Free, Cheap, and Fun Winter Activities in Kansas City

The holiday season is my absolute favorite time of year. I love all of the lights, the glitter, and festive feel that seems to linger in the air wherever you go. It is also the time of year where I am freezing and have overstretched my budget to the point where I’m looking for lots of free (or cheap) ideas to keep my little one entertained.

Thankfully, Christmastime in Kansas City is simply magical and offers plenty of fun for little to no money. And bonus, most of it is inside where it is nice and warm, so I don’t have to worry about keeping tiny hands covered in mittens and little ears covered with a hat.

Photo by Victoria Denney

Christmas in the Park 

There are more than a half million twinkling lights and over 150 animated figures that make driving through Christmas in the Park a family favorite.

Mom Tip: Bring some snacks to keep the little ones entertained as the line to get into the park can take awhile, but once inside, it is worth the wait. 

Dates: November 27, 2019 - December 31, 2019
Address: 1499 SW County Park Road, Lee’s Summit, Missouri
Admission: Free! Donations for local charities accepted. 

Magic Tree 

Located just off of I-470, the Magic Tree, which is decorated with hundreds of colorful lights, has quickly become a Lee’s Summit landmark that you can’t help but smile when you see.

Mom Tip: Be sure to grab your camera. The Magic Tree is a great photo op for you and your little ones of all ages, but bundle up. This stop does require you to get out of your car and venture out into the cold.

Dates: November 26, 2019 – January 5, 2020
Address: I-470 and View High Drive – Lee’s Summit, Missouri
Admission: Free! Donations for Operation Toy Soldier accepted

Photo by Victoria Denney

Union Station 

Union Station is home to Kansas City’s largest indoor Christmas tree, a holiday laser light show at the planetarium ($7),  mini-train rides ($5), holiday favorite movies on KC’s largest screen ($3), and an amazing Holiday Model Train display.

Mom Tip: Make the most out of your downtown holiday visit by taking a ride on the Kansas City Streetcar and be sure to use The Link to Crown Center. 

Dates: November 23, 2019 – New Year’s Day
Address: 30 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, Missouri
Admission: Free! Minimal costs for some of the “extras”

Crown Center 

Mayor’s Tree – At over 100 feet tall, the Mayor’s Christmas Tree is a sight to behold. While at Crown Center, be sure to visit Santa in Gingerbread Station.

Mom Tip: Plan your Santa visit during the week as the line on the weekends gets longer and longer the closer we get to Christmas Day.

Bonus Adventure: While at Crown Center be sure to check out Kaleidoscope and the Hallmark Visitors Center. Both are free and kids can craft to their heart’s content at Kaleidoscope and make their own bow with a press of a button at Hallmark Visitors Center, while checking out cards and ornaments from years past.

Dates: November 29, 2019 – December 31, 2019
Address: 2405 Grand Boulevard, Kansas City, Missouri
Admission: Free!

Plaza Lights 

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Plaza Lights.

Mom Tip: If crowds aren’t your thing, skip the lighting ceremony. Instead, grab some hot chocolate and walk or drive through the Plaza any evening through January 12th.

Bonus Adventure: End the night with another Kansas City classic and grab a burger and a milkshake at Winstead’s while getting another great view of the Plaza lights.

Dates: November 28, 2019 – January 12, 2020
Address: The Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri
Admission: Free!

The Kemper Museum and the Nelson Atkins Museum are family favorites. When your kindergartner proudly declares she is going to be an artist when she grows up, art museums become a great place to visit. 

  • Kemper: Closed on Mondays; 4420 Warwick Boulevard, Kansas City, Missouri
  • Nelson Atkins: Closed on Tuesdays; 4525 Oak Street, Kansas City, Missouri

Admission: Free!

Kansas City Public Library

The library has everything from cooking classes to board game days for teens and STEAM activity days, craft nights, and, of course, story time to entertain your younger kids. 

Dates: See KCPL’s event page for dates and times
Address: See all locations here
Admission: Free!

Bonus Adventures

In Kansas City, we are lucky to have many fabulous historic homes that offer tours and events. Some of our favorites offer brunches with Santa, or candle-light tours all for a low admission price that makes this a cheap and fun way to introduce a little history to your little ones. Check out some of our family’s favorite historic homes and their holiday events: 

Victoria is a wife and mom of two. Her firstborn, Joshua passed away shortly after birth in 2013. Her rainbow daughter, Madeline just started kindergarten. Victoria and her husband, Patrick, were both born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri and love spending time exploring the city with their daughter. Victoria is a full-time working mom, dance mom, soccer mom, t-ball mom, PTA mom, slightly over-scheduled mom. Victoria has a passion for creating and spends way too much time pinning new crafts, recipes, and party ideas on Pinterest. She sometimes blogs over at Life with Madeline -