There are plenty of options for unique-to-Kansas City entertainment through the winter months. From farm tours on the edges of the metro to barbecue joints in the heart of the city, there is something for nearly every interest.
Anyone with an afternoon to spare can take in a sampling of what Kansas City is known for with KC Barbecue Tours. Tour guide Arlin Pacheco says her aptly named carnivore tour features stops at five restaurants. Featured restaurants rotate among ten throughout the year. Tour goers spend about 20 to 30 minutes at each stop, making the excursion between three and five hours long.
“The most unique thing about the tour, I think, is how Kansas City can really come alive in taste, smell, touch, and the story behind it,” Pacheco says. The tours bring in guests from all over the world, according to Pacheco. And though people are strangers at the beginning of the tour, “something about burnt ends just brings people together,” she says. Cost is $70 per person, and tickets must be purchased in advance.
Step aboard an old-time trolley and let KC Fun Tours treat the family to a holiday lighting tour in style. Beginning at Union Station, the family-friendly sight-seeing venture weaves from Crown Center to Ward Parkway through Westport and back to Union Station.
The tour also offers insight into the origin of the Country Club Plaza lights and other interesting tidbits about the Kansas City holiday season. Tom McIntosh of KC Fun Tours says the “fun facts” learned along the way make the holiday lights tour unique.
“It’s a great way to sit and enjoy your family and friends and not worry about driving,” McIntosh says. Two trolleys run from 7-9:00 p.m. for the holiday lights tour. Tickets cost $20 and must be purchased in advance.
Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a 19th-century Christmas at the Wornall Majors House Museums. The organization will provide candlelight tours Dec. 6th and 7th, this year at the Alexander Majors House. Sarah Bader-King, the curator and director of public programming and events, says visitors will experience a frontier Christmas celebration.
“It’s not every day you can step back in time to experience the holidays,” Bader-King says. “It’s a very warm, family-friendly thing. A lot of families use it as a way to kick off the holiday season.”
The approximately hour-long tours include a special theme and presentations from actors with the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for members. Some walk-in tickets will be available, but purchasing in advance is suggested.
Marbles have been a childhood staple since the 1800s, and one company in Bonner Springs, Kansas, offers an inside look at how the toy is created.
Moon Marbles co-owner Lynda Sproules says the business has presented demonstrations for two decades. She credits her business partner, Bruce Breslow, with the idea. The artist giving demonstrations explains the properties of glass and how it can be manipulated. “It even holds little kids’ fascination,” Sproules says.
The demonstrations take anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes. They are held every day in the summer and Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday during what Sproules called the “quieter times of the year.”
“We get visitors from all over,” Sproules says. “I think just being able to come in and watch something is unique to any business.”
Hop on the Barley Bus for some hops. Or wine. The company offers the drinker’s choice of tours — wineries, breweries or distilleries — in the Kansas City metro and beyond. From city staples to newer options, there are stops for every taste. Co-owner Jake Morgan says the tours go beyond “KC proper” and reach cities like Weston, Excelsior Springs and Liberty, bringing “extra value” to the experience.
“By connecting with owners, brewers, winemakers and distillers, we ensure that our guests come away either knowing a lot more about the city they live in if they are locals or, if they’re a tourist, an introduction to a city rich in culture and history that is continuing to grow.”
All tours feature three stops, which Morgan says gives participants “plenty of time” without feeling rushed, and begin at Ollie’s Local on Martini Corner. Participants must be at least 21 years old. Discounted tickets are offered for designated drivers.
Nestled 60 miles outside of Kansas City, Shatto Milk Company opens its dairy farm to the public year around. “We’re not in the hustle and bustle of the metro,” owner Matt Shatto says. “You can come out here and take a deep breath and enjoy the scenery.” While visitors can milk a cow by hand, Shatto says the tour shows the full milk-making process.
When the farm first opened, they received about 5,000 visitors annually. Today, tours last about an hour and a half bring in almost 170,000 visitors a year. Shatto says the goal is to educate the public and show the milking process “from cow to store.”
“We give tour-goers a really good understanding of what goes into those different components,” he says. The farm also holds a holiday open house, which will be December 7 from 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and features special events, local products, and farm tours.
The Roasterie offers something for every coffee lover, according to Lynne Pierce, the marketing creative director, including tours of the “roast-to-order” business. “All different worlds to come together and share time together over something that they love,” Pierce says.
Tours, which have been offered since 1993, last approximately an hour. They begin with a film that explores the history of coffee, both in general and at the Roasterie. From there visitors step onto the production floor, where they see Roasterie “artifacts,” how coffee is stored, and get a look at various coffee-blending processes. But not to fret—visitors also get to sample cold brew and traditional coffee offerings. “It’s a coffee experience where you’re able to get as hands-on and close as possible. All the senses are elevated,” Pierce says.
Located on the second level of Crown Center, sweet smells of chocolate waft from Chip’s Chocolate Factory. To learn the ins-and-outs of creating chocolate masterpieces, visitors can take tours every day except Tuesdays and Sundays. The $5 tours share the history of chocolate itself and what makes Chip’s fudge such a stand-out. A confectioner will walk through the steps from harvest to the final product sold in stores. Tours are available between 10:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. At least ten people must be on a single tour, but visitors don’t have to bring the full group.