We have been to two Union Stations on field trips. One of them was in Kansas City, Missouri during the summer before our 2004-5 school year. It slipped under the “field trip” radar due to the fact that it happened during summer time – when Mom wasn’t keeping “records”. The other Union Station we went to was in 2005-6 in Little Rock, Arkansas. After going to the train station in Missouri, I had high hopes that Little Rock would be great. It may be my first field trip review that isn’t positive. I hate to give a place a bad rap… but we have to be honest and call it like it is.
Normally, my field trip posts are all photos and “flowers” about how much fun we had. I’m usually always glad we have gone. I figure you can always go somewhere once – just to see it yourself… and if you don’t like it, you can just not go back. Little Rock’s Union Station was one of those “no reason to go back” type of field trips.
I’m sure at some point in history, Little Rock’s Union Station was a bustling hub of personality (see photo above). At this current juncture, I would venture to say that it is about as dull as a regular office building (which is what most of it houses). The structure is nice, but nothing to write home about.
There still is a train that picks up in the basement (that was conveniently closed when we arrived). However, if you are looking for a great historical lesson or a lot of interesting eye candy for your elementary kids… this isn’t the place. Other than the photos of what the place used to look like when it was at its zenith, there is little history here. They don’t even have a website… just a boring little sentence or two on Wikipedia that proves they exist.
Kansas City, Missouri’s Union Station (photo above and following) was a much more interesting field trip than the train station in Arkansas. The building alone was very impressive.
It boasts a live theater, a rail exhibit, vintage rail cars, a science museum, an over-sized movie theater, restaurants, shops and much more history-sharing for the kids. They are partnered with the Smithsonian.
The ceilings in the main hall were amazing. The chandeliers create a geometric marvel as they melt into the molding when you line up below them. I couldn’t help but take a photo. My kids enjoyed the taxi photo booth, the candy trolley, and the machine you could stick a penny in to imprint with dinosaurs. We got snacks in the movie theater lobby and enjoyed our tour of the station with our friends.
[Of course… if you are a Texan and you go to Missouri, at least one person in the party must wear the Lone Star flag.] If you are close to Kansas City, Missouri… this field trip is worth your while. We were there on vacation and didn’t do much of the historical portion of the outing. Just check out their site, though. You’ll be impressed.
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