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  • Last Updated On
  • June 24, 2023

30 Best Weekend Getaways From Kansas City — Quick Trips!

Jacob Phillips

Kansas City is a place that manifests a thriving tourist scene, delectable dishes, stellar museums, and rich cultural diversity. 

It is a lovely city sought by many and a city that offers the best weekend getaways through its accommodative resorts/hotels.

Every year, my family makes sure to visit Kansas City to feel the satisfaction we get from staying at one of their relaxing lodging businesses.

However, finding the right one that perfectly suits our desired weekend getaways will take a lot of work with our numerous options.

I know this kind of struggle firsthand, for I also found it challenging to choose the best weekend getaways from Kansas City.

And this is why I want to help you lessen your burden with the arduous plan of choosing through this article guide.

During my visits to Kansas City, I learned the “all about” of a Kansas vacation weekend getaway.

Not only that but for this article, I also used authentic insights from both locals and tourists.

Lastly, I ranked the best weekend getaways based on their room variety, comfort, cleanliness, location, etc.

To get the most out of Kansas City, read this article until the end.

Best Weekend Getaways From Kansas City Compared

The best weekend getaways in Kansas City will bring satisfactory experiences to your family vacation trip.

Here are the top resorts/hotels that are worth visiting.

Editor’s Choice

long weekend trips from kansas city

Ambassador Hotel Kansas City, Autograph Collection

Ambassador Hotel Kansas City, an Autograph Collection, has been around in the heart of Kansas City for years now.

  • Room Variety: 5/5
  • Comfort and Cleanliness: 5/5
  • Location: 5/5
  • Affordability: 4/5 
  • Family-Friendliness: 5/5

#2nd Best Choice

long weekend trips from kansas city

The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center

The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center is near well-known Hallmark’s Crown Center and other famous establishments.

  • Comfort and Cleanliness: 4/5
  • Affordability: 4/5

#3rd Best Choice

long weekend trips from kansas city

Crossroads Hotel

Crossroads Hotel is a well-known establishment located 1.4 km from Sprint Center.

  • Room Variety: 4/5
  • Family-Friendliness: 4/5

Here are the top 30 weekend getaways from Kansas City.

1. Ambassador Hotel Kansas City, Autograph Collection (Editor’s Choice)

Ambassador Hotel Kansas City, Autograph Collection

1111 Grand Blvd. Kansas City, MO, 64106 (816) 298-7700 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Ratings Criteria

  • Excellent amenities and facilities are offered
  • It has upscale vibes
  • Their rate is pretty pricey

It is a lodging establishment that enhances family weekend getaways thanks to its many amenities.

Its chic style and boutique elegance design stand out as an upscale vibe that’ll give satisfaction you’ll love.

And what’s great is that they are conveniently located near essential establishments like restaurants, shopping areas, and attractions.

Your family will get the best value just by choosing to stay at Ambassador Hotel Kansas City, Autograph Collection.

2. The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center

The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center

1 E Pershing Rd. Kansas City, MO, 64108 (816) 474-4400 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

  • Family-Friendliness: 5/5 
  • Varying room options
  • Poor customer service

The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center is near well-known Hallmark’s Crown Center and other famous establishments.

It is an excellent place for quick weekend getaways, offering everything you’ll need in a lodging business.

Their leisure facilities will allow your body to relax fully, and their room is beautiful enough to woo your heart.

Lastly, this lodging location benefits travelers since it is close to essential establishments and attractions.

You’ll never regret your decision if you choose and pick The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center.

3. Crossroads Hotel

Crossroads Hotel

2101 Central St. Kansas City, MO, 64108 (816) 897-8100 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

  • Instagrammable rooms and facilities
  • They offer delectable dishes
  • Their bar has lots of issues

It boasts its gorgeously designed rooms and suites that are all Instagrammable in their own right.

Their leisure facilities are something to look forward to as well.

But more than their beautiful food rooms and excellent facilities, the ambiance you’ll get from their hotel is not something you’ll quickly find elsewhere in Kansas City.

Crossroads Hotel will always be a place that I will always highly recommend.

4. Loews Kansas City

Loews Kansas City

1515 Wyandotte St. Kansas City, MO, 64108 (816) 897-7070 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

With its excellent amenities, facilities, and comfy rooms, Loews Kansas City is a great alternative to The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center and Crossroads Hotel.

Loews Kansas City is a highly-sought lodging place 500 meters from Kansas City Convention Center.

They proudly offer what you’ll want for an excellent lodging establishment.

Their customer care is super satisfactory, an excellent factor for your family to have a wonderful quality time.

Loews Kansas City may be an alternative for this list, but it offers the same factors and satisfaction as the others.

5. Lindsborg, Kansas

Lindsborg, Kansas

Lindsborg, KS (785) 227-8687 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Lindsborg is a city that was established in 1869, known for its Swedish, Nordic, and German heritages.

It may feel like you’re thousands of miles away in the country of Sweden, but really you’re less than 3 hours away from Kansas City.

Peruse artwork at the Birger Sandzén Memorial Art Gallery or the Small World Gallery.

Then head to Coronado Heights Castle for a scenic walk along castle ruins.

Finish it off with a tour at Lindsborg Old Mill & Swedish Heritage Museum, where you’ll learn about the rich history of this town and its people.

Recommended Hotel: Coronado West Motel

Related: Hotels in Kansas City

6. Springfield, Missouri

Springfield, Missouri

Springfield, MO (417) 865-1010 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Springfield is a city in southwestern Missouri known for being the birthplace of Route 66.

This city is only about 3 hours away, so it’s perfect for short trips from Kansas City .

See the magnificent beauty of aquatic life at the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium.

Then visit Dickerson Park Zoo to learn about more animals and their habitats.

Experience zen and peace at the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden and admire the flowers at Nathanael Greene Park.

Visit the Fantastic Caverns for a unique experience of stalagmites and hidden caves.

Or indulge your inner car geek through a visit to the Route 66 Car Museum.

This is just the place to head to if you’re looking for inexpensive weekend getaways near Kansas City for a good time.

Recommended Hotel: Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Springfield North

7. Hannibal, Missouri

Hannibal, Missouri

Hannibal, MO (573) 221-2477 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Hannibal is a city on the Mississippi River known for being the childhood home of Mark Twain, a famous writer.

At just over 3 hours from Kansas City, Hannibal is a fantastic place to explore.

Check out the charming Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum.

Or have a fascinating tour of the Mark Twain Cave like in his books.

Head to Lover’s Leap to see beautiful views of rivers and grasslands, or head to Riverview Park for a nice little picnic.

Of course, don’t miss out on this town’s charming downtown area, filled with colorful buildings housing cozy stores and restaurants .

It’s one of the great last minute weekend getaways from Kansas City because it’s easy to find something to do here within walking distance.

Recommended Hotel: Best Western On the River

8. Ozark Mountains

Ozark Mountains

Harrison, AR 72602 (870) 204-4807 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

The Ozark Mountains or Ozark Plateau is a physical feature of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and the southeastern portion of Kansas in the United States.

The drive from Kansas City is roughly 3.5 hours from these mountains, and it’s worth the scenic trip.

The Ozark Mountains are filled with natural wonders you can never get tired of exploring.

There are springs, creeks, lakes, and beautiful forest areas that are perfect for a hike.

Visit the historic landmarks and museums along the way or a nearby winery for a sip of wine.

This rugged beauty is worth visiting no matter what time of the year.

Recommended Hotel: Hampton Inn Harrison

9. Gypsum Hills

Gypsum Hills

Gypsum Hills, KS 67104 Social Media Open in Google Maps

Gypsum Hills, also known as the Red Hills, is a 42-mile-long scenic byway in southern and central Kansas.

These hills are a little over 4 hours away and are one of the most scenic Kansas City vacations you could take.

Spend quality time together as a group by taking your time shopping, dining, and discovering local gems.

Visit several museums and galleries, or test your new camera in the beautiful scenery.

Go to your favorite fishing hole or hunting ground, or do bird watching in the surrounding nature.

Practice yoga and meditation on a rust-colored hilltop as the sun rises, or go hiking to see the most breathtaking views.

Recommended Hotel: 7 boutique hotel

Related: Weekend Vacations in Missouri

10. Tanganyika Wildlife Park

Tanganyika Wildlife Park

1000 S Hawkins Ln Goddard, KS 67052 (316) 553-4650 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

When visiting Tanganyika Wildlife Park, guests can have personal experiences with the animals.

This family-friendly park is just a little over 3 hours away from Kansas City by car.

Take a drive along the Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway to see beautiful views of ancient floodplains and rolling hills.

Or try horseback trail riding, which is one of the many fun things to do in Gypsum Hills.

Visit museums and landmarks and try the fantastic food at Medicine Lodge and Coldwater.

Recommended Hotel: Hampton Inn By Hilton Wichita Northwest

11. Baldwin


Baldwin City, KS (785) 594-6427 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Baldwin is a city in Douglas County known to be home to the oldest university in Kansas.

Baldwin is about 46 miles from Kansas, which is about an hour’s drive.

Visit the Shrine of the Pines to see what life was like hundreds of years ago in this area.

Or go for a canoeing adventure with Baldwin Canoe Rental.

Discover hidden attractions and cool sights in this unique city, and don’t forget to snap a picture with the World’s Largest Brown Trout Sculpture.

Recommended Hotel: Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Lawrence, KS

12. Eureka Springs

Eureka Springs

Eureka Springs, AR (479) 253-7333 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Eureka Springs is a city in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas known for its preserved Victorian buildings.

The trip from Kansas City will take you about 4 hours and 20 minutes away.

Eureka Springs has amazing attractions in both the historic downtown center and the surrounding countryside.

Experiences vary from strolling around the Historical Museum to exploring tunnels and caverns.

Don’t miss the wildlife refuge’s wild big cats and their natural habitats.

There are zip lines, ghost tours, and a 7-story Jesus monument overlooking downtown.

Eureka Springs attractions are entertaining, educational, and charming, regardless of what you choose.

Recommended Hotel: 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa


Topeka, Kansas (785) 246-6271 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Topeka is Kansas’s capital, chartered in 1857, and is a city of historical significance for ending racism in schools.

Topeka is about 1 hour and 10 minutes away from Kansas City and is fantastic for a cool overnight trip.

You will find many things to do in Topeka, from exploring the many family-friendly attractions in beautiful Gage Park to getting your heart racing at the NHRA Kansas Nationals.

Follow the steps of abolitionists from the Civil War or Civil Rights supporters from the 1950s to learn about Topeka’s role in the fight for freedom.

Stop by the North Topeka Arts District on the first Friday of every month for a fantastic art walk with lots of different kinds of art, music, food, shopping, and fun.

Spend a relaxing day on the golf course or in one of this town’s many antique shops.

Recommended Hotel: Cyrus Hotel, Topeka, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel


Omaha, NE (402) 444-4660 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Omaha is a city in Nebraska known for its rich pioneer history and cultural centers.

It’ll take about 2 hours and 50 minutes to drive from Kansas City to here.

This stunning city is home to the largest indoor rainforest, indoor desert, and geodesic dome.

This city also has the largest nocturnal exhibit in the world, so it’s perfect for long weekend trips from Kansas City.

Omaha has a lot of different things to do, such as exploring underground caves at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.

You can also go to the NCAA College World Series, the biggest event in college baseball.

Recommended Hotel: Omaha Marriott Downtown at the Capitol District

Related: Best Places to Visit Near Omaha

15. Branson


Branson, MO (877) 272-6766 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Branson is an Ozark town known to be a fantastic family vacation destination.

This city is about 3 hours and 15 minutes from Kansas City by car.

You can fish for big bass on Table Rock Lake or indulge in thrill rides at Silver Dollar City that will make you scream with joy.

Enjoy go-kart races with the kids or play a round of golf at a course near you.

Spend a fun day shopping in Branson and treat yourself to a little retail therapy.

Then enjoy a trip to a winery near you.

You can even take a helicopter or a zip line over the Ozarks.

Recommended Hotel: Grand Crowne Resort by Capital Vacations

16. Des Moines

Des Moines

Des Moines, IA (515) 283-4500 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Des Moines is Iowa’s capital city and is known to be the number one spot in the nation for insurance companies.

Traveling to Des Moines from Kansas City won’t take more than 3 hours.

When you come here, you’ll find a mix of strange and unexpected places to visit, like the beautiful Pappajohn Sculpture Park.

Or a historic spot like the State Capitol Building.

Enjoy local projects like the Downtown Farmers’ Market, where you can try the best of what this town offers.

Visit the majestic Blank Park Zoo with its animals from all over the world.

There are also plenty of botanical gardens, science museums, and restaurants to explore.

Recommended Hotel: Hotel Fort Des Moines, Curio Collection By Hilton

17. St. Louis, Missouri

st. louis missouri 1

St. Louis, MO (314) 622-4800 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

St. Louis is a major city on the Mississippi River known for its history of the explorations of Lewis and Clark.

St. Louis is about 4 hours away from Kansas City and is worth every second of the drive.

With all of its fascinating museums, gardens, and parks, St. Louis is a great place to get together.

The Saint Louis Zoo, The Magic House, and the Saint Louis Science Center are all fun places for families to visit.

People interested in art can’t miss the City Museum and the Saint Louis Art Museum.

No matter where you start your trip, stop and look at the iconic stainless steel Gateway Arch in the middle of the city.

Recommended Hotel: Angad Arts Hotel

Related: Best Places to Visit Near St Louis

18. Joplin, Missouri

Joplin, Missouri

Joplin, MO (417) 624-0820 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Joplin is a city in southwest Missouri located on the historic Route 66 and has plenty of scenic places.

The drive to this city from Kansas will take about 2 and a half hours.

Visit the Joplin Museum Complex to learn more about the town’s mining heritage.

Then check out the series of huge murals of Route 66 at the Route 66 Mural Park.

Don’t forget to snap photos of your favorite mural here.

Art lovers will love George A. Spiva Center for the Arts, where you can even bid for artwork to take home.

The Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center is the best place in Joplin to go outdoors and learn about the city’s natural history.

You may go on hikes, see birds, or just take in the stunning scenery at the conservation site.

Then finish off your trip with a stroll downtown to satisfy your belly with home-cooked meals in cozy restaurants.

Recommended Hotel: La Quinta by Wyndham Joplin

19. Wichita


Wichita, KS (316) 265-2800 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Wichita is the largest city in Kansas, founded in 1868 and known for its rich history of Native American culture.

This is a mere 3-hour drive from Kansas City, so it’s perfect for a quick getaway.

Head to the Wichita Gardens to see a plethora of vibrant flowers and gorgeous landscapes.

There’s even a butterfly house where the kids might love exploring.

Then visit Sedgwick County Zoo to learn about animals and their habitats, even what kind of food they like.

Finally, visit Exploration Place for the fascinating science exhibits, where you’ll have a blast while learning new things.

If you’ve still got time, see artifacts and exhibits from all over the world at the Museum of World Treasures.

Recommended Hotel: Hyatt Regency Wichita

20. Hermann, Missouri

Hermann, Missouri

Hermann, MO (573) 486-5400 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Harmann has been a charming, picturesque village of Gasconade County since 1842 and is known for its many festivals.

You can reach this town if you drive about 3 hours east of Kansas City.

Indulge in the rich history of this city through its festivals like the Maifest and Oktoberfest.

There are also plenty of wonderful local shops to explore, many of which are home to hidden treasures and antiques.

Take a stroll downtown to explore the galleries and museums, or go zip-lining nearby.

For hikers, the Katy Trail is a beautiful scenic trail to explore nature.

The “Wine Trail” is also famous here, featuring over 20 miles of local wineries.

If you’re looking for a fun getaway, Kansas City has no shortage, and Hermann is a great example.

Recommended Hotel: Hermann Crown Suites

21. Bentonville, Arkansas

Bentonville, Arkansas

Bentonville, AR (479) 254-2028 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Bentonville is a city in Arkansas known to be the birthplace of the retail store Walmart.

This city is about 3 hours and 10 minutes away from Kansas City if you drive without stopping.

It’s a charming city filled with a rich history of arts and culture, and you’ll find glimpses of it in its museums.

A few museums you might want to look into include the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Walmart Museum, and the Museum of Native American History.

The kids will love the Scott Family Amazeum, which is filled with fun interactive exhibits they can enjoy for hours.

There are also plenty of nature trails to bike and hike on, so give this spot a visit if you’re looking for cheap vacations from Kansas City.

Recommended Hotel: 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville – MGallery

Related: Best Restaurants in Bentonville

22. Buffalo National River (Jasper, Arkansas)

Buffalo National River (Jasper, Arkansas)

Buffalo National River, AR 72675 (870) 861-5514 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Buffalo National River is an undammed river established in 1972 and flows freely for 135 miles.

You’ll be able to reach this fun rive by driving 4 hours and 20 minutes south of Kansas City.

This beautiful force of nature is filled with hiking trails that offer stunning views.

You can also go fishing, hunting, or horseback riding through the trails along the river.

You can go camping here if you want to spend long weekends from Kansas City.

Go backcountry camping and admire the beautiful night skies.

Recommended Hotel: The Hummingbird Haven

23. Weston, Missouri

Weston, Missouri

Weston, MO (816) 640-2909 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Weston is a charming, quaint town in Missouri known for its historic main street downtown.

Weston is only a 40-minute drive away from Kansas City, so there’s plenty of time during the day for other activities.

Walk through the downtown area and browse the unique shops and restaurants.

There are also plenty of charming bed and breakfast hotels you can stay in for the weekend.

You’ll also find the oldest brewery in west Mississippi right here, along with plenty of wineries.

Of course, you can’t miss out on antique shopping, especially in a place known to be one of the top antiquing towns in the country.

Recommended Hotel: Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Leavenworth

24. Columbia, Missouri

Columbia, Missouri

Columbia, MO (573) 874-2489 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Columbia is a city in central Missouri known for being a bustling college town.

Take a drive 2 hours east of Kansas City, and you’ll reach this city in no time.

Head to Stephens Lake Park on a hot day to have a blast with the water fountains.

Or take a relaxing stroll through the Shelter Gardens and its green spaces.

The Museum of Art and Archeology is an exciting visit to see historic artifacts and fascinating exhibitions.

All in all, this city has plenty of beautiful outdoor places to go for a weekend trip near you.

Recommended Hotel: Staybridge Suites Columbia-Highway 63 & I-70, an IHG Hotel

25. Cave Springs

Cave Springs

Cave Springs, AR (479) 248-1040 Visit Website Open in Google Maps

Cave Springs is a charming city in Benton County with scenic natural beauties.

You can make it to Cave Springs in just under 30 minutes.

Visit the Cherokee Vann Cabin at Broad street for a quick trip back in time.

Explore Rolator Park to see natural landscapes, historic sites, and even a fascinating cave.

For a shot of thrill, swing from the treetops with Daredevil Ziplines.

Then go and be one with nature at Brushy Branch Park.

Did we also mention Cave Springs has the best-tasting water in the country?

If you’re looking for Kansas City area weekend getaways, this is a city you don’t want to miss.

Recommended Hotel: Embassy Suites Northwest Arkansas – Hotel, Spa & Convention Center

26. Salina, Kansas

Salina, Kansas

Salina, Kansas (785) 309-5700 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Salina is a city in Saline County, known for being a Kanza tribal land in the 1800s.

Head out about 3 hours west of Kansas City to reach this gem.

This city is filled with family-friendly activities to do both indoors and outdoors.

Head to the Stiefel Theatre for the Performing Arts to watch a concert of musical play.

Have a blast at the Smoky Hill Museum, which is filled with fun, hands-on exhibits that play with science.

Then visit the Kenwood Cove Aquatic Park for the time of your life with water slides and other water activities.

If you’re in the mood to see animals, the Rolling Hills Zoo has plenty to show.

This is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for places near Kansas City for vacation.

Recommended Hotel: Homewood Suites By Hilton Salina/Downtown, KS

27. Flint Hills

Flint Hills

Flint Hills, KS Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

The Flint Hills are a unique tallgrass prairie ecosystem in the middle of North America, mostly in Kansas and northern Oklahoma.

Hop in the car and drive west for an hour and a half to get to Flint Hills from downtown Kansas City.

These beautiful green hills make for a perfect location to relax in.

It looks more like a desktop background wallpaper, with its unending green fields and blue skies.

Set up a picnic anywhere on the hills, or hike around to visit the reservoirs and creeks nearby.

Recommended Hotel: Heritage Inn & Suites

Related: Weekend Getaways Near Oklahoma City

28. Silver Dollar City

Silver Dollar City

399 Silver Dollar City Pkwy Branson, MO 65616 (417) 336-7100 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Silver Dollar City is a 61-acre amusement park in Stone County that was established in 1960.

This fun theme park is 3 hours and 20 minutes away from Kansas City and is worth every second of the drive.

With over 40 rides and attractions to explore, you will never be bored here.

Some of the rides are even record-breakers and are just for thrill-seekers.

Get on the thrilling Time Traveler and try not to throw up after.

Or go on the Outlaw Run for a fun wooden ride (you might get sick here too.)

There are plenty more rides that can cater to anyone of all ages.

Recommended Hotel: French Quarter Resort

29. Marceline, Missouri

Marceline, Missouri

Marceline, MO (660) 476-3528 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Marceline is a city in Linn County that’s known to be the hometown of Walt Disney himself.

Head 2 hours east of Kansas City to see a true Disney adventure in Marceline.

Visit the Walt Disney Hometown Museum to see some of the first drawings of Mickey Mouse.

Then go shopping for some antiques at the Magnolia Antiques, or have a relaxing walk at Ripley Park.

Finally, explore the picturesque downtown Marceline, which almost feels like you’re stepping into Disneyland.

This street is filled with colorful, charming buildings housing restaurants and boutiques you can explore.

As small and as simple as this town is, it’s one of the best getaways in Kansas City you’ll find.

Recommended Hotel: Best Western Brookfield

30. Lawrence


Lawrence, KS (785) 832-3000 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Lawrence was founded in 1854 and is famous for its vibrant downtown shopping scene.

Lawrence is a quick 30-minute drive from Kansas City and is great for the family.

Visit the iconic “Mass” street for some of the best entertainment choices you could have.

Watch a live show, dance at a concert, or watch a movie.

Then do a little shopping at one of the vibrant stores downtown.

If you’re a dinosaur fan, you might love visiting the KU Natural History Museum and its dinosaur fossils.

Or go camping at the Baker Wetlands just south of the city.

You’ll find some of the best weekend getaways from Kansas City in this small city.

Recommended Hotel: SpringHill Suites by Marriott Lawrence Downtown

Getaway Guide 

Comparing destinations: which one is right for you.

The most important factor when choosing our destination for our weekend getaway is the process of comparing.

When comparing, consider the resort/hotel’s amenities, other features, and drawbacks.

Following this process, my family had a blast experiencing the best Kansas weekend getaways.

Ambassador Hotel Kansas City Autograph Collection is the most optimal choice here as they offer upscale vibes you’ll fall for.

And being upscale, it is no surprise that their rate is more expensive than others.

On the other hand, The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center highlights its chic style, boutique elegance design, and excellent amenities.

Its drawback would be its poor customer service that kept on occurring on multiple instances.

Crossroads Hotel proudly highlights its gorgeous Instagrammable rooms and suites on par with luxurious hotels.

Its only downside would be its bar, which has many limitations and issues.

Lastly, Loews Kansas City is an excellent alternative with essential amenities and great customer service.

The drawback it has would be the issues with outside noises.

How I Picked The Destinations 

As someone who visits Kansas yearly and a seasoned travel writer, I have all the means to pick the proper destinations for your needs.

I also researched and interviewed locals and tourists to get more valuable insights.

Lastly, I utilized legitimate and trusted travel websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor.

Our Property Rating Method 

I rate these properties based on the following criteria:

  • Room Variety: I use this to rate the room options offered by every property. What room types are available? Can it accommodate different budgets, group sizes, and preferences? I ask myself these questions when evaluating the property’s room variety. 
  • Comfort and Cleanliness: This measures the overall cleanliness and comfort of the accommodations. Does it have comfortable beds? Are the rooms spotless and dust-free? These are important factors I consider when rating comfort and cleanliness. 
  • Location: This is used to evaluate how convenient and accessible the property is. How close is it to the attractions? Are there good public transportation options near the location? Is it easily accessible for families? These questions are important when I rate the location of every accommodation. 
  • Affordability: I use this to evaluate the property’s affordability. Are the room rates reasonable? Does the property have any additional fees? Does the property offer discounts or packages? I ask myself this in order to rate affordability. 
  • Family-Friendliness: This evaluates the family-friendliness of each property. Does it offer babysitting services and children’s activities? Does it have connecting rooms for families? I use these questions to rate the family-friendliness of the property. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What cities are 4 hours from kansas city.

Some cities that are approximately 4 hours away from Kansas City are Jacksonville, Illinois and Wakita, Oklahoma.

Is Staying At Kansas Resorts/Hotels For Weekend Getaways Expensive?

The cost of staying at Kansas resorts and hotels for weekend getaways can vary depending on the specific location, amenities, and time of year.

best weekend getaways from kansas city

Upon experiencing the best weekend getaways from Kansas City, I must say that each destination is uniquely charming and has unique offerings.

My family enjoyed staying at The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center, as we had numerous room options and superb amenities.

On the other hand, Crossroads Hotel was where my better half enjoyed, as we could pick a beautiful and Instagrammable room.

Loews Kansas City is an excellent alternative we adored; we felt our money spent there was worth it.

But the best weekend getaway spot in Kansas City would be Ambassador Hotel Kansas City, Autograph Collection.

My better half and children enjoyed its upscale vibes since we’re not used to having something fancy.

Their spacious room was something we appreciated as well since we could access more freedom.

Lastly, we took full advantage of their superb amenities, which were helpful during our stay.

best restaurants in poplar bluff, mo

  • National Parks
  • Tiny Houses

9 Fun Weekend Road Trips from Kansas City, Missouri

Posted by Sarah Boles August 01, 2021 Updated June 09, 2023

The Kansas City metro has no shortage of entertainment. But after a while, even easy access to fall-off-the-bone- delicious barbecue, successful professional sports teams, nightly live music, and a ridiculous amount of fountains eventually gets old.

Luckily, KC’s prime Midwestern location puts a year’s worth of weekend road trips within reach when you’re ready to mix things up a little. Five other states (plus the rest of Missouri) are within a four hour drive of downtown, providing no shortage of amazing road trips from Kansas City perfect for putting distance between you and everyday life for a few days.

Each of these destinations have a weekend’s worth of excitement for the outdoorsy, indoorsy, foodie, and adrenaline-seeking travelers among us.

Related Read: 9 Amazing Treehouse Rentals in Missouri You’ll Love

1. Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha Nebraska Kansas City road trip

Just up the Missouri River from KC is the best Nebraska has to offer: a weekend in Omaha.

In parenting circles, Omaha is the quintessential family weekend road trip from KC thanks in part to its children’s museum. Tailored to the 8-and-under crowd, the Omaha Children’s Museum is bursting with activities that engage their senses and peak their interests, including a tinker factory, a kid-sized auto service center, and a splash garden.

In addition to all the typical zoo attractions (a.k.a. animals), the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium has an amazing splash park. The “Children’s Adventure Trails” area allows kids to traverse a three-story tree house with monkeys climbing above them. It also has a creek following through it and tons of smaller things to climb. Expect all the kiddos to be tired come 7 p.m.

No kids? No problem! Omaha has plenty of fun for all ages.

Baseball fans can plan a visit around the College World Series (CWS), held downtown at the TD Ameritrade Park in June. Any Omaha baseball pilgrimage should include a visit to the site of the former home of the CWS: Rosenblatt Stadium. Infield at the Zoo , located in the zoo’s parking lot, is a memorial to the old stadium. You can run the original baselines and sit in original seats.

The Old Market Entertainment District features brick streets, galleries, restaurants, boutiques, and rooftop dining. From French to Mexican to Cuban to Italian, the market district is the place to go for everything from a juicy steak to succulent sushi.

  • Distance from Kansas City: 185 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 2 hours, 40 mins

2. Bentonville, Arkansas

Bentonville Arkansas Kansas City road trip

With 40 miles of trails accessible from downtown, Outside Magazine recently called Bentonville “Disneyland for mountain bikers .” And while folks in, say, British Columbia may not agree with that assessment, there’s no denying how convenient the city is for explorers on two wheels. After a long day on the trails, the bike-friendly downtown has restaurants, unique lodging, and free entertainment to help you rest and refuel your tired body.

Not into mountain biking? No worries: Bentonville has plenty of non-adrenaline fun, too. Stroll around the indoor and outdoor galleries of The Momentary , a free contemporary art museum. The museum grounds feature green space for picnics and performances, as well as a bar and cafe.

Next, move on to Crystal Bridges , a free American art museum. Its unique architecture was designed to celebrate the idea that buildings can exist in harmony with their surrounding nature. The museum grounds have over four miles of hiking trails in addition to the namesake bridges.

Take your visit to Crystal Bridges to the next level and reserve an all-inclusive Forest Globe Experience . This night out includes bluetooth controlled lights and speaker plus your choice of dinner, dessert and sparkling water, all inside a forest globe.

  • Distance from Kansas City: 210 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 3 hours, 10 mins

3. Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

lake of the ozark Kansas City road trip

You can rent everything from a houseboat to a kayak at Lake of the Ozarks or bring your own. No matter what you chose, a weekend at the lake revolves around the water. You may recognize the Ozarks but the Netflix show of the same name, which brought a lot of attention to how beautiful this easy road trip from Kansas City really is.

The Bagnell Dam Strip has water craft rentals to help you enjoy the water, arcades to test your luck at skee-ball, souvenir shops so you don’t come home empty handed, restaurants, and weekend car shows.

Besides for its lakeside bars, restaurants, and parks that make the area a bit of a party hot spot, Lake of the Ozarks is also considered one of the best fishing lakes in the country. So if you’re angler, bump this to the top of the “must-do roadtrips from Kansas City” list.

From five-star resorts to campgrounds, there’s a place for everyone to comfortably rest their heads at the lake. Kick back and watch fireworks at Bear Bottom Resort or enjoy its outdoor pool. Play a round of golf or splash year-round at the indoor waterpark at Margaritaville Lake Resort (formerly Tan-Tar-A Resort). Pitch your tent at Lake of the Ozarks State Park and you’ll have access to two marinas complete with sandy beaches. It’s a great place for a morning stroll with coffee in hand.

