10 Best Things to Do for the Holidays in Kansas City

Kansas City

Eric Bowers Photo / Moment

If you're planning on visiting Kansas City, Missouri, there is no time more festive and full of activities than the holiday season. From the famed Plaza Lights display and abundant holiday shopping and ice skating opportunities, New Year's Eve celebrations, and metro-wide seasonal home decorations, Kansas City is full of things to do, including family-friendly diversions. Start planning your holiday trip to the central United States by discovering exactly what events are happening, where to take guests and children, and where to get the best holiday meals and deals.

01 of 10

Check Out Union Station's Holiday Decorations

Christmas tree in Union Station Kansas City, MO

TriggerPhoto / Getty Images

30 W Pershing Rd, Kansas City, MO 64108, USA
Phone +1 816-460-2000

Make Kansas City Union Station your first stop for holiday fun—gather your group and get your photo taken in front of the giant Christmas tree, for starters, then wander through the walk-through holiday village. Kids will love Rudy's Wonderland—for a real treat, let them visit Santa, ride the Mini Holiday Express train, or check out the model train gallery—while adults can enjoy all the creative and interactive window displays.

Also in Union Station, stop by The Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium to see Laser Holiday Magic, a 40-minute show featuring all your favorite holiday hits accompanied by fun visuals, all brought to you by the power of laser light technology.

02 of 10

Stroll Through Powell Gardens During its Festival of Lights

A family in a snowglobe at Powell Gardens Festival of Lights in Kansas City

Powell Gardens

1609 NW US Hwy 50, Kingsville, MO 64061, USA
Phone +1 816-697-2600

If you happen to be in town Wednesday through Sunday evenings from mid-November through December, head to Powell Gardens, Kansas City's Botanical Garden, during its annual Festival of Lights for the chance to experience the attraction in a whole new way—decked out in thousands of lights and sporting impressive holiday-themed decorations.

03 of 10

Celebrate Noon Year's Eve at Science City

Science City at Union Station

Science City at Union Station

Union Station, 30 W Pershing Rd, Kansas City, MO 64108, USA
Phone +1 816-460-2000

Who says you have to stay up until midnight to celebrate New Year's Eve? Science City, part of Kansas City Union Station hosts its annual Noon Year's Eve event from noon to 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 so even the little ones can get in on the action. Along with an epic balloon drop (instead of a traditional NYE ball drop), families can enjoy special holiday-related seminars, and participate in hands-on presentations, arts and crafts, and other kid-friendly activities.

04 of 10

Entertain Holiday Guests at Popular Attractions

Crown Center

Crown Center

Crown Center, Kansas City, MO, USA

Entertaining guests during the holiday season can be challenging, but there are plenty of opportunities to show your visiting friends a great time in Kansas City. While one of the most popular activities here is ice skating at the Crown Center (which we'll get into a bit more later), a trip to the 18th and Vine Jazz District is sure to entertain visitors of all ages.

The Jazz District is home to the Kansas City Jazz Museum, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and the historic Gem Theater, as well as The Blue Room, one of the best Jazz clubs in the country.

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05 of 10

See the Plaza Lights at Country Club Plaza

Kansas City Plaza Lights

Country Club Plaza

4706 Broadway Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64112, USA
Phone +1 816-753-0100

The Plaza Lights display at Country Club Plaza is one of Kansas City's favorite traditions and the official kickoff point of the holiday season with an official ceremony hosted on Thanksgiving evening.

The ceremony, which began as 16 lights hung over a doorway, now includes more than 80 miles of lights, with more than 280,000 multicolored bulbs illuminating the buildings and towers of the plaza. The lights remain lit throughout the holiday season—turning on at sundown and shutting off around three in the morning—until they are finally retired for the year around mid-January.

06 of 10

Celebrate Christmas in the Park

Christmas at Longview Lake

Fishwolfe Boro

Lee's Summit, MO 64081, USA
Phone +1 816-503-4800

Another favorite holiday tradition of so many Kansas residents, Christmas in the Park features more than 300,000 glowing bulbs and 175 animated figures and allows visitors to drive through and experience all of them from the comfort of their heated vehicles.

Driving through, you can't help but be amazed at the enchanting colors and designs as classic Christmas characters come to life in this stunning display. Every year, the campground at Longview Lake is transformed into a winter wonderland you won't want to miss.

07 of 10

See More Holiday Lighting Displays

Legendary Christmas at Legends Outlets

Visit Kansas City

7210 NW 86th Terrace, Kansas City, MO 64153, USA

Christmas in the Park and the Plaza Lights Event aren't the only way to experience holiday cheer through the magic of lights. There are numerous Christmas lighting displays around Kansas City, both on public buildings and private homes. Head to any one of these great holiday displays around the metropolitan area, but don't miss the holiday lights extravaganza of the Northern Lights at Zona Rosa.

08 of 10

Shop for Christmas Gifts

Zona Rosa is one of many shopping centers in Kansas City

Visit Kansas City

7210 NW 86th Terrace, Kansas City, MO 64153, USA

Kansas City is a shopaholic's paradise, especially during the holiday season when many local retailers offer deals and discounts to visiting shoppers. From quaint boutiques and department stores to discount outlets and vintage retailers, you'll find it all in Kansas City. Shopping districts like Zona Rosa or The Plaza are especially festive during the holiday season, and you can usually find some great deals on and around the Friday after Thanksgiving.

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09 of 10

Go Ice Skating

Outdoor Ice Skating

KC Moms

1301 Wyandotte St, Kansas City, MO 64105-1626, USA
Phone +1 816-474-6664

Whether you want to throw on your skates and sip some hot cocoa during the winter months at an outdoor rink or skate indoors year-round, Kansas City is home to numerous rinks and other options for your winter sporting enjoyment.

Although the most popular spot for tourists and residents alike to visit is the massive outdoor ice skating rink at the Crown Center Ice Terrace, there are a number of smaller attractions that are often less crowded.

10 of 10

Celebrate New Year's Eve

Fireworks at Longview Lake

KC Labor Beacon​

Kansas City, MO, USA

Kansas Citians love to party, so why not ring in the New Year at one of the best parties in town? Your options include private and public events, as well as special to-dos at clubs, restaurants, and every other place where a crowd might be ringing in the New Year.

There are also a number of fireworks displays featuring beautiful views of the city as a backdrop, so make sure to plan out your New Year's celebration before making the trek to Kansas City in December.

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10 Best Things to Do for the Holidays in Kansas City