A Family Guide To Crown Center

Outdoor fountain at Crown Center in Kansas City

Kansas City’s Crown Center attracts visitors for a number of reasons: FREE activities, kid-friendly attractions, shops and restaurants. We’ve visited Crown Center several times and still have yet to see all there is – it’s really Crown Center District with a ton to do. 

Family guide to Crown Center in Kansas City - Where to eat, things to do and hotel suggestions #familytravel #missouri #KC

My family’s most recent visit was during the holidays. The visit was hosted by Visit KC.

Attractions in Crown Center

LEGO statue at Crown Center in Kansas City
My kids don’t know that they haven’t been to Legoland yet. When they were little, these Lego sculptures near the food court in Crown Center sufficed.

These are the biggies:

–  SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium

LEGOLAND® Discovery Center (before you go, read this post about 5 Things To Expect At LEGOLAND Discovery Center in KC)

– The FREE Hallmark Visitors Center and Kaleidoscope, where children and their families create amazing art.

Coterie Theatre presents children’s theater

Musical Theater Heritage is a professional theater company staging American musicals.

– Fountains. The kids loved all of the fountains at Crown Center, especially the ones you can play in when the weather’s warm enough (which, of course, I didn’t get a picture of).

Outdoor fountain at Crown Center in Kansas City
Checking out one of the fountains at Crown Center.

Restaurants in Crown Center

There are more than 15 places to dine at Crown Center Shops. We’ve dined in the area on a couple visits.

Winning for most unique concept is Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant – a model train delivers the meal to your table. It was a big hit with the kids. The menu includes hamburgers, sandwiches and fries.

Fritz's souvenir hat in Kansas City
Farley ponders a fry at Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant while he wears his free conductor’s hat.

We’ve also dined at Crayola Cafe and SPIN! Neapolitan Pizza.

I’m still searching for one that pleases both the grownups and the kids, honestly. You kinda feel like you have to go to Fritz’s because of the novelty, but the other two would not be ones I’d send you guys to dine.

Here are other places to buys grub at Crown Center: The American Restaurant (upscale), Chip’s Candy Factory (fudge), d’Bronx (deli & pizza), Einstein Bros. Bagels, Greek Food, Ltd., Juice Stop, K.C. Bar B.Q., Milano Italian Dining (casual Italian), Pak Ling Express (Chinese), Potatoes and More, Shang Tea Co., Sheridan’s Lattés & Frozen Custard, Smallcakes Cupcakery and Creamery, SPIN! Neapolitan Pizza, A Streetcar Named Desire (full service restaurant, has the streetcar), Taste of Philly, and Three Little Pigs BBQ.

My Family’s Favorite Crown Center Moment

Christmas at Crown Center – In 2015, the shopping center used #ShineBrightKC on its social media channels – for good reason. This place sparkles! Hello, photo opps.

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

Inside the shopping center, we stumbled upon carolers. We missed out on the “Charlie Brown Christmas play at The Corterie (sold out!), as well as the gingerbread houses. 

The kids loved climbing on the over-sized wooden sculptures surrounding the mayor’s large Christmas tree. Due to unseasonably warm weather, we missed out on enjoying outdoor ice skating rink.

We returned for a KC Christmas in 2017 and got to skate on the Ice Terrace, though, so all was forgiven.

Crown Center holiday decorations surround Mayor's Tree in KC
Play time at the base of the Mayor’s Tree at Crown Center in Kansas City.

If you’re visiting Kansas City during the holidays, you should stop even if it’s just to take some pictures of the scene.

Where to stay near Crown Center

There are two hotels in the area, both connected to Crown Center by the Link, a covered walkway system over the streets: Sheraton and The Westin.

Our hosted visit was at the Sheraton. What a perfect place to stay with a family in Kansas City!

Exterior of Sheraton Crown Center in Kansas CIty
Sheraton Crown Center is an easy walk from Crown Center attractions thanks to the Link system over the streets.

First off, any place with a rooftop pool heated year-round is a hit with my kids. My daughter still talks about it.

The rooms are comfy and spacious, there are dining options inside the hotel and best of all, the Link system is darn handy in the winter.