Related Read:  10 Best Tiny House Rentals in Missouri for Big Adventure

4. Buffalo National River (Jasper, Arkansas)

buffalo river Kansas City road trips

The Buffalo National River runs across northern Arkansas and plays host to some amazing paddling, cliff jumping, climbing, and hiking. It’s also a great place to escape to a remote cabin. Lined by sandstone bluffs reaching up to 400 feet tall, the Buffalo is the first national river and one of the last free-flowing (no dams) rivers in the country.

The town of Jasper is a great home base. The Ozark Café serves up delicious meals perfect for refueling after a long adventure, and is a short drive from a prime viewing spot of the Grand Canyon of Arkansas , which offers epic views of the redbud blooms in spring and of the fall colors.

The nearby Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is a destination in itself. Enjoy horseback riding on mountain trails and across creeks. And thrill seekers should check out the via ferrata and zip line. The dude ranch has cabins on site (with hot tub and pool access) and features the most beginner and family-friendly rock climbing around. Guides and gear are available for rent from the trading post. No wonder Jasper is a frequent item on lists of the best Kansas City road trips.

  • Distance from Kansas City: 262 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 4 hours, 20 mins

5. St. Louis, Missouri

st louis Missouri Kansas City road trip

Riding a tram 63 stories up the hollow structure of the Gateway Arch is something everyone should do once in their lives. Fair warning: the trams are small, white pods straight out of a science fiction movie. They only fit five people, but luckily, the ride is less than five minutes long. Also worth noting: the skydeck is not wheelchair or stroller accessible, and sways in the wind. That said, the views of the city, Mississippi River, and beyond, are spectacular. So, summary: great Kansas City roadtrip if you don’t mind heights.

Branch out from downtown and explore the Delmar Loop in University City (“U-City”). Take the trolley to explore over 100 specialty shops, including Vintage Vinyl and Avalon Exchange . The Loop has restaurants serving up food from countries around the world, including the Philippines, Greece, Lebanon, India, and Thailand.

You can spend an entire weekend just in nearby Forest Park , which anyone from “the Lou” will be quick to tell you is bigger than Central Park. Within its grounds, guests can visit the history museum, city zoo, art museum, science center, and planetarium, all for free. Want to take your adventure up a notch? Check out Flegel Falls, go sledding at the infamous Art Hill, or rent watercraft to explore the lake.

Looking for a truly unique experience? Head to the City Museum . There, old pieces of the city are repurposed to create slides, tunnels, climbers, and more. If you’re short on time, skip the inside exhibits and make your way to the rooftop (open March through November), which features a school bus, praying mantis, ferris wheel, and great views of the city.

  • Distance from Kansas City: 248 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 3 hours, 45 mins

Related Read:   9 Fun & Free Things to Do in Saint Louis, Missouri

6. Weston, Missouri

Weston Missouri Kansas City road trip

Weston is known for three things: festivals, beverages, and outdoor adventure. It’s close proximity to the city makes it one of the easiest road trips from Kansas City for locals looking for a fun weekend away.

Try to plan your visit around one of the city’s many festivals. Applefest features shopping, live music, a parade, children’s activities, delicious food, and, of course, apples. Weston Brewing Company hosts the annual Weston Irish Festival , which includes live music outside as well as in their underground pub (O’Malley’s). Both take place in the fall.

At Green Dirt Farm, you can tour a sustainable farm and sheep dairy. Afterward, head over to the cafe, which showcases sheep cheese and cow ice cream, as well as charcuterie boards, beverages, and crafts from local artisans.

Planning a cold-weather visit? Snow Creek Mountain Resort is the local place for Kansas Citians to find winter fun without having to head out to Colorado. The resort has 12 trails, five lifts, and two terrain parks for snowboarding and skiing. If your knees need a break, check out Tornado Alley, a 700-foot-long tubing hill.

  • Distance from Kansas City: 33 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 40 mins

Related read : 9 Must-Hike Trails in Kansas City, Missouri

7. Columbia, Missouri

Columbia Missouri Kansas City road trip

Well known for being the home of the Mizzou Tigers, Columbia has a lot to offer beyond Division I college sporting events.

Downtown Columbia is the place to go for all your culinary delights. Try Shakespeare’s Pizza for a legendary pizza pie or treat yourself to a maple bacon bar from Harold’s Donuts, which offers 16 daily made-from-scratch opens.

Biking enthusiasts should visit  Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area to access the Katy Trail , the longest developed rail-trail in the country. It’s a great place to start your bikepacking adventure or set off for an afternoon ride.

A short drive north of the city, Finger Lakes State Park boasts 70 miles of off-road trails, a motocross track, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and even scuba diving.

If you have kids, do not miss Cosmo Park. It has biking and hiking trails, fields and courts for every sport, a remote control car track, and its prized gem: the Steinberg Playground . The accessible playground has great elevated vantage points for parents interested in letting their littles run loose, but you’ll see plenty of parents having a good time, too. Uncover an entire stegosaurus skeleton in the sand pits, run through tunnels, and climb tractor tires up a hill to reach a rocket ship.

  • Distance from Kansas City: 126 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 2 hours

Related Read:   6 Unique Places to Go Glamping in Missouri

8. Branson, Missouri

Branson Missouri Kansas City road trip

Branson is jam-packed with all the attractions you expect from a world-renowned tourist town: a wax museum, a Ripley’s Believe It or Not, go karts, adventure parks, mini golf, chain restaurants and souvenir shopping. It’s also known as the “Live Entertainment Capital of the World” for good reason, with more than 100 live shows, including classics like Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Show and The Haygoods.

Take a break from the often-congested main strip by visiting Branson Landing on Lake Taneycomo. The area has shops, restaurants, and watercraft rentals, as well as its centerpiece: the Branson Landing Fountains. Every hour on the hour beginning at noon, the fountains perform a three-minute show choreographed with lights, music, and fire cannons. It’s like The Bellagio in Nevada, except Branson is a much easier road trip from Kansas City than Las Vegas.

When you’re had your fill of downtown tourism, escape to Dogwood Canyon Nature Park . It’s a scenic 30-minute drive away from the crowds. There, you can hike, bike, fish for trout, ride horses, and take a tram tour to visit the elk and bison herds.

  • Drive time without stops: 3 hours, 15 mins

9. Springfield, Missouri

Springfield Missouri Kansas City road trip

If you’re looking for a shorter drive (or just don’t want to deal with the touristy vibe of Branson), take a road trip from Kansas City to Springfield. It’s just under three hours from KC and has more than enough unique restaurants, outdoor adventure, and history to fill a weekend when you need a change of pace.

You can check out Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield , the site of the second major battle of the Civil War. The area has a visitor’s center as well as a five-mile auto tour so you can visit the key sites of the battlefield at your own pace.

It’s no secret that Springfield is the home of Bass Pro Shops , which for some people is very much an important thing . After visiting the original store, head next door to the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium The museum has 4-D wildlife exhibits (similar style of the habitats on display in Bass Pro stores) of habitats from Africa to the North Pole, and the aquarium has exhibits featuring live sea creatures. This adventure is suitable for all ages and is a great place to escape the infamous southern Missouri humidity (or bitter cold) for several hours.

If you need another way to beat inclement weather on your weekend trip, check out Fantastic Caverns . A few miles north of downtown, the main attraction is a 55-minute-long jeep tour through the caves, which are a comfortable 60 degrees F year-round.

  • Distance from Kansas City: 166 miles

Explore More in the Midwest

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The 12 Best & Most Unique Airbnbs in Kansas

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Sarah Boles avatar

Posted by Sarah Boles

Sarah Boles is a writer, editor, adventurer, and mom. Having grown up in the Chicago suburbs and currently residing Kansas City, She is a lover of all things Midwest adventure. Sarah has worked as the editorial manager for Adventure Mamas Initiative and WildKind Inc.

In 2018 she was named Outdoor Research’s #SheAdventures scholar. Sarah loves climbing and trail running. Her passions include helping families get outside and increasing access to the outdoors for everyone.

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  • Roadside Attractions
  • Small Towns
  • Hall Of Fames
  • National Parks
  • Theme Parks
  • Meet Bill On The Road


If you’ve not been to Little Rock in the last five years, you owe it to yourself to make a return trip. Arkansas’ capital city is on the move with new restaurants and things to see and do popping up all the time.  The River Market District has become a great spot for local nightlife with outdoor concerts, a weekend farmers market, shops, a sculpture walk, and pedestrian bridges that light up each night with cool LED multi-colored lights. If you’re a history buff, the Clinton Presidential Museum is a must, as well as Central High School where the Little Rock 9 made world headlines at the start of the civil rights movement.  If you need something cool for the kids – be sure to visit the Museum of Discovery and take a tour of the USS Razorback submarine docked on the north bank of the Arkansas River.

Bill’s Advice:   Any time I’ve ever suggested Little Rock as a road trip stop, people will always tell me how surprised they were at what a great city it is.  The people are friendly, it’s a foodies paradise, and guys – you’ll earn extra brownie points for taking your lady to the only purse museum in the United States.  You’re welcome. 

Travel Time: 6h 15m / 410 miles 

2. Winterset, Iowa

long weekend trips from kansas city

I’ve been visiting Winterset in Madison County, Iowa for years and always enjoy each opportunity to visit this lovely community located a short drive from Des Moines.  If you love the feel of small town U.S.A. where people are still patriotic and treat their neighbors like family – this is the place for you.  It’s a perfect trip for a romantic getaway or an extended weekend for small town shopping, and outdoor recreation.  Winterset is best known as the hometown of movie legend John Wayne and famous for its beautiful covered bridges that were featured in the film  The Bridges Of Madison County.   Also, be sure to check out the Iowa Quilt Museum and the newly restored movie theater on the square –  The Iowa.   

Bill’s Advice:  Madison County is awesome for a long weekend, romantic getaway, or ladies looking for a road trip with friends.  Make it an extended visit by adding in a visit to nearby Des Moines or other small Iowa towns along the way.  

Travel Time: 2h 45m / 190 miles

3. St. Louis, Missouri

long weekend trips from kansas city

St. Louis has always been a popular road trip destination for Kansas City locals but did you know there’s much more to experience besides the Arch or a Cardinals/Royals baseball game? St. Louis Union Station has been brought back to life with new attractions like the St. Louis Wheel and St. Louis Aquarium. St. Louis has a “free” zoo that consistently ranks as one of the top zoos in America. Forest Park has paddle boats and golfing in the warm months, and free museums for families year round. Grab some great Italian food in the famous “Hill” neighborhood or try a new restaurant in “The Grove” or in one of the many unique downtowns in dozens of St. Louis County municipalities.

If you want to try a few “quirky” experiences while visiting St. Louis, check out this fun list I’ve put together called: 10 Quirky Things To Do In St. Louis.

Bill’s Advice: If you have kids, St. Louis has so many free attractions for the family – it’s crazy! Grant’s Farm, Missouri History Museum, St. Louis Science Center, and Art Museum to name a few! The City Museum isn’t free, but one of the most popular spots for visitors!

Travel Time: 3h 30m / 248 miles

4. Fort Collins, Colorado

long weekend trips from kansas city

Fort Collins is one of the coolest cities in Colorado and less than ten hours away from metro Kansas City. There are restaurants galore, beautiful scenery, and for beer lovers – more than 20 craft breweries. For nature fans, check out the trial flower gardens at Colorado State University and grab an Instagrammable selfie with the giant Campbell’s Soup can! Fort Collins is also a town where they take bicycles seriously – you’ll encounter them everywhere.

Bill’s Advice: One of my favorite places to dine in Fort Collins is The Farmhouse at Jessup Farm – the food is incredible! If you’re into quirky restaurants – there’s a fun 80’s themed pizza joint/museum in a strip mall outside of downtown that’s worth a visit. While you’re visiting, also be sure to check out the section of downtown Fort Collins that inspired Disneyland’s Main Street USA .

Travel Time: 9h 20m / 650 miles

5. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

long weekend trips from kansas city

Milwaukee may be known worldwide for cheese and beer but there’s so much more!  You can keep busy for several days exploring places like the  Harley-Davidson Museum , the  Milwaukee Public Market , and watching the famous wings open on the  Milwaukee Art Museum .  If you love a good festival – Milwaukee has lots and lots of them including the world’s largest music festival each summer.  The city has an endless amount of great food for all tastes, and don’t forget the beautiful views of Lake Michigan.  Take the time to explore some of the historic downtown neighborhoods and don’t leave without buying a bag of fresh cheese curds for your road trip home.

Bill’s Advice:   Milwaukee is perfect for a long weekend or an extended trip – there’s lots to see and do!  Be sure to track down the Fonzie statue – the TV sitcom Happy Days was based in Milwaukee.

Travel Time: 8hr 20m / 560 miles

6. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

long weekend trips from kansas city

Oklahoma City has been busy over the last few years and has become a legit travel destination.  Bricktown is the hot spot for nightlife and dining, while the city’s other neighborhoods (called “districts”) all offer something interesting for visitors.  The Oklahoma City bombing memorial is a must-visit and the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame is pretty interesting.  If you don’t know anything about banjos – don’t let that deter you from checking out the American Banjo Museum either!  It’s very cool.  But the best part of OKC’s re-birth is all of the food!  It’s insane how many new restaurants have popped up in the city limits over the last few years.  If you love good food, you will love Oklahoma City!

Bill’s Advice:  While exploring, make some time to chill out at the Myriad Botanical Garden – a 15 acre urban garden downtown.  Oklahoma City also has a new streetcar,  although they charge a $3.00 fee to use it for the day.  It’s probably worth it as the routes take you all over town and you won’t have to worry about driving. 

Travel Time: 5h 4m / 353 miles

7. Sioux Falls, South Dakota

long weekend trips from kansas city

Sioux Falls is great for a weekend getaway. Spend some time at Falls Park and enjoy the views and sounds of the gushing waterfalls. Downtown has some great restaurants and is famous for their cool sculptures that line the streets. If you enjoy bike riding, Sioux Falls has some great paths for exploring. On the way, stop in Vermillion to see the National Music Museum – home to 15,000 musical instruments!

Travel Time: 4h 36m / 300 miles

8. Wichita, Kansas

long weekend trips from kansas city

Wichita is a pleasant surprise. Start by learning about the early days of Kansas at the Old Cowtown Museum which has actors and buildings you can explore to truly step back in time.  Check out the Delano neighborhood for some cool shops and good food.  Get a hat at Hatman Jack’s – known for providing custom hats to lots of celebrities.  Tell him I sent you!  And if you’ve ever eaten Pizza Hut, I bet you didn’t know that it started in Wichita. Yep, the original Pizza Hut location is a tiny brick building and now a museum on the campus of Wichita State University.   There is so much to do and the people are so welcoming!

Bill’s Advice:  If you do anything while you’re in Wichita – be sure to check out the famous Keeper Of The Plains monument at night.  Check ahead for times, but each evening there’s a fire show along the water across the pedestrian bridge.  The local science museum – Exploration Place is great for kids, too! 

Travel Time: 3h / 196 miles

9. Missouri’s “Genius” Highway 36

long weekend trips from kansas city

You may be surprised to learn that  Missouri’s Highway 36  is named in honor of the many American geniuses that once called “the show me state” home.   Drive up to St. Joseph and learn about Walter Cronkite and see where The Pony Express began. Then head east on 36 to see the childhood homes of J.C. Penney, Walt Disney, and Mark Twain. You can also visit the birthplace of “sliced-bread” in the town of Chillicothe.

Bill’s Advice To explore the entire “genius highway”, after you visit the Walter Cronkite Memorial and Pony Express Headquarters, head to Hamilton (J.C. Penney/Missouri Quilting Co.) and spend a night at one of their local B&B’s. The next day, head east to see Disney’s hometown of Marceline, and then stop for the night in Hannibal. Check out Mark Twain’s childhood hometown and then head back home!

10. Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas

long weekend trips from kansas city

Get two destinations in one road trip! Both Dallas and Fort Worth have plenty of things to see and do. Take a trip to the top of Reunion Tower, or visit the historic site where JFK where killed. Dallas is loaded with great museums and restaurants. Forth Worth is home to the world famous Fort Worth Stockyards, which is a great place to experience your first rodeo! You can also visit the Bureau of Engraving – one of just two places in the U.S. that prints currency. North Texas also has wineries and plenty of outdoor activities.

Bill’s Advice: Dallas is the closest place to Missouri that has In-N-Out fast-food restaurants! While it’s just a personal favorite, it’s worth checking out since most of them are located in southern California.

Travel Time: 8h / 506 miles

11. Madison, Wisconsin

long weekend trips from kansas city

The state capital of Wisconsin is constantly ranked as one of the best places to live in the U.S.  Madison is also a fun college town with lots of things to do – though its best to visit in the spring and summer months if you hate cold weather.  My favorite thing to do in Madison is the Dane County Farmer’s Market that wraps around the entire Capitol building. Patrons all walk in one direction to shop for fresh produce and local goods.  Of course, State Street is full of action – all seven blocks between downtown and the University of Wisconsin campus. You can find food (140 restaurants!) unique stores, and plenty of entertainment day or night.

Bill’s Advice:  Tour the beautiful Wisconsin State Capitol, and enjoy some time relaxing near the water.  (You can ice skate in the winter months)  For a quirky stop – a short drive to Middleton will get you to the  National Mustard Museum !  When you cross state lines, pop into the welcome center and pick up a “cheese map” to find every cheese store in the entire state!

Travel Time: 7h 22m / 485 miles

12. Hot Springs, Arkansas

long weekend trips from kansas city

Arkansas isn’t called “the natural state” for nothing. It’s full of beautiful scenery and driving through the Ozarks in route to Hot Springs makes for a terrific road trip experience. Check out one of the historic bath houses and of course, Hot Springs National Park. For nature lovers, Arkansas has great state parks as well, many that have lodges or spots for camping. Petit Jean State Park is along the route if you have the time!

Travel Time: 6h 50m / 410 miles

13. Memphis, Tennessee

long weekend trips from kansas city

Memphis is probably best known as the place Elvis called home for many years. Graceland and the new Elvis Presley museum complex is definitely worth a visit. But there’s so much more to Memphis! Check out the Stax Museum for some great music history where stars like Al Green and Sam & Dave used to record. Drive by the home where Aretha Franklin used to live as a kid. Take a stroll down Beale Street for live music and bars. And don’t forget all of the great barbecue that Memphis is famous for!

Bill’s Advice: Go inside the gigantic Bass Pro pyramid that’s visible from the highway as you come into town. You can take an elevator all the way to the top for some great views of Memphis and the Mississippi River.

Travel Time: 7h 20m / 450 miles

14. Omaha, Nebraska

long weekend trips from kansas city

Omaha is definitely worth a stop and ideal for a weekend away from home.  Plan your visit to coincide with a concert or local festival to get the most bang for your travel buck!  After eating at one of Omaha’s many steakhouses – a walk is in order around the water at Heartland of America Park – a terrific public green space, with roaring fountains.  The Henry Doorly Zoo is ranked one of the best in the country, and the Durham Museum is a fun family stop.  For a sports fan – consider visiting during the College World Series.

Bill’s Advice:  When you visit, check out a really great Italian cafe that has been around forever – Orsi’s.  It’s more of a bakery but they have pizza that is very good!  Be sure to mention you’re visiting and they’re likely to toss in some free garlic cheese bread! 

Travel Time: 2h 45m / 185 miles

15. Manhattan, Kansas

long weekend trips from kansas city

Manhattan is an under the radar town that’s best known as the home of Kansas State University. However, it’s also celebrated as a gateway to the Flint Hills region. Visitors can check out the Flint Hills Discovery Center and then head out for a hike to see the beautiful tallgrass up close and in-person. Manhattan has a fun college vibe with some great places to eat in Aggieville, and don’t miss Varsity Donuts for breakfast!

Travel Time: 2h / 122 miles

16. Ha Ha Tonka State Park, Camdenton Missouri

long weekend trips from kansas city

We are fortunate to have many wonderful state parks in Missouri and any of them are great for a road trip. Ha Ha Tonka State Park features some great hiking trails and the ruins of a castle! Long story short – a KC businessman began construction on the castle in 1905 but died before it was complete. His son finished building the castle which became a summer home for the family and eventually a hotel. It was destroyed by a fire in the 1940s. The park also features natural bridges, sinkholes, bluffs, and caves.

Bill’s Advice: Another great Missouri state park site is Echo Bluff. Echo Bluff has a beautiful lodge which just recently opened over the last few years as well as state of the art cabins you can rent.

Travel Time: 2h 39m / 160 miles

17. Bentonville, Arkansas

long weekend trips from kansas city

Bentonville may be best known as the headquarters for Walmart. In fact, you can pop into the Walmart Museum which is housed inside Sam Walton’s first dime store on the downtown square. (It’s actually a really cool museum!) Bentonville is also home to one of the most amazing art museums in the world – Crystal Bridges. If you enjoy bike riding, the area is home to some of the most popular trails in the south.

Travel Time: 3h 13m / 209 miles

18. Fulton, Missouri

long weekend trips from kansas city

Fulton is often overlooked as a destination in Missouri that’s certainly easy to get to right down I-70. It’s perfect for a weekend getaway or even a day trip. Check out the National Churchill Museum, and the shops and restaurants in the historic Brick District. For car lovers – don’t miss the great car collection right off the highway. Auto World Museum has an impressive collection of vintage vehicles. If you like Bed & Breakfasts, you can stay at Loganberry In – one of Missouri’s top B&Bs.

Travel Time: 2h 19m / 150 miles

19. Springfield, Illinois

long weekend trips from kansas city

Springfield is a perfect for a weekend getaway.  Rich in history, it’s best known for its ties to Abraham Lincoln.  You can visit the only home he ever owned and see his final resting place.  Tour the Illinois state Capitol building and take a tour of the Governor’s mansion.  (Don’t make any jokes about how many of them wind up in prison – they don’t think it’s as funny as we do.)  There is a wonderful Frank Lloyd Wright property – the Dana Thomas House in Springfield that is worth touring if you love seeing his work.

Bill’s Advice : The Lincoln Presidential Museum is very cool and you could spend half a day exploring and checking out all of the artifacts.  Springfield is a great place to get up early and spend a Saturday or a place to tack on to another road trip instead of just driving through.

Travel Time: 4h 40m / 310 miles

20. New Harmony, Indiana

long weekend trips from kansas city

New Harmony can be a romantic weekend getaway or an added stop to an eastern road trip.  It’s loaded with  fascinating history , and small enough that you can literally walk around the entire town.  Stop by the visitor center to watch the introductory film for an overview of the town.  There are good restaurants, small shops, and bed and breakfasts if you choose to stay overnight.

Bill’s Advice:  Definitely make the visitor center your first stop and watch the film that explains the history of New Harmony.  It will make your visit so much better when you understand all of the buildings you’ll see and why the town is so unique! 

Travel Time: 5h 40m / 389 miles

Best Road Trips From KC:

3. St. Louis, Missouri 

7. Sioux Falls, South Dakota

9. Missouri’s Genius Highway

16. Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camdenton, MO

long weekend trips from kansas city

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Mount Rushmore National Monument in the Black Hills of South Dakota, USA on a sunny day.

Best Road Trips From Kansas City

Top road trip destinations from kansas city.

Lone row boat bobbing on Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, Texas, USA

Lake of the Ozarks

🚗 150 miles ⏱️ 2 hours, 30 minutes

Beautiful scenery and outdoor fun combine, Lake of the Ozarks is a favorite destination for water activities, beautiful landscapes, and lively entertainment options. This is the perfect destination for families and outdoor lovers for a day trip.

On the way, you can also visit Yaya's Alpaca Farm , Henry County Museum , Harry S Truman State Park and Swinging Bridge Of Warsaw .

St. Louis, Missouri, USA downtown cityscape on the river at dusk.

🚗 250 miles ⏱️ 3 hours, 40 minutes

If you are looking for an urban experience, St Louis is a great destination to visit. This colorful city is famous for its iconic Gateway Arch, buzzing music scene, and historical museums.

On top of these, you can also visit Maple Leaf Lake Conservation Area, Warm Springs Ranch , Shelter Gardens in Columbia and Big Joel's Safari Petting Zoo and Educational Park en route.

Domed roof lit up by bright sunlight with city landscape in the background

🚗 730 miles ⏱️ 10 hours, 50 minutes

Denver has the perfect combination of city life and beautiful surroundings. The city offers a stunning backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, great for anyone who loves an outdoor lifestyle.

There are plenty of new places to discover on the way such as Lauritzen Gardens , Great Plains Art Museum , Pony Express Station Museum and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park Museum .

Mont Rushmore in South Dakota on a sunny day depicting the 4 presidents of the USA

Mount Rushmore

🚗 730 miles ⏱️ 10 hours, 20 minutes

The easily recognizable Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a must-visit to see the majestic sculptures of four US presidents carved into the granite face of the mountain.

On the way, you can visit Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium , Sioux City Art Center , Falls Park in Sioux Falls and Badlands National Park .

Chicago Skyscrapers Skyline View from Lincoln Park with Sunlight

🚗 590 miles ⏱️ 9 hours

Looking for some urban fun and cityscapes? Chicago is a metropolis that is home to world-renowned museums, and iconic architecture like the Willis Tower and the Bean.

The places you can visit en route include the iconic Gateway Arch , Route 66 Drive In Theater in Springfield, and McLean County Museum of History .

Colorful guitar-shaped neon sign at Nashville Broadway

🚗 660 miles ⏱️ 11 hours, 30 minutes

Nashville, the heart of country music, is not only famous for its colorful music scene but also for its rich history and southern hospitality. You will also find amazing BBQ joints here.

En route, we recommend stopping at Branson Scenic Railway , Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site , Patti's 1880's Settlement in Grand Rivers and Dunbar Cave State Park .

Wisconsin Dells sandstone formations in the Wisconsin River

Wisconsin Dells

🚗 510 miles ⏱️ 8 hours

Wisconsin Dells is nicknamed "the waterpark capital of the world", offering fun for the whole family with its numerous theme parks and natural beauty.

Many please you can visit on this road trip include the Jesse James Birthplace , Pappajohn Sculpture Park , National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and Crystal Lake Cave near Dubuque.

Des Moines, Iowa, USA with the skyline at night.

🚗 190 miles ⏱️ 2 hours, 50 minutes

Des Moines, a hidden gem in the heartland, is known for its state fairgrounds and lively downtown district. In Downtown, you can view historic architecture, enjoy a little retail therapy and treat yourself to a meal.

The drive to Des Moines is dotted with famous people's birth homes, such as Jesse James Birthplace , Walt Disney Hometown Museum and John Wayne Birthplace Museum ; the latter being short detours away.

Dallas, Texas, USA downtown city skyline.

🚗 555 miles ⏱️ 8 hours, 10 minutes

Dallas is the place to head to for the quintessential Texan experience. From its upscale shopping and amazing culinary scene to historic sights and live performances, the city offers the perfect mix of Texas charm and cosmopolitan flair.

Some great places to visit en route are Kansas State Capitol in Topeka, Wichita Botanical Gardens , Oklahoma City Zoo and Turner Falls Park .

Omaha, Nebraska, USA with an aerial view of the downtown Omaha skyline.

🚗 480 miles ⏱️ 8 hours

Omaha is another amazing urban destination on our list that blends a historic background with contemporary fun. The city has the famous Old Market district and the beloved Henry Doorly Zoo.

Some of the amazing places you can visit en route are Evel Knievel Museum , Arbor Lodge State Historical Park , Museum of American Speed in Lincoln and Pawnee State Recreation Area .

Branson, Missouri, USA with a view of the stone church at top of the rock overlooking the city.

🚗 330 miles ⏱️ 5 hours, 45 minutes

Branson, Missouri, is a family-friendly hotspot where you can enjoy live shows, stunning Ozark scenery, and exciting theme parks. With entertainment and outdoor activities on offer, Branson is a great destination for any adventurer.

On the way, don't miss out on visiting Maple Leaf Lake Conservation Area , Rock Bridge Memorial State Park , Lake of the Ozarks , Osage Beach and Route 66 Museum in Lebanon.

Charming barn at Historic Weston Orchard and Vineyard with pumpkins displayed at its entrance

🚗 35 miles ⏱️ 40 minutes

Weston is the perfect place for an escape from the big city with its historic architecture, boutique wineries, and charming seasonal festivals. Being so close to Kansas City, it is great for a day trip.

There is plenty of natural beauty to discover on this short drive such as Platte Falls Conservation Area , Platte Ridge Park and Weston Bend State Park .

The Capitol of Topeka, Kansas USA

🚗 85 miles ⏱️ 1 hour, 35 minutes

Topeka is Kansas' capital and is home to the Kansas State Capitol and world-class museums. It's a great place to relax in one of the parks or explore new things, making it a perfect spot for a laid-back visit.

This is a short drive so you can make detours to visit Moon Marble Company , Lecompton Constitution Hall and Perry Lake Recreation Area on the way.

Crystal clear spring water at Ha Ha Tonka State Park, MO, USA on a sunny day.

Ha Ha Tonka State Park

🚗 160 miles ⏱️ 2 hours, 40 minutes

Ha Ha Tonka State Park is a true hidden gem with its fascinating castle ruins perched high above the Lake of the Ozarks. It's the perfect spot for an adventure, whether you're hiking scenic trails or picnicking by the water.

On the way there, you can visit Yaya's Alpaca Farm , Henry County Museum , Benton County Museum and Bridal Cave & Thunder Mountain Park .

Reflection of the sunset over the tranquil waters of the lake near Kansas City

Smithville Lake

🚗 30 miles ⏱️ 40 minutes

Smithville Lake is a local favorite for anyone looking to fish, boat, or simply soak up some sunshine along its scenic shores. It's an ideal getaway for a day of outdoor fun or a relaxing afternoon in nature.

As you leave the city on this short drive, you can visit The Rush Funplex , Shoal Creek Living History Museum and Smoke & Davey Trailhead en route.

Bentonville, Arkansas, USA with a view of Walmart Museum downtown Bentonville.


🚗 210 miles ⏱️ 3 hours, 10 minutes

Bentonville is a charming small town known for its Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. It's the perfect blend of small-town charm and great museums and eateries.

You can visit Route 66 Drive-In in Carthage, Grand Falls in Joplin and George Washington Carver National Monument en route.

Vintage sign advertising Totem Pole Trading Post in Rolla, MO

🚗 220 miles ⏱️ 3 hours, 30 minutes

Rolla is a cozy college town where you can dive into the local history at museums or explore the great outdoors with its parks and trails. There is something to do for everyone in this charming small town.

Some of the great places you can visit en route are Maple Leaf Lake Conservation Area , Warm Springs Ranch , Columbia Art League and Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City .

