Student groups on Heartland holiday in search of the “Best of the Midwest” will definitely enjoy an afternoon - or weekend - at this upscale 55 acre, 15-block shopping district and exclusive neighborhood just south of downtown Kansas City, tendering discerning visitors a perfect mix of high-end shops, mainstream retailers, cafes and dining establishments, fabulous accommodations and popular entertainment venues and named one of the World’s “60 best places” by Project for Public Spaces, a nonprofit organization based in New York dedicated to creating and sustaining public places that build communities. Debuting in 1923 as the first shopping center to accommodate those arriving by automobile, the basic design of the Country Club Plaza reflects lovely classic European influences, with intricate fountains sprinkled across the romantic landscape and multi-themed works of art - sculpture, murals, mosaics and architectural reproductions - tastefully showcased throughout; parking is completely concealed in multi-level garages beneath and behind shops or situated out of plain view on rooftops, eliminating the sprawling gauntlets of crowded and unsightly lots. The district’s many popular storefronts include favorites Anthropology, American Eagle Outfitters, Barnes and Noble Booksellers and Cafe, Bath and Body Works, Banana Republic, The Coach Store, Cupcake A La Mode, Eddie Bauer, Forever 21, Free People, Game Stop, Gap, Gap Body and Gap Kids, Hall’s, J. Crew, Lucky Brand, Mac Cosmetics, Moosejaw, The North Face, The Better Cheddar, Teavana, Topsy’s Popcorn Shop, Tommy Bahama, Tiffany and Company, Three Dog Bakery, Sunglass Hut, Urban Outfitters, Very Bradley, Victoria’s Secret and Williams Sonoma; dozens of cafes and restaurants including The Cheesecake Factory, The Melting Pot, Noodles and Company, Jack Stack BBQ, Bucca de Beppo, McCormick’s and Schmick’s, Chaz on the Plaza, Panera Bread and Starbucks ensure your favorite menu – casual sweet bite, homestyle Italian, classic surf and turf or elegant repast - is right around the corner from your last shopping spree. The Plaza’s annual “Season of Lights” is kicked off on Thanksgiving Night during a televised celebration in observance of the longstanding tradition of ushering in the Christmas Season with a special guest “flipping the switch” to a dazzling display of holiday lights that twinkle and shine thru the New Year. Whether your group is planning to shop, dine or even stay for a few days, the Plaza is the place to be!