Starting the next day, many of us will begin to fall victim to short-lived resolutions inspired by unrealistic expectations. This year, we suggest one simple approach to the resolution impulse: Resolve to embrace new things in new places. If you run in midtown, get out of the city. If you're all cozied up in the 'burbs, come downtown. Here are 12 recommendations for places to go, along with some other ways to broaden your horizons.
January: Order even if you don't know what you're ordering.
January 29 marks Chinese New Year. As we exit the Year of the Rooster and take on the Year of the Dog, try a little eat-a-thon known as dim sum. Meaning order to ones heart's content, this 700-year-old Chinese tradition is a fantastic opportunity to sample a variety of appetizer-sized dishes. Vegetarian, beef, poultry, pork and seafood delicacies are steamed, fried or baked and served family-style by roving servers on weekends at Bo Ling's on the Plaza (for suburbanites) and 9055 Metcalf in Overland Park (for midtowners). Find more information at www.bolings.com.
February: Think about some other president.
February means Presidents Day, and though there may be few reasons to celebrate the sitting executive, there is reason to visit the Truman Library. Even the politically uninclined can absorb past and more recent American history through professor-led symposiums, open archives and a massive collection of Truman memorabilia. This year, the library once again hosts the White House in Miniature exhibit. Last seen here in 1996 (when it broke library attendance records), this replica took 35 years to create, has traveled the country and includes tiny working televisions, crystal chandeliers and hand-carved furniture.
March: Cheer for one of those other teams.
We love the Chiefs as much as the next guy, but we're in the contingent that has, after one too many disturbing experiences at Arrowhead, officially sworn off going to the actual games. And the last couple of seasons don't have us holding out much hope for the Royals' opening day. That's why we're excited that the Blues' home games start this month. Watching Kansas City's rugby team, we get to enjoy the same outdoor setting and the same pissed-off coaches and aggressive hits that football offers but with sideline seats and all the beer we can fit in a cooler. Games are played at Minor Park (one mile south of Interstate 435 on Holmes at Red Bridge Road); see www.kcblues.org for more information.
April: Impress your friends by talking up a film they missed.
The Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee is a prime opportunity to see a week's worth of short films shot by locals. This year not only marks the Jubilee's 10th anniversary but also introduces a new category. "Films inspired by jazz" should go over well in jazz-rich Kansas City. The action happens April 7-13.
May: Attend a parade other than that famous green one.
Yup, we're talking Polsky Day. This multicultural event has been a big, fat excuse to party it up for years. Running along Central Avenue in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, on the first Saturday of every May, the Polsky Day Parade calls for elaborate floats, posses of bikers, marching bands and general outdoor craziness. After the parade, retire with everyone else to Frank's Bar at 801 Central the route's official end and site of the unofficial kickoff for the rest of the evening's merriment.
June: Go to the theater.
In 2005, several veterans of the area theater scene took control of their own destinies and founded the Kansas City Actors Theatre. This season brings Lanford Wilson's Talley trilogy, presented in rotating repertory. Talley's Folly's opens on June 2; then comes 5th of July on June 23 and Talley and Son on July 28. In late July, the troupe will present the three plays in sequence over three days. Which we think is pretty inspiring. July: Buy local and often.
On weekends and most Wednesdays throughout the summer, farmer's markets supply fresh, local produce and meats free of growth hormones and antibiotics. Besides helping you break out of your grocery-shopping rut, going to a farmer's market provides another chance to explore other parts of town. There's one at the City Market at Fifth Street and Walnut, another in old Overland Park at Santa Fe Drive and 79th Street, a third in Brookside at Border Star Elementary School at 61st Street and Wornall, and markets at area Hen House supermarkets.
August: Support your local musician.
Yikes, what a hard sell but we'll try. On August 3, five bucks buys you entry to the best block party in town: the Pitch Music Showcase. We know that thousands of you already attend this annual band-watching marathon, but anyone who hasn't should mark his or her datebook now. You'll see tons of the city's best musical talent, all for one low price, with the venues conveniently located within staggering distance of one another. Go ahead, accuse us of shameless self-promotion. You'll thank us on the morning of August 4.
September: Go outside of the usual music stomping grounds.
OK, so last month we directed you to Westport, where you got up to speed on KC's music scene at the Pitch Music Showcase. And whereas much of the city's music obviously gets played in downtown and midtown clubs, bands from across the metro and beyond can be found playing at suburban clubs such as Jerry's Bait Shop (13412 West Santa Fe Trail Drive in Olathe, 913-894-9676) and the Lucky Brewgrille (5401 Johnson Drive in Mission, 913-403-8571) and the 3rd Street Pub in Lee's Summit (17 Southwest Third Street, 816-246-0123). October: Do not miss the American Royal for the 10th year in a row.
The American Royal is a big deal. People from all over the country trailer their big-time performance horses and hardcore steers to our town for six solid weeks of competition. And this party ain't just for cowboys the Royal hosts an eclectic array of events, including exhibition Mexican bullfights, an Olympic-caliber Grand Prix jump-off, scary bull riding, concerts by top musical acts, and badass performances by rodeo-girl barrel racers.
November: Throw away that cold medicine.
As soon as cold season hits, everyone starts popping pills. But this year, we're taking advantage of healthier holistic options. The 40-plus acupuncture clinics in and around KC provide one option, but if needles make you squeamish, noninvasive therapy can be found at the NAET Treatment Center in Mission (913-432-4477). NAET stands for Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique, but this clinic addresses a range of health issues, including food and environmental allergies, viruses and even autism. Its approach is involved and extensive but well worth the time and wait.
December: Visit a botanical garden in the dead of winter.
The warm months aren't the only time to visit Powell Gardens, east of Kansas City (1609 Northwest Missouri Highway 50 in Kingsville, 816-697-2600). This botanical garden is alive in a different way every December, when the garden paths glow with hundreds of luminiaria. The chance to stroll through this winter-wonderland display comes once a year for two nights, usually the second weekend in December. After the magical walk, warm up with a stop at the gourmet bread and soup bar Café Thyme.