Kansas City Link walkway
The Kansas City Link connects hotels and attractions, making it easy to park in one spot and walk to another.

The Westin is even closer to the Crown Center action. You pass through the Westin if you’re using the Link system to get to Union Station.

A bit further away, but closer to the Country Club (if that’s on your itinerary), is the Holiday Inn.

Exploring Crown Center District

Beyond the shopping center area, you can find museums and attractions, including one of our new favorites, Union Station (take the kids to Science City!). Other things to see include, the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial – which has been highly recommended by several friends so it’s on my list to visit – and The Money Federal Reserve Museum (you receive a complimentary bag of shredded currency there as a souvenir – worth $165).

Crown Center Special Events

Kansas City Irish Fest – Three days of all things Celtic – music, dancing and exhibits.

WeekEnder – Friday nights in July and August, enjoy live music, outdoor movies, food trucks, artisans and more at Crown Center Square.

Other events – Antique Festival, Fiesta Kansas City and Hallmarket… and let’s not forget our favorite, Christmas at Crown Center with the Mayor’s Christmas Tree, Crayola Christmas Land and the Ice Terrace.

Kid-friendly guide to Crown Center in Kansas City - Restaurants, attractions and other things to do and see #familytravel #Missouri #KC

Want to read more stories about Kansas City with a family-friendly focus? Check these out:

15+ Fun Things To Do During A KC Christmas Getaway

Magic At DreamWorks Ultimate Santa Adventure (Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, Kan.)

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 (Kansas City, Mo.)

Best Winter Getaway KC With Kids

DoubleTree Hotel (Overland Park, Kan.)

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

Disclaimer: Our visit was hosted by Visit KC. All opinions expressed are my own.

** This post is part of the #wkendtravelinspiration link-up at FamiliesGo!

Family Fun At Science City

Updated: March 6, 2019

Kansas City has a huge attraction that invites kids to explore science in fun ways. Science City, located inside the gorgeous Union Station, turned out to be one of my kids’ favorite parts of our whole trip to the KC area. It’s also one of our favorites among all the kid-friendly science centers and children’s museums within three hours of Omaha.

Guide to fun Science City, a fun place for families to visit in Kansas City, Missouri. It's located inside Union Station in downtown KC. #KansasCity #KC #Missouri #FamilyTravel

If you go, here’s what to expect:

Highlights

There’s a reason Science City was awarded the prestigious Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge EDGIE Award for Visitor Experience in 2015 (only two such awards are given worldwide that year). At Science City, you can dismiss the “Don’t touch” mentality of visiting places with kids. Kids and adults are encouraged to explore everything there and test their imaginations.

You gotta check out Science in a Sphere - without my son, though, because he'll keep switching the projection to the "Star War" one.
You gotta check out Science on a Sphere – without my son, though, because he’ll keep switching the projection to the “Star War” one.

Farley enjoyed playing in the water area and Science on a Sphere (particularly the Millennium Falcon projected on the sphere – which impressed every parent that walked into the room, as well).

Mooch, being the animal lover that she is, loved the small nature with lizards, birds and amphibians on display.

One of the little creatures you'll find in the Nature Center at Science City.
One of the little creatures you’ll find in the Nature Center at Science City.

She also loved the little tunnel to crawl through and the slide.  

Those were my kids’ favorite areas, but for me, I thought the different lab areas were cool – from kitchen science to building structures to fossils.

And, for the big kids (like me), the Skybike Challenge was fun. At other places we’ve visited, the Sky Bike was always an added cost to the museum admission, but not at Science Museum. Test the laws of physics and ride a bicycle over the museum when you visit!

All Science City Attractions

We had about three hours to spend at Science City before our drive home (Hello, car naps!). Even with a few hours, we missed several cool attractions within. There’s a lot to see, so we know we’ll be back.

Here’s a breakdown of all the attractions at Science City

Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium – One of the largest planetariums in the Midwest. (additional cost)

Burns & McDonnell Engineerium – A hands-on learning experience that encourages children to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math-related fields.

It's cute when he poses with the dinosaur, but not when I do it.
It’s cute when he poses with the dinosaur, but not when I do it.