Columbia, Missouri, USA historic campus and columns.

🚗 125 miles ⏱️ 1 hour, 50 minutes

Columbia is a lively college town, home to the University of Missouri. In this laid-back town, you will find plenty of eclectic shops, and affordable eateries.

As you make your way to Columbia, you can visit Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area , Maple Leaf Lake Conservation Area , Bothwell Lodge State Historic Site and Arrow Rock State Historic Site .

Golden Driller, Tulsa, Oklahoma

🚗 340 miles ⏱️ 5 hours, 40 minutes

Tulsa is a city where Southern comfort meets urban adventure, where you can visit great museums showcasing world-class art, live music venues, and unique historical sites.

On the way, we recommend stopping at Route 66 Drive-In in Carthage, Joplin's Grand Falls and Bernice Nature Center .

Springfield, Missouri, USA with a view of the city skyline at dusk.

Springfield, Missouri

🚗 170 miles ⏱️ 2 hours, 40 minutes

Springfield, Missouri is a great spot for anyone looking to enjoy live music, museums, and outdoor activities. It's a welcoming city that offers plenty of charm and adventure around every corner.

En route, Yaya's Alpaca Farm , Henry County Museum and Dunnegan Memorial Park are a few of the great places you can visit.

Longer road trips from Kansas City

Beautiful Niagara Falls on a clear sunny day. Niagara, Canada

Niagara Falls

🚗 1,005 miles ⏱️ 14 hours, 40 minutes

There are only a few places in the country as majestic as Niagara Falls, a spectacular natural wonder famous for its breathtaking views and powerful falls.

Yellowstone National Park, Madison River Valley, American Bison Herd, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park

🚗 1,230 miles ⏱️ 18 hours, 30 minutes

Yellowstone National Park, the world's first national park, is home to geothermal wonders like Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic and fascinating wildlife such as the famous bison that roam the landscape.

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA skyline over the strip at dusk.

🚗 1,350 miles ⏱️ 19 hours, 40 minutes

Las Vegas is deservingly called the entertainment capital of the world. Here you will find neon-lit casinos, spectacular shows, and nightlife that doesn't seem to stop!

Orlando, Florida, USA with a view of the Orlando Eye against a cloudy but sunny sky and palm trees in the foreground.

🚗 1,650 miles ⏱️ 28 hours

Orlando is world-famously the theme park capital of the world, and this Florida city offers endless fun with attractions like Walt Disney World Resort, and Universal Studios.

Beautiful cloudy day of Los Angeles downtown skyline and palm trees in foreground

Los Angeles

🚗 1,795 miles ⏱️ 27 hours

Located on the beautiful Pacific Coast, Los Angeles is home to iconic Hollywood sights such as the Hollywood Sign, sun-soaked beaches and amazing theme parks.


  • Things To Do / Fall Festivals & Activities / Guides for Kansas City / Spring Break Activities & Things to do / Travel & Family Vacations

24 Weekend Getaways, Road Trips & Day Trips from Kansas City

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If you’re looking for short road trips or fun day trips from Kansas City, there are great spots all over. We know you don’t want to drive too far…

But, there are easy weekend getaways nearby! Just a quick 3 (ish) hour road trip with the family. 

Whether you want to explore the outdoors, find mini vacation spots, or just find things to do in new cities, there are places for everyone to go. We hope your family enjoys these fun day trip ideas for kids! If you’re looking to stay closer to home, check out our Staycation Guide too!

Disclaimer : iFamilyKC is supported by its readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. THANK YOU!

long weekend trips from kansas city

We’re big fans of getting out of town for a few days…but where to go? How far can kids realistically ride in a car?  Kids can make it 3 or 4 hours, and then the questions begin and the movies get old. So we gathered the below list of destination ideas and resources for you!

Pro tips: keep the kids happy with their own travel snack boxes for the road. Grab some travel wipes to keep the messes at bay. Plus, any time you’re on a road trip, a dashcam is a great insurance policy.

Best Road Trips from Kansas City!

There are 24 fun road trips from Kansas City, all about a 3-hour drive. These vacation ideas are perfect for a weekend getaway near Kansas City:  

As you head out of town, you might consider having even a small simple security camera to keep an eye on things while you’re gone. Peace of mind, while you’re on your trip, is invaluable!

Day Trips from Kansas City

 If you’re looking for fun day trips from KC, or better yet a weekend adventure, this is for you! Get your family out of town… even if it’s just for a weekend trip! 

> Cave Springs

If you’re looking for a super close trip, Cave Springs is worth considering. Because it is located in Raytown, you can make it there in less than 30 minutes!

There is a small waterfall, hiking trails, and other fun things to explore – learn more now.

Cave Springs Park in Raytown MO

> Visit the Sunflowers

There are 14+ sunflower fields near KC that you can visit with your family. This is a short day trip from the metro, which is perfect if you have small children…

Grinter Farms Sunflowers in Kansas City

> Ha Ha Tonka State Park Day Trip

1491 State Road D, Camdenton, MO 65020

(2 hours, 41 minutes)

Weekend roadtrip to Ha Ha Tonka State Park from Kansas CIty

You can make this its own weekend getaway or stop by while you are in the Lake of the Ozarks area. Plus, the drive on the day trip from Kansas City is beautiful!

Ha Ha Tonka State Park is located in the Lake of the Ozarks area. You can definitely make it one of the best weekend trips from Kansas City to the Ozarks.

Things to do at Haha Tonka:

There are lakes and trails, and you can head over to Branson for fun too! You can rent boats & jet skis at local marinas and swim till your hands turn pruney! If you like hiking or the outdoors in general, this state park is the place for you…  

One of the highlights is a turn-of-the-century castle built high on a bluff and more than 15 miles of walking trails. These trails lead to sinkholes, natural bridges, caves, and of course the lake itself!

Just head down for the day and pack a lunch for a picnic or decide to make a camping trip out of it!

Where to Stay:

If you’re wanting to stay for the night, there are many choices that make a great overnight trip for families:

> Canoe, Float, or Paddle the Niangua River

Lebanon, MO & surrounding areas (many campsites & rentals)


Things to Do on the Niangua River:

Your family can canoe, kayak, float in inner tubes, or raft down the Niangua River! This fun road trip near Lake of the Ozarks is great if your family loves the outdoors or is looking for an adventure. 

There are many fun campgrounds, cabins, & hotels in the area, so it will definitely make a fun weekend trip. Explore the many campsites & rentals available like the Floating R or NRO , which has free camping options available. Big Bear River Resort offers adorable cabins, canoes, camping & great fishing spots too!

Food on the Niangua River:

Depending on where you start your float trip, you can stop at The Gravel Bar & Grill at the Sand Springs Resort .

This restaurant is right off the river, so you can walk from your canoe. It has basic American food, offering something for everyone in your family. They also offer lodging at the resort, so if you are looking for a place to stay and rent your canoes, this might be the spot!

This day trip location is a little further away, so you may want to stay overnight – especially if you spend all day paddling on the river! These are just one of many great options:

> Tanganyika Wildlife Park

1000 S. Hawkins Lane, Goddard, KS 67052

(3 hours, 8 minutes)

Weekend Getaways near Kansas City

Tanganyika Wildlife Park is one of the most unique day trips from Kansas City. Not sure if it would be a day trip, since it is 3 hours, but could be a great weekend getaway in Kansas!  

It is a family-owned zoo with one of the largest animal collections in the state. There are over 40 exhibits, including several interactive stations for your kids to learn.

This is definitely a trip stop to add to your list.  

Tanganyika is the only place in the US where you can interact with ring-tail lemurs in their island habitat and feed Indian rhinos and pygmy hippos.

From most of the reviews that I read, it is a great place for younger kids —more animals in a smaller area to save their little legs (and grandparents too!)

There and back will be about 6 hours in total, so consider finding a place to stay for the night:

> Northwest Arkansas

Rogers, Fayetteville, Springdale

(3 hours, 15 minutes) If your family loves the outdoors, this is a great weekend getaway with your kids! 

Things to Do in NW Arkansas:

There are tons of great family things to do in Northwest Arkansas…not to mention the scenery! You can camp along the river, swim in the clear water, & have quality family time on your family’s vacation. Don’t forget to try canoeing while you are on the river!

There is the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks , Charlie & Willie George Park which features a fun spray park for the kids to cool off & TONS of great hiking. There are also unique things to do in NW Arkansas like, exploring the Dickson Street Bookshop or taking in a local museum.

You can visit the Museum of Native American History , Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art , or the Museum of Discovery – a fantastic kids’ activity! Last but certainly not least, you have to check out the Walmart Museum.

There’s so much to see and do in Northwest AR. Visit:

Fayetteville, AR

Springdale, AR

Bentonville, AR

Best Food in NW Arkansas:

You also need to eat. So, be sure to check out Crepes Paulette – where you can watch your food be cooked – or The Farmer’s Table Cafe to try food created all by local Arkansas farmers. You can also take a little drive to try  Kyya Chocolate – unique chocolate that is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. 

In Bentonville, AR try:

Ron’s Hamburgers & Chili :

1702 South Walton Blvd. Bentonville, AR 72712

The Buttered Biscuit



Smokin Joe’s Ribhouse

2504 E Central Ave

Bentonville, 72712

In Springdale, AR try:

Wagon Wheel Country Cafe

4080 N Thompson St.

In Rogers, AR try:

Monte Ne Chicken Inn

13843 E. Highway 94

Rogers, AR 72758

Big Orange Burgers, Salad, Shakes

2203 S Promenade Blvd Ste. 3100

In Fayetteville try:


25 1/2 N Block Ave

Fayetteville, AR 72701

Penguin Ed’s

2 locations in Fayetteville!

Hammontree Grilled Cheese

326 N West Ave #8

Pro tip: passengers taking a break might enjoy a little travel pillow to snag a quick nap before their turn to drive again!

> Roaring River State Park

12716 Farm Road 2239, Cassville, MO 65625

(3 hours, 17 minutes)

The Roaring River State Park is a great day trip from Kansas City when the weather is warm. You can also make it an overnight trip with camping if it’s a little further for you (Depending on what part of town you’re in) .

Things to Do in Roaring River:

There is so much nature to explore – it could fill your entire weekend! Trout fishing is obviously its biggest draw but there are great things to do and see for the whole family.  

The park is one of the premier trout fisheries in the nation and is stocked each night. There are also 7 trails that lead through the hills, including the Deer Leap trail that overlooks the fish hatchery. There are options to camp as well, including renting a cabin for the weekend.

Roaring Rivers State Park in Missouri Day Trip

> Eureka Springs, AR

(3 hours and 50 minutes)

Eureka Springs prides itself on its fabulous festivals. 

I personally love the St. Patrick’s Day celebration and have participated many times, but there are several more throughout the summer—just check to make sure they would be fun for the kids! It is the perfect place for a day or weekend trip from Kansas City!

Things to Do in Eureka Springs, AR:

The city itself is nestled in the Arkansas hills and has great hiking & outdoor adventures.

Check out Lake Leatherwood for hiking, fishing, canoeing & more outdoor activities.

Downtown Eureka Springs is also a great stop; filled with shopping, restaurants & historic character. There are tons of eccentric shops and art galleries to explore too. You can always find good music in many areas of the city, especially during Blues Weekend.

Best Food in Eureka Springs:

Parkside Pretzel & Snack Bar has everything pretzel – pretzel dogs, pretzel churros…use your imagination! Their reviews are stellar & also feature some healthy options. Eureka Springs Funnel Cake Factory also needs to be on your list. If you’re looking for more dinner food, check out the Rockin’ Pig Saloon for yummy ribs & burgers, or Emilio’s Italian Home Cooking . This delicious Italian spot is located inside an old house, with a more upscale feel.   

Plan on staying the night in either The Crescent or The Basin Park Hotel . Both have their share of ghost stories, but their true draw is how they pull you into the vintage feel of the city. I have stayed at both but I don’t think got an ounce of sleep because the lights were always on and I was constantly checking under the bed!

At nearly 4 hours away from the city, you’ll want to stop for a good night’s rest before you head back to KC. Here are some of the closest options:

> Rent a Cabin Near Kansas City

(1-3 hours depending on the cabin)

There are many nice cabins near Kansas City, as well as in the city limits. Whether you’re looking for a staycation or a weekend getaway in the woods, these cabins are always a great idea!

Find large cabins for multiple families, or small cabin sites perfect for a small family trip.

> Branson

(3 hours or less)

Branson is one of the best road trips from Kansas City, because of the windy roads and beautiful scenery. So, start planning a fun weekend getaway.

Things to do in Branson, MO:

There are so many things to do in and around Branson it is mind-blowing; shopping at outlets , dining, amusement parks, go-karts, bumper cars & boats, duck rides, museums, Table Rock State Park has ALL the fun a lake can provide & everything in between!

You could spend a day or two at Silver Dollar City alone. You can grab a coupon book for the outlets too!

Be sure to check out shows like The SIX , Silver Dollar City , and the MASSIVE go-kart tracks! Your family is sure to find kids activities everyone will love.

With Table Rock Lake nearby so you can cool off too. Visit  Table Rock State Park , which has fantastic camping, fishing, boating & great swimming areas! The park is situated on one of the largest lakes in the country, so you are sure to get a beautiful view.  Find more things to do in Branson now!

Best Food in Branson, MO:

On your drive down, stop at Lambert’s , “home of the throwed rolls” in Ozark, MO. It is home cooking at its finest…while they throw rolls at you to eat! Cakes & Cream is one of our family’s favorites. It is a 50’s diner with more desserts than you could imagine. You can get many old classics there.

For the best shakes & homemade pies in town, stop at Billy Bob’s Dairyland . They feature tasty treats as well as yummy burgers & other diner food. (They also have amazing service…)

Branson offers tons of hotels and resorts , but there are also some gems through Airbnb that offer more privacy for families. There are beautifully redone farmhouses , modern cabins and log cabins available too!

> Amana Colonies Weekend Trip

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Amana-Colonies-Day-Trip.jpg

622 46th Avenue Amana, IA 52203

(4 hours, 29 minutes) While this is longer than the 3-hour trips from Kansas City, the Amana Colonies have something for everyone. Plus, if you are looking for a weekend trip, going further away from home may be fun!

Things to Do at Amana Colonies:

The colonies host events each weekend, from a dog speed racers competition to woodworking festivals, so there is always something to do.

They celebrate a rich heritage in arts and crafts and take visitors away from the hustle and bustle of busy life…check it out for your next weekend trip out of KC.

In fact, The Wurst Festival , a celebration of all things sausage , was named the Best New Event of 2015 by the Iowa Tourism Commission.

There are many places to stay camping, bed, and breakfasts, and hotels nearby.

Best Food in Amana Colonies:

If you like German-American food, try the Ox Yoke Inn for fresh, handmade food. The restaurant dates back to the 1940s, so there are definitely delicious reasons it is still in business. Or, head to the Ronneburg Restaurant for another take on German cooking. Both restaurants are highly rated.   

There are surprisingly quite a few places to stay in and around the colonies. Check them out below:

> Topeka Day Trip

(45 minutes to an hour)

Even though Topeka is our state capital, most people haven’t explored it even though it is one of the best day trips from Kansas City! With Topeka less than an hour from most places in KC, it is a cheap getaway from Kansas City.

Things to do in Topeka, KS:

There are tons of fun things to do like the Topeka Zoo & Shawnee Lake . Check out our top 6 things to do with kids in Topeka . 

You can even climb to the TOP of the state capitol building , which we definitely recommend during your day trip. Tour reservations are not needed for groups of 10 or smaller. The spiral staircase winds right up the middle of the capitol dome, so don’t look down!

Best Food in Topeka, KS :

Bobo’s Diner is a Topeka classic – handmade onion rings, fries & burgers! They were featured on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, so you know it’s delicious.

If Mexican is your fam’s jam, El Centenario makes homemade dishes every day. If the kiddos are all in on awesome grilled cheese sandwiches. and mom & dad like craft beer, The Wheel Barrel is a must. They’re located in the NOTO Arts District and are famous for their gourmet grilled cheese & selection of craft beers. You can’t go wrong with anything on your list. 

If you decide to make a weekend of it, there are some family-friendly spots to stay:

> Roadtrip to Des Moines, IA

(2.5 hours – 3 hours)

While Des Moines isn’t the most attractive city to visit, there are tons of things to do with kids in Des Moines. Plus, the drive is manageable for a weekend trip or getaway. 

Things to Do in Des Moines, IA :

Explore Adventureland Themepark , which includes an outdoor waterpark, a theme park, and indoor pools. Or, your family can check out the Science Center of Iowa , where learning is brought to life.

Don’t miss Iowa’s wildest adventure at  Blank Park Zoo  or find fun things to do outside like Gray’s Lake Park, the Living History Farms , or the Iowa State Fairgrounds (if you can make the trip during the Iowa State Fair ).

There’s also the State Capitol Building you can tour and the downtown Des Moines farmer’s market – rated the 2nd best farmer’s market in America

There are fun kids’ activities here that make learning fun! There are also areas with tons of room to play, like Pappajohn Sculpture Park or the Des Moines Botanical Gardens . The sculpture park is a great place for kids to play while enjoying the artwork…plus it’s free!

You can also enjoy some yummy ice cream at Black Cat Ice Cream , just across the street from the sculpture park.

> Wichita, Kansas Day Trip

(3 hours, 20 minutes)

Things to do in Wichita, KS:

Wichita is home to the Museum of World Treasures , which has an extensive World War II collection as well as shrunken heads, dinosaurs, ancient Egyptians, and everything in between.

The Exploration Place , a science education center, is also filled with fun kids’ activities and things to do. Your kids will explore a variety of hands-on activities & exhibits…think of it as the Science City of Wichita. Check out the Exploration Place calendar of events to see what’s happening while you are there.  

There is also the Sedgwick County Zoo , the Botanical Gardens of Wichita , and the Cowtown Museum , which has FREE admission on Sundays from noon to 5 pm. Also, be sure to visit the Keeper of the Plains statue !

long weekend trips from kansas city

Wichita also has its’ own amusement park, All-Star Adventures ! There are go-karts, bumper boats, mini golf, slides, kiddie copters, a driving range, and other fun family activities. You can find other fun things to do with kids in Wichita easily too!

If you are looking for other fun things to do near Wichita, KS check out the Wildlife Park below!

Best Food in Wichita, KS:

If you’re looking for yummy places to eat be sure to check out Dempsey’s Biscuit Co or Piatto for delicious pizzas. Also, be sure to check out the world’s largest mural painted by a single artist – Horizontes.   For an old-fashioned loose-meat burger and house-made root beer stop into Nuway ! The kids will love it.

Depending on where you’re planning on exploring, there are great options all over the city:

> Meade, KS

(camping, dalton gang hideout & state park).

502 S Pearlette Street, Meade, Kansas

If you’re into history, this is a small town worth visiting. The Dalton Gang Hideout was the home of Eva Whipple, the sister of the Dalton Gang outlaw group. A hidden tunnel was discovered to hide the gang members.

It’s now considered a Kansas tourist attraction, where you can tour the home and the tunnel (reconstructed version). There is also a historical museum!

In addition to the history, there is a beautiful state park – Meade State Park . There is a 360-acre area filled with wildlife, as well as campsites and a lake.

You can camp or fish at the lake with your family to enjoy the great outdoors!

If you don’t want to tent camp, there are other places in the area to stay overnight:

> Omaha Road Trip

(2 hours, 40 minutes)

Omaha, Nebraska is even shorter than a 3-hour trip from Kansas City. Close enough that you can handle the drive but far enough away that it feels like a getaway…

Things to Do in Omaha, NE:

Take advantage of this fun & inexpensive city with these things to do with kids. There is the famous Henry Doorly Zoo , the Wildlife Safari Park , the Aerospace Museum, The Omaha Children’s Museum, the Rose Theater , & tons of free things to do throughout the year. Admission to the Joslyn Art Museum is always free!

There are also beautiful state parks like The Eugene T. Mahoney State Park , which features a suspended ropes course in the trees. There is also a pool, wave pool, splash park, horse riding, mini golf & disc golf, Venture Climb rock climbing & other unique activities. This park has more to do than almost any we have seen…

Best Food in Omaha:

You can also find tons of great restaurants like Mayne Street Market , Yoshitomo (if your fam likes sushi), Hurry Bird (for some creative, delicious breakfast and lunch burritos), or Johnny’s Cafe for delicious food near the old stockyards!

> St. Louis Road Trip

(3 to 3 and a half hours)

Depending on where you are road-tripping from in Kansas City, St. Louis isn’t that far. There are too many things to do with kids in St. Louis for just one day, so make a weekend road trip out of the day trip!

Things to Do in St. Louis:

You can explore the St. Louis Gateway Arch , World Bird Sanctuary , St. Louis Aquarium (the perfect place for kids), Magic House Children’s Museum , and many other kids’ activities. Take a stroll through the Missouri Botanical Gardens, which features a beautiful Japanese garden.

Or, check out Forest Park , which is larger than New York’s Central Park!

Check out our St. Louis Road Trip guide for more ideas of things to do in St. Louis. You could fill an entire weekend trip with these ideas!

Best Food in St. Louis:

If you check out the arch in the morning, be sure to try Chili Mac’s Diner !

Crown Candy is definitely worth a visit. This is a century-old Soda Fountain restaurant that is a St. Louis classic. You will feel like you stepped back in time to 1913 as soon as you step in their doors.

After you try their candy, ice cream & delicious food…it’s game over. Their hearty BLT is stacked to the brim (overflowing really…) with yummy bacon! There are also some delicious donuts at O’Fashion Donuts . Head to The Hill and enjoy some great Italian food at the many restaurants located there.

> Roadtrip to Joplin

(2 hours, 30 minutes)

Things to Do in Joplin, MO:

There are tons of fun things to do in Joplin during your day trip from KC! You can visit a giant waterfall – Grand Falls , George Washington Carver National Monumen t , or walk around downtown Joplin . The Sunshine Lamp District is even named after Joplin’s booming mining days, so you’ll be trendy while walking through history!

There are cute stores to shop, yummy restaurants to try, & even an indoor adventure playground for the kiddos. You can also visit the winery if it’s more of an adult-only road trip! 

Best Food in Joplin:

If BBQ is your thing, you can’t miss Big R’s BBQ & Pies . The locals love this spot for its great BBQ and you can finish off with one of their great pies, so you don’t want to skip this spot!

The Red Onion Cafe is located in a 100-year-old building & highly rated across the board. They serve American food in a relaxed setting – be sure to try the Smoked Chicken Dip! 

> Columbia, MO

(2 hours, 10 minutes)  

Things to Do in Columbia, MO:  

At MU, you can visit the Museum of Art & Archaeology or the Francis Quadrangle , with giant pillars towering overhead. Or, check out the Columbia Art League in downtown Columbia.  Besides visiting The University of Missouri, there are other fun things to do with kids like nature parks.

If your family likes the outdoors, there are many great parks & hiking trails like Rock Bridge Memorial State Park , Finger Lakes State Park , Stephens Lake Beach & Park , or Capen Park .

Finger Lakes State Park is probably the most unique thing you can do, with trails for ATVs, motorbiking, & four-wheelers. There is also a lake where you can go scuba diving, swimming, fishing & non-motorized boating. You can rent kayaks & canoes at the park, so all you have to bring is your family!  

Also visit the Shelter Gardens , a 5-acre botanical garden that is perfect to take a stroll…  

Best Food in Columbia, MO:  

If you’re looking for healthy options, try the Main Squeeze Natural Foods Cafe , which is rated very highly.  If you’re in the mood for good-old deliciousness, try Just Jeff’s Street Food , they have two locations.

They supposedly have the best chili dogs in all of Columbia. Addison’s is also a yummy place to try. Their nachos are our favorite!  You can’t go wrong by stopping for a pizza at Shakespeare’s Pizza, a Columbia tradition since 1973 with 3 locations.

> Eagles Bluff Conservation Area

Columbia, MO 65203

(2 hours, 6 minutes)

If you’re looking to get away from the city…this is the place for you. There are miles and miles of nature to be explored – the perfect place for a nature weekend getaway. Plus, the shorter drives make this one of our favorite day trips from Kansas City…  

There is the Katy Trail State Park , which provides trails to bike, hike, or even ride horses! You can also explore other regions of the conservation area with fishing, hiking trails, camping, bird watching & other fun outdoor activities. 

> Rock City

1051 Ivy Road Minneapolis, KS 67467

(2 hours, 49 minutes)

About 20 miles away from Salina, there are giant spherical rocks, formed when Kansas was under an ocean. There are over 200 rocks you can explore!   You have a couple of options.

1. Rock City is the larger of the 2 attractions, with close to 200 rock formations, but costs $3.

2. Mushroom Rock State Park , which is smaller, is free to the public. If your children love to run around or climb on things, this is a fun place to explore. Check out the website to see cool pictures of mushroom rocks !     

> Go on a Safari

124 Jungle Drive, Strafford, MO 65757

Looking for more unique day trips from Kansas City? This safari is just minutes away from Springfield, MO. (See our Springfield Guide below). How about a wildlife excursion…it’s a drive-thru animal safari in the middle of Missouri! There are over 450 animals for your family to come to visit. 

While there is not a ton to do, the Safari is definitely a unique experience that makes it worth the day trip drive from Kansas City. Make it a short getaway with an overnight stay for the family all together!

> Atchison, KS

Because Amelia Earhart was born in Atchison, you can learn about her at the Amelia Earhart Museum , at her birthplace. Also, visit the Atchison County Historical Society Museum located in the historic 1880 Santa Fe Depot. Check out the Atchison Rail Museum .

If you want to enjoy the outdoors, hang out at Jackson Park or cross the Missouri River and visit the Lewis & Clark State Park . 

Where to eat:

Grab a sandwich at one of these yummy stops: Mr. G’s , JW Boy’s BBQ , or Willie’s Sports Pub . You can’t go wrong.

> Springfield, MO

(2 hours 40 minutes)

Things to Do:

Shop the original, and one of the largest, Bass Pro Shops ! Explore the incredible caves of the Ozarks or go on a safari at The Wild Animal Safari in nearby Stafford, MO.

Find your favorite style of cashew chicken at one of these places on the official Cashew Chicken Trail.

Step back in time on Route 66 and grab a burger at Red’s Giant Hamburg or eat at a classic diner like Casper’s .

Use these Tips for Traveling with Kids to pass the time faster and make your road trip more enjoyable. There are fun car games & tips to keep your family safe. 

Looking for other fun places to stay near Kansas City?

  • Lake Cabins Near KC
  • Tent Glamping
  • Treehouse Cabin Near Leavenworth
  • Large Rentals for Multi-Families or Groups

If you can’t get out of KC, check out:

  • Cave Springs in Raytown
  • Our favorite playgrounds ( & have a picnic )
  • Have a  Downtown KC Staycation Guide
  • Explore the Best Things to Do in Kansas City with kids .

Pro tip: make your driver comfy for these family road trips. We love these beaded seat covers to keep you cool and comfortable.

What are some of your favorite places to visit near the metro? Let us know in the comments!

If you want to stay up to date, click below to join THE SCOOP! Get it delivered right to your inbox!

From our family to yours, iFamilyKC

long weekend trips from kansas city

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  • Apr 16, 2023

17 Best Weekend Getaways from Kansas City (within a 4-hour flight)

Updated: Jan 20

long weekend trips from kansas city

Kansas City. The city where Mickey Mouse was created and home of the best BBQ in the country (fact check me on both). There are some pretty cool things to do in KC and unique venues such as the Power and Light District. However, if you're looking to get away for a weekend and need some inspiration, keep reading.

KC is conveniently situated very close to the middle of the country, so the travel time to many cities is manageable. Here are some weekend getaway ideas for locals in the Kansas City area within a non-stop 4-hour flight. More importantly, these trips are all possible without having to request PTO (for you M-F 9-5'ers), it just depends on what you want to do at your destination.

Miami, Florida (MIA, FLL) - 3 Hour Flight

Beaches, outdoors activities, clubs, restaurants, culture. I just ask that you please please please venture out beyond Miami Beach.

When to go?

Any time of the year, but best is October - February for perfect weather. Avoid the spring break crowd in late Feb/early March the best you can.

Who can fly you there?

AA from MCI - See flight deals

Southwest from MCI - See flight deals

How much will it cost to get there?

Airfare: $300+

Where can you stay?

See hotels in Miami

See hotels in Miami Beach

Visit the following neighborhoods to step away from the "typical Miami": Wynwood, Brickell, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Midtown, Edgewater.

Orlando, Florida (MCO) - Just Under a 3 Hour Flight

Theme parks. Disney & Universal. Bring bug spray and an umbrella if you go during the summer. It's not my favorite city, but there's a reason why it's the #1 tourism city year after year in the US.

Spirit Airways from MCI - See flight deals

Airfare: $100+

See hotels in Orlando

New York, New York (JFK, LGA, EWR, ISP, HPN) - 3 Hour Flight

It might not be the same city it was before, but it'll always make for a great weekend getaway.

Summer for the best weather, but peak rates for solid hotels.

Winter for Christmas festivities!

Delta from MCI - See flight deals

United from MCI - See flight deals

JetBlue from MCI - See flight deals

Airfare: $150+

See hotels in New York

Washington, DC (IAD, DCA, BWI) - 2.5 Hour Flight

Museums, walking tours, great mass-transit and cherry blossoms. Fly to DCA for convenience.

Year-round (spring season for cherry blossoms)

Airfare: $200+

See hotels in Washington DC

For avid runners, pack your running shoes and go for daily runs around the White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln and Jefferson memorials.

Chicago, Illinois (ORD, MDW) - 1.5 Hour Flight

Food, bars, sports, rivers!

See hotels in Chicago

For bourbon enthusiasts, visit Untitled Supper Club on W Kinzie for an incredible speakeasy experience.

Nashville, Tennessee (BNA) - 1.5 Hour Flight

Music (not just country), endless bars, brewpubs, hot chicken.

Spring, Summer and Fall

See hotels in Nashville

Stay in the Gulch or near printer's alley.

New Orleans, Louisiana (MSY) - 1.5 Hour Flight

Jazz music, other music, culture, architecture, partying, passionate football fans.

Spring, Summer, Fall

See hotels in New Orleans

Check out Bourbon Street for a little bit, but don't get sucked in. It's absolutely disgusting. Chartres Street is better for those looking to maintain their cleanliness.

Seattle, Washington (SEA) - 4 Hour Flight

Whales, Olympic National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, North Cascades National Park, gorgeous views, intelligent individuals, good breweries.

