SHOP • Some call it the Rodeo Drive of the Midwest, but this Spanish-inspired shopping district dotted with statues and artwork truly touts a flavor all its own. Seasoned shoppers at the Plaza will find everything they need for gifting, including high-end labels like Michael Kors, Kate Spade and Burberry, plus newer additions like Warby Parker, Sephora and Vineyard Vines. Be on the lookout for local apparel and goods from HMK, Baldwin and Charlie Hustle.
SEE & DO • Take in the sights and sounds with a romantic horse-drawn carriage. Or, if it’s museums you crave, peruse two free cultural institutions nearby—The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, both free. Go early or stay late at the Kemper for Café Sebastienne, one of the city’s hottest addresses for weekend brunch.
CELEBRATE • You’re in for a treat—miles and miles of holiday lights adorn the Plaza for seven weeks each winter. Outlining every shop, dome and tower of the entertainment district, the KCP&L Plaza Lights are one of KC’s most treasured traditions. It all begins Thanksgiving night when a Kansas City celebrity flips the switch, an honor previously bestowed to Paul Rudd, Kate Spade and Jason Sudeikis, to name a few.
SHOP • Stop into the The Garment District in Power & Light, a hip fashion collective featuring fashions that have graced the pages of Style and US Weekly. In the adjacent Crossroads Arts District, artisanal finds range from handmade letterpress stationery to fun, funky T-shirts to home furnishings and everything in between. Explore Webster House, a 19th-century schoolhouse turned antique emporium, or get lost in Architectural Salvage, a set designer’s paradise that is filled to the brim with antiques and oddities.
SEE & DO • Take your movie-watching to the next level at Alamo Drafthouse, a modern cinema with cool features like quote-along shows and in-theatre pyrotechnics. Test your skills at The College Basketball Experience, a hands-on hoops haven, or uncover the “Titanic of the Missouri River” at the Arabia Steamboat Museum, a tribute to the 1856 shipwreck. End the night by taking in KC’s signature sound at downtown jazz venues such as The Phoenix.
CELEBRATE • Straight out of the mind of Dr. Seuss, The City Market transforms itself for Whoville Holidays, a yuletide celebration featuring The Grinch, art activities and a Cindy Lou Who look-alike contest. Celebrate the season throughout the downtown area with Downtown Dazzle, a holiday celebration on December weekends.
SHOP • Home to Hallmark Cards, Crown Center houses several unique shopping finds, everything from kitchen gadgets and handmade chocolates to tween accessories and Crayola products. Best of Kansas City is a top source for Kansas City souvenirs, be they barbecue sauce, cookbooks or Wizard of Oz paraphernalia. Halls on Grand features stylish home furnishings and the most sought-after contemporary looks in a range of price points.
SEE & DO • Dive into SEA LIFE, KC’s only aquarium, and LEGOLAND Discovery Center side-by-side at Crown Center. Next door is Union Station, KC’s historic train depot, which now houses a children’s science center, plus theaters, touring exhibits and Amtrak. To the south is the National World War I Museum and Memorial, an American treasure and the country’s only museum dedicated to the Great War.
CELEBRATE • Marvel at the 100-foot Mayor’s Christmas Tree, one of the nation’s tallest. Or visit the Holiday Train Village at Union Station, an elaborate display of miniature trains that zig and zag through a dazzling, wintry scene.
SHOP • For big-name stores in an outdoor setting, visit Zona Rosa, a community that harkens back to old KC, thanks to a lively town square that touts shopping, dining and family-friendly events year-round. At Briarcliff Village, shop to your heart’s content inside a Tuscan-inspired scene. The flagship store for Nell Hill’s has earned a reputation for its cottage-style home furnishings.
SEE & DO • In Smithville, Justus Drugstore is a family pharmacy turned fine dining spot, praised by the likes of TIME and Bon Appetit. Afterwards, step on the factory floor and see how hogs are made at the Harley-Davidson Vehicle and Powertrain Operations Factory, where tours are free.
CELEBRATE • Zona Rosa is known for reviving several of KC’s popular holiday traditions. Shop in style beneath the Northern Lights—gigantic, beautifully-lit crowns that sparkle in the moonlight—or explore a chilly igloo and share your family’s holiday wishes with the Fairy Princess.
SHOP • Fun and funky gifts from colorful shops are this area’s specialty. Cooks, bakers and chefs knows and love Pryde’s Old Westport, a triangular building where every nook and cranny is stuffed with must-have kitchen gadgets. At 39th’s Boomerang and Prospero’s, you’ll find vintage looks and books, respectively.
SEE & DO • A great deal of KC’s international and specialty eateries dot these ’hoods, ranging from Northern Chinese noodles and bubble tea at Blue Koi to authentic Mediterranean dishes at Aladdin Café. Down the block, Q39 is a hot hangout with delicious, competition-style barbecue, while the James Beard Award-nominated Port Fonda serves up aunthentic Mexican eats with a side of hip style.
CELEBRATE • Plan a holiday toast with friends and family at one of Westport’s several hot new watering holes such as sports bar Westport Ale House, karaoke-fueled OffKey or cocktail-centric Julep. These cozy yet lively bars are the perfect remedy for the winter doldrums.
SHOP • From crafts to candles, seasonal goods to Slinkys, the New Dime Store is a neighborhood “everything store” in the vein of five-and-dime shops from yesteryear. For gifts, jewelry and collectables, head to Brookside’s STUFF, a sister-run store filled to the brim with artsy and eclectic finds. Find flowers for that special someone at The Fiddly Fig, a well-beloved boutique that features custom arrangements and bouquets for all occasions. Locally owned and operated, 5B & Co. Candlemakers uses premium ingredients to craft candles with hilarious names (and delightful scents), such as Clean Undies or I’m the Boss Applesauce.
SEE & DO • Celebrate your sales with cocktails at several great watering holes, such as Bier Station and Louie’s Wine Dive. Then refuel with sushi and sake at Domo’s sushi or modern-made comfort food at Julian, labor of love for KC Top Chef Celina Tio.
CELEBRATE • Open year-round, the Kansas City Zoo is a short distance away. Celebrate winter break with Berlin, KC's resident polar bear, or the many feathered friends at the Helzberg Penguin Plaza. Visit on a Saturday and you might just catch Santa in a diving suit.