Dinolab and Digsite

Every Last Drop

Splashing around at Every Lost Drop at Science City.
Splashing around at Every Lost Drop at Science City.

Genetics: Unlock the Code

Giant Lever – Challenge your friends and family to a fun game of tug-of-war with our Giant Lever.

KC Rail Experience – Hands-on journey through the fascinating history of the American railroad.

Kinderlab – Junior scientists can explore, build, imagine, read, pretend and play while engaging in science concepts and science literacy.

Lower Level Demo Area – Daily demonstrations and activities

Maker Studio – Become a maker and be inspired to create new and unique things through hands-on learning.

Maze Park – Home to science shows, special presentations and is also just a really fun, interactive brain teaser for kids of all ages.

Mr. E Hotel – A motel with more than 21 different illusions to confuse and astound guests.

Nature Center – The Nature Center allows visitors the opportunity to observe a diverse group of animals.

Science on a Sphere – A stunning and powerful visual perspective of Earth and other objects in our solar system

Skybike

Spark!Lab

Test Kitchen – Explore the chemistry behind the foods people eat every day.

The Science of Energy

Checking out the Science of Energy area at Science City. I tried it out for a few seconds and totally count this hamster wheel as my day's workout.
Checking out the Science of Energy area at Science City. I tried it out for a few seconds and totally count this hamster wheel as my day’s workout.

There are several other nooks and crannies throughout the multi-level space with more things to explore.

Simple Machines At Play – Outdoors, there’s a fantastic exhibit for active learning. The climber stands out, for sure, but there is also a mini zip line, a few things that explain force and gravity, and other playful areas. Of course, it’s open seasonally.

Science City has an outdoor exhibit called Simple Machines At Play.

Union Station

If you’ve never been to Union Station – this was our first visit – you’ll want to explore it, probably before heading to Science City (because your kids will not let you leave).

Among the FREE highlights is the model train room.

Just one side of the huge model train room.
Just one side of the huge model train room at Union Station in Kansas City.

We timed our visit to see some of Union Station decorated for Christmas. It’s beautiful and there’s no admission to come in and just gawk at the beauty.

At Christmas time, kids can ride a mini train at Union Station.
At Christmas time, kids can ride a mini train at Union Station.

There are, of course, other attractions inside Union Station and restaurants.

If you go

Science City

Where: Inside Union Station, 30 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, Mo.

When: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. (closed on Christmas Day)

Cost: $13.25 for kids ages 3-11, $13.25 for adults; FREE for members and kids under 3. Planetarium tickets are $7. Parking will cost up to $5-$15. If you have a membership to a museum that belongs to the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC), such as Omaha Children’s Museum, you may qualify for FREE admission! Check this post about the reciprocal membership benefits to learn more.

Website

Tip: The Lync walkway system connects Union Station to places like Crown Center. Park in one place and walk to other attractions easily!

Take the Link from Kansas City attractions like Union Station and Crown Center.
Take the Link from Kansas City attractions like Union Station and Crown Center.

Disclaimer: A big thank you to Visit KC for hosting our visit to Kansas City and to Science City for complimentary passes so I can share the experience with readers.

Want to read more stories about Kansas City with a family-friendly focus? Check these out:

15+ Fun Things To Do During A KC Christmas Getaway

Magic At DreamWorks Ultimate Santa Adventure (Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, Kan.)

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

Crown Center dining & entertainment (Kansas City, Mo.)

Best Wintry Getaway To Kansas City 

DoubleTree Hotel (Overland Park, Kan.)

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

Looking for something fun to do with kids in Kansas City? Check out Science City, a science center with that appeals to all ages. #KC #Missouri #FamilyTravel

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.

Related post: Love dessert on vacation? Check out my favorite sweet treats and sweet shops in the KC area!

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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Kansas City Holiday Bucket List

Growing up in the Midwest, I often saw picturesque image of Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza at Christmas time.

It doesn't get much more Christmas-y than this photo of the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. Photo courtesy Visit KC
It doesn’t get much more Christmas-y than this photo of the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. Photo courtesy Visit KC

It looked magical. It looked like that was where Christmas happened. I knew families that went down there each December – to shop, to play.

I wanted to go there.

I see similar pictures now and it still looks magical. 