Summer (you can't really avoid the rain but you can pray)

Alaska from MCI - See flight deals

Airfare: $250+

See hotels in Seattle

Visit the REI flagship store. Wow.

Atlanta, Georgia (ATL) - 2 Hour Flight

Brew pubs, art, nightlife, Mexican food.

See hotels in Atlanta

Walk some of the BeltLine and stop at stores, bars, and restaurants.

San Diego, California (SAN) - 3.5 Hour Flight

Surfing, Hiking, Zoo, Mountain Biking, Partying.

See hotels in San Diego

Los Angeles, California (LAX, BUR, SNA, LGB, SBA, ONT) - 3.5 Hour Flight

Surfing, Hiking, Sports, City Life, Culture, Fame, Disneyland, Food.

Spirit from MCI - See flight deals

See hotels in Los Angeles

Austin, Texas (AUS) - 2 Hour Flight

Food, Art, Music, BBQ, Tech, Bach Parties, and All-Around Fun!

See hotels in Austin

Boston, Massachusetts (BOS) - 3 Hour Flight

History and cool summertime temps!

Intercontinental Boston

See hotels in Boston

San Francisco, California (SFO, SJC, OAK) - 4 Hour Flight

Tours, Food, Silicon Valley, Golden Gate Bridge, Surfing

See hotels in San Francisco

Las Vegas, Nevada (LAS) - 3 Hour Flight

Gambling, Hoover Dam, Death Valley National Park, Valley of Fire State Park, Partying, more Gambling.

Airfare: $75+

See hotels in Las Vegas

Denver, Colorado (DEN) - Just Under a 2 Hour Flight

Mountains, beer, National Parks, hiking, clean city, nice people.

Year-round. Ski in the winter. Hike in the summer.

Frontier from MCI - See flight deals

See hotels in Denver

Salt Lake City, Utah (SLC) - 2.5 Hour Flight

Skiing, Salt Flats, Mormons, and great National Parks within a moderate drive.

See hotels in Salt Lake City

  • Tips and Advice
  • North America

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long weekend trips from kansas city

Maps Over Coffee

11 Best Road Trips From Kansas City (Day Trips + Weekend Trips)

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If you’re looking for the best road trips from Kansas City , you’ve come to the right place .

Whether you call Kansas City home or are visiting this midwest American city for any length of time, having handy a few places to go for a road trip helps make the work week a bit more bearable.

As avid road trippers and Kansas City natives ourselves, we couldn’t help but compile this list of the best places to go for a vacation, getaway, or simply a day trip from Kansas City.

So if you’re eager to see what’s around the Heart of America, stick with us as we take you through this exciting list!

Best Road Trips from Kansas City

If you’re itching for a getaway, be it for the day, the weekend, or for as long as there’s fuel in your tank and money in your wallet, then this list of Kansas City road trips is for you.

We’ll start with the best Kansas City day trips, then move on to the best weekend trips, followed by the best 8 hour road trips, and finally finish with our pick of the best cross-country road trip from Kansas City.

The Best Day Trips From Kansas City

Some of the best road trips from Kansas City aren’t far away and can actually be done as day trips. Here’s a look at our recommendations for what to do near Kansas City for a mini road trip.

1. Lawrence, Kansas

Sign in downtown Lawrence Kansas

Distance from Kansas City: 40 minutes

Most people would recognize Lawrence, KS as the home of the Jayhawks. Or for the eponymous song by Josh Ritter. But this little college town will surprise you in many ways.

With a historic downtown perfect for walking, boutique shopping, or enjoying a craft beer, a drive to Lawrence is the perfect day trip from Kansas City, at only 40 miles away.

On your way from Kansas City, stop by Davenport Winery between Lawrence and Eudora. Get a bottle of Charlotte’s Red or Mandolin if they are available.

Clinton Lake is also just outside of town, and a great place for a little rest and relaxation, fishing, or camping.

2. Weston, Missouri

Weston Missouri main street

Another great day trip from Kansas City, this time into the state of Missouri, is the little town of Weston. Believe it or not, Weston has lots of amazing orchards surrounding the town. Spend a fall day picking apples and going to the annual AppleFest.

And if you like to discover good restaurants no one (outside of Weston) has heard of, Tine and Cellar is truly an underground stop. (No, literally it is built in an old cellar several stories underground!) They have amazing food and are naturally cool during the hot midwest summers – a luxury not to be overlooked!

If you decide to stay overnight in Weston, try camping at Weston Bend State Park in the summer. In the winter, bring your skis or snowboard to Snowcreek Ski Resort . It probably won’t host the Olympics anytime soon, but it’s pretty good for flatlanders.

The Best Weekend Road Trips From Kansas City

If you’re up for something a bit more adventurous, hit the road for a weekend trip from Kansas City. These recommendations are relatively short road trips from Kansas City, but are ones that are a bit more comfortably done over the course of two or three days.

3. Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

Lake of the Ozarks is one of the best places to see near Kansas City

Distance from Kansas City: 2.5 Hours

Only a couple of hours away from Kansas City, Lake of the Ozarks is a long, winding reservoir situated within two state parks: Lake of the Ozarks State Park and Ha Ha Tonka State Park .

📍Lake of the Ozarks State Park – Kaiser, MO

Lake of the Ozarks is the largest and one of the most visited State Parks in Missouri. Over 2.5 million visitors come for camping, swimming, and water sports each year.

Holiday weekends can be especially crowded with boaters coming from hundreds of miles around to gather into one of the largest floating parties in the country.

Although a popular destination, there are some arms and coves around the reservoir that you can have all to yourself for a quiet camping or fishing spot.

📍Ha Ha Tonka State Park – Camdenton, MO

The other State Park on the shore of the Lake of the Ozarks, Ha Ha Tonka is much more laid back than the party scene often exhibited by its neighbor.

Most famous for the Ha Ha Tonka Castle ruins, there is plenty to explore along this stretch of the shoreline. There are also some great caves, bluffs, and sinkholes that are unique to this area and worth making the point of seeing.

4. Omaha, Nebraska

Skyline of Omaha, Nebraska, one of the best short drives from Kansas City

Distance from Kansas City: 3 Hours

Another midwest city with a small-town feel is Omaha, Nebraska. Less than 3 hours north of the city, Omaha is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway from Kansas City for families, couples and individuals alike.

Families travel from surrounding states to visit the award-winning Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, and couples will enjoy the romance of the Old Market Entertainment District . Fontenelle Forest also has miles of beautiful hiking trails that visitors of all ages will enjoy.

This town also lays claim to inventing several foods including the Reuben, Butter Brickle ice cream, cake mix, and TV dinners. (Hey, they never claimed to be healthy.)

5. Branson, Missouri

Hollywood Wax Museum in Branson, Missouri, a great place to drive near Kansas City

If you’ve never heard of Branson, think of it as a mix between Nashville, Dollywood, and Las Vegas.

Over the years, the city continually outgrows itself. Everything from live country music to go-karts and outlet malls. People come from hours away in all directions come to spend a weekend in Branson.

Centered around old west living, Silver Dollar City is an amusement park set in the 1800s. From rides to shows to craftsmen making everything from baseball bats to taffy, there is something for the whole family to enjoy.

6. St. Louis, Missouri

Skyline and arch in St Louis, Missouri, a great weekend trip from Kansas City

Distance from Kansas City: 3.5 Hours

Known as the Gateway to the West, St. Louis is only a short 3.5-hour drive east of Kansas City. Take a ride up to the top of the Gateway Arch and look over the city at this famous landmark.

There are lots of great things to do for families in St Louis. The City Museum offers a fun educational experience year-round. And if you’re visiting from late spring to early fall, be sure to spend the day at the Six Flags amusement park, or the St Louis Zoo and Aquarium .

St. Louis is much bigger than most cities in this list of road trips from Kansas City, and for many, that means there’s lots of reasons to visit.

The Best 8 Hour Road Trips From Kansas City (or Longer)

One of the obvious advantages of Kansas City is the fact that it is right in the middle of the country. So any of the surrounding states are accessible by road trip.

However, we’ve narrowed down some of our favorites that are all within a roughly 8-12 hour drive – perfect for a long weekend road trip from Kansas City.

Nearly a full day of driving may sound like a lot, but when you consider the diverse landscapes you can end up at, it’s pretty amazing to leave KC early in the morning and have dinner in the mountains, the Gulf, or the Great Lakes.

7. Denver, Colorado: The Best Mountain Road Trip From Kansas City


Distance from Kansas City: 9 Hours

Denver is less than 9 hours from Kansas City. Plus you gain an hour driving there. So it’s almost an “8 hour drive” that feels like 9 hours!

Just on the outskirts of the Rockies, Denver is the perfect destination on your way to the mountains. Stop in for supplies and grub before heading into the wilderness.

In the summer, hike or backpack Rocky Mountain National Park. In the winter you will find some of the best skiing and snowboarding.

Or take it farther and launch your own Rocky Mountain road trip .

Whatever the result, you can be sure that the Rockies do not disappoint. There’s plenty to do for couples, families, or lone ranger road trippers looking for a good time in the mountains.

8. Galveston, Texas: The Closest Beach Road Trip From Kansas City

Galveston Texas is one of the best road trips from Kansas City

Distance from Kansas City: 12 Hours

The obvious drawback of living in the center of the country is the distance to the east and west coasts. While either one makes for a great road trip, there is a much faster way to get to the beach.

You can get to Galveston, Texas in about 12 hours. That means you can scrape the ice off of your windshield in the morning and walk on the beach by the evening.

From there you can spend the weekend relaxing. Or you can take the family to the Kemah Boardwalk for rides, shopping, and eating.

9. Great Lakes, Michigan: The Best Midwest Road Trip From Kansas City

Distance from Kansas City: 8+ Hours

Lake Michigan has many great places to make as road trips from Kansas City

The summers in Kansas City get hot and humid. To escape you have two choices. Heading west to the mountains or heading north to the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes offer a reprieve from the sweltering humidity of the plains. And Michigan is covered in white sandy beaches – without sharks or pirates!

You can be at the SOHA Surf Shop in South Haven, MI in 9 hours. That’s right, a surf shop in Michigan.

They are also well known for their abundance of craft breweries and farm stands lining the back roads. In season, fresh cherries and berries are among the best road trip snacks.

Chicago is also slightly closer than Michigan and offers the chance to dip your toes in Lake Michigan while escaping the heat of the midwest.

10. Bourbon Trail, Kentucky: Whiskey Tasting Road Trip From Kansas City

Bourbon Trail - Woodford Reserve barrels

Distance from Kansas City: 8 Hours

Kentucky is probably most popular for Bluegrass and Bourbon. Or horse racing. No, maybe butter cake.

Whatever you have heard about Kentucky, it’s probably true. The Bourbon Trail is set in beautiful horse country. With miles of gently rolling emerald green grass fields outlined by long white fences, it is truly remarkable to experience.

Most of the distilleries are set in historic buildings, so even if you’re not into whisky, the architecture is worth the trip.

Each distillery has its own style. We recommend Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve to go from the laid-back, rustic feel to the more refined one.

And if you want to get in on the ground floor and see guys that really roll up their sleeves, go to Glenns Creek Distillery . They are in the former Old Crow distillery grounds.

Considering all this fun is within an 8 hour radius from Kansas City, Bourbon Trail, Kentucky makes for a getaway – for adults, at least!

🛑 Please: Never drink and drive; always have a designated driver or hire an Uber.

Editor’s Pick: Best Cross Country Road Trip From Kansas City

Being so close to the center of the United States makes every part of the lower 48 states drivable within a couple of days.

Seattle is 27 hours to the northwest, whereas San Diego is 24 hours southwest.

Driving northeast, you can be at Mt Katahdin, Maine in 26 hours. And the furthest stretches of the southeast coast are only 21 hours away.

With so many great options for epic long road trips from Kansas City, we finally narrowed it down to one that tops all others in our mind – the trip from Kansas City to Olympic National Park in Washington State.

11. Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park is a fabulous place to drive for a long road trip from Kansas City

Distance from Kansas City: 29 Hours

This is where it gets really fun because a road trip is just as much about the journey as the destination.

With your choice of stops along the way, you can visit Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, cross the Snake River in Idaho, and take a little detour to hike miles of trails near Portland, Oregon.

Once you get there, you will be immersed in old-growth forests covered in moss and the sound of the Pacific coming to rest on the incredible rocky coast.

Take a new route on the way back with stops in Montana and South Dakota. Or take some more detours to Banff, Canada in the north or to Yellowstone National Park on your way home.

☞ Check out our other suggestions for the best road trips in North America . You might just find another to inspire travel!

Day Trips & Things to Do within Kansas City

Road trips are great, but they have a time and a place. On days when you’d rather stick to the best attractions within the city, Kansas City has lots to offer.

✔️Walk in Downtown Kansas City

Over the past few decades, there has been a revitalization of Kansas City’s downtown area. Unlike most big cities, Kansas City has relatively light traffic even downtown.

Don’t miss the booming Power and Light District or the historic Union Station .

For families, The Sea Life Aquarium and Legoland are at the nearby Crown Center.

You can also take a Segway tour of The Country Club Plaza ! And of course, the cultural center in the Crossroads Arts District is a great attraction in downtown Kansas City.

Kansas City is known for its barbecue, and in this city, you’re spoiled for choices.

Arguably the best BBQ in Kansas City is Joe’s Kansas City Barbecue (formerly Oklahoma Joe’s).

You will notice that the original location is inside a gas station. Don’t worry! (It’s not like it’s sushi!) Just try it, and you’ll see why “gas station BBQ” is a really good idea.

View of Downtown Kansas City

✔️Kansas City Zoo

One of the best day trips from Kansas City for families is right inside the city at the Kansas City Zoo. With over 1700 animals representing 200+ species, there’s lots to see and do at the zoo.

The zoo even hosts overnight experiences, where families can camp under the stars or spend the night in the Penguin Plaza. Talk about a fun overnight vacation without leaving the city!

✔️Worlds of Fun & Oceans of Fun

Take a day trip within the city to the largest theme park in the American midwest! Worlds of Fun and the Oceans of Fun waterpark offer tons of fun for families and children in Kansas City.

With roller coasters, waterslides, wave pool, lazy river, and much more, there is never a dull moment at this top Kansas City attraction.

Turn your day trip into a mini Kansas City getaway by staying the night in the Worlds of Fun Village, where you can book a cottage or cabin or camp in your RV close to all the action of the park.

Where to Stay in Kansas City

If you plan on spending some time in Kansas City, you’re going to want to find a comfortable place to stay.

Here’s a look at the best Kansas City hotels.

⭐Top Upscale Boutique Kansas City Hotel: The Truitt ⭐Top Budget-Friendly Kansas City Hotel: Holiday Inn – Kansas City – Northeast

Which Road Trips From Kansas City Will You Choose?

Kansas City has always been at the crossroads for travelers in the midwest. The California, Oregon, and Sante Fe trails all passed through here during the pioneer days. The Chisholm Trail brought cattle drives from as far as Texas to the rail yards of Kansas City during the old west times.

At the intersection of two interstate highways that bisect the United States into almost perfect quadrants, Kansas City is still at the crossroads. As a result, Kansas City is the perfect place to launch a road trip to some of the best cities and sites in the American midwest.

We’ve barely even scratched the surface of the best road trips from Kansas City. Being in the Heart of America – as the city is affectionately called – affords reasonable drive times to almost anywhere.

Within 24 hours you can be at the Pacific or the Atlantic. You can be in Zion National Park in about 18 hours. Or take a road trip to Yosemite in 27 hours with stops in Denver and Las Vegas along the way.

More Road Trip Ideas

If you’re looking for more road trip ideas, be sure to check out our Road Trip Page!

Zion to Bryce Canyon: The Ultimate Utah Road Trip 9 of the Best Road Trips in North America The 7 Best Road Trips in America How to Plan a Day Trip to Joshua Tree; 7 Beautiful Sights The Best Road Trips From Kansas City Ultimate Yosemite Road Trip – The Happy Camper’s Guide The Best Road Trips in Central and South America

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Steve is an outdoor enthusiast intent on traveling the world. He is exploring the little things that make these trips just a little better. His favorite things are: a good cup of coffee, moments of solitude in beautiful surroundings, Nordic spas, and a good rope swing. He shares practical advice on traveling on a budget, without sacrificing the greatest experiences each destination has to offer.

Big News! My Green Form is now Maps Over Coffee!


Road Trips from Kansas City: The Good, the Great, and the Absolutely Must-See!

Embark on unforgettable road trips from Kansas City with our comprehensive guide. Dive into day trips, weekend getaways, and extended holiday adventures, all sprinkled with humor and local insights. Fuel your wanderlust and hit the road!

Table of Contents

Road trips from kansas city: the unofficial center of the universe (or so we’d like to think).

Ah, Kansas City. The place where the Missouri River isn’t just a river; it’s a landmark that’s probably been a part of more selfies than the Eiffel Tower (okay, maybe that’s a stretch). But if you’re like me, every once in a while, the itch to explore beyond our great city’s borders becomes too strong to ignore. And let’s face it, while we’re the unofficial center of the universe, there’s a whole lot of North America out there waiting to be explored.

The Close Proximity Perks of Being a Kansas Citian

Now, here’s the good news for all you restless Kansas Citians: we’re in close proximity to some of the best spots in the United States. Yep, you heard it right. We’re not just famous for our barbecue (though, let’s be honest, that’s a pretty big deal). We’re also the perfect launching pad for some of the best road trips you can imagine. And if you’re wondering where to start, well, you’re in the right place.

St. Louis: More than Just an Arch Rival

First stop, St. Louis. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Isn’t that where they have that shiny arch thing?” Well, yes. But St. Louis is also a great city with a City Museum that’s so cool, it makes our own museums look like they’re still in kindergarten. And the best part? It’s just a short drive away. So, whether you’re in it for the history, the rivalry, or just some darn good food, St. Louis is a day trip worth taking.

The Great Outdoors and… Ice Cream?

Speaking of food, did you know that South Dakota is home to a botanical garden that’s so beautiful, it might just make you forget about our own local honey for a second? And if nature’s beauty isn’t enough to tempt you, there’s always the promise of ice cream. Because let’s face it, any road trip that doesn’t involve ice cream is just a car ride.

The College Town with a Main Street Vibe

But maybe you’re looking for something a bit closer to home. Enter Des Moines, the college town with a main street that’s so vibrant, you’ll wonder if you’ve stepped into a musical. With good food, great spots, and an unmistakably youthful vibe, it’s the perfect place for a day trip or a weekend getaway.

The Wild Side of Road Tripping

And for those of you with a wild side, there’s always the Tanganyika Wildlife Park. It’s one of the best places in the United States to get up close and personal with wild animals. And by “up close and personal,” I mean “take a selfie with a giraffe” level of closeness. It’s a favorite place for many Kansas Citians, and once you visit, you’ll see why.

The Road Awaits!

So, whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or just someone with a car and a sense of adventure, Kansas City is the perfect starting point for your next road trip. From the historic sites of St. Louis to the great outdoors of South Dakota, there’s a world out there waiting to be explored. And the best part? It’s all just a short drive away.

There you have it! A humorous introduction to the wonders that await beyond Kansas City. So, grab your keys, pack some snacks, and let’s hit the road!

Day Trips: A Short Drive Away (But Long Enough for a Good Playlist)

St. louis: not just an arch nemesis.

Ah, St. Louis . Our friendly neighboring city that we love to poke fun at. But let’s set the record straight: it’s a great city. And yes, they have that shiny arch thingy, but did you know they also have the City Museum? This isn’t your typical “please don’t touch” museum. Oh no. It’s more of a “climb, explore, and maybe get lost for a bit” kind of place. And the best part? It’s a short drive away. So, if you’re looking for a day trip filled with adventure (and maybe a tiny bit of rivalry), St. Louis is your place.

Des Moines: More Than Just Difficult to Spell

Next up, we have Des Moines. First things first: it’s pronounced “duh-MOYN,” not “dez moans.” Now that we’ve got that out, let’s talk about this college town. With its vibrant main street, it’s like stepping into a scene from a classic American movie. Think good food, live music, and a whole lot of charm. And if you’re wondering about tourist attractions, the botanical garden is a must-visit. It’s the perfect place to pretend you’re in a tropical paradise, even if it’s just for a few hours.

Sioux Falls: Where Nature and Ice Cream Collide

If you’re a fan of beautiful scenery (and who isn’t?), Sioux Falls should be on your radar. Nestled along the Missouri River, this city offers some of the most breathtaking views in the Midwest. But it’s not just about the views. Sioux Falls is also home to some of the best ice cream in the United States. Yes, you read that right. So, if you’re looking for a day trip that combines the great outdoors with some delicious treats, Sioux Falls is the perfect spot.

Tanganyika Wildlife Park: It’s a Zoo, But Cooler

For those of you with a wild side, the Tanganyika Wildlife Park is a must-visit. Located a short drive from Kansas City, this park offers a unique experience that’s hard to find anywhere else. Here, you can get up close and personal with some of the most exotic animals in the world. And by “up close and personal,” I mean “feed a giraffe and take a selfie with a lemur” level of closeness. It’s a favorite place for many Kansas Citians, and once you visit, you’ll understand why.

Weston Bend State Park: Nature’s Playground

Last but certainly not least, we have Weston Bend State Park. If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, this is the place for you. It’s a nature lover’s paradise with miles of trails perfect for hiking and mountain biking. And if you’re not into physical activity, that’s okay too. The park also offers some of the most beautiful scenic drives in the area. So, whether you’re looking to break a sweat or enjoy some beautiful scenery, Weston Bend State Park has something for everyone.

Wrapping Up the Day Trip Adventures

So, there you have it. Five amazing day trips that are just a short drive away from Kansas City. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or just some good old-fashioned fun, these destinations have got you covered. And the best part? They’re all close enough that you can be back in Kansas City in time for dinner. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your keys, pack a lunch, and hit the road!

Weekend Getaways: Because Two Days of Adventure is Better Than One

Lake of the ozarks: where water meets wild fun.

If you’ve ever thought, “I wish there was a place where I could enjoy water parks by day and live music by night,” then boy, do I have good news for you. Lake of the Ozarks is that magical place. By day, splash around in water parks that make you question the laws of physics. By night, groove to live music that ranges from “I know this song!” to “What on earth is this, but why can’t I stop dancing?” And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, Ha Ha Tonka State Park is waiting with its mysterious name and even more mysterious natural wonders. It’s the perfect spot for a weekend getaway that’s equal parts wet, wild, and wonderful.

Oklahoma City: Not Just OK, It’s Fantastic!

Oklahoma City, or as I like to call it, “The City of Surprises.” First surprise: the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Who knew that in the heart of OKC, you’d find a museum that rivals those in big coastal cities? And for those with a sweet tooth, there’s a local favorite ice cream shop housed in a squat yellow building that looks like it’s straight out of a fairy tale. It’s a city that keeps you guessing, and that’s what makes it one of the best places for a weekend trip.

Little Rock: Big Adventures in a Historic Town

Little Rock might sound like a quaint, sleepy town, but don’t let its name fool you. This place is brimming with energy, history, and the Buffalo National River – which is the main attraction and not an actual buffalo. Mountain bikers, get ready to pedal through trails that’ll make your heart race (both from excitement and, well, exercise). And for those who prefer a more laid-back experience, the historic downtown area is teeming with stories, shops, and some seriously good food.

Excelsior Springs: Where Relaxation is the Name of the Game

Ever had one of those weeks where you want to soak in hot springs and forget the world? Enter Excelsior Springs. This little town offers a slice of paradise for those looking to relax and rejuvenate. And once you’re done soaking, explore the new restaurants that have popped up, serving everything from gourmet dishes to local favorites. It’s the kind of place where you arrive stressed and leave feeling like you’ve had a month-long vacation.

Wisconsin Dells: Water, Water Everywhere!

If you thought Lake of the Ozarks was the only place to make a splash, think again. Wisconsin Dells is here to challenge that title with its water parks, live shows, and an entire town that feels like one big tourist attraction. Whether you’re sliding down a water slide or enjoying a live performance, there’s never a dull moment in this town. And the best part? It’s just a short drive away, making it the perfect destination for a weekend of fun.

Weekends Worth the Drive

Weekends are precious, and there’s no better way to spend them than by exploring new places. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both, these destinations offer something for everyone. And the best part? They’re all just a few hours away from Kansas City. So, pack your bags, fill up the tank, and get ready for a weekend adventure you won’t soon forget. Safe travels!

Holiday Trips: Because Extended Breaks Deserve Extended Adventures

Henry doorly zoo: not your average animal house.

When someone says “holiday,” you probably think of sandy beaches or snowy mountains. But what about a zoo? Not just any zoo, but the Henry Doorly Zoo, one of the best places in the United States for a family vacation. Here, the wild animals aren’t just exhibits; they’re celebrities with their own fan clubs (I’m looking at you, Larry the Lemur). The visitor center isn’t just a place to grab a map; it’s where you learn that conservation can be cooler than any action movie. So, swap that beach towel for a safari hat and make this zoo your next holiday destination.

Botanical Garden in South Dakota: Nature’s Own Art Gallery

Who needs the Louvre when you have South Dakota’s botanical garden? This place is a masterpiece of nature, with every flower, tree, and shrub meticulously curated. It’s the perfect place for those who appreciate nature’s beauty and those who just want a killer backdrop for their holiday photos. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some ice cream enthusiasts (like myself) trying to figure out if any of these plants are the secret ingredient to the world’s best sundae.

Roaring River State Park: More Roar, Less Snore

If your idea of a holiday involves adrenaline, Roaring River State Park is your jam. This isn’t just a park; it’s an adventure waiting to happen. From mountain biking trails that’ll test your mettle to fishing spots that promise the catch of a lifetime, there’s no room for boredom here. And for those who prefer a more laid-back holiday, the scenic drives offer views that are postcard-perfect. It’s the kind of place where every day feels like a holiday.

Rock City: Where the Past Rocks On

Step into Rock City , and you’re stepping back in time. This historic area is a living testament to the mid-19th century, where every building, street, and stone has a story to tell. But this isn’t just a place for history buffs. With an entire town dedicated to a bygone era, even the most tech-obsessed will be swapping their smartphones for old-timey hats and canes. It’s the perfect place for an overnight stay, a dance with history, and maybe even a ghost story or two.

National Park Service Sites: The Ultimate Holiday Checklist

If you’re the kind of person who has a bucket list for holidays, the National Park Service sites are your goldmine. These sites offer a smorgasbord of experiences from breathtaking landscapes to historic landmarks. Whether you’re looking to hike, explore, or sit back and soak in the beauty, there’s a site for every kind of holidaymaker. And the best part? With so many sites to choose from, every holiday can be a new adventure.

Wrapping Up: Holidays That Make History

So, there you have it. Five destinations that promise holidays like no other. Whether you’re looking to explore the wild, dive into history, or relax and rejuvenate, these places have got you covered. And while they might be a bit further than our usual weekend getaways, they promise memories that’ll last a lifetime. So, pack your bags, mark your calendars, and prepare for a holiday worth every mile of the journey. Safe travels and happy holidays!

Conclusion: The Road Less Traveled (But Totally Worth It)

Kansas city: the launchpad to limitless adventures.

As we wrap up this whirlwind tour of destinations, let’s take a moment to appreciate our starting point: good ol’ Kansas City. While we’ve ventured near and far, it’s always comforting to know that our beloved KC is waiting for us, with its familiar skyline and the tantalizing aroma of barbecues wafting through the air.

From Day Trips to Dreamy Holidays

Whether it’s a quick day trip to St. Louis to settle once and for all who has the better baseball team (hint: it’s us), a weekend escapade to the water wonderland of Wisconsin Dells, or an extended holiday soaking in the rich history of Rock City, there’s a world out there waiting to be explored. And the beauty of it all? Each destination, no matter how near or far, offers its own unique flavor, stories, and experiences.

The Journey is Half the Fun

While the destinations are undoubtedly spectacular, let’s not forget the joy of the journey itself. The open road, the perfect playlist, the unexpected pit stops (because who can resist that quirky ice cream parlor or the world’s largest rubber band ball?), and of course, the company. Whether it’s family, friends, or just you and your thoughts, road trips create memories that last a lifetime.

Ready, Set, Road Trip!

So, fellow Kansas Citians and travelers at heart, remember that adventure is just a drive away the next time wanderlust strikes. With so many incredible destinations within reach, choosing where to go first is the hardest decision. But no matter where the road takes you, one thing’s for sure: adventure awaits, stories beckon, and memories are just waiting to be made.

Here’s to the open road, the adventures it promises, and the stories yet to be told. Happy traveling!

Sidebars/Boxes: The Little Nuggets of Wisdom for Your Road Trip Adventures

Good news for foodies: the culinary pit stops.

Every road trip is incomplete without indulging in some lip-smacking delicacies. From the local favorite ice cream shops to the hidden gem diners in small towns, a world of flavors is waiting to be explored. Whether you’re craving Kansas City’s iconic barbecue or the fresh catch of the day near the Buffalo National River, there’s a dish for every palate. So, loosen that belt and dive into each destination’s culinary wonders.

Biking Enthusiasts: Pedal Your Way Through

For those who believe two wheels are better than four, rejoice! Many of our highlighted destinations offer scenic biking trails. From the rugged mountain biking paths in Little Rock to the serene trails along the Missouri River, there’s a route for every level of cyclist. Don’t forget to pack your helmet, and maybe a picnic basket, because these trails promise views you’ll want to savor.

For the History Buffs: Time Travel Made Easy

Who needs a time machine when you have these historic sites at your fingertips? Dive deep into the mid-19th-century charm of Rock City, explore the tales behind the iconic landmarks in St. Louis, or stroll through the historic downtown areas of our featured destinations. Each spot offers a unique glimpse into the past, making history come alive in the most enchanting way.

Local Honey and Delicacies: Sweeten the Deal

There’s nothing like tasting the local flavors to truly connect with a place. And what’s sweeter than honey? From farm-fresh local honey in Excelsior Springs to artisanal treats in small towns, these sweet spots are a must-visit. Whether you drizzle it on your morning toast or enjoy it straight from the jar, this liquid gold is sure to make your trip even sweeter.

Tips for Travel: Smooth Sailing on the Road

The journey is as important as the destination. To ensure your road trip is smooth and enjoyable, here are some quick tips:

  • Easy Access: Always check the accessibility of your chosen destinations. Some spots might require a 4×4, while others are just a short walk from the parking lot.
  • Overnight Stay: Research the best places for an overnight stay. Whether you’re into luxury resorts, cozy bed and breakfasts, or camping under the stars, there’s a perfect spot for every traveler.
  • Local Insights: Chat with the locals. They often have the best recommendations for hidden gems, from eateries to attractions.
  • Safety First: Always keep a basic first-aid kit in your car, stay updated with the weather forecasts, and inform someone about your travel plans.

