Kansas City Plaza Lights, a spectacular holiday tradition

Cover: Kansas City Plaza Holiday Lights
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


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While there are many spots around the world that transform into winter wonderlands during the holidays, the Midwest is home to one of the United State’s most beloved annual holiday traditions – the Plaza lights in Kansas City.

Plaza lights in Kansas CityPlaza lights in Kansas City Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media


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Dating back to 1925 when a single strand of lights was hung at the nation’s first suburban shopping district, the Kansas City Plaza lights have grown into a magical display that is now known worldwide for its beauty and grandeur.

Tower decorated with lights at The Plaza in Kansas City
Tower decorated with lights at The Plaza in Kansas City Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Beginning on Thanksgiving, when the lights are illuminated in a huge lighting ceremony complete with fireworks, the Plaza lights shine brightly through mid-January. Each night beginning around 4:30 the 15-block shopping district is filled with festive, twinkling lights. Stores stay open late during the season and the shops are decked out with dazzling window displays.

Plaza lights after dark in Kansas City Plaza lights after dark in Kansas City Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Visiting during the Plaza lights season is also one of our favorite times for a stop in Kansas City, having done so numerous times over the past decades. While planning our December calendar this year, we discovered some available time between Cabo and Cuba, and happily scheduled a Kansas City Plaza lights visit.

Visiting Kansas City at Christmas
Visiting Kansas City at Christmas Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Having stayed at the Intercontinental since it was the Alameda Plaza in the 70s, it is always our hotel of choice when visiting Kansas City. Conveniently located across from the Plaza, the hotel has a great staff, large stately rooms and stunning views of the Plaza lights.

Hotel Intercontinental at Christmas in Kansas City Hotel Intercontinental at Christmas in Kansas City Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Strolling through the Plaza in the crisp early evening air is a wonderful time to simply enjoy the joy of the season.

Carriage rides at The Plaza in Kansas City Carriage rides at The Plaza in Kansas City Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The clip clop of the horses pulling carriages, the sound of laughter as friends headed for drinks and dinners, the wide eyes of children as they marvel at the magic of it all, and, of course, the shoppers as they bustle from store to store – it’s as if a holiday card has come to life.

BM3V8934 Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza at Christmas Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Plaza is a beautiful setting for a beautiful season. Happy holidays!


Disclosure: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used. Some posts on this website may contain links to our partners’ websites and Chasing Light Media may be compensated by those partners.

Kansas City Plaza Lights
Kansas City Plaza Lights Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

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Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

The Plaza, Kansas City

Kansas City: A charming city that deserves a visit

Cover: The Plaza, Kansas City
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Growing up in a small town in Kansas, Kansas City was an escape to a city filled with museums, restaurants and professional sports teams.

It still is and more. The former cowtown has grown into a charming city with great districts, a vibrant nightlife and a dining scene where even though barbecue and steaks are still prevalent, a full-range of cuisine is available.

Kansas City skyline
Kansas City skyline
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Kansas City: Where to stay

That depends on where you want to play.

The Plaza

Kansas City Plaza Lights
Kansas City, Missouri Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Country Club Plaza is a beautiful shopping village with European influences, primarily those of Seville, Spain.

Developed by J.C. Nichols in 1907, The Plaza beckons you to put the world on hold and come stroll amongst the fountain and statues, do a bit of shopping, and have a bite to eat in one of the numerous restaurants. At Christmas, The Plaza turns into a winter wonderland with a light display that has become legendary and is known worldwide.

Where to stay? We stay at the Hotel Intercontinental – with our visits dating back decades to when the hotel was the Fairmont and before that, the Alameda Plaza.

The Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri
The Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Located across from The Plaza, the hotel has beautiful views, is well-maintained, and the staff is excellent. It is also dog-friendly.

Bonus tip for the hotel: Select the concierge level. As far as value, it’s one of the best concierge packages you’ll find, and Melanie, Craig and the rest of the hospitality team do a phenomenal job of taking care of your needs and wants.

Hotel Intercontinental, Kansas City, Missouri
Hotel Intercontinental, Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Hotel Intercontinental, Kansas City, Missouri
Hotel Intercontinental, Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Downtown

Downtown has many hotel options from major brands to historic places to rest your head. The Hotel Phillips and the Ambassador (now owned by Marriott) are beautiful boutique hotels in historic buildings with stunning architecture. Both are centrally located downtown, are pet-friendly, and are within an easy walking distance of the Sprint Center and the Power & Light District. We’ve stayed at both and enjoyed both the accommodations and the friendly staffs.

