Last week I wrote an article about road trip options if you wanted to follow the Royals around in 2022. I included a couple of options in that article that included minor league stops along the way, but I figured I’d write an article for each team with the best places to see each Royals affiliate in 2022. So on Friday I wrote about your options for following the Columbia Fireflies (A-) around this summer. This also will not be an exact science, but I’ll quickly break down where the River Bandits will be at different times this summer and what there is to do in that area during the day. Quad Cities will likely feature players such as Darryl Collins, Ben Hernandez, Peyton Wilson, and plenty of others this year, so there should be plenty of reasons to make a trip or two to Iowa if you’re able.
Alright. Anyways. Let’s give this a whirl. I’ll post articles like this for Northwest Arkansas (AA) and Omaha (AAA) later this week.
Option #1: Davenport, Iowa
We’ll start this article the same way we started the article about Columbia, and that’s with the hometown of the Royals High-A affiliate. Davenport is a little over five hours from Kansas City but it’s less than three hours from Chicago so, you could potentially include Chi-Town on your road trip if you wanted to keep it moving east.
First of all, if you’ve never seen the stadium that the River Bandits play in, it’s an attraction in and of itself.
Buy a ticket to a ballgame and have a full-blown carnival out behind LF? Yes please. Here’s a quick list of some other things TripAdvisor recommends while visiting the Quad Cities area:
- Figge Art Museum
- I’ve mentioned before that I’m not the biggest art fan, at least it’s not what I’d choose to do on purpose while on vacation, BUT the Figge Art Museum looks like a really cool place to get your modern art fix in if that’s your thing.
- Vander Veer Botanical Park
- A very cool looking botanical garden. Being outside is much more my style so this would be a place I’d potentially stop by.
- The Putnman Museum & Science Center
- Looks like a must if you’re traveling with kids.
- Rhythm City Casino Resort
- Davenport sitting next to a river allows for some casino fun if you’re a fellow degenerate.
- German American Heritage Center
- Legitimately had never heard of this before. Could be a fun place to swing by if you’re looking to kill time.
Iowa is not exactly the South East, but there are still some really cool sites across the state you can see if you plan wisely. The River Bandits will obviously be playing half of their games here, but the Omaha Storm Chasers also make a couple trip to Des Moines, so you could potentially catch both teams on the same road trip in May and June. Anyway. I’ll likely be working my way to Davenport in 2022 if for no other reason to ride the Ferris wheel.
Option #2: Appleton, Wisconsin
I’m generally of the opinion that Wisconsin is one of the most underrated states in the union. You can get to Appleton, home of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, in about the same amount of time it takes to get to Denver, so it’s a very manageable one-day drive. The River Bandits don’t play in Cedar Rapids and Appleton back-to-back weeks, but you drive right through Cedar Rapids on the way so you could theoretically hit both on the same trip. You also drive through Madison, Wisconsin. Appleton also isn’t very far from Lake Winnebago which is a beautiful summer vacation spot. You can get an AirBnB on Lake Winnebago for less than $100/night when the River Bandits are there from June 21st through June 26th. The other series in Appleton for Quad Cities is in April, but I imagine it’ll be much cooler than in June…
Anyway, here’s a quick list of some other things to do in the Appleton area while you’re waiting for games to begin.
- Fox Cities Performing Arts Center
- Massive theatre that has hosted some pretty famous plays recently.
- Building for Kids
- Another great opportunity to take your kids to an fun, educational spot before a ballgame.
- Paper Discovery Center
- Neat looking museum on…well you can piece that together.
- Lake Winnebago
- Gordon Bubolz Nature Reserve
- Gorgeous area to take a hike outdoors.
- Plamaan Park
- Downtown Appleton Farmer’s Market
Wisconsin is such an underrated state to explore outside. If you’re looking for a trip where you can camp, fish, hike, bike, etc., this is it.
Option #3: Beloit, Wisconsin
Another great place to get outside this summer. The River Bandits make two trips to Beloit this year, from July 26th through July 31st and then from September 1st through September 4th. Beloit is just about seven hours from Kansas City, right on the southern border of Wisconsin with Illinois. I’m not going to make a full list for Beloit, because #6 on TripAdvisor is a public library and #9 is a skate park, but there’s still some fun things to do around town that could take up a couple days. This is another great trip for camping, fishing, hiking, biking, etc. Maybe I’m in the minority of appreciating trips like that, but I may actually try to catch that series at the end of July. Very small chance one or two of Kudrna, Mozzicato, Panzini, or Pena are with Quad Cities by then that could make that trip extra worth it.
Option #4: Peoria, Illinois
Peoria isn’t even six hours from Kansas City, and it’s just a couple hours from St. Louis, but there ain’t much else around if you leave the city. It is actually a really cool city, and probably has an argument to be #2 on this list, but I’m personally more of a fan of the state of Wisconsin…so maybe this is a biased ranking. Whatever. The River Bandits make two trips to Peoria this summer, from June 7th through 12th and then again from August 16th through the 21st. I probably won’t make it out to Peoria this year due to the timing of the games, but it’s definitely worth the drive if you want to see some River Bandits baseball. Also, the Cardinals are at home June 10th through 15th and August 16th through 18th so you could hit up Busch Stadium for a game on your way through.
Here’s a quick list of the top things to do in Peoria, per TripAdvisor:
- Grandview Drive
- Driving tour of the area that takes you back centuries with a few scenic views.
- Caterpillar Visitors Center
- Not the insect…if you like farming and tractors…this one’s for you…
- Peoria Riverfront Museum
- This is one of the coolest and most unique looking museums I’ve ever seen. Definitely something I’d stop by if I was in Peoria.
- Peoria Playhouse Children’s Museum
- Forest Park Nature Center
- Great place for a day hike while you’re waiting for the games to begin.
- Luthy Botanical Gardens
- Peoria Holocaust Museum
- Giant Oak Park
#5: Fort Wayne, Indiana
The River Bandits only make one trip to Fort Wayne this summer, from May 24th through the 29th, but it looks like a great city to catch a ball game in. It’s about eight hours from Kansas City, so it’s a little bit of a drive, but you pass right through St. Louis and Indianapolis so there’s some good places to stop on your way. Here’s what TripAdvisor has to say about Fort Wayne:
- Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
- Foellinger-Freimann Botannical Conservatory
- Lakeside Park & Rose Garden
- Science Central
- Kreager Park
- Fort Wayne Museum of Art
If we’re being 100% honest, I probably wouldn’t be making this trip unless I had nothing better to do and just really wanted to go watch Darryl Collins play baseball or something. Fort Wayne seems like a cool little town, but there’s better options and I just wanted to make this list five cities long like the last one.
We’ll have NWA and Omaha up later this week. Thanks for reading.
Disclaimer: I was going to include South Bend, Indiana, but the River Bandits don’t play a full six-game set there this year. Just two three-game sets. So I left it out. I was also going to include Cedar Rapids but you have to drive right by it (sort of) to get to Davenport and Wisconsin so I figured that could be a pitstop for any other trip as well.
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