The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


December 21, 2012

Dave Woods: K.C. visitors keen on Christmas shopping, culture

— Toni Alexander understands the appeal of Kansas City during the holidays.

“It’s the culture and shopping,” Toni said during a recent trip I made to Kansas City to check out the Christmas lights. “I think Kansas City is attractive for any time of the year, but especially the holidays.”

Toni, communications manager for the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association, talks to hundreds of visitors each year. She hears time and time again the different reasons folks flock to K.C. for the holidays.

“There are so many different reasons,” she said. “The No. 1 reason people say they come to Kansas City is the shopping. ‘The Christmas Carol’ and ‘The Nutcracker’ are all big draws.”

During the past couple of years, downtown Kansas City redevelopment has spurred many retailers to start decorating their storefronts with holiday themes along Main Street and near the Power and Light District.

“That’s in its third year,” Toni said. “It’s very similar to New York City and Times Square. They decorate their windows for Christmas with all kinds of themes and merchandise. It’s Kansas City’s take on that.”

For many, she said, shopping is the main draw. For others, it’s arts and culture. For a foodie and booze guy who migrates to unique drinking and dining options, such as myself, the city offers a lot.

Public disclaimer: I’m a little bit of them all. But many other K.C. visitors are there simply for the city’s Christmas lights and family traditions.

“Arts and culture are so popular,” she said. “But the beautiful lights on the Plaza and the mayor’s 100-foot-tall Christmas tree at Crown Center are great. The ice-skating is popular, too. There’s so much to do around the holidays.”

The Kansas City Ballet’s “Nutcracker” is a good bet. I caught a performance a couple of weeks ago, and it’s worth the short drive. This rendition of the classic Christmas tale is sure to fill you with the holiday spirit. The Kansas City Symphony’s accompaniment is also outstanding. It’s a total-package performance — it has dancing, music, creative costumes and diverse sets. Hundreds of ballet fans filled the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts for the ballet’s opening performance.

“‘Nutcracker’ is a holiday tradition that’s been going for more than 80 years,” Toni said. “Now, it’s at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. It’s become an even bigger holiday tradition for many families around Kansas City. It’s just part of the K.C. holiday celebration.”

Another Christmas classic, “A Christmas Carol,” will draw crowds to the Spencer Theatre, home of Kansas City Repertory Theatre, through Dec. 26.

“‘Christmas Carol’ is another favorite,” Toni said. “Going to see Scrooge and Marley and Tiny Tim at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre is another holiday tradition.”

Many K.C. visitors love a sweet pulled pork platter and a cold beer. Whether patrons are looking for a high-end wine and dining experience or a fun brewery tour and tasting room experience at Boulevard Brewery, there are dozens — hundreds, most likely — of easy options.

“We are known for steak and barbecue,” Toni said. “We have more barbecue restaurants per capita with more than 80. But we are also very diverse. We have celebrity chefs and lots of ethnic cuisine. You can just take your pick and eat your way through town.”

Toni suggested you make room for dessert. I

Text Only
  • 071814_whiskeydicks.jpg Stretching out: Whiskey Dick's can do more in a bigger downtown location

    For the Whiskey Dick's owners, it isn't a matter of what's in a name but more of a place where everybody knows your name.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Film-Hollywoods Ape M_Cast.jpg Benji Tunnell: Great CGI, solid writing make 'Apes' a near-perfect blockbuster

    A couple of weeks ago, we saw "Transformers 4," a big, computer-driven blockbuster film that was symbolic of all that is wrong with filmmaking today.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • polyphony.jpg Marta Churchwell: New Mexico marimba group returns for concert Sunday

    They're back. Polyphony Marimba, the Santa Fe, New Mexico, band that wowed the crowd with African music during a Downtown Joplin Third Thursday last summer, received such a response to that performance that they're coming back on Sunday.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • River Regatta 2013.jpg Dave Woods: Nevada regatta makes for a birthday escape

    In just three weeks, I'll spend my 50th birthday floating down the Colorado River with 35,000 of my closest friends.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow 1 Story

  • 071814_pickin trimmin.jpg New festival focuses on short independent films

    As Jack Truman saw his films play in festivals around the world, one lingering thought persisted: He wished that such festivals existed in his hometown area.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071614 Glory Days_72.jpg Glory Days Music to resume weekly in-store concerts

    The staff at Glory Days Music have been working their business as usual. Musicians demonstrate guitars, drums and other instruments. Music is sold; lessons are taught. But something has been missing.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • mug_joe-hadsall-112613.jpg Joe Hadsall: All the hidden secrets in "Weird Al's" "Word Crimes" video

    I sincerely believe the "Word Crimes" video will become the most important song in history, and the most mandatory-to-watch video in schools across the country.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • mug_joe-hadsall-112613.jpg Globe Phone Test: Concept is clever, but transitions tricky with Asus PadFone X

    It's kind of embarrassing to point this out, but "Candy Crush Saga" is one of the best ways to illustrate how well the Asus PadFone X, a smartphone and tablet combo really works.

    Anyone who has more than one device will understand this situation completely: Let's say a player fires up "Candy Crush" on his tablet computer and really digs the game. A lot. So much so that he downloads it to his smartphone.

    Only there's one problem: All the progress made on the tablet is stuck on the tablet. The smartphone has a completely separate path of progress, meaning the player has to play each level twice. This makes progress through the game twice as long. (This problem can be fixed by signing up for the game on Facebook, but no one really wants their Facebook friends to know they spend so much time crushin' candy.)

    The Asus PadFone X is the dream solution to this nightmare of a problem.

    Available exclusively from AT&T, the device is actually two devices. A standalone smartphone can be plugged into a tablet computer, meaning the owner can take his pick of how he wants to play the game, and all the progress he makes is saved on one device's hard drive.

    AT&T loaned us a device that we tested for more than two weeks -- didn't like having to send it back -- and we found a lot of its qualities and quirks.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tantric tours in support of latest studio album

    "37 Channels," the latest album from Hugo Ferreira's band, features a lineup of guests including Hinder's Austin Winkler, Shooter Jennings, 3 Doors Down drummer Greg Upchurch, Uncle Kracker guitarist Kevin McCreery, Saving Abel guitarist Scott Bartlett and Leif Garrettt.

    July 11, 2014

  • 071114_steve cindy head.jpg New exhibit combines works of married couple

    Steve and Cindy Head create different types of art, which means they can be each other's best mentor. Steve makes mixed media works assembled from photographs, headlines and more; Cindy paints vivid patterns and fanciful scenes with bold color palettes.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo