Group Getaway: Home for the Holidays
Missouri makes a great destination any time of year. During the holidays, when there's a chill in the air and light parks are abundant, it's even more special. Enjoy your holiday getaway in Missouri. It's easy to spread these activities out over several days, especially when you're traveling as part of a group.

Day One

ExploreBranson.com

Known as the Live Music Show Capital of the World, Branson is blanketed in Christmas decorations during the holidays. Check in to one of Branson's hotels before an evening of song, dance and comedy at one of Branson's theaters. Then, explore the Branson Area Festival of Lights and plan to overnight at one of the city's many lodging properties.

Day Two

Silver Dollar City

Celebrate the magic and meaning of the holidays at An Old Time Christmas. More than 4 million lights, a holiday light parade, a five-story special effects Christmas tree, fun family shows, and festive food await in the winter wonderland. Good Morning America calls this festival: "One of the top five holiday events in the U.S." The festival runs early November through December.

Branson Landing

On your second day in Branson, enjoy a shopping extravaganza at Branson Landing, one of the city's top shopping destinations. Located on the waterfront of Lake Taneycomo, Branson Landing is a 95-acre entertainment retail destination, offering eclectic shops, fine dining, cafes and a waterfront boardwalk.

Day Three

Precious Moments Chapel and Gardens

After an overnight in Branson, travel two hours northwest to Carthage to continue your holiday getaway. Carthage is home to the Precious Moments Chapel and Gardens. Tour the Chapel that artist Sam Butcher designed and constructed as a way of sharing his faith with the world. The Precious Moments Visitors Center has a complete selection of Precious Moments figurines, gifts and dolls.

Day Four

Arabia Steamboat Museum

From Joplin, enjoy the journey north (a little less than three hours by bus) to Kansas City and the Arabia Steamboat Museum. Here you learn the incredible story of a steamboat that had been lost for more than 100 years before it was uncovered just north of Kansas City. You will be wowed by the wares taken from the steamer; fine china, clothing, tools, canned food - all in pristine condition and on display.

Hallmark Visitors Center

Next up is the Hallmark Visitors Center. Learn the story of one of the worlds most creative companies, from J.C. Hall's humble beginning in 1910 to what is now the world's largest greeting-card company. The holidays are a special time at Hallmark and the displays will add to your enjoyment of the season.

Crown Center Complex

Take some time to enjoy this three-story, indoor shopping complex with more than 60 shops and restaurants, two hotels, three live theaters, a cinema, fountains, exhibits and winter ice skating. During the Christmas season, be sure to see the Mayor's Christmas Tree; it's generally more than 100 feet tall and well worth a look. You'll dine and overnight in Kansas City, then get a good night's sleep before the final day of your getaway.

Day Five

Vaile Mansion

From Kansas City, travel east to Independence at the Vaile Mansion to experience a Victorian Christmas. This 30 room mansion was built by frontier business tycoon Harvey Vaile in 1881. Recognized as one of the finest examples of Second Empire Victorian architecture in the U.S., the opulent estate boasted flushing toilets, a built-in 6,000 gallon water tank, and a 48,000 gallon wine cellar.

Country Club Plaza Shopping & Dining District

Cap your day at Kansas City's Country Club Plaza, which features the amazing Plaza Lights display. This entire 15-block district, with more than 150 upscale shops and dozens of fine restaurants, gets into the holiday spirit with more than 80 miles of lights; the lights have been a tradition at the Plaza for more than 80 years. Seeing the Plaza Lights will certainly put you in the holiday mood as you prepare to head back home after this whirlwind getaway.

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