Hardly subtle, I know, but without action, you could miss out on what there is to do this weekend north of the Missouri River, which can be misperceived as a boundary instead of the bridge it is to the Northland’s significant entertainment, family attractions and natural charms.
So get some northern exposure this weekend. The all-embracing go-and-doer in you will appreciate it.
1. Parkville River Jam
This 20th annual community event in the Northland is a one-stop shop for lovers of jazz, blues and fine art, featuring nine bands and more than 15 artists displaying their wares on the inviting banks of the Missouri River in downtown Parkville. Take a scenic stroll and let your eyes and ears be dazzled. Friday night’s headliners include KC’s own swinging Levee Town and the soulful Ori Naftaly Band out of Memphis. The Parkville Symphonic Band kicks off Saturday’s day-long jam, which concludes with savvy local singers David Basse and Danielle Nicole. Friday, 5:30-11 p.m.; Saturday, noon-11 p.m., English Landing Park, 127 S. Main St., Parkville, Mo.; admission: free.
2. Aries Spears at Kansas City Improv
The Northland’s premiere comedy club presents veteran stand-up and screen actor Aries Spears, who made his name playing a cavalcade of crazy characters in 189 episodes of MAD TV. You also may have seen him playing kid brother to Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry McGuire. Unlike most comedians these days, Spears gets laughs not only with his sharp sense of humor but with an impressive collection of foreign accents and show-biz impressions, from Denzel Washington to Robert De Niro. Old school! Thursday, 8 p.m.; Friday, 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, 7 and 10 p.m.; Sunday, 7 p.m.; Kansas City Improv, 7260 N.W. St. at Zona Rosa, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $20-$27.
3. All America Barbecue & Beer Festival at Worlds of Fun
Kansas City’s longtime amusement park north of the river is a regional magnet for all ages. But you’ll have to be 21 or older to take part in this weekend’s barbecue sampling and beer tasting at six stations scattered throughout the park’s Europa area. Let the kids get white knuckles on the roller coasters, while you get to sip quality suds from six local and visiting craft brewers. WOF’s “Chef Kevin” also promises to entice with his quality cue, including smoked ribs, mini pulled pork sandwiches with peach salsa and New Zealand style lamb chops. I’ve always wondered what New Zealand tastes like. Sunday, 1-7 p.m. 4545 N.E. Worlds of Fun Drive, Kansas City, Mo.; admission: $59.99 (park admission and event ticket).
4. Screenland Armour
You can always go to the megaplex to catch the latest big-screen flick. But it’s a different experience at the Screenland Armour in North Kansas City, which proudly touts its heritage as the metro’s oldest independent movie theater. In addition to surrounding yourself with history while catching a current blockbuster like Jurassic World, patrons can try a pleasing variety of vintage arcade games and expose their taste buds to 100 rotating craft beers. It’s a good thing there’s no law against drinking and gaming. Open daily, 408 Armour Road, North Kansas City, Mo.; movie tickets: $6.50-$10
5. Kactus Creek Croquet Club
Once the game of kings – or those who wanted to think of themselves that way – croquet is available in a relaxed setting for the masses at Parkville’s Kactus Creek Croquet Club. The club’s lush grounds are accented with a waterfall and its signature “kactus” plants. And there’s never a croquet expert too far away for those wanting advice on the best approach to take with the game’s wooden balls, metal wickets and mallets. Saturday and Sunday, 3-6 p.m. (Groupon play); 1332 N.W. 76th St., Parkville, Mo.; pay to play: $40, four people, three hours.
6. The Northland's Various Parks and Trails
There are more beautiful green places with great places to walk in the Northland than you’ll have time to tackle in a single weekend. Here’s a sample:
- Weston Bend State Park in Weston
- English Landing Park in Parkville
- Parkville Nature Sanctuary
- Line Creek Trail in Platte County in Kansas City
- Maple Woods Nature Preserve
- Happy Rock Park in Gladstone.
Get it? Happy Rock in Gladstone? Oh, those Northlanders!