December 15, 2015

15+ Fun Things To Do During A KC Christmas Getaway

We set out to Kansas City for a weekend getaway in December – three days to take in the lights, the holiday traditions and the barbecue. There are so many things you could do during a KC Christmas getaway!

Updated: This post was written in December 2015 and updated in October 2019. Help me keep this post updated! If you know of an event that has changed, please comment and let me know.

Disclosure: Our visit was hosted by the fine folks at Visit KC and Visit Overland Park. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own. This post may include affiliate links.

November and December are great months to visit Kansas City and have a Christmas getaway! Get details on more than 15 fun things to do during the holidays in Kansas City. Looking for free things to do? This post has free Christmas events, too! #KC #Missouri #Kansas #USA #Christmas #familytravel

The activities listed aren’t just limited to Kansas City city limits; I included some nearby cities that are close enough to Kansas City to include in planning outings. I’ve also updated this list with trips we’ve taken around the holidays since this post was originally written.

Favorite things to do in Kansas City (that cost money)

Kansas City has a ton of FREE things at Christmas time, which I’ll get to shortly, but like every other city, some things you have to pay for.

Here are two that I think are totally worth it.

Worlds of Fun decorated for WinterFest

WinterFest at Worlds of Fun

Where: Kansas City, Mo.

Worlds of Fun started a holiday tradition in 2017 called WinterFest. Think tons of lights, lots of music, snow, and most fun of all, rides. I shared some tips to make the most of your visit here.

In 2019, WinterFest at Worlds of Fun runs on select nights from Nov. 23 to Dec. 31.

Ice Terrace at Crown Center

Where: Kansas City, Mo.

There’s just something special about ice skating outdoors. The Ice Terrace is a large ice skating rink at Crown Center, and it can be a pretty popular place.

There is an admission fee, plus the cost of renting your skates, but kids won’t forget skating there (especially at night). In 2019, it will be open Nov. through mid-March 2020. Website 

Related post: 35 Things To Do In KC With Kids

More fun Christmas experiences in the KC area (that cost money)

Among some of the Union Station attractions that cost extra are the holiday classic movies at the Extreme Screen Theatre. Union Station is also home to Science City, which has holiday themed shows at the planetarium. This year, the shows “Laser Holiday Magic” and “Laser Nutcracker,” runs Nov. 23, 2019 through Jan. 5, 2020.

Holiday themed events at Science City usually include Science City’s Noon Year’s on Dec. 31 (this hasn’t been officially announced for 2019 yet).

Theater companies and performing arts venues also produce holiday shows this time of year. We could’ve also gone to the Kansas City Zoo, which has held special events like Santa Dives with Penguins and Lions & Christmas Trees in the past.

Every year, the paths of the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Garden are candlelit for the Luminary Walk. This year, the walk is planned for Nov. 29, 2019. This is located in Overland Park, Kan.

Free things to do in Kansas City at Christmas

There is plenty of free Christmas things to see at Union Station in Kansas City, including seeing the large indoor Christmas tree and the model train display.

Union Station’s free Christmas displays

Where: Kansas City, Mo.

This was our first time visiting the magnificent Union Station, and it was decked out at Christmas time during “Holidays Come Alive at Union Station.”

You can visit several areas for free so come by to see the huge indoor tree and the Model Train Experience, an incredible room of miniature trains (800 feet of track and counting).

Trains of all sizes are at Union Station in Kansas City. There's even a mini train kids can ride, which travels through a Christmas-y scene.

Union Station has several events in November and December each year, and some are FREE including “KC Southern Holiday Express” Dec. 15-19 featuring a holiday train you can tour (think “Thomas the Tank Engine”; reservations required). Website

Mayor’s Christmas Tree at Crown Center

Where: Kansas City, Mo.

Dazzling is the best way to describe Crown Center at Christmas time. At the center is the Mayor’s Christmas Tree. At its base is a play area of structures like cars, wagons and trains. The kids loved it.

Play time at the base of the Mayor's Christmas Tree at Crown Center in Kansas City. It's free to visit the play area at the Crown Center.

And since we were there when it was unseasonably warm, the fountains were on. The combined effect of a thousands of lights and a fountain was enchanting. Totally worth stopping by, even if you just go to get a picture.

