Discover places to go in Missouri using this category, including itineraries for city visits, tips for kid-friendly destinations and recommended restaurants to try in Missouri. Learn about cities like Kansas City, St. Louis, Excelsior Springs and more.
One of the most-visited areas in Kansas City is the beautiful Country Club Plaza. There are few trips we make to KC that don’t involve a stop there.
Until recently, we’ve never stayed near there, though. If you’re looking for a hotel near Country Club Plaza, here’s what we found at Holiday Inn Country Club Plaza. It’s within walking distance to great shops and a ton of restaurants. Disclosure: Our stay was complimentary for this review.
Holiday Inn Amenities
We were in Kansas City for a quick holiday getaway, and we wanted to stay somewhere near some of our key activities like ice skating at Crown Center, playing at LEGOLAND Discovery Center and Science City, and hopefully, getting some shopping done. So, we opted for a hotel near the Country Club Plaza. It was nowhere near our third destination of the trip (Worlds of Fun).
Traveling to big cities, parking can be costly. A great perk at Holiday Inn near Country Club Plaza is the complimentary self-parking. Having it underground is a bonus, especially in the winter.
My family includes two young kids so one big thing is a requirement for hotels: A pool. This Holiday Inn has one, but alas, it’s outdoors and open seasonally. To keep the kids occupied, you could check out an Xbox Connect or board games.
There’s actually a year-round outdoor pool in Kansas City, and I highly recommend it for families (read about it in the Sheraton Hotel review here). It’s not within walking distance of the Plaza, though.
Another nice amenity is the free wi-fi access at the hotel.
Holiday Inn Rooms
You can bet after a day of ice skating and strolling around Worlds of Fun’s WinterFest, the family was beyond tired. Our room at two double beds with the coziest pillows ever. The blackout curtains insured the kids slept in for as long as they needed.
Our room overlooked the pool courtyard, which I imagine would be nice other times of year. During the winter, there isn’t much to see.
I didn’t get a chance to dine at the Holiday Inn’s restaurant, but for families on a budget, here’s the deal: Up to four kids ages 11 and under eat free any time of the day in any Holiday Inn® on-site restaurant.
Walk to the Country Club Plaza
The Country Club Plaza in Kansas City is stunning any time of year. The architecture is beautiful. However, around the holidays, the KCP&L Plaza Lights at night add an extra “aww” factor to your visit. The Plaza Lights run Thanksgiving through Jan. 14 from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily.
There are several other events at the Plaza besides the Plaza Lights. You can get event details here.
One more tip: If you’re looking for a great breakfast choice, eggtc. is a KC staple with a location less than a mile from the Holiday Inn. It’s very family-friendly, but you want to get there early to beat the local rush.
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.
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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Worlds of Fun in Kansas City has successfully branched out from being only a summer destination for my family. Thanks to its new WinterFest, there’s a good reason to consider it now. The holidays at Worlds of Fun is enchanting!
Disclosure: My family’s visit was hosted through a partnership with Blog Meets Brand and Cedar Fair. This post may contain affiliate links.
During WinterFest, the amusement park opens in the evening for rides, music, holiday characters, and everything merry. The first year of the event was in 2017, and it looks like it’s gotten bigger and better. In 2018, Winterfest runs through select nights from Nov. 23 through Dec. 31.
There’s a lot to see and do, and frankly, one night is not enough. And if you have little ones with you, late nights aren’t a good option. So, here’s how a family visiting with young children make the most of it.
WinterFest starts at either 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. (depending on the night) and ends at 10 p.m. (and midnight on Dec. 31). Five or six hours seems like enough, right? Oh, it never is. Arrive early. You can get into to International Plaza and Das Eishaus Ice Skating at an hour before opening (at least we could last year). The parking lot opens at 3:30 p.m.
TIP: Worlds of Fun’s entrance has two right-hand turn lanes, but the night we visited almost everyone lined up on the far right one. Wish we had skipped the line and zipped ahead in that second-to-the-right lane.
Your early arrival allows time for family photos with a little daylight, and time to plan out your night.
You won’t see lines like a busy summer day, I’m guessing, but if you arrive at 5, expect a line of cars trying to get into park.
Plan Your Rides
There are 25 rides open during WinterFest, including rollercoasters like Prowler and Spinning Dragon. We didn’t talk about what rides we wanted to do beforehand, so we spent a good portion of the night looking at our map and wandering around.
Most rides in the kids area of the park, Planet Snoopy, were open. This may be great for your family, but if your kids are older, there are far fewer rides that will interest them.