With these sidebars and boxes, you’re equipped with destinations and the little tidbits that make every journey memorable. Here’s to road trips filled with discoveries, delights, and a dash of wisdom! Safe travels!

Road Trips from Kansas City: The Good, the Great, and the Absolutely Must-See!

Navigating through life, or as I like to call it, stumbling through a travel brochure, I’ve bounced from one continent to another like a ping pong ball. From riding a camel around the pyramids and getting lost in Cairo’s bazaars, to scuba diving wrecks off Florida, mingling with sharks in Roatan, and admiring Cozumel’s coral reefs. And amidst this whirlwind of adventure, I find time to scribble it all down in a blog, because what’s a near-death experience with a dolphin if you can’t brag about it online, right? So here’s to cheap travels, history lessons in every port, and unforgettable under-the-sea encounters. May my suitcase always be packed and my oxygen tank never be empty!

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9 Incredible Weekend Getaways You Absolutely Must Take From Kansas City

long weekend trips from kansas city

Born and raised Kansan, Clarisa has lived in both tiny towns and cities during their time here in the Sunflower State. As a busy mother of one crazy kid, two cats, and two geckos, they write whenever there is spare time.

More by this Author

Do you have any vacation days just waiting to be used? These weekend getaways are the perfect thing to try when you can’t seem to choose what to do with your time. In just a few hours, you can be at your destination and ready to enjoy your weekend away. Unless you want to stay longer, that is! We’ve organized them by distance from Kansas City to make it easy to pick how far you’d like to travel:

long weekend trips from kansas city

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You Could Easily Spend All Weekend At This Enormous Kansas City Flea Market

You Could Easily Spend All Weekend At This Enormous Kansas City Flea Market

long weekend trips from kansas city

If you’re looking for a shorter trip away from home instead of a day or two away, you should check out some of these amazing hiking trails right around Kansas City.

Where’s your favorite spot for a weekend getaway? Share your suggestions in the comments below. Happy travels!

OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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She Saves She Travels

16 Best Midwest Road Trips – Scenic Routes You Can’t Miss

Posted on Published: May 25, 2020  - Last updated: February 9, 2024

Ahhh, the Midwest. Vast landscapes with beautiful scenery, the ability to connect with nature and fun attractions. One of the best ways to explore the middle of the USA is with a Midwest road trip!

midwest road trip photo of lake with tan sand trees and reflection of cloudy sky

This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, see my  disclosures .

For those of us who live here, we know there’s so much to offer. Our waving grasses with rolling hills make for beautiful, peaceful sunsets. Gorgeous lakes simply begged to be explored.

Our cities each have something unique to offer, and mix that with Midwest charm, it makes for a great place for a road trip!

Midwest road trip ideas

I’ve explored many places across the Midwest, but I haven’t covered it all. So I turned to other experts to help me out to create this list of best Midwest road trips!

Here’s a bunch of Midwest road trip ideas, ranging from 2 days to 10. From outdoorsy to artsy, there’s truly something for everyone in the Midwest!

minneapolis to omaha road trip

List of Midwestern States

But before we dive in, let’s clarify the states that cover the Midwest to help you plan your trip:

  • Indiana (IN)
  • Illinois (IL)
  • Missouri (MO)
  • Kansas (KS)
  • Nebraska (NE)
  • South Dakota (SD)
  • North Dakota (ND)
  • Minnesota (MN)
  • Wisconsin (WI)
  • Michigan (MI)

Looking for more Midwest adventures? Check out these 16 trails – the best hiking in the Midwest !

Ready to hit the road? Here’s the best Midwest road trips

Black hills, south dakota (a classic).

Roadtrip to Mount Rushmore

Recommended trip: 7-10 days

The Black Hills in South Dakota is one of the best places for a road trip in the Midwest.  There is so much to see and do, you could easily spend months here, but for a shorter trip, 7-10 days would be great.

Rapid City is probably the best place to fly in and out of for a Black Hills trip. I would start with a couple of days in Badlands National Park .  Spend the night in Wall, visit Wall Drug and the Badlands from here, then head over to Wind Cave National Park.

Spend a night or 2 in Hot Springs to easily access the park where you can do some hiking, look for bison, and do a cave tour. Make a stop at the Mammoth site while you’re here, too.

Finally, head to Keystone for a few days. This is the perfect base for exploring the Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park area. 

Some of the must-do activities here are visiting Mount Rushmore (of course), driving Iron Mountain Road , driving the Needles Highway, driving the Custer Wildlife Loop Road, hiking Cathedral Spires Trail, and relaxing at Sylvan Lake. If you want a little side trip, you can easily visit Devils Tower in Wyoming, too.  

Recommended by Megan of Red Around the World

Chicago to St. Louis road trip

Bean in Chicago

Recommended trip: 4-6 days

Driving from Chicago, Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri should be on any midwest road trip. This journey is part of Route 66, one of the original highways in the United States. Route 66 was the primary route for people wishing to move west. Opt to spend one day driving this four and a half-hour drive, or break it up and spend the night in Springfield, Illinois.  

For this journey, start in Chicago. Make sure to spend at least 3 days in Chicago. Stay in the centrally located Downtown/River North area. Do not miss the Art Institute of Chicago and the Field Museum.

Grab some pictures at “The Bean” in Millenium Park. Daredevils can opt for “The Edge” experience at the Skydeck or the Tilt Experience at the John Hancock Building. 

In the morning depart Chicago to drive south towards Springfield, the capital of Illinois . Stop by the capitol building and take a free tour of the building.

Visit Abraham Lincoln’s grave at Oak Ridge Cemetery and then visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Grab a custard at Krekel’s before heading onward to St. Louis, Missouri. 

Plan to spend at least 2 days in St. Louis to explore the main sites. Plan to stay in the Downtown area. Ride to the top of the St. Louis Arch at Gateway Arch National Park.

Take a peek into history at the Old Courthouse, where the Dread Scott decision was made. Make sure to eat some delicious BBQ before departing St. Louis.

Recommended by Francesca of Home Room Travel

You might also like: 101 Road Trip Food Ideas: Best Fun and Healthy Snacks You’ll Love

Indianapolis, IN to Boyne City, MI

skiing on Boyne Mountain

Recommended trip: 2-3 days

Ready for a fantastic Midwest road trip? Regardless of the time of year, driving from Indianapolis, Indiana to Boyne City, MI is a perfect way to enjoy a long weekend.

Day one, you’ll want to get up early and head to Lansing, MI. It’s about 3.5 hours from Indy, so if you time it right, be sure to stop for lunch at Soup Spoon Cafe – a flight of soup is a fun way to start your mini-vacation. Next, if you have younger kids, head over to the Impression 5 Science Center – they’ll love the full sensory experiences. 

After the museum, finish your drive north and check-in at Boyne Mountain for the night. Enjoy a full day of exploring Boyne Mountain and nearby Boyne City the next day. If it’s winter, hit the slopes for a little skiing or even tubing.

If it’s summertime, enjoy hiking, ziplining, or swimming. Downtown Boyne City is situated right on Lake Charlevoix and the town is full of delicious restaurants such as Cafe Sante and Red Mesa as well as unique local boutiques.

Leave Boyne Mountain, and head over to Petoskey for your final day. Start it off right with amazing bagels and donuts at Johann’s Bakery and then hurry over to the main Kilwins location for a factory tour. Kilwin’s offers free tours Monday – Friday every half-hour from 10 – 4:30, and each one ends with a decadent chocolate treat.

After the tour, spend a little time poking around downtown Petoskey for lunch and to pick up a few Michigan souvenirs before heading back to Indianapolis.

Recommended by Pam of Our Adventure is Everywhere

You might also like: Road Trip with Kids: 15 Essentials to Pack

Central Iowa road trip

Iowa state capitol building

We highly recommend taking a road trip through Central Iowa. You’ll pass through  Des Moines , Iowa’s capital and other smaller towns that have some fun and interesting attractions.

Heading east along I-80, your first stop should be the town of Winterset. It’s famous for having the  actual  bridges of Madison County. Six of the original 19 covered bridges in Madison County have been preserved just outside of town. Winterset is also the birthplace of John Wayne. There is a museum dedicated to him, with lots of personal and movie memorabilia.

Continuing east, you reach Des Moines. We love this artsy city! It’s easy to find street art there and downtown has a 4.4-acre sculpture park that is free to the public. There’s also a really lovely botanical garden in Des Moines.

Of course, visiting the Capitol Building is a must. You can do a free self-guided tour and marvel at the building’s incredible architecture.

The next stop on your road trip should be the town of Grinnell. Home to Grinnell College, they have a small but impressive art museum on campus.

Grinnell is also the home of one of eight “jewel-box” banks built by legendary architect Louis Sullivan. He is considered the father of modern American architecture and mentored Frank Lloyd Wright. The bank is beautiful, with large stained-glass windows and pink Tennessee marble floors.

Recommended by Vicky of Buddy The Traveling Monkey

More road trip destinations in the Midwest

St. louis to kansas city.

St Louis arch

Recommended trip: 3-5 days

While many people think of Missouri as a fly-over state, it’s full of not-to-be-missed gems, from St. Louis to Kansas City. So why not see some of them in one fell swoop with a 5-day road trip?

Start in St. Louis, a city bursting with historic architecture and a thriving food and cocktail scene. Spend 2 days here, exploring the City Museum, an adult playground/art installation of interactive salvaged architectural objects. Visit Forest Park, one of the country’s largest urban parks and its world-class museums, all boasting free admission. And, of course, the Missouri Botanical Gardens, consistently ranked one of the best in the nation.

At night, eat your way through the exploding culinary landscape, with one of the many restaurants helmed by James Beard nominated chefs, like Vicia or Lona’s Lil’ Eats.

Once you’ve gotten your fill, drive west to Hermann, a tiny town that has several wineries, breweries, and distilleries nestled in its idyllic grassy hills. For just $20, the Hermann Trolley will shuttle you between these establishments all day, so you can responsibly imbibe in as many craft beverages as you please.

After a day here, finish your trip with 2 days in Kansas City, famous for its jazz scene. To get a taste of it yourself, head to the American Jazz Museum during the day and the Green Lady Lounge at night to see some of the world’s best musicians in action. By the end of the trip, you’ll be ecstatic to have discovered some of the Show Me State’s abundant treasures! 

Recommended by Jessica of Uprooted Traveler

Oh, and if you’re planning to rent a car for one of these Midwest road trip routes, be sure to check out the cheap rates on Discover Cars . I usually save 10-30%, which can really add up! Discover Cars searches the top carriers to find the best deal, at no extra cost to you. It’s a win-win! Search cheap rental cars now .

Milwaukee to Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells

One of the best Midwest road trips you can take is exploring the highlights of Wisconsin. The ideal road trip itinerary takes you from Milwaukee to Green Bay and ends in Wisconsin Dells.

Start your road trip in Milwaukee , but you can’t leave without spending at least 2 days in this vibrant city. As a matter of fact, people flood from all over the United States to visit Milwaukee for its food, attractions and history.

Must do’s are the Harley Davidson Museum and the historic Third Ward.  Stay in the iconic Pfister Hotel in downtown.

From here you finally head out to the beautiful North of Wisconsin. Along the Michigan river you’ll cross scenic towns such as Port Washington. When you arrive in Green Bay, get ready to explore this vibrant town located in Door County. 

Some of the best things to do here are visiting the Heritage Hill State Park and watch a game by the legendary Green Bay Packers. Plan at least 1 day to visit the city and all the best things to do in Door County .

From Green Bay you’ll drive to Wisconsin Dells which is famous for its waterparks. However, there is so much more to do here. From shopping to hiking in the Dells or staying overnight in one of the  most romantic cabins in Wisconsin , there will be plenty of options to spend at least 2 days in Wisconsin Dells.

Recommended by Paulina of Paulina on the Road

Southern Minnesota road trip

Southern Minnesota - Fairmont

Eat, relax and have fun in Southern Minnesota! Enjoy a food lovers paradise in Austin, Minnesota. Known for having some of the best Mexican food in the state of Minnesota, Austin is also known for award-winning BBQ sauces, french onion soup and stuffed raspberry french toast.

Want to have a food challenge, then be sure to stop by the Tendermaid. Also, don’t forget to visit the one and only SPAM Museum ! Yes – it’s real and there are nearly 20 restaurants with SPAM on the menu.

Then sit back, relax and enjoy the view in Fairmont, Minnesota . Home to a chain of 5 lakes and 29 parks in city limits, Fairmont provides you that opportunity to become one with nature. Explore lakeside dining, outdoor recreation and an arts and culture scene that is sure to impress .

Next discover how  Germans Have More Fun  in New Ulm! Enjoy a road trip through the MN River Valley National Scenic Byway to the most German city in America.

In New Ulm you can climb 102’ to the top of the ‘Herman the German’ monument. Enjoy a tour/tasting at Schell’s Brewery, MN’s oldest brewery. Shop the unique boutiques in the historic downtown. Hear bells chime at our Glockenspiel. See the 1873 murals in the rathskeller at Turner Hall. 

With so much to do in Southern Minnesota, there’s something for everyone!

Read next: How to Save Money for Travel: Your Vacation Savings Plan

Richmond, IN to Butler County, OH

Lake Erie Islands - aerial view

If you’re looking for a cool trip, head to Indiana and Ohio! Starting off in Richmond, Indiana, visit the Wayne County Historical Museum and the Levi Coffin House. Be sure to hear their amazing story of the Underground Railroad!

Stay at the Starr Loft in Richmond before heading to Ohio. On your way to Ohio’s Lake Erie Islands, take a diversion into Bremen at the Bicycle Museum of America. Then onto the Marblehead Lighthouse in Marblehead, Ohio where this historic lighthouse guided sailors safely since 1822.

That night stay at Port Clinton’s Fairfield Inn & Suites. The next morning, head over to Ohio’s Lake Erie Islands. Take Miller Boat Line’s Ferry to Put-in-Bay where you can ferry your car over to the island.

Visit Perry’s Peace Memorial which honors the War of 1812. Check out the view up the 352-foot tower! The memorial honors those who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie. The next day, on Kellys Island, take a tour in a golf cart to check out natural phenomenons like the Glacial Grooves.

Be sure to hang out for an afternoon in Downtown Sandusky, Ohio . Take a Segway tour, visit Cedar Point Amusement Park, visit the Merry-Go-Round Museum or go parasailing.

Last stop on this road trip is Butler County, Ohio! Enjoy the Donut Trail and tour outdoor art at the Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park.

Recommended by Cindy of Traveling Adventures of a Farm Girl

Related read: Best Midwest Camping Spots

Loess Hills Scenic Byway (Missouri to Iowa)

Loess Hills road trip overlook

The Loess Hills Scenic Byway takes its travelers through the most extensive loess (essentially, ancient wind-blown silt deposits) outside a remote region of China! While the byway officially starts at the Iowa state border, the hills themselves run north-south a bit east of the Missouri River, from St. Joseph, Missouri to the Sioux City, Iowa area, passing near Omaha, Nebraska in the middle of the journey.

Each of these cities are destinations in their own right, and combined, they make a road trip full of scenic views and ample entertaining places to stop along the way.  

In St. Joe, Missouri, local museums provide fascinating looks at the history of the Pony Express, the art of Thomas Hart Benton (often depicting loess hills!) and the life of the nefarious Jesse James. Near Mound City, Missouri, visit the Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge to see waterfowl and bald eagles.

The Hitchcock Nature Center near Omaha and the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center in Sioux City provide more information about the unique geology, flora, and fauna of the Loess Hills along with opportunities for hiking, boating, and more!

For ideal cruising food, try Billy Boy Drive-through just a few miles from the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center in Soiux City for a burger and a shake! 

Recommended by Lindsay of Siouxland Families

More ideas: Midwest road trips

Minneapolis to omaha.

midwest road trip ideas

Recommended trip: 4-5 days

Get a nice mix of cities and wide open spaces on a Midwest road trip from Minneapolis to Omaha. Starting in Minneapolis, you’ll want to spend 1-2 days visiting the lakes, restaurants and of course, checking out the Mall of America .

Visit the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in downtown and grab an ice cream cone at Izzy’s Ice Cream . The largest mall in North America (Mall of America) is a whole lot more than shopping, too. With an indoor amusement park, it’s the perfect activity for any weather.

Then hit the road! Next stop: Northwestern Iowa. Stop in Estherville, Iowa for a rustic winery , experience an 80-year old swinging bridge or to visit the site of the largest known meteorite seen crashing into North America.

You could stay in Esterville for the night, or head about half an hour west to Lake Okoboji. In Okoboji, Iowa you’ll find shopping, dining and a bunch of water activities , of course! Try the Arnold’s Park Amusement Park or live music after a day on the water.

Next on this Midwest road trip is Sioux City, Iowa. Grab lunch or dinner at the Fourth Street Historic District in downtown Sioux City , catch a show at the Orpheum Theatre or visit Palmer’s Old Tyme Candy Shoppe for a sweet treat before leaving town.

Omaha, Nebraska is the final destination on this Midwest road trip itinerary. You’ll want to spend 1-2 days visiting this fun city. Omaha is known as the silicone prarie, a tech hub that’s family-friendly, yet trendy enough to support a vibrant art scene and plenty of outdoor space.

One of the best things to do in Omaha is to visit the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium , It’s the largest tourist attraction in the state, and regularly competes with the San Diego Zoo as the #1 zoo in the country! It really is that fantastic!

Check out North America’s largest indoor rain forest, feed the giraffes, walk under sharks in the aquarium and watch the animals in the world’s largest indoor desert dome. Tip: be sure to buy your tickets in advance online and arrive early to avoid the crowds as best as you can.

Get a good tour of the city while taking fun photos at the most Instagrammable places in Omaha . Spend some time wandering the Lauritzen Gardens or check out the Fun-Plex Waterpark.

For some mystery check out the Joslyn Castle , and for some history visit the Lewis and Clark Landing. The Old Market in downtown is the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat after a long day touring the city.

Recommended by me! Nikki of She Saves She Travels

Duluth to Grand Marais, Minnesota

lake superior road trip

Recommended trip: 1-2 days

A Minnesota road trip on Highway 61 between Duluth and Grand Marais will offer you amazing views of Lake Superior, numerous options for a delicious bite to eat, and some can’t miss attractions .

As you leave Duluth, choose the 24-mile scenic route to Two Harbors, and take in the view of Lake Superior along the way. In Two Harbors you can walk along the breakwater to the lighthouse, and watch the ore ships coming and going. Enjoy a local brew at Castle Danger Brewery after doing some shopping in Agate Bay.

Just north of Two Harbors is Betty’s Pies and you don’t want to miss stopping here ! This is a full service restaurant, but they also have a walk up counter where you can order their famous pie. The pie flavors change every day, but you definitely want to try the Great Lakes Fruit Pie . This pie is filled with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, apples, and rhubarb and it is one of a kind.

It is 11 miles to the next stop, in Castle Danger, but get your camera ready because you’ll be driving through 2 large tunnels, and the exits of both perfectly frame Lake Superior. 

Castle Danger is home to Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse State Parks. You can learn a little history of the area while touring the lighthouse and take a hike down the hillside to dip your toes in the cool Lake Superior water.

Gooseberry Falls State Park has 5 waterfalls that you can hike to, and a very nice visitor center to buy some souvenirs at.

Along the remaining 72 miles to Grand Marais, take the time to stop at a beach or two to hunt for agates. The beaches along the North Shore are loaded with agates and it’s fun to find a few to bring home.  

The city of Grand Marais has a main street full of local shops that ends on the shore of Lake Superior.  The beach is a popular spot to watch the water, and to eat a delicious donut from World’s Best Donuts or maybe you’ll want a slice of thin crust pizza from Sven and Ole’s.  

Grand Marais is also the start of the Gunflint Trail. This is a 57-mile paved roadway that ends in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area near the border of Ontario.

This 110 mile road trip between Duluth and Grand Marais can be made in one day, but why not take your time and really discover the beauty of Lake Superior and the North Shore.

Recommended by Vicki of That Was a First

I-70 Kansas road trip: Abilene to Kansas City

Brown V Board of Education National Historic Site

Recommended trip: 2-4 days

Enjoy a wealth of historic, cultural, and recreational activities along Interstate 70 in northern Kansas. Start in Abilene, Kansas with visiting the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home. Head over to pet Ginger, the greeter at the Greyhound Hall of Fame. Enjoy award-winning fried chicken at the Brookville Hotel.

Next stop along I-70 in Kansas is Junction City, home to Milford Lake and the Fishing Capital of Kansas. Tour Fort Riley’s museums, but prepare for security. Eat Munson-raised, dry-aged beef at Munson’s Prime restaurant, a local favorite. A perfect spot to call it a night is by the lake at Acorns Resort.

Then you’ll hit Manhattan, Kansas. For high adventure, fly zip lines at Wildwood Adventure Park. Afterwards, relax and eat and drink at Liquid Art Winery & Estate!

Slide into Topeka, Kansas where you can dive into history and visit the state capitol and the national historic site where the Supreme Court reversed segregation in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka . A great way to end the day is with elegance at the Cyrus Hotel.

As you head east on I-70, you’ll get to Lecompton, Kansas. Learn more about where slavery began to die at Constitution Hall State Historic Site and the Territorial Capitol. Then lighten things back up by grabbing a slice of gourmet pie at Aunt Netter’s Cafe. Delicious!

Next up is Lawrence, Kansas and downtown is the place to be! Experience downtown Lawrence during the day or night. See basketball’s original rules at The Cradle of Basketball. And if you’re looking for a brewery, Free State Brewing Co. is Kansas’ first post-prohibition brewery. Stay at in the heart of Lawrence at The Oread.

The final stop on this Northern Kansas road trip before arriving at Kansas City is Leavenworth, Kansas. Visit Fort Leavenworth, or ride antique carousels at C.W. Parker Carousel Museum. A must-try in Leavenworth is the steak house tenderloin at Metropolitan Steakhouse.

Wrapping up the I-70 Kansas road trip is of course, Kansas City! Enjoy the major leagues: sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park and NASCAR at Kansas Speedway. Eat top-notch barbecue at SLAP’s BBQ. After a great road trip in Kansas, stay in the Chateau Avalon.    

Recommended by Roxie of Roxie on the Road

Midwest road trip: Missouri Route 66

Missouri Route 66 road trip

While most people think of a  Route 66  Road Trip as starting in Chicago and ending in Santa Monica, you don’t need to take two weeks and traverse half the country to get in a taste of the Mother Road. Instead, you can pick a portion and explore it in-depth.

Missouri has a great stretch of Route 66 right here in the Midwest. It starts in the northeast crossing over from Illinois into St. Louis and ends at the Oklahoma border after passing through Joplin.

Obviously the most iconic site on Missouri’s portion of Route 66 is the Gateway Arch, which practically welcomes you onto the road. Make sure to tour Meramec Caverns , see the one-room jail in Cuba, and explore the interesting history of Carthage. 

Take advantage of the fun roadside kitsch of the route and get out at as many stops as you can. A real Route 66 road trip means you need to spend a few nights in the state’s retro motels and enjoy some diners and dive bars.

Recommended by Stephanie of Oklahoma Wonders

Driftless Area Scenic Byway (Iowa)

Driftless scenic byway and visitor center

Recommended trip: 1-3 days

Allamakee County is the home to the most scenic byway in the state of Iowa, Driftless Area Scenic Byway. This beautiful scenic byway zigzags its way on hard-surfaced and gravel roads through the high relief, pre-glacial landscape in extreme northeastern Iowa in Allamakee County. 

This byway has been voted most scenic byway in the state of Iowa . It’s 100 miles of amazing! Along the Driftless Area Scenic Byway you will find…

Effigy Mounds National Monument , the 2,526-acre park by the Yellow River has walking trails with modest to extended routes, allowing you to select your route and view a variety of mounds. An accessible boardwalk trail into the wetlands near the visitor center is available for persons of all walking abilities.

Yellow River State Forest was first acquired as a state forest in 1935, the Yellow River State Forest has grown to encompass nearly 9,000 acres of natural beauty.

Great River Road , where you can enjoy 36.2 miles of the Great River Road in Allamakee County. You will discover the best of the Great River Road right here!

Driftless Area Education & Visitor Center , where you’ll see live animals, interpretative displays, 2 viewing decks of the Mississippi River, and a great group educational experience.  Located just south of Lansing.

This Midwest road trip takes your scenic adventure to another level with:

  • Wine Tasting – Madigan Winery, Lansing & Empty Nest Winery, Waukon
  • Bird Watching
  • Beer Tasting – Safe House Saloon in Lansing
  • Trout Fishing
  • Cheese Curd Tour – WW Homestead Dairy in Waukon
  • Shopping – Horsfall’s in Lansing, Paint Creek Gifts in Waterville and City Meat Market inNew Albin

Recommended by Val of Allamakee County

Take these tips with you! Download the free road trip checklist!

Grab your packing essentials for every road trip with kids. Includes the 15 things you don’t want to forget!

long weekend trips from kansas city

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Triple Nickel Byway (Ohio)

midwest road trip attractions ohio

Winding through the southern part of Ohio is the  Triple Nickel  which encompasses parts of State Route 555. If you’ve never been on this scenic, twisting by-way through the hills of Ohio, you need to put it on your bucket list! This is a perfect day trip that takes you from the picturesque town of Zanesville to the history-rich city of Marrietta.  

The Triple Nickel is one of the more challenging roads in Ohio, but you can take in some of the amazing historical sites when you’re in the area. While touring through Morgan County you can see the Big Muskie bucket part of the world’s largest earth-moving machine in Miner’s Memorial Park and Barkhurst Mill Covered Bridge.  

No trip on the Triple Nickel is complete without stopping to eat at the Triple Nickel Diner in Chesterhill. Pro-tip: Make sure to check their website for the hours of operation because they vary with the seasons.  

If you’re looking for a great place to stay while on the route, take a small detour to the  Stockport Mill Inn located in Stockport, Ohio . You’ll be treated to stunning views of the Muskingum River and the operating locks. Dotty, the owner, will treat you like family and feed you amazing comfort foods only found at the Inn.

The Triple Nickel doesn’t disappoint the road tripper looking for a challenge in the Midwest.

Recommended by Brandy of Gleason Family Adventure

Madison to Spring Green, Wisconsin

Madison WI road trip Midwest

One of the most exciting small cities in the Midwest is  Madison, Wisconsin . It has a wonderful dining scene and miles of shoreline and bike trails.

A culmination of a college-town and a bustling city, Madison is also home one of America’s most beloved architects: Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright used Madison and its neighborhoods as a canvas, where visitors can see his many designs come to life. Although several of Madison’s Wright-designed houses are private residences, designs like the First Unitarian Meeting Houses and Monona Terrace are must-see spots for any architectural buffs! Both buildings are just a short 10-minute drive away.

If you want to see more of the city’s art scene , visit either the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art or the Chazen Museum of Art! Both museums boast both Wisconsin-based artists, as well as international artists too. Furthermore, admission is free for adults, making this the perfect stop for anyone that loves to travel on a budget. 

While you’re in Madison we also highly recommend grabbing tacos from Matthew Danky and his exciting outpost El Grito Tacqueria.  

From Madison, drive about 40 minutes to the quaint town of New Glarus , Wisconsin. The main attraction here is New Glarus Brewing, one of the most highly regarded breweries by beer snobs across the country so make sure to spend a few hours there. 

New Glarus also has rich Swiss heritage. Explore and find an authentic Swiss bakery or locally made raclette and cheese fondue.

Our last stop is very enjoyable Spring Green, an hour away down winding country roads.  Frank Lloyd Wright spent the better part of his life living and working in Spring Green and maintained a school at Taliesin. Wright’s students designed many unique buildings in and around Spring Green.

Recommended by Nick of Road Goat

16 best Midwest road trips

Well there you have it! I hope you’ve found some inspiration on which route you’ll take on your upcoming Midwest road trip! Midwest states have a lot to offer for any type of road trip you’re looking for!

Comment below on which you’re considering – or which route surprised you most!

You might also like: Best Hiking in the Midwest – 16 Cool Hikes You’ll Love Denver to Moab Road Trip: 16 Scenic Stops You Gotta See to Believe 27 Awesome Things to Do in Sandusky, Ohio You Can’t Miss Perfect Colorado Itinerary: 22 Road Trip Stops You Need to See Miami to Key West Road Trip: 22 Stops Along the Way 26 Best Places to Visit in October in the US

Planning to rent a car for one of these scenic routes? Check out the cheap rental car rates on my favorite site. I save up to 30%, which is awesome!

Find this article helpful? Save it for later or share it on social media!

16 USA road trip routes you need to add to your list

Saturday 25th of September 2021

Awesome. I'm wanting to take a scenic drive from Kansas to Ohio, off the beaten path. What are your recommendations?

Sunday 26th of September 2021

Where in Kansas and Ohio? I've spent time in Kansas City and St. Louis which may be along the way, but aren't necessarily off the beaten path. Perhaps a bit more southern, I've heard the Mark Twain National Forest and Shawnee National Forest are both gorgeous! Otherwise I've recently spent time in Sandusky Ohio, Put-in-Bay Ohio and the Lake Erie area. I'm sorry, I'm not sure I have a whole lot of suggestions for that specific route since I haven't personally done it. Best of luck on your road trip!

Alice Peace

Wednesday 27th of January 2021

Thank you for this! A road-trip in the States is definitely on the cards in the future.

Yay! How fun, Alice. I'm crossing my fingers it's soon!

Pamela Foester

Tuesday 12th of January 2021

I love exploring the Midwest, thanks for sharing.

You're so welcome, Pamela!

Tuesday 25th of August 2020

You missed a Gem of the Midwest. Part of the Driftless region on NE Iowa you need to check out the town of Decorah and the area around it. River bluffs, water falls, bike trails, 3 award winning breweries, big Scandinavian culture and museum.

Wednesday 26th of August 2020

Great suggestion! I've heard of Decorah but have never been!

Christa Ellis

Tuesday 9th of June 2020

I love that you included the Levi Coffin House. I have a post about it on my blog. Levi Coffin was a distant cousin to me through his grandmother Prudence Beals/Bales.

