Making Memories Out & About with the Family This Holiday Season

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.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

4525 Oak St., Kansas City, MO. 816.751.1278.

The largest art gallery west of the Mississippi, the Nelson-Atkins truly is one of our city’s greatest treasures and truly a must-see for any out-of-town guest to experience. With an extensive Chinese and Japanese gallery, European and American art, Modern art, African and Indian art there is much to explore. The Nelson offers family guides for all ages with maps, tour suggestions and headphones to listen to audio tours throughout the galleries. For added fun, print out our Scavenger Hunt before you go.

Union Station

30 W. Pershing, Kansas City, MO 816.460.2000

For over one hundred years, Union Station has been a Kansas City landmark. Science City, the Gottlieb Planetarium, the Extreme Screen theater, Theatre for Young America and the shops and restaurants make it a favorite attraction for all ages. Over the holidays, families enjoy a bit of nostalgia as children enjoy rides on the miniature train, formerly housed in Kansas City’s downtown Jones Store. The Extreme Screen shows a variety of classic holiday films. Then, spend time taking family photos with the giant Christmas tree and holiday decorations. Mark your calendar for these special events at Union Station during the holidays:


  • Holiday Classic Movies: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Nov. 17-22
  • Holidays Come Alive Kickoff Ceremony, Nov. 18
  • Mini Holiday Train Rides, Nov. 18-Jan.5
  • Holiday Classic Movies: Elf, Nov. 24-30
  • Holiday Classic Movies: Home Alone, Dec. 1-7
  • Holiday Dance Showcase, Dec. 3
  • Holiday Classic Movies: Polar Express, Dec. 8-14
  • Merry Science Day in Science City, Dec. 9
  • NEW! Holiday laser shows in Planetarium, Dec. 15-Jan. 5.


Kristina Light is forever grateful for the opportunities her daughters had to share memories with their great-grandmothers and loved ones at many of Kansas City’s greatest places and she hopes you make great memories with your loved ones this holiday season.

Hot Tip: Visit and click Going Places for even more ideas!


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