The good news is, the ride lines were not unbearable, especially for the Prowler. The longest wait was for the ride closest to the entrance.
TIP: If you’ve got kids under the age of 8 in your group, head straight for Planet Snoopy for the most rides in one area (and pretty much zero wait time).
And I guess it goes without saying: Dress warmly. It gets cold on rollercoasters and the spinning rides in the middle of winter.
Where to find holiday characters
There are characters throughout the park, and if you just walk around, you’ll find them. No need to go hunt them down…except for The Big Two (Santa and Mrs. Claus).
Head over to Scandinavia to find Santa. You’ll find Mrs. Claus in her kitchen in Europa (for an extra fee, you can decorate humongous cookies there). If you’re a Peanuts fan, look for characters over in Planet Snoopy.
TIP: If cookie decorating is on your list, expect a line. It went fairly quickly but, just giving you a heads up.
Be on the look out for characters like Jack Frost, the Sugar Plum Fairy, Candy Cane and Jingle Bell throughout WinterFest. Interaction with these festive folks add a fun touch to the night. Jack Frost can even make it snow.
Slow down to enjoy things
I’ve never seen Worlds of Fun — or any space — as beautifully decorated for the holidays. Walking around makes your feel like a child again.
It’s tempting to rush from ride to ride, but you’ll be missing out on the spirit of the event.
By the way, if lights are your thing, be sure to ride the train.
TIP: For good, overhead views of the park, look to your left as you go up the first hill of Prowler.
Other things to see & do at WinterFest:
Artisan Alley – Designed like Christmas markets around the world, you can shop more than 30 local vendors. This was low on my kids’ interest list.
Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree Lot – Walk through a maze of trees and find Peanuts characters at the end for a fun photo opp.
Das Eishaus Skating – For an extra fee, you can ice skate under twinkling lights. This is one of the few ice skating rinks I’ve come across that provides skating assistance for beginners (think: A walker on ice).
Food & Beverages – Wherever you are in the park, you’ll find some seasonal food and drinks, as well as some usual amusement park fare like pizza, turkey legs and funnel cakes. It wouldn’t be Christmas without hot cocoa, and there’s also spiked drink options for the grownups.
TIP: There were lines for hot chocolate throughout the park, except for one place I stumbled upon: Spike’s Cheery Concoctions. It’s not just for the grown-up beverages, you can get cocoa there.
Let It Snow – It snows every 15 minutes at Hometown Square in Americana, thanks to Jack Frost. There are also performers and fantastic photo opps like the 300-foot-tall “tree” (AKA the ride SteelHawk).
We went on an unseasonably warm weekend and the fake snowfall was a nice touch.
Live Shows – There are 10 shows to catch during WinterFest, and I’ll admit, we didn’t seek many of these out. We were on a mission for rides and cookies (and hot cocoa). There’s a Broadway-calibre “Charlie Brown Christmas Spectacular,” “Sounds of the Nativity” with live animals, and everything from jazz to bluegrass and performers on a roving trolley.
We caught the tree lighting ceremony, which is held each night the park is open at 5:30 p.m. Snoopy and about 20 singers and dancers perform a few numbers and then quickly, the tree lights up and then there’s a surprise ending. In my honest opinion, kids didn’t want to wait around for this and if I could do it again, I’d skip it and go on the rides. The tree stays lit the entire night.
North Pole Post Office – Kids can stop by the post office to write letters to Santa. Nearby, you’ll find Reindeer Roundup with Murray the Moose and others. Don’t go out of your way to find Murray.
Sally’s Christmas Crafts – Kids 12 and younger can decorate an ornament to take home or hang on the tree, as well as make cards.
If you go
When: Nov. 23 through Dec. 31, 2018; hours vary and the park is open on Fridays through Sundays only through Dec. 17, when it’s open nightly (except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, when the park is closed). See the hours here.
Where: Worlds of Fun, 4545 Worlds of Fun Ave, Kansas City, Mo.
Cost: I haven’t seen the price for 2018 Winterfest Tickets. Last year they were $25 (or a bit more at the gate); the all-inclusive ticket was $45 (plus fees & taxes) online, and that included admission, parking, a single meal deal, and a souvenir mug. Ice skating was $15, and the cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus was $14 (includes four cookies). You’ll want to check this worldsoffun.com for ticket information. It’s almost always a better idea to buy tickets in advance to pay the lowest fee and to avoid lines for tickets.
Find Kansas City hotels near Worlds of Fun and read reviews on TripAdviser!