Friday 12th of June 2020

Oh very cool! What a small world, Christa! My pleasure to feature it. :)


  • Destinations

17 Best Romantic Weekend Getaways from Kansas City, Missouri

Last Updated By VI on April 23, 2024 in Missouri Day Trips & Weekend Getaways , Map This post may contain affiliate links. Affiliate Disclosure

The Inn at Hermannhof, Hermann

Cedar crest lodge, pleasanton, ks, ophelia’s restaurant & inn, hermann hill.

  • Complete List & Map

The Inn at Hermannhof, Hermann

237 E. 1st Street, Hermann, Missouri 65041, 573 486 5199, Map

Cedar Crest Lodge, Pleasanton, KS

25939 E. 1000th Rd, Pleasanton, KS 66075, 913 352 6533, Map

Ophelia’s Restaurant & Inn

201 N. Main, Independence, MO , 816-461-4525 , Map

Hermann Hill

Discover beautiful parks nearby .

Clover Cliff Ranch Bed and Breakfast, Elmdale, KS

Clover Cliff Ranch Bed and Breakfast, Elmdale, KS

826A Highway 50, Elmdale, KS 66850, 620 343 0621, Map

Beaver Lake Cottages

Beaver Lake Cottages

More Day Trips in Missouri

The Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks

The Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks

1 Opportunity Avenue, Point Lookout, MO, 417-239-1900 , Map

Amber House Bed and Breakfast

Amber House Bed and Breakfast

More ideas: Best Missouri Beaches

Lehmann House Bed and Breakfast

Lehmann House Bed and Breakfast

If you are interested in history, watch this fascinating video about the origins of The Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

Depot Inn and Suites, La Plata, MO

Depot Inn and Suites, La Plata, MO

Depot Inn and Suites , 1245 N. Brown Street, La Plata, MO 63549, 660 332 4669

Angel at Rose Hall

Angel at Rose Hall

Angel at Rose Hall , 46 Hillside Avenue, Eureka Springs, AR, 479-253-5405

Grand Central Hotel

Grand Central Hotel

Grand Central Hotel , 215 Broadway, Cottonwood Falls, KS, 620-273-6763

The Inn at Rose Hall

The Inn at Rose Hall

More ideas: Best Missouri State Parks

Old Kinderhook Resort, Golf Club and Spa, Camdenton, MO

Old Kinderhook Resort, Golf Club and Spa, Camdenton, MO

Located at Lake of the Ozarks in the heart of Missouri, Old Kinderhook Resort, Golf Club and Spa has everything you need for a great weekend getaway. Active couples will love being surrounded by more than 700 acres of beautiful landscape, a premier golf club and a lake for boating and other water sports. In winter you can lace up your skates and enjoy the ice skating rink. You can choose a comfortable Lodge room overlooking the golf course or opt for more space and privacy in one of the Golf Villas or Rental Cottages. On-site amenities include indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs, a fitness center, golf course and a Marina. 678 Old Kinderhook Dr, Camdenton, MO 65020, 573 317 3500, Map

Camden on the Lake Resort, Spa, & Yacht Club

Camden on the Lake Resort, Spa, & Yacht Club

More ideas: Family-Friendly Missouri

The Elms Hotel and Spa, Excelsior Springs, MO

The Elms Hotel and Spa, Excelsior Springs, MO

More ideas: Hotels & Resorts in Missouri

The Tiger Hotel, Columbia

The Tiger Hotel, Columbia

The Tiger Hotel , 23 S. 8th Street, Columbia, MO 65201, 573 875 8888

The Tiger Hotel, Columbia

  • 1. The Inn at Hermannhof, Hermann
  • 2. Cedar Crest Lodge, Pleasanton, KS
  • 3. Ophelia’s Restaurant & Inn
  • 4. Hermann Hill
  • 5. Clover Cliff Ranch Bed and Breakfast, Elmdale, KS
  • 6. Beaver Lake Cottages
  • 7. The Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks
  • 8. Amber House Bed and Breakfast
  • 9. Lehmann House Bed and Breakfast
  • 10. Depot Inn and Suites, La Plata, MO
  • 11. Angel at Rose Hall
  • 12. Grand Central Hotel
  • 13. The Inn at Rose Hall
  • 14. Old Kinderhook Resort, Golf Club and Spa, Camdenton, MO
  • 15. Camden on the Lake Resort, Spa, & Yacht Club
  • 16. The Elms Hotel and Spa, Excelsior Springs, MO
  • 17. The Tiger Hotel, Columbia

More Missouri Getaways:

Resources: Visit Missouri , State Parks , Lewis and Clark

More Features

Best Pools in Las Vegas

20 Best Pools in Las Vegas

20 Best Kansas City Parks

20 Best Kansas City Parks

23 Best Missouri Day Trips

25 Best Day Trips in Missouri

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Best weekend getaways in the midwest.

Twelve states make up America's Midwest, known for its friendly people and rolling fields filled with crops like corn and soybeans. Breaking up the agricultural areas found throughout America's heartland are small river towns, scenic escapes on the Great Lakes and sprawling metropolitan areas, providing countless destinations for weekend warriors. U.S. News considered factors like dining options, opportunities for adventure and value to decide the best weekend getaways in the Midwest. Use this list to plan your next adventure, then weigh in by voting for your favorite location below.

Mackinac Island

Wisconsin dells, black hills national forest, lake of the ozarks, traverse city, madison, wi, kansas city, minneapolis - st. paul, hocking hills state park, door county, voyageurs national park.

long weekend trips from kansas city

Located between Michigan's Upper and Lower peninsulas, Mackinac Island beckons to visitors who want to relax and unwind. The island is unique in that there are no cars or chain hotels – instead, horse-drawn carriages, bed-and-breakfast accommodations and family-owned hotels are the norm – so travelers can truly embrace the Lake Huron destination's small-town charm. Mackinac Island State Park occupies most of the island, providing visitors with countless opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, biking and horseback riding. What's more, Mackinac Island offers a variety of eateries serving everything from American comfort classics to its famous fudge.

long weekend trips from kansas city

The self-proclaimed "Water Park Capital of the World" draws families keen on enjoying its diverse selection of water-themed attractions. Because many of the top-notch water parks offer indoor pools and slides, they remain open even as temperatures begin to drop. But water parks are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Wisconsin Dells' offerings. This southern Wisconsin town features multiple resorts , golf courses and casinos, plus it sits about 20 miles northwest of Cascade Mountain and its impressive ski slopes.

long weekend trips from kansas city

As the Midwest's largest metropolitan area, the Windy City is a popular option for a weekend getaway. Chicago houses numerous parks, including ones with lakefront beaches or iconic sculptures like "The Bean." Plus, the city boasts incredible architecture, which is best viewed from the water during a river cruise or while boating on Lake Michigan, and is a haven for foodies thanks to its smorgasbord of ethnic cuisine, ranging from Greek to Mexican to Polish. No weekend trip would be complete without visiting Chicago's world-class museums, such as the Museum of Science and Industry and the Art Institute of Chicago.

long weekend trips from kansas city

Make your way to the western edge of South Dakota to visit the beautiful Black Hills National Forest. The small mountain range is surrounded by 1.2 million acres of protected wilderness and is a haven for outdoorsy types. In the Black Hills, you can hike, bike, ride horses and go rock climbing, among other activities. The Black Hills is also famous for housing Mount Rushmore National Memorial, which features giant mountainside busts of four American presidents. If you don't want to camp during your visit, plan on staying in Rapid City, the closest major city to the Black Hills.

long weekend trips from kansas city

By impounding the Osage River, the state of Missouri created the Lake of the Ozarks, an expansive reservoir with more than 1,100 miles of shoreline. Plan on spending most of your time at this central Missouri lake destination on or around the water. Rent a boat to explore and access waterfront spots like Lake of the Ozarks State Park, Bridal Cave and various restaurants and resorts. When you need a break from the water, hit the links at one of several golf courses or enjoy a day of wine tasting on the Lake of the Ozarks Wine Trail.

long weekend trips from kansas city

This Minnesota city on the shores of Lake Superior is ideal for a weekend getaway. In the Canal Park area, visitors can bike or walk along the Lakewalk, a nearly 8-mile path that follows the shoreline, snap pictures of the Aerial Lift Bridge and peruse local art galleries. Travelers can also experience the city's finer features by touring all 39 rooms at Glensheen, a historic estate built in the early 1900s, or booking a first-class ticket in a domed train car on the North Shore Scenic Railroad. What's more, refreshments are easy to come by with Duluth's selection of lakeside eateries and breweries.

long weekend trips from kansas city

With attractions like the Omaha Children's Museum and the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Omaha is a solid choice for a family trip. But this Nebraska hub appeals to all travelers with its history (best showcased at The Durham Museum), nature attractions (like the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center) and a thriving arts community (including interactive performing arts venues). Omaha also features a noteworthy food scene, with neighborhoods like the Blackstone District, home of the Reuben sandwich, and venues ranging from old-school steakhouses to award-winning sushi establishments.

long weekend trips from kansas city

Located in the northern section of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, Traverse City's offerings are mostly dictated by its proximity to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This impressive protected area stretches 64 miles along Lake Michigan's coast and sits about 30 miles northwest of Traverse City, providing visitors countless opportunities to camp, hike, sunbathe and more. Closer to town, travelers can explore Grand Traverse Bay or one of the region's lakes via kayak or canoe. Adults also appreciate Traverse City's selection of wineries and microbreweries, while families enjoy visiting museums like The Music House Museum, which showcases rare organs and pianos.

long weekend trips from kansas city

Wisconsin's capital city is where you'll find the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin. The university plays a significant part in the city's cultural offerings by way of on-campus sights like Memorial Union, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum and the Chazen Museum of Art. Still, the city offers its own share of noteworthy attractions, including the Olbrich Botanical Gardens, the Henry Vilas Zoo and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Plus, Madison provides easy access to multiple hiking trails and features a fun downtown area where you can grab dinner, listen to live music and people watch.

long weekend trips from kansas city

As one of the fastest-growing cities in the Midwest, Iowa's capital has a lot going for it. Situated in the center of a state known for its farming, Des Moines offers true farm-to-table cuisine, as well as the much-lauded Downtown Farmers' Market with 300-plus vendors. Meanwhile, boutiques abound in the quaint East Village district, and bikers can pedal their way along more than 800 miles of trails, including the High Trestle Trail, which crosses a 13-story bridge. Visit in the summer to make the most of your time outdoors and to take advantage of events like the 80/35 music festival.

long weekend trips from kansas city

Milwaukee's hearty comfort food and eclectic collection of museums and historical sites are sure to appeal to all kinds of weekend visitors. The city's foremost museums are the Harley-Davidson Museum, which spans 20 acres along the riverfront, and the Milwaukee Art Museum, which boasts three futuristic-looking buildings and a collection with more than 30,000 pieces. Beer and history enthusiasts will enjoy a tour of the 19th-century Pabst Mansion or the Lakefront Brewery, while foodies will want to swing by the Milwaukee Public Market to purchase or learn how to cook a memorable meal (just don't skip the cheese curds).

long weekend trips from kansas city

Cincinnati's location on the Ohio River makes it easy to reach from other parts of Ohio, plus nearby states like Indiana and Kentucky. Many of Cincinnati's top parks, including 186-acre Eden Park, overlook the river, providing countless opportunities for scenic strolls. What's more, Cincinnati is packed with can't-miss museums, such as the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the Cincinnati Art Museum. Not to mention, fans of spectacle can catch a Cincinnati Reds game at the Great American Ball Park or a show at Music Hall.

long weekend trips from kansas city

The Gateway Arch towers 630 feet over St. Louis and marks the city's status as the "Gateway to the West." St. Louis' diverse selection of affordable things to do makes it an excellent weekend destination for Midwesterners on a budget. Head to Forest Park to visit the Saint Louis Art Museum and the renowned Saint Louis Zoo , neither of which charges an entry fee. Then, take a tour of some of St. Louis' noteworthy historical sights, including the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis and Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals.

long weekend trips from kansas city

Kansas City straddles the border of Missouri and Kansas, putting the surprisingly trendy city within driving distance of a number of Midwestern destinations. Jazz and barbecue set the city apart, so be sure to decide which restaurants and venues you plan to visit in advance. Kansas City's Country Club Plaza – which offers an assortment of eateries and stores, and sits within walking distance of a number of hotels – is also worth checking out. Remember to set aside time for perusing some of the city's top museums, too, including The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Arabia Steamboat Museum.

long weekend trips from kansas city

The side-by-side cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul provide no shortage of attractions for visitors to marvel over. Travelers can spend the weekend perusing the exhibits at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, attending productions at the Guthrie Theater or getting a dose of local history at sights like the Minnesota State Capitol and the Minnesota History Center. On warm, sunny days, visitors will also want to take advantage of Minnesota's natural beauty by going for a stroll through the Chain of Lakes byway district or Minnehaha Regional Park, which sits a few miles south of the Twin Cities' downtown areas.

long weekend trips from kansas city

Thrill-seekers flock to this Ohio destination on Lake Erie for its world-class amusement park – Cedar Point. The park's 70 rides, including a whopping 18 roller coasters, are its main draw, but the sprawling water park and entertainment options also impress travelers of all ages. Beyond the mega-park, this coastal town also boasts family-owned dining venues and the Ohio Cheers Trail, which highlights local breweries, distilleries and wineries. Plus, cruises to the neighboring islands of Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island are an ideal way to slow things down after an action-packed day.

long weekend trips from kansas city

Less than an hour's drive from Columbus, Ohio, Hocking Hills State Park is the perfect nature-filled weekend escape. Hocking Hills State Park's deep gorges, sandstone cliffs and leafy forests are beautiful in any season – whether dotted with wildflowers in the spring or covered with ice formations in winter. Travelers can hike to popular spots like the Ash Cave and Cedar Falls, climb the park's natural rock walls or kayak and canoe on lakes and rivers. Plus, with modern A-frames and trendy cabins to rent in the surrounding area, you'll have all the comforts of home on your getaway.   

long weekend trips from kansas city

Whether you're seeking natural splendor, villages full of character or a weekend of sampling some of the Midwest's finest cuisine, Door County, Wisconsin, will deliver. Located on a peninsula in Lake Michigan about 70 miles northeast of Green Bay, Door County boasts 300 miles of shoreline and countless parks that add up to 23,000 acres. When you're not enjoying the great outdoors, explore the art galleries, lighthouses and museums in communities like Egg Harbor, Fish Creek and Sturgeon Bay. Don’t miss out on the region's must-try food experiences: cherry picking, cheese tasting and dining at a traditional Wisconsin supper club.

long weekend trips from kansas city

Within comfortable driving distance of Chicago, Milwaukee and Cedar Rapids, this northwest Illinois town is a top option for an old-fashioned Midwestern weekend getaway. Galena is full of small-town charm, with bespoke experiences like antique tractor driving and carving workshops, historical sites like the home of Ulysses S. Grant and a Hallmark-worthy Main Street. Plus, the surrounding region offers bucolic rolling hills, antique shops, wineries, farms and 19th-century bed-and-breakfasts. With events throughout the year (including the popular Great Galena Balloon Race in June), as well as seasonal skiing, Galena is a great getaway any time of year.

long weekend trips from kansas city

To make the most of your weekend, you'll want to hit the road early to get to this harder-to-reach Minnesota destination (about 300 miles north of Minneapolis on the Canadian border). Most of Voyageurs National Park, which is characterized by calm lakes, aromatic evergreens and granite cliffs, is only accessible by boat, meaning you'll be fully immersed in its natural beauty. If you're visiting in the summer, rent a houseboat for a unique lodging option. But colder seasons have their charms, too. Since the park is a phenomenal place to see the northern lights , the sky may just put on a show for you as the nights get longer. 

Vote to Add these Destinations to the Rankings

long weekend trips from kansas city


long weekend trips from kansas city

Grand Rapids

long weekend trips from kansas city

Columbus, OH

long weekend trips from kansas city

Michigan City, IN

long weekend trips from kansas city

Brown County, IN

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long weekend trips from kansas city

Short Road Trips from Kansas City

Short Road Trips from Kansas City

There are so many things to love about Kansas City — flowing fountains, the world’s best barbeque, and our Kansas City Chiefs! Beyond that, one of the many reasons I’ve enjoyed making this Heartland city my home for the past 20 years is its location. Whether you drive or fly, it’s easy to head north, south, east, or west when you want a change of scenery from this centrally-located city.

Whether it’s a solo adventure, weekend getaway for two, or family vacation — i f you’re searching for fun within a five-hour drive of Kansas City, these are some of my favorite destinations to eat, play, and stay in the Midwest.

Sage Advice:  Although each of these locations is a great stand-alone destination, each section is listed in the order I recommend if you want to experience them all. 

What's in This Guide

long weekend trips from kansas city

Road Trip Packing List

Put packing for your road trip on auto-pilot with this free packing list.

Please check your email for your copy of the ultimate road trip packing list. 


Short Road Trip Destinations North of Kansas City

A windmill surrounded by tulips in Pella Iowa

Pella, Iowa

When you travel about 215 miles north to the Iowa town of Pella, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to a quaint Dutch town without leaving the Midwest.

What to Do — Explore the historic downtown that includes the tallest working grain windmill in the US, admire the region’s natural beauty by hiking or biking the Volksweg Trail , and then wind your way up the tallest observation tower in the Midwest for amazing views. 

Where to Eat — Dutch Fix (for classic Dutch street foods) and Ulrich’s Meat Market (for Pella bologna and locally-made Gouda cheese ), Be sure to try Dutch letters and other delicious pastries at Jaarsma Bakery or Vander Ploeg Bakery . Don’t know the difference between   bitterballen   and   oliebollen ?   Read this   before visiting Pella!

Where to Stay — Royal Amsterdam Hotel (for a traditional accommodation), The Dwelling Place (bed and breakfast), or these top-rated vacation rentals in Pella .

Windmill in Pella Iowa surrounded by flowers

Quaint Midwest Towns . 13 adorable places you’ll want to visit!

A magnifying glass over a map.

Scavenger Hunts . Why they’re the ultimate way to explore.

long weekend trips from kansas city

Best Riverwalks in the US . West of the Mississippi.

Downtown Des Moines from Pioneer Statue

Des Moines, Iowa

Located about three hours north of Kansas City,  Iowa’s capital city is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the Midwest. 

What to Do —  Tour the gold-domed capitol building , enjoy an interactive scavenger hunt , stroll through the botanical garden , wander through Pappajohn Sculpture Park , then hike or bike the Des Moines River Trail .  If you plan to road trip to Des Moines in August, don’t miss the Iowa State Fair where you can see the “butter cow,” a bovine sculpture made from butter, and eat a wide range of foods (many deep-fried) on a stick.

Where to Eat — La Mie Bakery (for breakfast or lunch), Bubba (for brunch), Flying Mango (for a bbq alternative to what we know and love here in Kansas City), and Skip’s (lunch or dinner).

Where to Stay — Staybridge Suites Des Moines Downtown (for a traditional accommodation) or these top-rated vacation rentals in Des Moines .

Related Article: My Favorite (Mostly Healthy) Road Trip Snacks

long weekend trips from kansas city

Located in central Iowa, Ames is about 45 minutes north of Des Moines. A college town of about 66,000 residents, it’s 230 miles north of Kansas City. 

What to Do — Explore the Iowa State University campus, stroll through the Reiman Gardens , hike the scenic trails of Ledges State Park , cool down at the Furman Aquatic Center , and then  sip some suds at the Alluvial Brewing Company .  

Where to Eat — The Cafe (for any meal, from breakfast and brunch to lunch and dinner) and Dublin Bay Irish Pub (for a pint or quart).

Where to Stay — Hampton Inn & Suites (for a traditional accommodation), Queen Anne Bed and Breakfast (about 20 minutes east of Ames), or these top-rated vacation rentals in Ames .

Couple Walking Across Bridge in Omaha - Visit Omaha

Omaha, Nebraska

The biggest city in the Cornhusker State, Omaha is about three hours north of Kansas City. 

What to Do — Shop the Old Market , walk across the river to Iowa on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge , and visit the world-renowned  Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium . And beginning July 1st, visitors can enjoy the first phase of a $325 million park project along The RiverFront  connecting Downtown Omaha to the Missouri River. The lush green mall includes a  performance pavilion, dog park, custom playground, sculpture garden, and interactive water features.

Sage Advice: Fill your Omaha bucket list to the rim with 100 Things to Do in Omaha Before You Die .

Where to Eat — Lisa’s Radial Cafe (for breakfast), Block 16 (for farm-to-table street food), Spezia (for lunch or dinner), and Blue Sushi Sake Grill (go for their happy hour). Be sure to save room for ice cream at Ted & Wally’s and a drink at Catalyst , Omaha’s largest outdoor cocktail bar. 

Sage Advice: You’ll never run out of delicious places to eat in Omaha with these unique eats and eateries .

Where to Stay — The Farnam or Kimpton Cottonwood (for traditional accommodations) or these top-rated vacation rentals in Omaha .

Fun Fact: Did you know that the University of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium becomes the third largest “city” in Nebraska each home football game? Only the actual cities of Omaha and Lincoln will have a larger concentration of people those Saturdays in the fall! 

long weekend trips from kansas city

Omaha, Nebraska . The best things to see and do.

Unique Eats and Eateries of Omaha

Unique Eats and Eateries of Omaha . Hidden gems for food lovers.

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The Best College Towns in the Midwest . From football to food, here’s what you won’t want to miss when you visit!

Short Road Trip Destinations East of Kansas City

Downtown St. Louis, Missouri - Photo by Explore St. Louis

St. Louis, Missouri

About four hours east of Kansas City, St. Louis is second only to the nation’s capital when it comes to free attractions . So as gas prices soar, you can stretch your vacation budget to the max by exploring St. Louis.

What to Do — Ascend the Gateway to the West’s iconic  stainless steel  arch for the best view in town. Then surround yourself with beautiful blooms at the nation’s oldest continuously operated botanical garden , m eet a Clydesdale at Grant’s Farm , and take an interactive scavenger hunt through Forest Park . You will also want to sample beer at the  Anheuser-Busch Brewery  and check out these unique things to do in St. Louis . And if you visit the Gateway City during baseball season, enjoy a game  at Busch Stadium. (It’s okay if you wear a  Royals t-shirt !)

Sage Advice: Learn about the people, places, and history between St. Louis and the next step, Springfield, IL, with this self-guided driving tour .

Where to Eat — Park Avenue Coffee (breakfast and a slice of gooey butter cake), Nathaniel Reid Bakery  (for one of the best breakfast sandwiches in America), Anthonino’s Taverna and Charlie Gitto’s (for authentic Italian cuisine), Imo’s (for St. Louis style pizza), and Salt + Smoke (for St. Louis style barbeque). Be sure to save room for dessert: Clementine’s (for a scoop of “naughty” or “nice” ice cream, Ted Drewes (for an original custard concrete), and Poptimism (for unique popsicles at City Foundry , St. Louis’s new food hall).

Where to Stay —  Drury Plaza Hotel  (n ear the Gateway Arch), Hilton St. Louis  (near the ballpark), and  Le Meridien St. Louis Clayton (for a conveniently-located suburban accommodation). You’re also sure to enjoy one of these top-rated vacation rentals in St. Louis .

Springfield Illinois

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St. Louis, Missouri . Five reasons it’s first rate for second city travel.

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Old Capitol in Springfield IL

Springfield, Illinois

While there are 30 cities named Springfield in the United States, there’s only one in the  Land of Lincoln. Illinois’s capital city is about five hours east of Kansas City.

What to Do —  Follow in the footsteps of Honest Abe by visiting his former home , presidential library , and final resting place.  Then wind your way through a labyrinth of impressive architecture at Frank Lloyd Wright’s “blank check” projects known as the Dana-Thomas House and enjoy an interactive scavenger hunt around town.

Where to Eat — Cafe Maxo or Charlie Parker’s Diner (for breakfast or lunch) and Mariah’s Steakhouse & Pasta or Indigo Restaurant (for dinner).

Where to Stay — SpringHill Suites by Marriott Springfield Southwest (for traditional accommodations), Inn at 835 (bed and breakfast/boutique hotel), or these top-rated vacation rentals in Springfield .

Short Road Trip Destinations South of Kansas City

Crystal Bridges in Bentonville AR

Bentonville, Arkansas

Although it’s known as the headquarters of the world’s biggest corporation, Bentonville is full of small town charm just three hours south of Kansas City.

What to Do — Admire  the art at the  Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art , then wind your way along a treed path to the Bachman-Wilson House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Browse the shops in the 16-block historic Third Street District, celebrate the business genius of Sam Walton at the Walmart Museum , go for a long ride in the Mountain Biking Capital of the World, and visit a magnificent Italianate estate .

Where to Eat — Onyx Coffee Lab (for coffee and a quick breakfast), The Hive (for a boozy fried chicken and bubbles brunch),  Eleven (for a bite at Crystal Bridges), and The Preacher’s Son (for dinner).

Fun Fact: In 2022, three Bentonville chefs were James Beard Award Semifinalists. Pretty impressive for a town of around 60,000 people!

Where to Stay — 21C Museum Hotel Bentonville   (be sure to ask about their Bike & Brews package), The Victoria (bed and breakfast), or these top-rated vacation rentals in Bentonville .  

Related Article: 8 Reasons 21c Bentonville is the Best Hotel in Bentonville, AR

long weekend trips from kansas city

Help Kids Appreciate Art Museums . Five proven tips!

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Inspiring Reasons to Visit the Walmart Museum . (Even if you are a Target girl)

Red Lens at Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville AR

Bentonville, Arkansas . How to spend a perfect weekend in this  quaint Ozark mountain town.

long weekend trips from kansas city

Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond played a big role in making this small Oklahoma town about four hours south of Kansas City a travel destination. 

What to Do — Spend a d elicious day in Pioneer Woman country by touring The Lodge and eating and shopping at The Merc . Then learn more about the Osage people — including Ben  Johnson , an Academy Award-winning actor, world-champion rodeo cowboy, and legendary stunt double — walk across the swinging bridge, and enjoy the beauty of one of the few remaining tallgrass prairies in the world.

Where to Eat — Pioneer Woman Mercantile (for coffee, breakfast, lunch, or dinner) and P-Town Pizza (for lunch or dinner).

Where to Stay — Frontier Hotel Pawhuska (for a traditional accommodation), The Grandview Inn (bed and breakfast), Postcard Place , or another top-rated vacation rental in Pawhuska .

long weekend trips from kansas city

Pawhuska, OK . 6 perfect ways to spend time with the Pioneer Woman.

long weekend trips from kansas city

Tulsa Murals . Impressive street art that tells T-Town’s story.

Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska OK

Pioneer Woman Mercantile . What to expect when you visit.

Route 66 Rising sculpture in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa, Oklahoma

About four hours south of Kansas City,  Tulsa is Oklahoma’s second largest city.  

What to Do — Enjoy the great outdoors at  the Gathering Space , take a selfie with the Golden Driller, admire the art inside a sprawling 72-room Italian Renaissance villa , stand at the center of the universe , watch butterflies float through the Tulsa Botanic Garden , and get your kicks on Route 66 .

Where to Eat — Antoinette Baking Co (for coffee and breakfast), Wanda J’s (for soul food in the historic Greenwood District), The Tavern (for a fresh take on pub classics), and Mother Road Market (for a smorgasbord of options and a round of Route 66-themed miniature golf at Tulsa’s food hall).  

Where to Stay — Hotel Indigo (for a traditional accommodation with a fantastic rooftop bar), Cedar Rock Inn (bed and breakfast), or one of these  top-rated vacation rentals in Tulsa .

The Gathering Place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at Night

Tulsa Outdoor Activities . Best things to do outside in T-Town.

OKC Memorial

Oklahoma City Memorial . What to know BEFORE you go.

A bison steelwork in downtown Tulsa

Things to Do in Tulsa . What to see, do, and eat in T-Town.

long weekend trips from kansas city

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The Sooner State’s largest city is about five hours southwest of Kansas City. 

What do Do — Explore the  urban riverwalk lined with shops, restaurants, and lots of outdoor space. Pay a somber visit to the Oklahoma City Memorial and Museum, tour the capitol grounds , immerse yourself in Western culture , explore Oklahoma with an interactive scavenger hunt , and watch the sunset behind the lighthouse at Hefner Lake .

Where to Eat — Kitchen No. 324 (breakfast or brunch), Nic’s Place  (breakfast or lunch), Metro Wine Bar and Bistro (lunch or dinner), and Redrock Canyon Grill (for dinner, dessert, or drinks as the sun sets at Hefner Lake). 

Where to Stay — Hilton Garden Inn in Bricktown (for a traditional accommodation), Grandison Inn at Maney Park (bed and breakfast), or these  top-rated vacation rentals in Oklahoma City .

Keeper of the Plains in Wichita KS

Wichita, Kansas

Located about 200 miles southwest of Kansas City, the birthplace of Pizza Hut and Air Capital of the World is the biggest city in the Sunflower State. 

What to Do — See historic planes, tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s Allen House , take a long stroll at the Great Plains Nature Center , explore the  Wichita botanical gardens , monkey around at  the  Sedgwick County Zoo ,  visit the original Pizza Hut ,  and watch the fire pits around the Keeper of the Plains light up as the sun goes down.

Where to Eat — Doo-Dah Diner (for breakfast), HomeGrown (for breakfast or brunch), Old Mill Tasty Shop (for lunch and a milkshake or malt), and Prost (for authentic German cuisine ).

Where to Stay — Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview or Hotel at Old Town (for traditional accommodations) or one of these top-rated  vacation rentals in Wichita .

long weekend trips from kansas city

Kansas City to Wichita . A delightful Prairie road trip.

Abilene postcard mural

Art in Abilen e. Kansas murals in America’s heartland.

Pink mallow

Kansas Wildflowers . A guide to what’s blooming by season.

Short Road Trip Destinations West of Kansas City

Young Ike Statue in Abilene KS

Abilene, Kansas

From amazing antiques to all things Eisenhower, Abilene is the original cow town of the Wild West. This great weekend getaway is about three hours west of Kansas City and was recently crowned the Best Small Town to Visit in the US by TravelAwaits.

What to Do — Marvel at the magnificent Seelye Mansion , admire the public art , find treasures in amazing antique shops , be greeted by gorgeous greyhounds , and satisfy your sweet tooth .

Where to Eat — Amanda’s Bakery & Bistro  (for coffee, breakfast, or lunch), Ike’s Place (for lunch or dinner), and Donut Palace (for a sweet treat).

Where to Stay — Holiday Inn Express and Suites (for a traditional accommodation), Abilene’s Victorian Inn (bed and breakfast), or these top-rated vacation rentals in Dickinson County .

