One of our favorite quick Midwest getaways is Kansas City. It’s been a while since we visited during the holiday season (check out all the incredibly fun things we did when we spent a holiday weekend in KC). We returned to visit some new (and new-to-us) places, including Worlds of Fun’s WinterFest. We did it all in about 24 hours…with kids.
Updated: This post was first published in 2017 and was updated in January 2020.
Here’s how you can have a fun 24-hour trip to Kansas City with kids:
Pick the right KC hotel
For this trip, we knew there were some definites for the trip: We wanted to try ice skating on the terrace in Crown Center, we wanted to visit the Country Club Plaza to see the beautiful lights and decorations, and we were going to WinterFest. Two places were much closer than the third.
So, we picked Crown Center/Country Club Plaza for our hotel spot: The Holiday Inn Country Club Plaza, which is great for families. Our complimentary stay was provided by our trip hosts, Visit KC, so I can write about it.
The only downside to the hotel was that the pool was seasonal since it was outdoors, so that disappointed the kids. If a pool is a must, I recommend the Sheraton in Crown Center in the area. The rooftop heated pool is great, even in the winter.
If your activities are further afield, here are two other hotels worth checking out: DoubleTree in Overland Park, Kan., and The Courtyard in North Kansas City (a good choice to be closer to Worlds of Fun).
Find kid-friendly things to do in KC
We arrived in Kansas City in the morning, and were able to see quite a bit before checking into the hotel.
Our first stop was Science City, which is a favorite stop of our family’s, and we go nearly every time we’re in Kansas City. Our visit was complimentary.
Tip: If you have a membership to Omaha Children’s Museum, your admission is free to Science City!
The Ice Terrace is a seasonal, outdoor ice skating rink open November through February each year. It’s a popular activity, so expect a bit of a wait to get your skates.
We had lunch afterward at Crown Center. If you walk around, you can come across a couple kid-friendly shops like a toy store and a Crayola shop.
Depending on how long it takes to eat and walk, you may have time to check out the shops before checking into the hotel.
Our next stop was WinterFest at Worlds of Fun, which is an evening-only event, so we had some time to kill at the hotel.
This would be a good time for a cat nap if your kids need one; if your kids don’t nap, you can go to Worlds of Fun before the event actually starts (you can get inside at 4:30 p.m., though the event starts at 5 p.m.).
WinterFest started just this year at Worlds of Fun, and it was a hit with every age in our group. It runs until Dec. 30. Food is pricey–it is an amusement park–so I suggest snacks there and eating outside the park before or after.
The next day, we had breakfast at Eggtc, and arrived just in time to beat the local rush. This was one of my favorite breakfast spot discoveries yet. Another breakfast recommendation is Blue Bird Bistro. If you choose to stay at Holiday Inn, kids eat for FREE with an adult entree.
Well fed and caffeinated, we headed for LEGOLAND Discovery Center. If you have a lengthy drive ahead of you, this is a good place for kids to let off a lot of energy before getting buckled in for ride home. You could spend about two hours there, and I recommend not skipping the 10-minute 4-D movie–the kids loved it. There are two rides, but I wouldn’t let that be a selling point.
This is not an amusement park, so manage your expectations in that direction; it’s more for building, and admiring creations, and there is a sufficient amount of play spaces for kids to explore.
Before leaving, we had lunch at Fiorella’s Jack Stack BBQ, a Kansas City institution with five locations. A good thing to note: There’s one location super near Union Station with a pedestrian bridge connecting the two. It’s another great kid-friendly place to try.
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Our WinterFest visit was part of a 24-hour trip to Kansas City, packed with a ton of fun, great food, and beautiful sights. Be sure to read all about our adventures!
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