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15+ Fun Things To Do During A KC Christmas Getaway {2021 Updates}

15+ Fun Things To Do During A KC Christmas Getaway {2021 Updates}

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! (Kim’s note: Of course, in 2021, not all of these annual activities will run like previous years, so set your expectations accordingly).

Updated: This post was written in December 2015 and updated in November 2021. Help me keep this post updated! If you know of an event that has changed, please comment and let me know. Events are subject to change.

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 during the holidays

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.

(My favorite, unfortunately, is no more…at least for this year and last year. Winterfest began in 2017 at Worlds of Fun, and seems to have ended due to the pandemic.)

Worlds of Fun decorated for WinterFest
RIP Winterfest

But there are here are some greats:

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.

The Ice Terrace at Crown Center is open throughout the winter in Kansas City.

There is an admission fee, plus the cost of renting your skates, but kids won’t forget skating there (especially at night).

The 2021 season has already started and runs through March 13, 2022 (weather permitting). It costs $8 for adults and children 4 and older, and FREE for children under age 4. Skate rental is $4.

Related post: 9 awesome holiday light displays to see in Kansas City

Union Station’s free Christmas displays

Where: Kansas City, Mo.

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.

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 usually has several events every year in November and December, and in 2021, the theme is “Home For The Holidays.” There are live performances, holiday movies at the theater and holiday lights shows at the planetarium, and Merry Science in Science City.

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, which will be lit with a ceremony on Nov. 26, 2021.

At its base, usually, is a play area of structures like cars, wagons and trains. The kids loved it. Of course, there’s been no word about the play area in 2021.

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 might see some holiday surprises. During our visit, we saw Santa’s Gingerbread Station and heard a choir singing. 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!

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

The Whoville attraction was super popular (and crowded), so I don’t anticipate that happening anytime soon. I checked the calendar the City Market calendar and this is a one festive series planned: The Merry Market. It’s a FREE and open-air market featuring 90+ all-local juried makers plus street food, holiday drinks, entertainers and other festivities. 

The 2021 Merry Market will be held on weekends from Thanksgiving through Christmas, Nov. 26-28, Dec. 3-5, Dec 10-12, and Dec. 17-19. The hours are Fridays, 4 to 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sundays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

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.

The 2021 lighting ceremony is going to be broadcast on Nov. 25, 2021 from 5 to 8 p.m. There will be live performances by QuixoticMusical Heritage Theatre and KC-based musical group, Summer Breeze.

The Evergy Plaza Lights shine daily from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m., Thanksgiving through mid-January.

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.

This year, the lights will be on Nov. 25, 2021 through Jan. 7, 2022 from 5 to 11 p.m. You park your car, tune your radio to the station and watch the show.

Tip: The actual farmstead isn’t open for visits in the winter; this is strictly stay-in-the-car kind of stuff.

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.

More fun Christmas experiences in the KC area

At the Kansas City Zoo, events will include “An Evening With Santa & The Polar Express” on Dec. 3 and Santa Meet & Greet on Dec. 4 and 5.

Every year, the paths of the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Garden are candlelit for the Luminary Walk. This botanical garden is one of my favorite outdoor places to visit in the KC area! This is located in Overland Park, Kan.

Theater companies and performing arts venues usually produce holiday shows this time of year. Here are a few highlights:

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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