Coronado Heights Castle

Salina, Kansas

Located in the Smoky Hills region, Salina is less than three hours from Kansas City.

What to Do — Visit the  Rolling Hills Zoo , cool off at the Kenwood Cove Aquatic Park , and explore the outdoor  public art exhibit  that features new sculptures each spring. Travel 30 minutes south of town to the Coronado Heights Castle to enjoy a picnic with impressive views.

Where to Eat — Russell’s Restaurant (for breakfast and classic nearly all day diner dishes),  Hickory Hut Barbecue  (lunch or dinner) or Martinelli’s Little Italy  (lunch or dinner).

Where to Stay — Homewood Suites by Hilton or  (for a traditional accommodation) or these top-rated vacation rentals in Salina .

Picken Hall at Fort Hays State University

Hays, Kansas

About five hours directly west of Kansas City along I-70, Hays is home to Fort Hays State University and a historic site that dates back to the Sunflower State’s frontier days.

What to Do  — Stay cool at the Hays Aquatic Park , discover the town’s frontier days at Fort Hays , and learn more about Earth’s natural history at the Sternberg Museum , 

Where to Eat  — Breathe Coffee House  (for coffee), The Paisley Pear (for lunch, happy hour, or dinner), and Gella’s Diner  (for craft beer, lunch, or dinner). Be sure to try a bierock, a regional specialty with seasoned beef, cabbage, and sauerkraut baked inside of a bread dough square.

Where to Stay  — TownePlace Suites by Marriott (for a traditional accommodation) or these top-rated vacation rentals in Hays .

Ready to Go? Use These Helpful Links to Book Your Trip!

  • Find low fares with  airfarewatchdog and Skyscanner
  • Book your plane ticket with   Expedia or Kayak
  • Or take the scenic route on an epic road trip in a rental car or an RV from Outdoorsy
  • From hotels to private homes, find the perfect accommodation with Hotels.com or Vrbo  
  • Travel in style with a suitcase, carry-on, backpack, or handbag from eBags
  • Save on tickets to attractions, sightseeing tours, and more with CityPASS , Tiqets , and Viator
  • Don’t leave home without travel insurance from AXA
  • Discover the sights, history, and culture of your destination with an interactive scavenger hunt
  • Need something else to plan your perfect trip? Visit my travel resources page for more trusted partners. Happy wandering!

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long weekend trips from kansas city

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To help offset the costs of running EverydayWanderer.com, you’ll find affiliate links lightly sprinkled throughout the site.   If you choose to make a purchase via   one of these links , there’s no additional cost to you, but I’ll earn a teeny tiny commission.   You can read all of the legal blah blah blah (as my little niece says) on the   full disclosure page .

Copyright © 2023 | Made with love in Kansas City by Sage Scott | Privacy Policy

  • 913-352-6533

Couple toasting glasses of wine on the patio during a romantic getaway near Kansas City

Romantic Getaways in Kansas Await

  • Enhancements

Bottle of champagne with two flutes and nearby plate of chocolate strawberries

Anniversary Special

Are you looking for an amazing location to celebrate an upcoming Anniversary? Here it is! Add an Anniversary Package to any overnight stay and SAVE $30!

The Anniversary Package includes: A bottle of chilled Champagne or Sparkling Cider, two Keepsake Champagne Flutes, Six tantalizing Chocolate-Covered Strawberries, and a beautiful mixed Fresh Flower Bouquet*

This offer is good through the end of May.

*May substitute a dozen long-stemmed roses at an additional charge.

Champagne, chocolate dipped strawberries and a bouquet of flowers

Anniversary Celebration

You set the date and we will supply the Champagne, chocolate-dipped strawberries and a bouquet of flowers. Surprise your loved one on your anniversary with a stay and order this enhancement at time of booking as a thoughtful surprise. Let us know if you want to switch up from a bouquet of fresh cut flowers to long stemmed roses and we will take care of that for you.

This package includes:

  • Bottle of chilled Champagne or sparkling cider
  • Two keepsake Champagne flutes
  • Six tantalizing chocolate-covered strawberries
  • Beautiful mixed bouquet of fresh-cut flowers*

*May substitute long-stemmed roses for the mixed bouquet at an additional charge.

Close up of Champagne in ice bucket and two glasses

Kansas Honeymoon Package

Start your happily-ever-after off right with a relaxing honeymoon away from it all. Rest and rejuvenate after your wedding or elopement, while you celebrate your commitment to each other at our romantic Kansas bed and breakfast.

  • Breakfast each morning, with delivery to your room of choice the first morning
  • Dinner each night of your stay
  • Bottle of Champagne or sparkling cider
  • Six chocolate-covered strawberries
  • One-hour Swedish couple’s massage in our spa
  • Picnic lunch for two
  • Grazing Board

Man proposing to his girlfriend on a picnic

Get Engaged at Cedar Crest Lodge

We at Cedar Crest Lodge would love to help you plan your wonderful moment. Ideas include (but are not limited to):  an intimate breakfast in bed, a fun scavenger hunt on our beautiful grounds, a sunset proposal with a view as far as the eye can see, or celebrate a celestial moment between the two of you under the stars. Let us help you pull off a wonderful part of your love story! Fill out our online inquiry form or call us at 913-352-6533 to plan your special day!

Packages start at $195. May add on a Photography Package for an additional $249. Prices do not include tax or gratuity.

Couple with their hands in the shape of a heart on pregnant woman's belly

Babymoon Package

With our Babymoon Package you can choose any room you want for your one or two-night stay, wake up each morning to a wonderful breakfast for two… or three.

  • A delightful cheese, nut, and fresh fruit plate upon arrival
  • Our uber-relaxing Head & Neck and Spa Foot & Hand Massages for the mother-to-be
  • A special basket of goodies for the mother-to-be!

Treat yourself further with an additional Prenatal Massage in our on-site spa, or make it a Couple’s Massage!

Photo of the Milky Way in the night sky

Stargazing Package

For over 22 years we have enjoyed gazing at the beautiful starry sky in our unique country setting. Now, we would like to offer our guests an opportunity to experience something truly special with our Stargazing Package. Utilizing the SkyView App available on your mobile device or one of our iPads, you will marvel at identifying constellations and planets in the night sky above while relaxing on or wrapped up in one of our quilted blankets, enjoying cookies & hot cocoa. The package can be added to any room on any night of the week.*

In addition to your overnight stay, you will receive:

  • Freshly baked cookies and a thermos of hot cocoa
  • Breakfast service in your room the next morning (dependent upon room selection)

*Available from April through November. Weather dependent.

Man and woman getting a relaxing couples massage

Couple’s Package

DAY ONE: Upon your arrival to the Tuscan Manor Suite , you will find six chocolate-covered strawberries, your choice of champagne or sparkling cider, and two keepsake champagne flutes waiting in your suite. That evening enjoy a delectable three-course dinner delivered to your room. After dinner, have a restful night’s sleep in a king bed dressed in Comphy brand sheets.

DAY TWO: You will start the day with a scrumptious full breakfast, also delivered to your room. After breakfast, you will be found in the spa luxuriating in a one-hour couple’s Swedish massage. After your massage, enjoy your large two-person Jacuzzi tub and then kick back with the use of the Smart TVs or Bluetooth speaker also available in your suite. A tasty picnic lunch will be ready when you are, and includes a cheese/fruit appetizer, gourmet sandwiches, delightful salad and, of course, something for your sweet tooth! That evening, a second dinner for two in our main lodge will tempt your tastebuds and offer yet another wonderful culinary experience.

DAY THREE: Your final morning will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed as you savor a delicious multi-course breakfast in the main lodge.

Also available in the following rooms (some amenities may differ): French Quarter , Wine Country , Country Meadow & Big Sky .

Foodie's Package selection of gourmet treats

Foodie’s Package

Make the most of your visit to Cedar Crest Lodge with this delicious package! Arrive as early as 1:00 p.m. to enjoy the grounds along with a bountiful Artisan Cheese Plate, featuring local cheeses and goat’s milk fudge from Skyview Farms and Terabithia Dairy Goat Farm. After your day of fun, you’ll get to enjoy a three-course dinner for two, as well as our fabulous multi-course breakfast, which are both included with every guest’s stay.

Please choose your dinner entrée when you make your reservation . Dinner and breakfast will be served in our Lodge dining room, though they can be delivered to your room for an added fee.

Chocolate-covered strawberries

Indulge with six juicy, sweet strawberries hand-dipped in creamy chocolate.

Sandwiches, picnic basket and blanket on the grass

Relax alongside nature as you savor a delicious meal, which includes a cheese/fruit appetizer, gourmet sandwiches, delightful salad and, of course, something for your sweet tooth! Reusable aluminum water bottles are provided; fill up in-room using our Hinkley Water System. Ask for wine glasses, if needed!

Turkey provolone wrap with greens

Turkey wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla with provolone cheese, crisp lettuce and a honey mustard dressing, hummus and pita chip appetizer, fresh vegetable or grain salad with a light vinaigrette, and either fruit or a bite-sized sweet for dessert.

Meat and cheese plate with crackers and grapes

Enjoy a delicious light meal consisting of tasty deli meats and flavorful cheeses. Served with crackers and fresh fruit.

Dinner of steak and roasted carrots on a dark plate

Not staying with us? You can still dine with us! Choose from a number of delicious seasonal entrées:

  • Prime Rib  NOT Available after April 30, 2024
  • Beef Tenderloin, Chilean Sea Bass
  • Balsamic Glazed Sirloin
  • Cedar Crest Chicken
  • Pork Tenderloin
  • Creamy Tuscan Chicken
  • Homemade Gnocchi w/Pork Bolognese
  • Salmon (Glazed or Herb Seasoned)
  • Penne w/Summer Roasted Vegetables
  • Vegetarian, Vegan & Special Requests

See pricing on our Dinner Menu . All dinners begin with a starter, bread, non-alcoholic drink, two side dishes (depending on entrée selection), and dessert.

Fresh-cut flowers in a mason jar vase

Enjoy an arrangement of fresh flowers from our garden (in season). When not in season, we will purchase locally.

Dozen red roses

Show them how much you care with a dozen beautiful roses with all of the trimmings.

Couple having a romantic picnic lunch on the grass on a Kansas honeymoon

Our Extended Stay Package gives you an extra hour in your comfortable room, access to our 100+ acres until 2pm, and a gourmet picnic lunch to go for the two of you! Now you can have your stay and extend it too!

Hot Basalt stone massage

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16 Best Day Trips From Kansas City, Missouri (2024 Guide)

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  • Last Updated: February 4, 2024

If you’re looking for the best day trips from Kansas City, be sure to check out our list of the best Kansas City day trips!

Kansas City is a charming city in Missouri that is packed with unique attractions. The city’s downtown district has historic sites and cultural landmarks abound, from the National Frontier Trails Museum to the City Market to the Truman National Historic Site.

Once you’ve taken advantage of the city life, try one of these regional day trips from Kansas City! There are lots of fun things to do in this area of central USA that will appeal to any type of traveler.

History buffs can explore historic farms and small towns dedicated to preserving the traditions of the past. Nature lovers can visit a lush state park on the banks of the Missouri River and go hiking, biking, and exploring.

Whatever your interests may be, these day trips from Kansas City are sure to provide insights into the culture and landscapes of the American Midwest!

Be sure to check out our list of the best things to do in Kansas City as well.

Table of Contents

Somerset Wine Trail

Roaring river state park, mushroom rock state park, tanganyika wildlife park, excelsior springs, powell gardens, shoal creek living history museum, overland park, 16 lovely day trips from kansas city, missouri.

Whether you want to tour historic sites in a small Missouri town, indulge in some culture and entertainment in a bustling college town, or take on hiking trails in a state park, here are some of the top day trips from Kansas City!

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars , which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.

  • Distance from Kansas City: 44 miles
  • Driving time: 48 minutes

Embarking on the Somerset Wine Trail from Kansas City promises a delightful day trip filled with scenic landscapes and exquisite wines. Located in the heart of Missouri, the trail takes wine enthusiasts through rolling hills and picturesque vineyards, offering a perfect escape from the urban hustle of Kansas City.

As you traverse the charming countryside, you’ll encounter a series of boutique wineries, each with its own unique charm and varietals. From crisp whites to robust reds, the trail showcases the diversity of Missouri wines, providing a tasting experience that caters to every palate.

Somerset Ridge Winery is one of the top places to visit. As a family-owned winery, Somerset Ridge has earned a reputation for its commitment to crafting exceptional wines and providing a warm, inviting atmosphere for visitors.

Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or a casual enthusiast, Somerset Ridge Winery promises a memorable experience, blending quality wines with a welcoming ambiance that captures the essence of Midwest viticulture.

The Somerset Wine Trail not only offers a delectable selection of wines but also provides visitors with a chance to engage with passionate winemakers and learn about the winemaking process. Many of the wineries along the trail boast inviting tasting rooms and outdoor seating areas, allowing guests to savor their favorite wines while taking in the scenic beauty of the surrounding vineyards.

With the warm hospitality of the winemakers and the serene ambiance of the countryside, the Somerset Wine Trail is an ideal day trip for those seeking a blend of relaxation, education, and, of course, the pleasure of indulging in some of Missouri’s finest wines.

  • Distance from Kansas City: 205 miles
  • Driving time: 3 hours and 15 minutes

Though it’s a bit of a far drive, Roaring River State Park is one of the best day trips from Kansas City. Deep in the heart of the Ozarks in southwest Missouri, Roaring River State Park stands as a captivating natural haven that beckons outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

The park is renowned for its stunning landscapes, featuring deep valleys, limestone bluffs, and clear, cold springs that converge to form the iconic Roaring River.

Anglers flock to the park for its premier trout fishing, as the cold waters provide an ideal habitat for rainbow and brown trout. The park’s trout hatchery adds an educational element, allowing visitors to witness the fascinating process of trout production and releasing thousands of young fish into the river.

Beyond its fishing allure, Roaring River State Park offers a plethora of recreational activities. Travelers can explore the park’s extensive hiking and biking trails, which winds through scenic woodlands and offers breathtaking views of the river.

The park also features campgrounds for those seeking a rustic overnight experience, and the serene setting provides an excellent backdrop for birdwatching, photography, and simply unwinding amidst the tranquility of nature.

With its diverse offerings and natural beauty, Roaring River State Park is a true gem for those seeking a revitalizing escape in the heart of Missouri’s rugged landscapes.

Roaring River State Park

  • Distance from Kansas City: 34 miles
  • Driving time: 40 minutes

Nestled along the banks of the Missouri River, Weston is a charming and historic Missouri town that invites visitors to step back in time while enjoying the picturesque beauty of the area. Known for its well-preserved 19th-century architecture, Weston exudes a timeless charm with its brick-paved streets and historic storefronts.

The town is home to a vibrant community of art galleries, boutique shops, and cozy bed and breakfasts, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for tourists.

Beyond its quaint appeal, Weston boasts attractions like the iconic Weston Bend State Park, offering panoramic views of the river valley, and the acclaimed Green Dirt Farm Creamery. Visitors to Green Dirt Farm Creamery can savor a variety of handcrafted cheeses, from the bloomy rind Dirt Lover to the creamy Woolly Rind, all made with passion and precision.

Whether strolling through its historic district, savoring local flavors, or exploring the natural beauty that surrounds it, Weston, Missouri, beckons as a delightful destination that seamlessly marries the past with the present.

Read next: 21 Best Things To Do In St. Louis, Missouri

  • Distance from Kansas City: 248 miles
  • Driving time: 3 hours and 50 minutes

St. Louis may be better suited to a weekend getaway from Kansas City, as it’s just under a 4-hour drive. But if you start your journey early enough, you can still venture there and back on a day trip. Either way, St. Louis is definitely worth a visit!

Known for its iconic Gateway Arch, the city has a storied history that includes being a gateway to the West during the era of westward expansion. The Gateway Arch National Park, with its striking stainless steel monument, offers not only a visual spectacle but also a comprehensive exploration of American history.

The surrounding area, known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, includes the Old Courthouse and the Museum of Westward Expansion, further immersing visitors in the city’s historical narrative. A trolley tour is a great way to absorb all the city’s history and sights!

St. Louis is celebrated for its diverse neighborhoods, each contributing to the city’s unique character. The Central West End boasts tree-lined streets, historic homes, and a lively atmosphere with boutique shops and trendy restaurants.

The Delmar Loop, a vibrant entertainment district, is a cultural hub featuring art galleries, music venues, and a diverse array of dining options. The city is also a haven for sports enthusiasts, with the beloved St. Louis Cardinals baseball team and the passionate fan base at Busch Stadium.

From the eclectic neighborhoods to the rich cultural offerings and iconic landmarks, St. Louis showcases a dynamic blend of history, entertainment, and Midwestern hospitality.

  • Distance from Kansas City: 201 miles
  • Driving time: 3 hours

Mushroom Rock State Park in the heart of central Kansas is another one of the best day trips from Kansas City. The park’s namesake, Mushroom Rock, and its companion rocks, shaped by centuries of erosion, resemble giant mushrooms rising from the earth. This natural wonder is a testament to the forces of wind and water, creating a surreal landscape that sparks the imagination.

The park covers a small but enchanting area, providing a tranquil setting for hikers, nature enthusiasts, and geology aficionados to explore and appreciate the peculiar beauty of the sandstone formations.

Beyond the fascinating rocks, Mushroom Rock State Park offers a peaceful escape, allowing visitors to connect with the tranquility of the Kansas prairie. Picnic areas provide a perfect spot to relax and enjoy the unique surroundings, making it an excellent destination for a day trip or a brief respite from the nearby urban bustle.

The park’s compact size makes it easily navigable, and its distinctive geological features make Mushroom Rock State Park a great day trip destination for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure in the heartland of Kansas.

Heading south? Check out these fun things to do in Hot Springs, Arkansas

  • Distance from Kansas City: 189 miles
  • Driving time: 2 hours and 50 minutes

One of the best day trips from Kansas City for history buffs is Hermann, a small Missouri town known for its picturesque vineyards, German heritage, and historic architecture.

Established by German immigrants in the 19th century, Hermann’s cobblestone streets and beautifully preserved buildings contribute to its old-world charm. The nearby town of Starkenberg is also full of fascinating historic buildings.

The Historic Hermann Museum immerses visitors in the town’s German heritage through its carefully curated exhibits, featuring artifacts, photographs, and restored rooms that showcase the life and culture of early German settlers.

The town’s winemaking tradition is a focal point, with numerous family-owned wineries dotting the surrounding hills, producing a variety of award-winning wines. Visitors can embark on the Hermann Wine Trail to sample local vintages while enjoying the scenic landscapes of the Missouri River Valley.

Beyond its vinicultural allure, Hermann offers a delightful blend of cultural attractions and outdoor activities. The Deutschheim State Historic Site provides a glimpse into the area’s German heritage, showcasing meticulously restored homes and gardens. The Katy Trail, a popular hiking and biking path, meanders through Hermann, offering opportunities to explore the surrounding countryside.

This lovely Missouri town is one of the most interesting Kansas City day trips to try.

Church In Starkenberg Hermann

  • Distance from Kansas City: 212 miles

Tanganyika Wildlife Park , located in Goddard, Kansas, is a premier destination for wildlife enthusiasts seeking a unique and immersive experience. Unlike traditional zoos, Tanganyika focuses on providing interactive and educational encounters with a wide array of animal species.

Visitors can engage in up-close interactions with a variety of animals, ranging from lemurs and kangaroos to rare and endangered species such as white rhinos and cheetahs. The park’s commitment to conservation and education is evident in its various programs, which aim to raise awareness about wildlife conservation while fostering a deep appreciation for the planet’s biodiversity.

One of Tanganyika Wildlife Park’s notable features is its commitment to creating a natural and spacious environment for the animals, enhancing their well-being and allowing visitors to observe them in settings that mimic their natural habitats.

The park’s dedication to animal welfare, coupled with its hands-on experiences, makes it an ideal destination for families, school groups, and wildlife enthusiasts of all ages.

With a focus on fostering connections between people and wildlife, Tanganyika Wildlife Park provides a memorable and educational experience, promoting a sense of responsibility and appreciation for the planet’s diverse ecosystems.

Explore more of the Midwest with a visit to Minneapolis !

  • Distance from Kansas City: 28 miles

Situated in the rolling hills of northwest Missouri, Excelsior Springs is a charming city known for its historic charm, healing mineral waters, and welcoming community spirit. Renowned for its well-preserved architecture, the city boasts a historic downtown area with quaint shops, inviting cafes, and beautiful Victorian-era buildings.

Excelsior Springs gained popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a health resort destination, attracting visitors seeking the healing properties of its mineral springs. Today, visitors can still experience the soothing effects of these springs at the Elms Hotel and Spa , a historic landmark that has been offering hospitality and relaxation since 1888.

In addition to its historic appeal, Excelsior Springs offers outdoor enthusiasts opportunities to explore its natural beauty. The city is surrounded by parks and scenic trails, such as Watkins Mill State Park and State Historic Site, where visitors can enjoy hiking, picnicking, and learning about Missouri’s agricultural and industrial history.

Excelsior Springs remains a tranquil destination that seamlessly combines historic places with modern amenities, making it an ideal escape for those seeking a blend of relaxation, culture, and natural beauty.

  • Distance from Kansas City: 42 miles

Located on 970 acres just outside of Kansas City, Powell Gardens is a breathtaking botanical garden that unfolds like a living canvas, showcasing an impressive array of plant life and horticultural wonders. Established in 1988, the gardens have evolved into a dynamic space that seamlessly combines curated landscapes with natural beauty.

Visitors can explore diverse themed gardens, from the serene Perennial Garden and the vibrant Heartland Harvest Garden to the intriguing Island Garden and the tranquil Rock and Waterfall Garden. Powell Gardens also features an extensive trail system that winds through woodlands and meadows, providing a serene setting for nature walks and birdwatching.

One of Powell Gardens’ standout attractions is the majestic Marjorie Powell Allen Chapel, a glass-enclosed structure that allows visitors to immerse themselves in the surrounding beauty while hosting various events and activities.

Beyond its visual appeal, Powell Gardens serves as a hub for education and community engagement, offering workshops, classes, and special events throughout the year. Whether strolling through meticulously manicured landscapes, participating in educational programs, or simply finding solace in nature’s embrace, Powell Gardens is one of the top day trips from Kansas City.

Read next: The 9 Best Day Trips From Chicago, Illinois

  • Distance from Kansas City: 63 miles
  • Driving time: 55 minutes

Topeka, the capital city of Kansas, stands as a dynamic blend of history, culture, and modernity and is a great day trip destination. Boasting a rich heritage, Topeka played a significant role in the fight against slavery during the tumultuous years leading up to the American Civil War.

Visitors can explore this history at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, a pivotal location in the fight for civil rights, and at the Kansas State Capitol, an architectural marvel that offers both historical insight and panoramic views of the city.

Topeka’s downtown area is a vibrant hub featuring a mix of locally-owned shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions, providing a delightful urban experience.

In addition to its historical significance, Topeka is home to a variety of parks and outdoor spaces, including Gage Park, which features a zoo, gardens, and a picturesque lake. The city hosts numerous events and festivals throughout the year, celebrating art, music, and the diverse cultural tapestry of the community.

With a commitment to preserving its heritage while embracing modernity, Topeka offers residents and visitors a balance of cultural experiences, recreational opportunities, and a welcoming Midwestern atmosphere.

Kansas State Capitol

  • Distance from Kansas City: 48 miles
  • Driving time: 58 minutes

Nestled along the banks of the Missouri River, Atchison, Kansas, exudes small-town charm and a rich historical legacy. Known for its well-preserved Victorian architecture, the city provides a picturesque backdrop for a stroll through its historic district, where visitors can explore beautifully restored homes and learn about the city’s past.

Atchison is also famed as the birthplace of Amelia Earhart, the pioneering aviator, and Amelia Earhart’s Birthplace Museum is a notable attraction that allows visitors to delve into her life and legacy.

Beyond its historical significance, Atchison offers a variety of cultural and recreational amenities. The scenic Riverfront Park provides a tranquil setting for picnics and leisurely walks along the river, while the Atchison Rail Museum showcases the city’s ties to the railroad industry.

Annual events, such as the Amelia Earhart Festival , draw visitors from near and far, celebrating the city’s heritage and fostering a sense of community. With its historic charm, cultural attractions, and welcoming atmosphere, Atchison provides a delightful blend of the past and present for residents and visitors alike.

  • Distance from Kansas City: 41 miles
  • Driving time: 42 minutes

Lawrence is a dynamic city known for its rich cultural heritage, vibrant arts scene, and the spirited atmosphere of the University of Kansas (KU). The city’s historic downtown, characterized by red-brick streets and charming storefronts, exudes a welcoming ambiance. Home to eclectic shops, art galleries, and a diverse culinary scene, downtown Lawrence offers a lively environment for both residents and visitors.

Massachusetts Street, or Mass Street as locals affectionately call it, is the bustling heart of the city, hosting festivals, parades, and a range of events that contribute to Lawrence’s energetic and inclusive community spirit.

Lawrence’s cultural vibrancy is further enhanced by the University of Kansas, which plays a central role in shaping the city’s character. The Spencer Art Museum, located on the university campus, houses an impressive collection spanning various cultures and time periods. Beyond the arts, Lawrence is renowned for its commitment to live music, with numerous venues showcasing local and nationally acclaimed bands.

Surrounded by picturesque landscapes, including the hiking trails of Clinton Lake State Park, Lawrence provides a perfect blend of cultural sophistication and natural beauty, making it one of the best Kansas City day trips.

Read next: 21 Best Things To Do In Memphis, Tennessee

  • Distance from Kansas City: 14 miles
  • Driving time: 27 minutes

Shoal Creek Living History Museum , situated just north of downtown Kansas City, offers a fascinating journey back in time, providing history lovers with a glimpse into the 19th-century Midwestern frontier life. Spanning over 80 acres, the museum is an immersive outdoor experience featuring more than 20 meticulously reconstructed and preserved historic buildings.

Each structure, from log cabins to a general store and a one-room schoolhouse, authentically reflects the architectural styles and daily life of the region during the 1800s. Costumed interpreters populate the grounds, engaging visitors with demonstrations of traditional crafts, cooking, and various aspects of daily living, creating a vivid and educational experience.

The museum’s dedication to historical accuracy and education extends to its vibrant calendar of events, including reenactments, workshops, and festivals that bring the past to life.

Whether it’s the depiction of a bustling pioneer community or an exploration of seasonal traditions, Shoal Creek Living History Museum provides an enriching and immersive opportunity for visitors to connect with the heritage and history of the Midwest. It’s one of the top family-friendly attractions and day trips in the area!

  • Distance from Kansas City: 142 miles
  • Driving time: 2 hours

Carthage, Missouri, is a city with a rich history and a vibrant present, situated in the southwestern part of the state. Known for its well-preserved Victorian architecture, Carthage’s historic district features charming streets lined with homes and buildings dating back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Jasper County Courthouse, a stunning example of Second Empire architecture, stands as a centerpiece, adding to the city’s architectural allure. Visitors can stroll through the historic Carthage Square, exploring boutique shops, local eateries, and absorbing the nostalgic ambiance that permeates the area.

The Carthage Civil War Museum preserves and showcases artifacts and exhibits related to the region’s Civil War history, offering visitors an immersive experience into this pivotal period.

Additionally, the Grand Avenue Park and Kendricktown Riverwalk provide green spaces for relaxation and outdoor activities. With a blend of historic charm, cultural richness, and community warmth, Carthage offers history lovers an inviting experience in the heart of the Ozarks.

Heading north? Try some of these fun things to do in Chicago !

  • Distance from Kansas City: 11 miles
  • Driving time: 22 minutes

A quick and easy day trip option is Overland Park, located just 20 minutes southwest of downtown Kansas City. Known for its family-friendly neighborhoods, excellent schools, and lush parks, Overland Park has consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in the United States.

The city boasts a robust economy, with corporate headquarters, shopping districts, and a diverse range of dining options. The upscale lifestyle is complemented by attractions such as the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, a sprawling 300-acre oasis that showcases beautiful landscapes, gardens, and walking trails, providing a serene escape within the city.

In addition to its residential appeal, Overland Park is a hub for cultural and recreational activities. The Overland Park Convention Center hosts events and conferences, while the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead offers an educational and entertaining experience for families.

With a commitment to community engagement, a thriving arts scene, and a balance between urban conveniences and suburban tranquility, Overland Park stands as a dynamic and sought-after destination in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Overland Park Arboretum And Botanical Gardens

Another one of the most popular unique and educational day trips from Kansas City is St. Joseph, a city with a rich history and a blend of urban amenities and small-town charm.

Known as the starting point of the Pony Express and the site where the infamous outlaw Jesse James met his end, St. Joseph preserves its historical legacy through various museums and landmarks.

The Pony Express Museum offers a captivating journey into the legendary era of the Pony Express, showcasing artifacts and exhibits that illuminate the daring riders and the crucial role they played in American history. The Patee House Museum , a former luxury hotel turned museum, takes visitors back in time with exhibits on the Civil War, and Victorian life.

Additionally, the Jesse James Home Museum provides insight into the life of the notorious outlaw, showcasing artifacts and offering guided tours of the house where he was shot and killed.

St. Joseph’s downtown district is a thriving hub of cultural activity, with a mix of historic architecture, boutique shops, and diverse dining options. The city’s robust arts scene is evident in the Missouri Theatre, a beautifully restored 1927 movie palace that now hosts live music performances and events.

The city’s historic places blended with its contemporary cultural and live music scene make St. Joseph a captivating day trip destination in the heart of Missouri.

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Let's Roam Explorer

The 20 Best Day Trips from Kansas City for Every Style of Adventure

long weekend trips from kansas city

Kansas City, is it in Kansas or Missouri? Well … it’s both, and not only is it one of the best cities to explore in both states, but it is also perfectly positioned for day trips in Nebraska, Iowa, and even Arkansas, if you don’t mind a bit of a drive! For this guide, we will cover day trips from Kansas City for every kind of adventure and keep it within a 3-hour drive. We’ll explore historic frontier towns where you can immerse yourself in the life of the 1800s, homes of aviation legends, and romantic getaways to reboot your love life. Let’s go!

Once you return from your day out of the city, let us take you through the best nightlife spots in KC on a fun, challenge-filled bar crawl! Our app-guided scavenger hunt “ Kansas City Crush Bar Crawl ,” will have you and your crew belly laughing all night as you experience the best bars and compete in off-the-wall challenges sure to entertain! 

