By Priscilla Willis | Photos courtesy of Visit KC
Making Merry in Kansas City
Merry Market: Gifts, Giving & Good Cheer
There’s no bah humbug when you live for sweater weather, hot chocolate and visions of sugar plums dancing in your head! In Kansas City, ‘tis the season of “Gifts, Giving and Good Cheer” known as the Merry Market. The festive fun begins on Black Friday, which is Nov. 24 this year, with holiday shopping, engaging activities, delectable food and seasonal drinks every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Dec. 17.
Artfully curated by Art Garden KC, Merry Market at the City Market features more than 75 unique artisans and makers in an open-air holiday shopping experience reminiscent of a European Christmas market. You’ll find specially curated — and highly giftable — handmade products, including paintings, ceramics, custom clothing, décor and jewelry. Merry Market also makes holiday shopping more delightful by offering opportunities to:
Sip, sample, stroll and shop with seasonal beers, canned cocktails and other libations from Minsky’s pop-up booth and Boulevard Brewing Company’s tap trailer. In addition, the cider donut trailer offers scrumptious made-on-the-spot donuts by the bag or bucket, along with hot cider and cider slushies.
Try tasty “walkable” treats from City Market’s 20 restaurants
Shop a seasonal selection of FarmersMarket vendors
Explore City Market shops for fabulous finds and gift-giving
Enjoy holiday music, talented buskers and live performances on the community stage
Visit Gingerbread Lane, a whimsical interpretation of Kansas City in miniature cookie form
13th Annual Holiday Swing at Crown Center
The Strawberry Swing’s annual Holiday Swing celebrates 13 years of being the Midwest’s champion of the handmade movement at its new location at Crown Center — Kansas City’s iconic downtown shopping center and entertainment district. The Strawberry Swing’s monthly pop-ups at historic spaces in the city have become a Kansas City tradition. The highly curated experience includes inspired handmade and vintage vendors, innovative food trucks, local live music, and kids crafts and was recently featured as one of the Top 35 Indie Craft Fairs.
Visit Holiday Swing in the Crown Center Square, where the Mayor’s Christmas Tree shines brightly each holiday season. The tree symbolizes the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund, dedicated to assisting Kansas City’s people during the holiday season. If you’re in Kansas City for Thanksgiving and feeling festive, head to the tree-lighting ceremony on Nov. 24 at 5:30 p.m. and witness the illumination of one of the tallest Christmas trees in the nation.
Across the street from Crown Center is Kansas City’s Union Station, with its brilliant walk-through display that is sure to dazzle all your senses and incite the spirit of the holidays. Union Station is Kansas City’s most celebrated destination, with more than 100 years of history and year-round attractions for all ages. Visit the internationally awarded Science City, Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium and the Model Train Exhibit.
It’s great to be a kid in Kansas City. Running, jumping, splashing and sharing are all encouraged at the new Regnier Family Wonderscope Children’s Museum, where the art and science of everyday life are on vivid display in a joyful, child-centered, self-guided environment. Your inner child will delight in sharing hands-on opportunities to explore planes, trains, waterways, kitchens, gardens and more in each whimsical room.
Find more imaginative adventures in the heart of Downtown KC at Crown Center’s Legoland Discovery Center, home to more than 2 million Lego bricks. Then, head next door to Sea Life Kansas City Aquarium, where an incredible world teeming with more than 5,000 sea creatures transports you into their magical underwater life.
It’s beginning to feel like Christmas, especially when you hit the rink and cut some figure 8s (or not) at Crown Center’s Ice Terrace to make some winter wonderland memories. The Ice Terrace is open for the season from Nov. 3 through March 10.
Stretched across 202 acres in beautiful Swope Park, the Kansas City Zoo & Aquarium has helped connect families to the natural world for more than 100 years. The zoo is home to about 1,700 animals and 200 species in naturalistic habitats. It offers immersive exhibit areas where you can get up close and personal with some of the world’s most exotic animals, including chimpanzees, orangutans, penguins and Nuniq the polar bear, to name a few. Entrance to the 650,000-gallon Sobela Ocean Aquarium is included with every ticket, and timed reservations are available online.
Break for a snack at Crown Center’s Chip’s Chocolate Factory, and sample treats while chocolate makers work their magic. Did you know everyone has a donut gene? Satisfy your sweet tooth at Westport’s Donutology, a build-your-own concept that offers classic “fancies” and customizable donut flavors to suit your unique personality.
Photo courtesy of the Regnier Family Wonderscope Children's Museum
Crown Center's Ice Terrace
Lodging at Crossroads Hotel
The Crossroads Hotel is where historic and modern meet. After the reimagining of the famed Pabst Brewing Depot and the Pendergast building, a century of stories moves forward to a new era. With 131 luxuriously appointed rooms and several beautifully designed event spaces, the Crossroads is a thoughtful renovation of two iconic Kansas City buildings into a community-driven hotel.
The Crossroads experience is defined by the impressive urban industrial design and attention to preserving the history of the two buildings and that of two unforgettable characters that shaped Kansas City during Prohibition — political boss Tom Pendergast and gangster Johnny Lazia. In addition, the hotel embodies the energy, creativity and passion that defines Kansas City and the Crossroads Art District neighborhood today.
Lazia Restaurant. Photo courtesy of Crossroads Hotel
Crossroads is ideally located downtown, with easy access to Crown Center, Union Station, a plethora of restaurants and coffee shops, and some of Kansas City’s famous barbecue joints and jazz bars. Besides provenance and a fantastic location, what sets the Crossroads apart from other luxe lodging choices in the downtown area?
First, in the spirit of community and connection, local artists, designers and purveyors are tapped to share their talent and creativity in the hotel’s public and private spaces. Special touches like the recycled leather Do Not Disturb door hangers, coasters and valet tray in the entry of each room rise above the norm.
Additionally, even though the gym is open 24 hours a day via key access, if you prefer to sweat it out in the privacy of your room, staff have you covered with equipment such as yoga mats, medicine balls and resistance bands that they will happily deliver to your room. Yoga with Emily Cox on Saturdays is a must, and if you’d like to take it outdoors, the hotel has jogging maps on hand and hosts weekly runs with its Percheron Run Club.
Crossroads Hotel boasts two restaurants, XR and Lazia, as well as Percheron, the chic rooftop beer garden. XR is the hotel’s dynamic neighborhood bar and lounge, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Lazia, the signature restaurant, marries traditional Italian cuisine with modern flair and a particular consideration for ingredients sourced from farms and fields of the Midwestern heartland. On any evening, a convivial ambiance, enticing menu selections listed by course and friendly, attentive service make for an exceptional dining experience.
Accolades garnered by the four-story, 131-room boutique hotel include Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Award – Best of the Midwest in 2020, and it was named best place to stay in Travel + Leisure 50 Best Places to Travel in 2021.