryear play softball on Kinsella’s field at 7 p.m., accompanied by a screening of the beloved film, ”Field of Dreams” after the game. With the long day behind you, take it easy in Dubuque before driving to Chicago for the final leg of the trip.
What To Eat: If you find yourself with some free time in Dyersville, head down to Country Junction and grab a slice of homemade pie. Neighboring Dubuque has more upscale venues like L.May that are worth checking out.
What Else To Do: You’re going to be basking in baseball all day on this stop.
Next Stop: 209 miles; three hours, 37 minutes drive time.
Guaranteed Rate Field Monday, Sept. 4, 1:10 p.m. Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago White Sox
What To See: After traveling around from prairie to countryside for the past couple days, you’ll be driving straight into the heart of the Windy City. The White Sox are playing a day game at Guaranteed Rate Field, and could feature a few new names in the lineup now that they’re beginning to see the fruits of their rebuilding efforts. On your way into town, look around the for the spot in parking lot “B” where home plate stood in Comiskey Park. It’s a true piece of history in a renovating neighborhood.
What To Eat: Before you go into the park, grab a pregame bite to eat at 35th Street Red Hots for a classic Chicago dog.
Where Else To Go: After the game, explore the diverse attractions Chicago has to offer. Millennium Park is a known commodity, but definitely worth your time for its giant gardenscapes and artwork. And even if you’re a fanatical South Side fan, Wrigley Field is a must-see. Chicago is also loaded with museums, restaurants and theaters.
TOTAL ROAD TRIP: 791 miles, 12 hours, 31 minutes drive time.