Crown Center

Just south of downtown lies the Westin Crown Center – which was actually where we spent our honeymoon in 1979. The Westin is attached to Crown Center, which offers shops, restaurants, and attractions, and is located across from Union Station, which adds additional shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities. Nice hotel, good location, and dog-friendly.


Union Station, Kansas City, Missouri
Union Station, Kansas City, Missouri
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Kansas City: What to do

The Nelson-Atkins is a must.

Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri
Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Built on the grounds of the former home of William Rockhill Nelson, who founded the Kansas City Star newspaper, the Nelson-Atkins began from a combination of the estates of Nelson and Mary McAfee Atkins and opened in 1933.

Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri
Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The museum’s collections include works from European masters including Degas, Money, Pissarro, Rembrandt and Van Gogh and a large Asian art collection.

Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri
Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri
Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Admission is free and lunch at the Nelson in the courtyard of the Rozzelle Court is splendid.

Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri
Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Take in a sporting event.

Whether it’s a Royals game in the summer, a Chiefs game in the winter, or a Sporting Kansas City soccer game, Kansas City loves its sports teams and taking in a game will have you cheering like a local.

KU basketball game in Lawrence, Kansas
KU Jayhawks vs Nebraska basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse at KU in Lawrence, Kansas Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Like men’s college basketball? The Kansas University Jayhawks are just a 45-minute drive down the road to Lawrence or, if you are visiting in March, Kansas City has been the site of the Big 12 tournament 11 times since the league’s inception, and will be again in 2016.

Big 12 Tournament, Kansas City, Missouri
Big 12 Tournament, Kansas City, Missouri
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

All that jazz

Kansas City is home to some of the best jazz and blues clubs in the world.

Kansas City jazzIf you are looking for good food and fine sounds, check out The Majestic Restaurant in downtown. Located in the Fitzpatrick’s Saloon Building, The Majestic is authentic and makes for a most entertaining evening.

Jazz fans will also love the American Jazz Museum located in the heart of Kansas City’s 18th and Vine jazz district. Experience the sights and sounds of jazz at the only museum in the world solely focused on the preservation, exhibition and advancement of jazz.

Power & Light District

McFaddens Sports Saloon Kansas CityLocated downtown next to the Sprint Center, the Power & Light District is an eight block area of new restaurants, entertainment, nightlife and shopping.

Originally named Kansas City Live!, the district’s name was changed to Power & Light after the art deco Kansas City Power and Light building. Kansas City Live! is now a one block area devoted to live music and entertainment venues.

Kansas City: Getting around

Kansas City is very spread out, so a car is an asset if heading to the burbs.

In town, cabs are easy to find downtown, at the Plaza, in Westport or at Crown Center.

Cab rides between downtown and The Plaza are about $15 before tip.

Getting around Kansas City, Missouri
Getting around Kansas City, Missouri
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Kansas City: Where to eat

Seasons 52 at The Plaza

Always a fan of Seasons 52, the Kansas City Plaza location is the perfect place for a lunch by the fountain or an evening dinner. Fresh food, lots of choices, nice staff.

Seasons 52 at the Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri
Seasons 52 at the Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Houston’s at The Plaza

We rarely miss an opportunity to visit a Houston’s / Hillstone restaurant with the Plaza location always being a favorite. Start with spinach artichoke dip and, if you like veggie burgers, theirs are the best anywhere.

Houston's at the Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri
Houston’s at the Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City Plaza
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

J. Gilbert’s in Overland Park

I read in the Overland Park visitor’s guide that the mayor’s go-to-restaurant for out-of-town guests was J.Gilbert’s, so we gave it a try. J. Gilbert’s exceeded our expectations with a great atmosphere, super food and, on Sunday nights, wine under $100 is 50% off. We thoroughly enjoyed our evening here.

J Gilberts, Kansas City
J Gilberts, Overland Park, Kansas City Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Kansas City: A charming city that deserves a visit
Kansas City: A charming city that deserves a visit Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media