Crown Center holiday lights and fountain

If you stop inside the shopping center, you can visit Santa’s Gingerbread Station or you might catch a choir singing, like we did. Website

Christmas at the City Market

Where: Kansas City, Mo.

Every year, the City Market celebrates Christmas. When we visited, they had a FREE Whoville attraction! I checked the calendar and it looks like one of the official holiday events will be Merry Market – Gifts, Giving & Good Cheer on Nov. 29 and 30, 2019.

Check for updates on the City Market calendar.

The Oh My! Omaha gang with Cindy Lou and the Grinch at City Market in KC

Country Club Plaza lights

Where: Kansas City, Mo.

Country Club Plaza is another well known spot in Kansas City that really embraces Christmas. As much as I wanted to shop here, the kids made that impossible, so we just marveled at the lights and enjoyed the street buskers strumming some holiday tunes.

You can see the official lighting ceremony on Nov. 28, 2019 or visit anytime after that through Jan. 12, 2020. Website

Downtown Dazzle trolley ride is free and takes people to stops at popular Kansas City tourist destinations.

Downtown Dazzle

Where: Kansas City, Mo.

The FREE trolley ride through downtown Kansas City on the weekends, thanks to Google Fiber. It makes a couple stops at touristy areas, each with a little activity to do – like getting your picture inside a giant snow globe.

We caught a ride during a KU basketball game, which wouldn’t you know, meant a massive traffic jam along our route. Website

Holiday Lights at the Farmstead Lane

Where: Overland Park, Kan.

The Deanna Rose Farmstead in Overland Park is a FREE farm to visit any time of the year (OK, free on during the week – $2 on the weekends and holidays), but at Christmas time, they have the exterior of the barn and surrounding trees decorated with thousands of lights that are set to music.

You park your car, tune your radio to the station and watch the show. It’s interactive – you can text or tweet a color and it’s supposed to respond. It didn’t work for me, but it didn’t lessen the experience. Website

The most Christmas-y Neighborhood in America

Where: Overland Park, Kan.

I dubbed it that, but all of Johnson County knows it as Christmas Place, the No. 1 neighborhood to see lights (23 homes on two cul-de-sacs). We stumbled upon it on our way back to our hotel. Find it at 131st Place and Antioch in Overland Park, Kan.

Get the backstory here.

Where to stay for a KC Christmas getaway

We were lucky enough to stay at two different hotels during our visit, and both were ready for Christmas. You can book these hotels or find other family-friendly Kansas City area hotels on TripAdviser.

The festive lobby of the DoubleTree Hotel in Overland Park, Kansas.

If you’re headed to Overland Park, the DoubleTree Hotel had the most welcoming staff we’d ever had the pleasure of meeting. The lobby had several Christmas-y displays.

If you have an American Girl fan – you know you’ll be making a trip to the American Girl store at Oak Park Mall when you visit – this is the place to stay, since they offer a package complete with a bed for your kid’s doll. Website

The Sheraton at Crown Center in Kansas City is decked out for the holidays.

Sheraton at Crown Center gave the DoubleTree staff a run for their money in the friendliness department.

The nice things about this location is the Link, elevated walkways connecting the hotel to Crown Center and on to Union Station. It was pretty handy when it rained during our visit and I imagine it’s heavily used in the bitter winter. Website

Get more inspiration for a Kansas City trip

One of the many nutcrackers at Crown Center in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

Headed to Kansas City? Check out these posts about Kansas City attractions and family-friendly itineraries:

Exploring the Museum at Prairiefire (Overland Park, Kan.)

Lego Store in Overland Park (Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, Kan.)

Family Fun at Science City (Union Station in Kansas City, Mo.)

Where To Stay Near Crown Plaza (Kansas City, Mo.)

A Family Guide To Crown Center (Kansas City, Mo.)

Best Winter Getaway To Kansas City 

24 Hours In Kansas City With Kids

Tips For WinterFest at Worlds of Fun (North Kansas City, Mo.)

DoubleTree Hotel (Overland Park, Kan.)

Sheraton Kansas City (at Crown Center, Kansas City, Mo.)

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