Making Memories Out & About with the Family This Holiday Season

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My grandparents grew up in Kansas City and raised their children in the suburbs, but they moved a few hours south to the lake for their retirement years. When my grandmother moved back to Kansas City, my daughters and I relished many great opportunities to take her along with us on outings around town. Grandma and I were very close, and I’d heard many of her favorite stories of her childhood and youth for years, but something marvelous happened when I took her to Kansas City landmarks: She was reminded of new stories we’d never heard!

On an outing to the zoo, I learned that when my grandparents were dating (in the 1950s), they snuck into the Kansas City Zoo after hours and even dipped their feet in the water of the sea lion pool. When we spent a day downtown, we recreated pictures with Grandma at The Scout statue, and she pointed out that now it stands on a tall rock pedestal, but in the ’50s when she and Grandpa were newlyweds, it was lower to the ground and they were right by the horse. When we attended Phantom of the Opera at the Music Hall, she told me about watching Yul Brenner in The King and I years ago. Something special happens when you’re out and about making memories together.

Over the holidays this year, as you’re hosting out-of-town company or getting together with local loved ones, consider taking them to one of these favorite local attractions to make new memories or remember old ones.

The Kansas City Zoo

6800 Zoo Dr., Kansas City, MO, 816.595.1234,

When my husband’s family came to visit from Iowa a few years ago, we took them to many local attractions. After a full weekend of fun, the highlight of the holiday weekend for his octogenarian grandmother was receiving a kiss from Santa Claus during holidays at the zoo. The zoo is a special place for the entire family year-round and, typically, is less crowded in the winter months. When you visit the zoo, ask the group about their favorite animals, why they love them and whether they have any special zoo memories.

Mark your calendar for these special events at the zoo:

  • Great Pumpkin Smash, Nov. 4-5.
  • Zootastik Learning Fest: Red Panda, Nov. 11-12.
  • Santa Dives with Penguins, Nov. 24-26.
  • Holiday Wild, Penguin March and Santa Dives, Dec. 2-3.
  • Zootastik Learning Fest: Reindeer & Caribou, Santa Dives and Penguin March, Dec. 9-10.
  • Winter Wonderland, Penguin March and Santa Dives, Dec. 16-17.
  • King and Gentoo Penguin March, Dec. 23-24 and 30-31.
  • Zoo Year's Eve, Dec. 31.

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

5235 Oak St., Kansas City, MO, 816.235.8000,

Something is so special about our childhood memories of playing with beloved toys, whether a favorite electric train set, a special dollhouse, a keepsake tea set or the greatest pinball game ever. Toys connect generations. The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures is the ideal place to reminisce and create family connections over fond childhood memories. One of our girls’ favorite memories was a visit to the museum with four generations from my husband’s family, exploring the largest collection of nostalgic toys, fine-scale miniatures and marbles in the Midwest. As we culled through room upon room, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents and children shared their favorite memories playing with marbles, a favorite Barbie doll or Raggedy Ann, ride-on pedal toys, paper dolls, teddy bears and dollhouses. The children loved discovering surprises in every dollhouse and each room of the museum, and the adults loved watching their reactions and remembering their own childhoods. After a visit to the museum, we enjoyed a visit to Winstead’s on the Plaza, sharing an old-fashioned lunch of burgers and shakes (and where Grandpa selected some of his favorite Elvis tunes on the jukebox).

Mark your calendar for these special events at the museum during the holidays:

  • Meet the Experts: VFW Marble Tournaments, Nov. 12, 2:00-3:00.
  • Day After Thanksgiving Program: Magic Marbles, Nov. 24, 10:00-4:00.
  • Coleman Dollhouse Opening, Dec. 2, 10:00-4:00.
  • Meet the Experts: Christmas Crèches at T/M, Dec. 10, 2:00-3:00.
  • Christmas Stories at T/M, Dec. 16, 1:00-3:00.
  • Father Christmas Comes to T/M, Dec. 17, 1:00-2:30.
  • Christmas Stories at T/M, Dec. 23, 1:00-3:00.
  • Music in the Museum, Dec. 30, 1:00-3:30.

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