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6 Things To Do With Out-Of-Towners In Kansas City This Weekend


Out of town guests visiting for the holiday need stuff to do.

As do hometown family and friends who might crack if someone doesn’t eventually put the kibosh on one more game of charades.

The solution: Show off what’s happening in the city that may not be as familiar to others as it is to you. Share iconic local attractions, traditional holiday extravaganzas and maybe even something completely different – would you believe Santa goes diving with penguins?

1. 85th Annual Plaza Lighting Ceremony

Sure, you can sit and watch it on TV, or you can shake off that tryptophan haze, pile in the car and brace yourself for the magic moment when the colorful lights to the Country Club Plaza get switched on by Royals All-Star Alex Gordon and Royals GM Dayton Moore. As always, the crowd will be massive and so will the thrill of really being there. Plus, holiday window shopping on the Plaza is a draw in itself. Thursday, 5-8 p.m.; main stage at Nichols Road and Pennsylvania Avenue; Kansas City, Mo.; admission: free.

2. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Not that anyone needs an excuse to take in one of the finest art museums in the nation, but here’s one: The 10th annual Luminary Walk at the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park outside the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Museum guides will be stationed along a winding path illuminated by candlelight – that’s called Kansas City hospitality. Inside the museum, live music, dinner (and cocoa) are available, with performances of St. George and the Dragon by the Paul Mesner Puppets. Friday, 5-9 p.m.; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 4525 Oak St., Kansas City, Mo.; admission: free.

3. Crown Center Potpourri

It’s hard to pick just one or two (or even three) things to do in the holiday sampler atmosphere offered by Crown Center, but on Friday there’s Santa’s Arrival at 10 a.m. and the KC Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting at 5:30 p.m., both of which are free. Not to mention – although I’m going to – skating at the Crown Center Ice Terrace and such family attractions as the LEGOLAND Discovery Center and Sea Life Kansas City aquarium. Do it all! Hours vary; Crown Center, 2450 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.; admission: varies.

4. Arabia Steamboat Museum

Learn the story and take a tour of the amazing cargo of a commercial steamboat that sunk in the Missouri River in 1856. You may not believe your eyes, because it all looks brand new, including vintage hardware, fabric and shoes. Among the marvels recovered from the Arabia Steamboat when it was excavated after being hidden for 132 years: French perfume with scent intact. Wow. Friday and Saturday, 10-5 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.; 400 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.; admission: $14.50 adults; $7.50 seniors, $5.50 children (ages 3 and younger free).

5. Christmas in Park

This annual drive-through holiday spectacular offers car passengers 175 animated light displays emulating classic Christmastime images. Call it the perfect post-Thanksgiving meal wind-down. Essential for little kids, who may want to take a ride on the giant display that looks like a Ferris wheel. Not a good idea – not even possible, really – but feel free to playfully egg them on! Thursday, 5:30-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30-11 p.m.; Sunday, 5:30-10 p.m.; Longview Lake Campground, 10711 S.W. Scherer Road, Kansas City, Mo.; admission: free (donations for local charities accepted.

6. Santa Dives with the Penguins

St. Nick slips on scuba gear and takes a plunge with the penguins inside the cold weather penguin exhibit at the Kansas City Zoo. To be sure, a diverting act of holiday absurdity and a welcome one. Doesn’t the tuxedo brigade deserve the chance to sit on Santa’s lap or his beard or whatever else they might be swimming around? I think we all know the answer. Friday-Sunday, 11 and 2 p.m., Kansas City Zoo, 6800 Zoo Drive, Kansas City, Mo.; admission: Free with regular zoo admission.

Brian McTavish follows popular culture in the belief that the search for significance can lead anywhere. Brian explains, "I've written articles and reviews ... reviewed hundreds of concerts, films and plays. And the thing is, these high arts all sprang from the pop culture of their day. Don't forget: Shakespeare was once Spielberg."
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