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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. In the next weeks, return to this blog to read all about our adventures:
Best means the most beautiful. Best means the grounds are impressively huge. And best means there’s a lot to see.
Unfortunately for us, we were on a tight schedule trying to take in the best of St. Louis in 24 hours. So we hit the kid-friendly garden highlights and left knowing there was more to see on a return visit. Our visit was hosted by Explore St. Louis.
Highlights of Missouri Botanical Garden With Kids
The Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden is a seasonal garden that’s an additional cost to visit, but if you’re at Missouri Botanical Garden with young children, you’re going to want to include this on your visit. Keep in mind, YOU don’t have to pay for a ticket as the adult (anyone over 13 is FREE in the children’s garden, as is anyone younger than 2). The price for children ages 3-12 is $5 if you’re not a member.
My daughter gravitated toward the water features, particularly the pond with little boats and, briefly, the sprayground. I recommend bringing a towel and having your child wear a swimsuit if you think yours will head for the same areas!
My son, on the other hand, was all go go go, and loved climbing, sliding, and exploring the tree house and limestone cave.
My kids love koi ponds wherever we go (the one in Wichita was pretty memorable). They enjoyed feeding the koi at Missouri Botanical Gardens, as well as finding other waterlife in the 4-acre lake. They were delighted to spot several turtles.
This was one of my favorite areas of all. It was peaceful and so beautifully designed, with traditional Japanese bridges, waterfalls, lanterns and sculptures. It’s a large space to walk – 14 acres in all!
Climatron The Climatron is a greenhouse designed to create a rainforest atmosphere for visitors, complete with a waterfall and tropical fish. When we visited, there was an additional fee to enter because of a glass sculpture show called “Garden of Glass.”
If you’re traveling with littles, it’s going to be tough to see it all unless you have a stroller or get tram tickets. The tram rides are pretty insightful, so I recommend getting tickets for it. It is a hop-on hop-off kind of thing, but you aren’t guaranteed a seat if you try to hop on at a later stop.
There is no need to take the tram to go to the children’s garden. It’s not a far walk from the entrance.
FYI: You can rent strollers at Missouri Botanical Gardens. Just a note, these are for truly little kids. My 5-year-old did not fit into it.
Other Notable Areas
We passed through some absolutely stunning gardens the morning we visited. Among them were the Carver Garden, the English Woodland Garden and the Boxwood Garden.
If you’re familiar with Missouri Botanical Garden, you know then, that we missed a lot! However, given how young our children were and how hot a July morning can get, we picked the best gardens that our children would love.
Plan on spending at a minimum three hours here and not seeing it all.
If you go
Missouri Botanical Garden
Where: 4344 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis, Mo.
When: Open year-round, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (with a few exceptions). Closed Christmas Day. Cost: $12, adults (age 13 and over); FREE for children (age 12 and under) and members.
City Museum in St. Louis is a rare find. It’s an epic attraction for the entire family, and one I swear I’ll never grow tired of visiting. It’s fun, it’s crazy, it’s beautiful, and it looks a little dangerous. And I love it.
We visited this summer during a whirlwind 24-hour visit to St. Louis. We packed a lot in, and if I could do it all over again, I’d allow more time for City Museum. Our visit was hosted by Explore St. Louis.
Want to plan your visit to the City Museum? I’ve got some advice for you:
Tips For Visiting City Museum in St. Louis
The City Museum is not the place to dress fashionably. You’ll likely be crawling through some tight spaces, climbing up some metal ladders, and sliding down some pretty gnarly slides. Tennis shoes, pants, and a shirt that won’t have you flashing everybody is smart choice. And you’re going to get sweaty. You might not want to wear a shirt that’s going to tell the world just how big of a sweater you are.
People in the know bring knee pads (or you can buy them in the gift shop). If you think of it, bring those flashlights kids can wear on their head. There are some dark spaces there.
Go up to the rooftop
If you visit when the rooftop is open, splurge and spend the extra few dollars to see it. It’s a marvel, with a ferris wheel, the school bus, slides and more.
It gets hot up there, so if you can manage it, go out there early in the morning rather than in the heat of the day.
And, don’t make the same mistake we did: Take the elevator. There’s a sign to use the stairs, that it might be faster…don’t do it. It’s a loooong way up. Unless you’re a regular stair racer, you’re going to be tired by the time you reach the roof.
If you visit with more than one child, aim to play man-to-man parenting defense. Our kids, ages 5 and 7, usually follow directions when I ask them to not leave an area without me or my husband. All rules go out the door when they set foot in the City Museum.
