Choo choo holiday: Trains highlight Kansas City’s Union Station Christmas

Union Station model train display
Kansas City’s Union Station celebrates the holiday season with outstanding train exhibits.

You’d expect nothing less than a train-themed holiday celebration at Kansas City’s Union Station. From a mini-train ride for children to decorated train exhibits, the holiday season is in full swing at the downtown depot.

As you enter the multi-use facility, including an Amtrak station, the annual Christmas tree display and holiday music greet you. The main level is always decorated with small trees along the lobby’s sides. The area is popular for family portraits, with benches available in front of the large tree.

Christmas tree at KC Union Station
The Christmas tree at Union Station attracts hundreds of people daily.

Children and parents lined up for a ride in a mini-train, with a route that took them around a display of teddy bears, toy soldiers, cars, trucks, stuffed dolls, ornaments and gift boxes. All this with a holiday train carrying Santa and his reindeer standing high above the activities.

KC Christmas display
Mini-train rides travel around this beautiful display.

Special train exhibits are located nearby, featuring a Kansas City skyline highlighted by Union Station. A small display tells the history of how Lionel model trains became synonymous with Christmas. It appears that the toy train company’s founders thought train displays added interest to store window exhibits, which they believed appeared too static.

An example of an early Lionel train window display.
An example of an early Lionel train window display.

The train displays attracted a variety of interests, including a LEGO display featuring Star Trek, Minions and Alien characters.

Alien character eating Gingerbread Man cookie character
A LEGO Alien apparently likes Gingerbread Man cookies. Check out the cookie’s face.

While holiday fans visit for the exhibits, Union Station is home to the Model Train Experience, with large train collections available daily. Visitors learn about the history of model trains, as well as the difference in the model sizes, from HO to Z. The collection is decorated for the holidays, as well.

Regular train display
One of the train displays available year round.

Crown Center

When you visit Union Station, the parking garage at Crown Center is a perfect spot to park. It’s even free on weekends. You can access The Link (skywalk) near Crown Center and walk it to Union Station.

As you exit the garage, make sure you check out the Mayor’s Tree and holiday decorations near the water fountain, which features choreographed performances to holiday music.

The Kansas City Mayor's Tree with the water fountain choreographed to a holiday song.
The Kansas City Mayor’s Tree with the water fountain choreographed to a holiday song.

Crown Center offers its own holiday attractions, ranging from bands performing in the food court to stores with beautiful exhibits.

Jazz band plays Christmas music at Crown Center
Adding some jazz to Christmas music.

Kansas City has long been one of our favorite Midwestern cities, with it being less than a three-hour drive from Omaha. But, the KC area knows how to do Christmas big time with decorations and attractions. We’re already planning 2018’s holiday visit. In the meantime, we strongly recommend visiting Union Station and Crown Center mall’s holiday attractions.

For more information on these and other Kansas City attractions, visit, and