Yep, I still want to go there. Photo courtesy Visit KC
Yep, I still want to go there. Photo courtesy Visit KC

You know where this is going…I started finally planning a trip to KC at Christmas time. I’ve studied up on some sites that know how to do Christmas right in Kansas City (for starters, Visit KC and Visit Overland Park). If I had unlimited time to spend there, unlimited money to play, here are the items on my bucket list I’d like to check off:

 

Kansas City Christmas Bucket List

Kansas City Holiday Bucket List

Plaza Lights – Obviously. The lights come on at 5 p.m., which means we can go to the Plaza with the kids early enough to not have a late-night meltdown. Now, since this is a pie-in-the-sky bucket list, I’d say we’d see from a carriage ride that magically keeps my feet warm. There’s also the option taking a tour by flight, for those who really want to go all out. They’ll twinkle nightly through Jan. 17, 2016.

Experience the virtual sleigh ride flight school and Ultimate Santa Adventure at Dreamworks DreamPlace Experience at Overland Park Mall in Overland Park, Kan. Overland Park has invited my family to try this out – got my flight passes already! – and I’m so excited to see how my kids react when Shrek and his pals take us on the experience.

And while we’re exploring Overland Park, we might just have to check out the FREE 30-minute drive-through tour, Holiday Lights on Farmstead Lane at Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead.

The free 30-minute Holiday Lights on the Farmstead tour is in Overland Park, Kansas.
The free 30-minute Holiday Lights on the Farmstead tour is in Overland Park, Kansas.

Shop unique shops in the Crossroads District for special gifts. Mr. Wonderful and I got a quick glimpse of the area and we definitely want to go back! Read about that quick date night here. While we’re there, and since money is no matter, I’d get a box of chocolates as a gift (to myself) at Christopher Elbow chocolates and look explore Webster House, a 19th-century schoolhouse turned antique emporium.

Devour some BBQ. Those who’ve known me for years, know that I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time. I recently started adding back a little meat into my diet and lemme tell you, I’m so ready to try some of the famous Kansas City barbecue. I had friends on Facebook throw out some suggestions – how do these sound: Joe’s Kansas City BBQ, Fiorella’s, Char Bar or Arthur Bryant’s? Which would you suggest?

How 'bout a big, heaping plate of barbecue at Arthur Bryant's? Photo courtesy Visit KC
How ’bout a big, heaping plate of barbecue at Arthur Bryant’s? Photo courtesy Visit KC

Speaking of food, I’m a bit of a PBS geek, so I’d love to also dine at Lidia’s Italy Kansas City (yeah, I’m talking about Lidia Bastianich). Maybe we can gorge ourselves at the brunch there sometime?

See “A Charlie Christmas.” I don’t know if The Coterie performs this short live theater production of Christmas season or not, but don’t you think it’d be a cute kid-friendly show to see? It’s at the theater in Crown Center through Jan. 3, 2016.

Finally see Union Station. Been to KC many times and I’ve never been inside Union Station. There’s a lot to do there any time of year, but Christmas time looks like an extraordinary time to visit. There’s the Mayor’s Christmas Tree, which at 100 feet makes it one of the tallest in the U.S. Union Station will also be home to the Kansas City Southern Holiday Express train Dec. 16-20. Wish we were there that weekend – trains impress my kids still, especially ones that carry Santa and elves.

The classic exterior of Union Station in Kansas City. There are a lot of holiday activities held there every year! Photo courtesy Visit KC
The classic exterior of Union Station in Kansas City. There are a lot of holiday activities held there every year! Photo courtesy Visit KC

Revisit Crown Center in its holiday splendor. We’ve stopped by Crown Center in the past but I feel like our family really hasn’t seen much there – we haven’t seen SEA LIFE Aquarium or LEGOLAND Discovery Center even. At Christmas time, there’s the FREE interactive exhibit, Santa’s Gingerbread Station and Gingerbread Village, plus the Crown Center Express Train Engine and outdoor ice rink. 

Check out the Mayor's Tree at Crown Center in Kansas City. Photo courtesy Visit KC
Check out the Mayor’s Tree at Crown Center in Kansas City. Photo courtesy Visit KC

My friends at The Walking Tourists suggested we check out Whoville Holidays, a fun Dr. Seuss-inspired celebration at The City Market. The kids love the Grinch and since it’s FREE, how could we not stop by?

There are FREE Holiday Trolleys on the first three weekends in December taking visitors around Downtown KC. Along the ride, we can take a picture in the life-size snowglobe, see light displays, attractions and other cool stuff. Since the kids get excited sitting on a shuttle bus, this would be a fun way to get around town.

We haven’t been to the Kansas City Zoo yet, and I read if you time your visit well and stop by on a Saturday in December, you just might catch Santa diving in a wetsuit. Between you and me, I might hold off our visit until warmer temperatures because I’d love to go on a boat ride at the zoo.

I could wait to see this big guy in warmer weather, but I'm guessing a polar bear is really in his element this time of year in Kansas City. Photo courtesy Visit KC
I could wait to see this big guy in warmer weather, but I’m guessing a polar bear is really in his element this time of year in Kansas City. Photo courtesy Visit KC

I came across a lot of my inspiration for our upcoming Kansas City holiday adventure at Visit KC. What’s missing? What should I add to our bucket list of things to do?

Your turn: What are the not-to-miss holiday experiences in the Kansas City area?

 

Kansas City Date Night In Crossroads

If you keep up with Oh My! Omaha on social media, I recently took a quick trip to Kansas City with Mr. Wonderful for a concert. Before the trip, I asked for some dinner options because, weeee!, we’ll be able to go out to eat, linger, and not wipe anyone else’s mouth but our own.

Let’s not squander this opportunity, folks. It’s a Kansas City date night!

I got tons of great recommendations:

– Char Bar in the Westroads, Jack Stack BBQ (courtesy Lisa at The Walking Tourists)

– KC Joe’s, Westport Cafe (particularly brunch) (courtesy an Omaha transplant living in KC)

– Q39 (courtesy Kathleen at Thinking Smaller)

– Gram & Dun (courtesy Katie at Yellow Mango Life)

–  Seasons 52 (courtesy Tiffany at Feathering the Nest)

– Stroud’s (from my uncle)

– Joe’s Kansas City, Harry’s Bar & Tables (courtesy, my site designer, Brian)

 

We ended up at The Farmhouse near the City Market. I highly recommend!

 

I’m mainly writing this post so I don’t forget the other recommendations.

We’ll be checking off this list each time we visit from here on out.

The concert was in the Crossroads district of the city, and being a little too excited about it, we arrived super early.

The doors to the concert venue didn’t open for two hours. What to do?

Twitter to the rescue:

https://twitter.com/ladiesread/status/621435697912762369

https://twitter.com/MelissaCinOP/status/621440045182947329

We opted for a round of retro games and good craft beer at Up-Down KC, followed by a quick pit stop at The Belfry for a quick Skype with the kids, a drink and gourmet popcorn. Up-Down KC is a fun place, especially for children of the 80s. Both Up-Down KC and The Belfry had some great craft beer to choose from.

Post-concert and starving, we got some pizza at Grinders before calling it a night.

The next day, we returned to Crossroads because we’d miss so much, it seemed… and let’s be real, I felt really guilty about not making it to Christopher Elbow Chocolates.

View this post on Instagram

I'll take it all, please. @elbowchocolates @visitkc

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We poked our heads into a couple galleries, and swore we’d be back when galleries open their doors and host a big party on the first Friday of the month.

Just 24 hours in KC, but I realized I’d overlooked this area in the city – there’s a lot going on, even on a Wednesday night.

Crossroads KC

What has been your experience with The Crossroads? Where do you recommend readers visit if they’re in the area – food, drinks, entertainment, shopping, whatever?

St. Louis With Kids

We took the kidlets to St. Louis this winter for a wedding and to visit family. While there, we checked out some recommended spots for families – and it was a lot of fun!

St Louis 4

I’ve waited an embarrassingly long time to write about it. Which makes it sound like it wasn’t that fun…nope, I’m just a procrastinator.