It’s like a wonderland and they hit the floor running. I follow one kid, Mr. Wonderful tracks the other. Or we attempt to. Good luck if you’re outnumbered by your kids.
Have you ever tried crawling through the tunnels there? Oy.
Have a meeting place
Try as you might, there’s a chance your child is going to outrun you in the City Museum. The building is quite cavernous. We picked out a meeting spot on the first floor, should we lose part of our group. We went with the information desk as the meeting spot.
Make sure your kid knows your phone number. If not, I highly recommend these kid safety tats. We put them on the kids when we went to Disney World and they stayed on our entire vacation.
Be a kid again
You don’t need to have kids to visit City Museum. If you are there with kids, don’t just watch. Get out there and have fun. Do the slides. Cram yourself into the tunnels. Sit on one of those spinning top thingys. Jump in the ball pit. Delight in the circus. It’s so much more fun.
By the way, there’s a 10-story slide at City Museum. It sounds epic, but it’s my least favorite thing to do there. I just wasn’t able to slide well, so it was 10 stories of scooting.
I have a hotel recommendation to make your next St. Louis visit extra? Stay at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis. Your kids aren’t going to forget this hotel.
We stayed at Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis on the first leg of the #OhMyEpicRoadTrip adventure this summer. I’d spent a long time daydreaming about St. Louis—what I’d do if time and money were no matter. One thing on my list: A view of the Gateway Arch. I found that and more at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, which hosted my family’s stay.
Then, it’s up to the room. I’d requested a room with a view, and they delivered. I could spend all day looking out from this window.
If you can get them to step away from the view, there is a surprise waiting for your kids in the room. The hotel asks for your kids’ names ahead of time to personalize things. Our kids’ welcome treat were huge chocolate dipped marshmallows, jellybeans, and our favorite, a chocolate arch. Nice touch!
Not that my kids need help relaxing, but there are even kid-sized robes and slippers in the room (as well as full-size ones for us). Even more thoughtful, organic, kid-friendly toiletries and rubber ducks wait in the bathroom.
About the rooftop pool
I’ve never found a hotel pool with this kind of view in the middle of a city’s busy downtown area. The kids had fun splashing in the pool, wading pool, and hot tub, no doubt. We forgot goggles, but the pool attendants found extra for us.
The pool area had cabanas for rent, as well as lounge chairs for guests. Attendants prep the chair for you, and bring you towels…and drinks. It’s an adults’ happy place. There were definitely more childless adults relaxing by the pool than families, though, so I felt compelled to keep reminding my kids that cannonballs were frowned upon.
Feeding the kids
Don’t skip the Four Seasons’ complimentary gelato or pizza-making experience offered to kids younger than 12. Held in the kitchen of the hotel’s restaurant, Cielo, kids get one-on-one time with an executive chef and ends with a tasty treat.
My kids made gelato sundaes with the executive pastry chef, Chef Saul, who showed them how the restaurant makes its own gelato, and had a prepped food area for them to choose the toppings for their sundaes. I might have nudged my daughter in the direction of adding some chocolate-covered strawberries to her sundae so I could sample. It lasted about 20 minutes and ended with a happy sugar high for all of us.
Cielo faces the pool area, and if the weather is right, offers great al fresco dining for families. Kids younger than 5 eat for free, and there is a kids menu there.
We had breakfast outdoors, facing the Gateway Arch. If you want some recommendations, definitely order the chicken and waffles and fresh juice. I haven’t had fresh orange juice. I had french toast, which was as good as it looks, but I admit to stealing more off my husband’s chicken and waffles plate than is probably socially acceptable.
What’s near Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis
When you leave the hotel, you’ll find a lot of family-friendly attractions nearby. Here are the distances to a few of notable attractions:
Gateway Arch – Less than half a mile, you could walk this!
City Museum – 1 mile
Busch Stadium (home to the Cardinals) – 1 mile
Union Station – Slightly more than 1 mile
The Dome at America’s Center (home to the Rams) – 1.5 miles
Forest Park (St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Science Center) – Less than 6 miles
Missouri Botanical Garden – Less than 6 miles
And, not family-friendly at all, but it’s worth noting that the Four Seasons St. Louis is right next to (pretty much connected to) a casino.
If you go
Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis
Where: 999 N. Second St., St. Louis, Mo.
Cost: $$$$ (parking and valet parking is an additional fee)
Need more ideas? Check out my St. Louis With Kids board on Pinterest:
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