St. Louis hot spots for families

Our first stop was food. Naturally. This is me we’re talking about. Adam over at Visit Flyover Country recommended a few greats spots to eat in St. Louis and my mom picked the old-fashioned soda fountain, Jennifer’s Pharmacy and Soda Shoppe in Clayton. Darling place. And super friendly ladies behind the counter. My kids’ favorite part of the lunch was the flying monkey sundae. Order it and enjoy the literal flying monkey.

 

Mooch was a big fan of Jennifer's, partly because it was inside a pharmacy with a lot of candy that her Grammy let her buy. The other part is that flying monkey. Mooch loves "oo oo ah ahs."
Mooch was a big fan of Jennifer’s, partly because it was inside a pharmacy with a lot of candy that her Grammy let her buy. The other part is that flying monkey. Mooch loves “oo oo ah ahs.”

The ladies at Jennifer’s sent us to the Frisco Train Store.

Farley showing off hIs haul from the Frisco Train Store.
Farley showing off hIs haul from the Frisco Train Store.

It was nowhere near where we were so if you’re planning a trip, don’t plan to do it like we did (nor try to get to it during rush hour). But it is a fun store to check out if you have the time. The kids LOVED the train tables, as I imagine that’s the main draw for anyone who brings their kids there.

Frisco is the store for the train fanatic in your life. Four train tables, kids, four.
Frisco is the store for the train fanatic in your life. Four train tables, kids, four.

Basically, there are benches set up around the shop and parents can sit while their kids go nuts over the big track. You’ll be tempted to browse. And shop. Which we were. And that’s the whole point of the set up.

Like most kids, mine have an abundance of energy. Like insane amounts. So, we figured that we needed to take them somewhere to unload some of that energy before a wedding we were attending.

Adam made some excellent recommendations, especially for my kids’ ages. Check them out here. We had a hard time choosing given our limited time in the city.

So, we went to the City Museum. Go there! With or without kids.

The City Museum in St. Louis is hard to define. It's a colorful, non-plastic dream world for kids and adults ( they have a bar there!).
The City Museum in St. Louis is hard to define. It’s a colorful, non-plastic dream world for kids and adults ( they have a bar there!).

It’s a bit of an enigma when it comes to explaining it.

No brightly colored, protective plastic here.
No brightly colored, protective plastic here. If that makes you nervous, this is not the place for you and your kids.

Great for kids (multi-stories long slides, tunnels, circus, crafts, I could go on), great for adults (there’s a bar inside) – it’s just incredible.

The area for preschoolers and younger. A little more plastic there - toy trucks, building blocks, that sort of thing.
The area for preschoolers and younger. A little more plastic there – toy trucks, building blocks, that sort of thing.

It’s like the creative folks at Hot Shops got a hold of your childhood drawings of a magical fort and bam!

What is this room for in the City Museum? Doesn't matter. The kids loved running around it.
What is this room for in the City Museum? Doesn’t matter. The kids loved running around it.

There it is with a skate ramp, ball pit and train added in.

Mooch could've stayed in the ball pit for two hours. I had to ignore the germ-phobe screaming in my head.
Mooch could’ve stayed in the ball pit for two hours. I had to ignore the germ-phobe screaming in my head.

Our favorite spot was for the preschool and younger crowd. It’s much much easier to keep an eye on the kids in a room with only one exit.

Farley on one of the slides in the younger kids area at the City Museum. Such a cool design of a place!
Farley on one of the slides in the younger kids area at the City Museum. Such a cool design of a place!

I do it no justice, so just trust me, it’s worth a visit. There are food options there (pricey).

Our other kid-friendly stop was before we were heading out of town, trying to burn off that incredible energy again before an 8-hour road trip. NO, it doesn’t usually take that long to get to St. Louis, but traveling with my kids, it takes longer.

We checked out the FREE Science Center in St. Louis.

Mooch meets a dinosaur at the St. Louis Science Center.
Mooch meets a dinosaur at the St. Louis Science Center.

This one would definitely be better for gradeschoolers on up, but my kids had a lot of fun. There were activities that suited my 4-and-under crowd just right. Take your kids over the interstate bridge, for sure. There is a food court there with some healthy options.

Can't go wrong with building blocks.
Can’t go wrong with building blocks.

This was a busy place, but my kids managed to play with lots of the exhibits.

And you can’t beat free.