The Best Way to See KC

Let’s Roam has created  app-led adventures  in hundreds of cities worldwide, including Kansas City and throughout Missouri and Kansas ! Gather your friends, family, and fellow explorers and invite them to race you through towns to find attractions and tackle trivia to earn points. You’ll love it!

Day Trips From Kansas City

In this guide, our Travel Times are estimated using Google Maps with Union Station, in Downtown Kansas City, as our starting point. Your Travel Time may vary depending on the day and time your choose to travel. Pay close attention to the states in this guide, as many towns have the same name in Missouri and Kansas. Make sure you aren’t heading to the wrong state!

Day Trips for History Buffs

1. atchison, kansas.

Distance:  50.9 miles

Travel Time: 1 hr

Atchison is the childhood home of Amelia Earhart, and she is still highly celebrated in the town. The Amelia Earhart Birthplace is the actual home where Amelia was born and raised. It sits on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River and tours detailing her life, accomplishments, and mysterious disappearance are available to the public. Every July, the town also hosts the Amelia Earhart Festival. 

If you have an interest in the paranormal, stop by Atchison’s Sallie House , reportedly one of the most haunted houses in America. Railroad junkies should make a quick stop in the Atchison Rail Museum where you can tour their collection of numerous antique rail cars and take a ride on the mini-train. 

During the summer months, Atchison has a sightseeing trolley that takes guests to all the top historical sites in town, and be sure to peruse the great collection at the Muchnic Art Gallery .

2. Carthage, Missouri

Distance:  141.7 miles

Travel Time: 2 hrs 12 mins

On the Missouri side of Kansas City, an excellent day trip getaway is the historic city of Carthage. Established in 1842, Carthage has been completely reconstructed after it was demolished in the Civil War. Now, the town has over 600 buildings that are on the National Register of Historic Places, and the old town charm is unbeatable. Stroll through historic Carthage Square and visit the Jasper County Courthouse, an absolutely stunning feat of architecture in the heart of Carthage. 

If you have an interest in Civil War history, then you probably know a bit about the battle of Carthage. It was the first full-scale battle of the American Civil War, and this area was truly torn apart by the conflict. Battle reenactments are pretty common at the Battle of Carthage State Historic Site and learn even more at the Battle of Carthage Civil War Museum . 

Carthage also happens to have an abundance of Maple trees. If you can, visit in the fall when their gorgeous colors are ablaze! 

3. Concordia, Kansas

Distance:  211.9 miles

Travel Time: 3 hrs

Concordia is pushing it for a day trip, we admit, but it is well worth the drive. The historical city is loaded with interesting sites for the history buff. Stop in the Cloud County Historical Museum for a brief history of the area. 

Then, head for the National Orphan Train Complex . The Orphan Train saga seems completely unimaginable today, but from 1824 through 1929, countless orphans and destitute adults were loaded aboard trains in the east and sent to the western frontier for a new life. The museum offers an interesting look at the history of the orphan railroad and the people who took the journey. It also has a fully-restored antique passenger car, The Legend, that serves as the education center for the museum. 

Last up, make sure to stop in the POW Camp Concordia . The little museum details the horrors of what WWII POWs went through during their stay in America. Knowledgeable tour guides will lead you through the complex and guard tower. It is an eye-opening experience for most Americans.

4. Independence, Missouri

Distance:  10.6 miles

Travel Time: 23 mins

Independence Missouri is home to the 33rd president, Harry S. Truman. It is also the location of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum , the Truman Home, and the Truman Depot . Truman lived most of his life in Independence, and you will find his visage around every corner. 

Take one of the Pioneer tours offered in town, where a covered wagon will escort you to all the major sites, and then visit the best example of Second Empire architecture in the U.S. at the 1881 Vaile Mansion. The house is huge, gorgeous, and possibly haunted, so enter if you dare.

5. Leavenworth, Kansas

Distance:  33.8 miles

Travel Time: 42 mins

And … we’re back to Kansas. Leavenworth is another historic city just a short road trip from Kansas City. Start your day with the Carroll Mansion Museum and admire the stunning stained glass. The 1880s Victorian home is an absolute showstopper with its handcrafted woodwork and incredible antiques.

Then, take a ride on the earliest known American carousel. Carousels are a thing here, as they also have a whole museum devoted to them, the C.W. Parker Carousel Museum . You will learn more than you ever cared to know about the amusement park ride and see a vintage one from 1913. Leavenworth is a cute city with unique historical sites that you don’t see everywhere. 

6. Weston, Missouri

Distance:  33.6 miles

Weston is a great day trip from Kansas City for a little nostalgia and peace. Visit the Green Dirt Farm , where you will learn all about the process of making sheep cheese and milk products. Plan on staying for lunch, as you can’t beat the farm-to-table freshness of their meals. 

Weston is also home to the oldest distillery west of the Mississippi, the Holladay Distillery , home of McCormick Distilling Co. The distillery will give you an insider view of the process of making vodka and bourbon using limestone-filtered water from the region. If hard spirits aren’t your thing, then sample wines and meads, along with some tasty cheeses, at Pirtle Winery . 

Finish your night in the lively Irish Pub, O’Malley’s, established in 1842. It features live music and craft beers from local breweries! You will have no shortage of historic and fun activities in Weston to keep you busy for a day. AAA Midwest Traveler ranks it as one of the best regional day trips from Kansas City. 

7. Excelsior Springs

Distance:  28.4 miles

Travel Time: 36 mins

Excelsior Springs is a beautiful, historic, and romantic Missouri town. The spa community, famous for its mineral waters, has been pampering guests since the late 1800s and shows no sign of stopping. Start your visit at the Elms Hotel & Spa . Founded in 1888, these guys know how to make you feel special. They offer every luxurious spa service you can imagine as well as salon services. Al Capone and Harry S. Truman were patrons of the hotel, and we figure it is good enough for them, it’s probably good enough for you too! 

Learn more about the history of the Excelsior Springs at the Hall of Waters and the visitor center downtown. The town also offers historic trolley rides, tastings at several local breweries and wineries, and a great golf course at the Excelsior Spring Golf Club. 

Day Trips for Nature Lovers

8. lake of the ozarks, missouri.

Distance:  146.3 miles

Travel Time: 2 hr 35 mins

Lake of the Ozarks is an incredible day trip for nature lovers and families. There are so many things to do in and around the lake that you will definitely need more than one day trip. 

Of course, you could spend the day in the cool water of the reservoir, just swimming, boating, fishing, or kayaking. But, there is so much more on offer. If you have kids in tow, consider heading for Big Surf Waterpark and hopping in the 375,000-gallon wave pool . If you prefer a hike, then head for the 30 miles of hiking trails that surround the lake, or even better, hop a little further south down to Ha Ha Tonka State Park.

At Ha Ha Tonka, you have natural springs, caves, sinkholes, and a huge natural bridge to explore. Not to mention the park has its own castle, or at the least the ruins of one. The house was built by a prominent Kansas City businessman at the turn of the 20th century. It’s pretty awesome to stand in castle ruins and overlook the bluff to picturesque Lake of the Ozarks. It is especially beautiful during the fall months when the trees lining the bluff are bright yellow, orange, and red.  

9. Louisburg, Kansas

Distance:  39.3 miles

Travel Time: 40 mins

Louisburg is a small town around 40 miles south of Kansas City and is home to the Louisburg Cider Mill where you can learn everything you need to know about apple cider. It’s not just a mill though, it’s an entire adorable farm and village, including a general store where you can get some apple butter, and a pumpkin patch and corn maze. It’s a great stop for a warm day when you just want to be outside and enjoy nature’s bounty.

Next, move from the ground to the sky and visit Powell Observatory. The observatory was built in 1984 and now has one of the largest telescopes in a 5-state area, the Ruisinger Telescope. In addition to peering through the scope, the observatory also hosts public education nights on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of May-October. On these special nights, educational topics in the field of Astronomy are discussed by experts, and they are both interesting and educational! 

If you are an animal lover, consider stopping at the Cedar Cove Feline Conservatory and Education Center and meet the Siberian and Bengal tigers. 

10. Lawrence, Kansas

Distance: 40.4 miles

Lawrence, Kansas is a college town and home to the University of Kansas Jayhawks. While many visit Lawrence for the Spencer Museum of Art, or the Lawrence Museum of History, it is also a great day trip for outdoor activities. 

Fisherman will enjoy a day at Clinton State Park. The 1,500-acre park sits on the north shore of Clinton Lake and is known for its population of Channel Catfish, Crappie, and Walleye. Birders and wildlife watchers can also catch a glimpse of Bald Eagles, wild turkey, and waterfowl. The park also boasts a large system of hiking and biking trails. In the summer visitors enjoy the wildflower fields, and in the winter cross-country skiers have their run of the place. 

Next, visit Prairie Park Nature Center for some time with the beavers and bobcats that call the wetlands home. It is also a wonderful place for birders to observe birds of prey like hawks and falcons. 

If scary birds aren’t your thing, heads for the aromatic lavender fields at Washington Creek , a family-owned farm with over 5,000 plants. We absolutely love exploring the region around Lawrence!

11. Powell Gardens

Distance:  39.9 miles

Travel Time: 48 mins

There is no more relaxing day trip from Kansas City than to explore the immense Powell Gardens . As Kansas City’s premier botanical garden, Powell has been welcoming visitors since 1988. The 175-acre landscape that is open to the public is just a portion of the more than 970 acres of plant life they grow. 

Powell Gardens offers a three-mile nature trail, eight themed gardens, several seasonal and rotating exhibits, and seasonal festivals. The gardens also boast Heartland Harvest Garden, one of the nation’s largest edible gardens, and you can savor some of its delicacies at the on-site dining facilities. If you love flowers, herbs, and veggies, we highly recommend a day trip to Powell Gardens. It’s just peaceful and rejuvenating!

Day Trips for Families

12. wamego, kansas.

Distance:  107.7 miles

Travel Time: 1 hr 41 mins

For a great day trip with the whole family, point your car west of Kansas City and head for Wamego. This small town is home to the quirky Oz Museum , a museum dedicated to all things Wizard of Oz. The museum features early copies of the book, vintage Parker Brothers board games, collectibles, and Oz Memorabilia from the franchise’s long history. The museum is the largest private collection of Oz memorabilia in the world. Even the winery in town is Oz-themed.

If you aren’t a fan of Dorothy and her friends, Wamego is still a great destination for many. The Lazy Heart D Ranch offers rides through bison populated fields, giving your family the opportunity to get up close and personal with the majestic beasts. You can also explore parts of the original Oregon Trail , which somehow still bares the wagon ruts from settlers’ caravans in places. Culture vultures will love visiting the Schonoff Dutch Mill from 1870, complete with an adorable windmill, and the Wamego Historical Museum . Prairie Village has a wonderful collection of authentic historic structures from the 1800s. Talk about a fun-filled day!

13. Jamesport, MO: Amish Country

Distance:  82.0 miles

Travel Time: 1 hr 22 mins

Tired of seeing your kid on their cell phone all day, take them back in time to a simpler world in Jamesport . Sample horse-churched ice cream, peruse collections of hand-crafted furniture, chow down on homemade bread, feed the baby cows, and have a unique and rare family experience, with no technology in sight. 

Jamesport is Missouri’s largest Amish community, and the people here are so friendly! Make sure to take the kids to Homestead Creamery where you can explore a real dairy farm and watch the cheese-making happen right before your eyes. Then make a pit stop at the Gingerich Dutch Pantry and get a homemade pie. 

For a day away from the bustle of the city with the family, you can’t do better than the peace of Jamesport.

Day Trips for Couples

14. somerset wine trail.

Distance:  44.5 miles

Travel Time: 45 mins

What is more romantic than a day away in the vineyards? Nothing…the answer is nothing. Take your honey on the Somerset Wine Trail for a tour of four of the region’s best vineyards and wineries. The trail starts just south of Overland Park and visits Somerset Ridge, Nighthawk, Middle Creek, and White Wind Farms. 

The wineries are located in Louisburg, so when you have had your fill of wine tasting, then cap your romantic day with nighttime stargazing at Powell Observatory!

15. Hermann, Missouri

Distance:  188.4 miles

Travel Time: 2 hrs 54 mins

​Hermann is adorable! The German heritage site has more than 100 structures on the National Register of Historic Places. If you and your significant other are history lovers or Deutschophiles, then visit the Historic Hermann Museum, Hermann Farm, and Deutschem State Historic Park for a full historical overview of the German heritage of the town.

For a wonderful wine tasting, try out the Hermannhof Winery , or spend your afternoon getting pampered at Hermann Hill Spa. If you choose to make it a weekend getaway, then you must book a stay at Alpenhorn Gasthaus . This beautiful bed and breakfast/winery combination is so romantic. It sits atop a lovely hill and oozes European charm. Plus, it is just minutes from the antique shops, microbreweries, and art galleries of town. They have an outdoor hot tub, a candlelit wine cellar, some serious fine dining, including gourmet breakfast, and even cooking classes. In two words, it’s pure magic!

16. Chateau Avalon

Distance:  16.6 miles

Travel Time: 20 mins

Chateau Avalon is technically in Kansas City, but we are counting it a romantic day trip because this place is a world away from the hustle of the city. The chateau is dripping with French refinement and features one of the largest fountains around. The property boasts 61 unique, themed guest rooms ranging from adventurous to totally luxe! The property also has its own bar and small plate restaurant, as well as an onsite full spa. If you want your pampering in bed, no problem, that spa staff will come right to you. It’s the ultimate romantic destination, and you will never want to leave!

Day Trips for City Lovers

17. overland park.

Distance:  11.9 miles

Overland Park is one of the easiest and best day trips from Kansas City! The city offers a large selection of cultural institutions to visit. Start your day at the complete architectural wonder, the Museum at Prairiefire . Spend some time marveling at the exterior before you head inside to a world of giant T-rex, mammoths of the sea, and virtual reality space encounters. The museum is hands-on and a fun place for both adults and children. 

If you have any interest in rodeo, livestock, agriculture, ag-business, or horse shows, then head over to the American Royal Museum next. The museum is interactive and very educational. It is especially fun in October when rodeo and livestock competitions are happening. 

Art lovers head for the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art . The museum is on the campus of Johnson County Community College. The collection of emerging and well-positioned contemporary artists is internationally acclaimed, and the small campus receives over 100,000 visitors a year to the museum. It’s a large collection of sculptures, paintings, drawings, photography, and ceramics in a fantastic modern building clad with Kansas limestone. It’s worth an hour or two of your time!

18. Wichita, Kansas

Distance:  191.5 miles

Travel Time: 2 hrs 53 mins

Wichita is the largest city in Kansas and makes for a great day trip. Hop on the Q-Line Trolley and explore the city for free! Stop in the Old Cowtown Museum and get a glimpse of life in Wichita in the late 1800s. The collection is a whole town really, with historic structures, clothing, period furniture, tools, and farming equipment. Costumed interpreters will help you understand and walk you through the 54 structures!

If you have an interest in Native American life, then visit the Mid-America All-Indian Center next and learn all there is to know about the Plains Indian tribes. Take the footbridge over the plaza to admire the 44-foot steel Indian, “The Keeper of the Plains.” The art piece was constructed by Blackbear Bosin, in 1974, and has been watching over the city ever since. It stands in an area of importance to Native Americans at the convergence of the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers. At certain times of day, a ring of fire burns around the structure, making it even more magnificent!

Head for Old Town Wichita and the entertainment district where you can fill your afternoon with unique shops and galleries, and then hit the bars for a little nightlife.

19. Topeka, Kansas

Distance:  63.3 miles

Topeka is the capital of Kansas and a beautiful city to visit on a day trip from Kansas City. Start your day with a trip to the Kansas State Capitol Building and admire the art and architecture. The immense and glorious structure took over 37 years to build, and with its 2014 renovation, it is shining like the day it was built. It’s an opulent and grand old lady and worth your time. 

The North Topeka Arts District is the place for art lovers. The old business district is in a period of renewal and change. NOTO has brought in several antique shops, small art galleries, bookstores, boutiques, and eateries that have made the district a vibrant and fun place to visit. 

Those interested in Civil Rights sites should visit the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site and learn about Kansas’s role in the battle for desegregation of public schools. 

Explore the death-defying feats and life of motorcycle legend, Evel Knievel at the museum of the same name! This place is awesome. It details the life, rides, and history of the great entertainer, as well as immersing you in virtual reality exhibits that really get your heart pumping. It’s a beautifully curated museum and a lot of fun to visit. 

If you haven’t had your fill of culture, the Mulvane Art Museum and the Kansas Museum of History are also great, and Lake Shawnee is the perfect outdoor stroll to get some fresh air! For evening, catch a live show at the Topeka Civic Theatre , the oldest continually running dinner theater in the United States!

20. Omaha, Nebraska

Distance:  186.5 miles

Travel Time: 2 hrs 47 mins

Now we head into another state, Nebraska (told you Kansas City is perfectly situated)! Omaha is a fun and vibrant city. The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium will probably top all Omaha travel guides you read, and with good reason. This incredible zoo features an immense walk-through tunnel aquarium and an absolutely amazing desert dome. Not to mention, every other interactive plant and wildlife exhibit you can imagine. It’s a full day and a good one!

If you have more time, take a wander through the more than 100 acres of flora at Lauritzen Gardens . Explore the wonderful collection at the Joslyn Art Museum, or learn about the history of the era in the Art-Deco train station turned museum, the Durham Museum. 

Meander through the Old Market area with its 19th-century buildings and cobblestone streets and visit the galleries and shops hidden within its beautiful facade! Omaha is one of the best day trips from Kansas City, especially for animal and art lovers!

Closing Thoughts

Kansas City is a fabulous vacation destination. Spend a few days there exploring all it has to offer, but make sure to take advantage of its close proximity to historic sites, natural wonders, and other awesome cities too! 

Let us know which day trip you are going to take in the comments! 

For more great ideas on how to explore Kansas City, check out our ultimate guide of the “ The Best Things to do In Kansas City, MO .”

Visit our Explorer Blog for more great day trip ideas and travel guides for cities around the world! Wherever you want to roam, our experts have probably been there and have you covered!

Frequently Asked Questions

There are day trips from Kansas City to suit just about any occasion! The best romantic getaways include Chateau Avalon, the vineyards of the Somerset Wine Trail, or the charming town of Hermann.

For an educational day trip from Kansas City , explore Civil War history in Carthage, visit the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, or learn about Amelia Earhart in her home city of Atchison.

Families visiting the Heart of America can try a scavenger hunt to explore local attractions, take a day trip to nearby historic towns like Leavenworth and Independence, or head to the Lake of the Ozarks !

Featured Products & Activities

Amtrak Guide

By train travelers for train travelers, 8 best amtrak trips from kansas city.

Busch Stadium in St. Louis

Two Amtrak routes stop at the beautiful Kansas City Union Station, the regional Missouri River Runner and the long-distance Southwest Chief route. You can take a day trip or overnight trip on one of these trains to explore small towns, big cities and even a popular national park. To start planning your trip, here are the best Amtrak trips from Kansas City that don’t require a train transfer or middle-of-the-night travel.

This website is reader supported and not affiliated with Amtrak. We may earn a small commission from links on this page .

Jefferson City

Jefferson City, Missouri is an easy Amtrak day trip from Kansas City. Trip time is about three hours, with arrival before noon and a return train in the early evening. The city is in a beautiful location on the Missouri River near bike trails , and there is a charming downtown area and bike rentals in walking distance of the train station.

Top attractions include the former Missouri State Penitentiary , Missouri State Capital ( tours available), Missouri State Museum and the Jefferson Landing Historic Site . Complete your visit with a meal at one of the top restaurants and consider checking out the Salute to America festival in July and Oktoberfest in September.

Historic Hermann Missouri

Step off the train in Hermann, Missouri to experience old-world Europe. Settled by German immigrants, the town is about four hours away from Kansas City. Visit the  Deutschheim State Historic Site ,  Historic Hermann Museum  and  Hermann Farm Museum to learn about the area or explore the local wineries and tasting rooms . For more things to do, consider planning your trip around a special event such as Oktoberfest, Wine & Jazz Festival and the seasonal German Christmas market.

Inns and hotels are in walking distance of the Amtrak station, and Uber, Lyft, a trolley and other transportation services are available. If you don’t want to stay overnight, Hermann can technically be a quick day trip. You will have about five hours in the city before the return train assuming no delays.

St. Louis Arch and Skyline

About 5.5 hours away from Kansas City on the Missouri River Runner , St. Louis has big city amenities and unique landmarks. The Gateway Arch is the famous attraction, but there’s more to the city than that. Other things to check out include the City Museum , Missouri Botanical Garden , craft beer scene and the massive Forest Park , which is 1,300 acres and contains lakes, nature areas, museums and the St. Louis Zoo . For extra fun, you can plan your trip around a St. Louis Cardinal game , Taste of St. Louis , Fair Saint Louis and other major events .

Chicago River Skyline

Head to Chicago for museums , beaches , festivals , live music , shopping and more. The trip from Kansas City takes about 7.5 hours via the Southwest Chief. You’ll arrive in the afternoon at the historic Chicago Union Station and have the option to return to Kansas City the following day. Considering all the great restaurants , nightlife and attractions , you may want to stay two nights or more.

Many hotels are in the West Loop and the Loop near the Amtrak station, and slightly further away is River North and Streeterville , neighborhoods that have hotels near the Magnificent Mile and Navy Pier. In terms of transportation, there is a seasonal water taxi that stops near Union Station as well as Uber, Lyft, Divvy Bikes and CTA trains .

You can also transfer to many other Amtrak routes in Chicago. See the best Amtrak trips from Chicago to learn about other destinations you can visit.

Las Vegas (New Mexico)

Las Vegas, New Mexico

To experience the Wild West, hop on the train in Kansas City and travel 14.5 hours to reach Las Vegas, New Mexico . The city has over 900 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places and hasn’t changed much since Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday, Jesse James and other outlaws walked the streets. Be sure to check out the  Plaza Hotel  that opened in 1882 — Theodore Roosevelt visited here in 1899 as part of a  Rough Riders  reunion.

The  Castaneda Hotel , which was formerly a  Harvey House  for railroad passengers, is next to the Amtrak station if you are looking for historic (and convenient) place to stay. Other hotels, restaurants and shops are also in walking distance. Plan to stay in Las Vegas at least one night.


Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque , New Mexico is a destination full of outdoor and cultural activities. Top attractions include  Old Town ,  Indian Pueblo Cultural Center ,  National Museum of Nuclear Science  and the  Petroglyph National Monument . There’s also a  zoo ,  botanic garden and a Breaking Bad tour to check out.

Consider planning your trip around the  Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta , which is a top event in the fall. The train takes about 18 hours from Kansas City, but thanks to the nearby airport , you can fly back to Kansas City if you’d rather not take the train back.

Coconino National Forest night sky near Flagstaff

Flagstaff is a walkable city on Route 66 that is full of art galleries and restaurants . The first Dark Sky City in the United States, Flagstaff is also an amazing place for stargazing . Plus, the Grand Canyon , Antelope Canyon , Walnut Canyon National Monument and the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort are nearby for outdoor recreation and sightseeing.

You can rent a car in town ( Budget is closest to the Amtrak station and provides pick-up service), but due to the evening arrival in Flagstaff, you may need to wait until the following morning to get your car. There are also many Flagstaff tours that provide transportation to major attractions, and rideshare services are options for getting around town.

Unless you want to travel in the middle of the night, we recommend getting on the westbound train to California after your stay in Flagstaff. In California you can fly back to Kansas City from several airports, or return via the Southwest Chief after a brief daytime stay in Riverside, Fullerton or Los Angeles. You’ll arrive in these cities in the morning and the eastbound train departs early evening.

Los Angeles

Hollywood Sign Los Angeles

For a long-distance train vacation, travel to Los Angeles on the Southwest Chief. You’ll travel through mountains and deserts on this 35-hour trip and arrive at the historic Los Angeles Union Station in the morning. There’s plenty to see and do in the city, including the Getty Center , Griffith Observatory , Universal Studios , Hollywood Sign and the Santa Monica Pier .

Hollywood , West Hollywood , Beverly Hills , Santa Monica and Venice Beach are popular areas for lodging. However, you can technically explore the city for a few hours and get back on the train same day for the trip home. There are also many flights at nearby airports, or consider continuing your train trip with a transfer to the Pacific Surfliner (service to San Diego) or the Coast Starlight .

More Information

  • Amtrak stations in Missouri
  • Best Amtrak trips from Chicago
  • 7 amazing Amtrak trips out West
  • Amtrak’s 15 long-distance trains and the places they go

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long weekend trips from kansas city

11 Family-Friendly Day Trips from Kansas City

Straddling the border of Kansas and Missouri , Kansas City is a Midwest city along the Missouri River renowned for its barbecue, jazz heritage. It is the largest city in the state of Missouri.

The larger metropolitan area of Kansas City, Missouri , spans 319.03 square miles in the county seats of Jackson County, along with other major Missouri cities of Blue Springs and Lee's Summit and the Kansas cities of Overland Park, Kansas City, and Olathe.

11 Family-Friendly Day Trips from Kansas City, Missouri

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While Kansas City is filled with activities, attractions, and fun family destinations, there are also many exciting day trips in the area to discover. If you are looking for a fun weekend getaway or trip ideas to take with the family outside of the city, you are in luck! We have curated a list of the best day trips to take from Kansas City that are perfect for the entire family.

From small towns with a significant history to half-hour drives that make for great day trips to Civil War history museums for the history buff in the family to iconic spots in North America's past, the Kansas City region has a family-friendly day trip for you.

1. St. Louis

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A 5-hour drive east of Kansas City lies the city of St. Louis, a hub for outdoor activities , beautiful parks, biking along nature trails, and eating delicious barbecues. The town sits at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. It is home to the incredible Missouri Botanical Garden, a must-see for kids and families.

2. Lawrence

Situated in Douglas County, just 40 minutes from the city, Lawrence is a vibrant college town with a beautiful live music scene and a thriving population of young folks attending the University of Kansas. Lawrence is home to Clinton Lake State Park, where people enjoy a marina, sports fields, picnic areas, and camping.

3. Watkins Woolen Mill State Park


Just over a half-hour drive from the city, Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site is a proper visit to the area's history. This historic site features a building and a three-story woolen mill that has been around since the 1870s. History buffs and their children can go to the visitor center, which provides interesting information about the Watkins family and the state park, as well as miles of hiking trails to meander on.

4. Atchison

Related content, 8 family-friendly day trips from fort worth, texas, day trips from chicago: 11 family-friendly ideas near the windy city, 7 family-friendly day trips from little rock, arkansas.

Located on the Kansas/Missouri border on the river in Kansas, Atchison is a sure bet for a fun hour-long road trip for the family. Known for being the home of Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the entire Atlantic Ocean. Take the kids to see the Birthplace Museum, the Earthwork hillside portrait, and the yearly Amelia Earhart Festival. After exploring the history museums, you can have a day of fun in the sun at Jackson Park and Warnock Lake.

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RELATED: Fort Snelling State Park: Rich History & Family-Friendly Activities

A small town 40 minutes northwest of KCMO, Weston offers a fun day trip idea for families. Weston is famous for Green Dirt Farm, where you book a tour to check out the farm, the milking, and cheese-making process, and taste the farm's creation at the retail shop. Adults can enjoy a beverage at the Weston Brewing Company, and the kids can enjoy a soda! Take a stroll down Main Street to shop, dine, and enjoy the small-town charm.

6. Bentonville, Arkansas

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Nestled just over 3 hours south of Kansas City, Bentonville , Arkansas, is a great place to take the kids for a weekend getaway. Discover the magic of the Ozarks or enjoy delicious eats downtown. The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is a beautiful place to take the kids. It is also enjoyable for the adults in the group.

7. St. Joseph

St. Joseph lies an hour north of the city and is home to two very famous icons, Jesse James and the Pony Express. An old Wild West outpost and frontier town and the birthplace of rapper Eminem, St. Joseph is a sure bet for a day trip from Kansas City. There are 26 miles of the parkway for biking and hiking, as well as the Pony Express Museum, where you can ride a horse and explore 150-year-old stables.

8. Lake of the Ozarks

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Lake of the Ozarks is one of the most fun family vacation ideas, just 2.5 hours from the city. This fantastic lake offers the prime opportunity for a weekend getaway or a great day trip from boating to nightlife to spas to lazy days on the water.

9. Omaha, Nebraska

Almost three hours away in Nebraska, Omaha provides a plethora of activities for the kids! From the Joslyn Art Museum to tubing the Elkhorn River to Lauritzen Gardens to a family-friendly show at the Rose Theater, Omaha is the prime stop for an escape from the city. Another terrific idea is to take a tour of the city's gourmet ice cream shops, including Coneflower Creamery and Ted & Wally's.

10. Powell Gardens

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This one may be just outside of downtown Kansas City, but we are still adding it to our list as a fun day trip for kids. These famous botanical gardens feature a wide array of activities specifically catered to the youth of the city.

11. Excelsior Springs

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Nestled just a half-hour outside of town, Excelsior Springs has presented an exciting tourist attraction since its inception as a 19th-century spa resort town. Visit the Art deco-style Hall of Waters, the historic Elms Hotel, and spend a day shopping on the kid-friendly streets. Excelsior Springs sits close to Watkins Mill State Park and the Worlds of Fun amusement park, ideal for kids looking to have some fun!

Have you visited the Grand Canyon? Share your trip on our Wide Open Roads Facebook !

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Summer in Kansas City: 2024 events, festivals you don’t want to miss

The sun is shining, patios are open, and the music is playing!  

Summer festivals, international soccer, top concerts and more lead the way this summer in Kansas City. From annual favorites to first-time fun, here are over 40 events worth checking out.   

Kansas Speedway NASCAR

Brookside Art Annual (May 3-5) – The Kansas City art festival season kicks off with the Brookside Art Annual, when the tree-lined streets of charming Brookside transform into al fresco gallery spaces, plus tasty treats and live music. 

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta (May 3-5) – This three-day celebration hosted by Guadalupe Centers will showcase local and national entertainment. Families can also enjoy local food, vendors, kids' activities and more. 

Worlds of Fun opening day (May 4) – KC's popular amusement park opens for the summer with some of the region’s most thrilling rides. This season, Worlds of Fun is adding two new weekend festivals.  

NASCAR at Kansas Speedway (May 4-5) – Head to Kansas Speedway for fast-paced NASCAR action. Three races in one weekend means plenty of high-octane fun.  

“MJ” at the Music Hall (May 7-12) – One of the greatest entertainers of all time, Michael Jackson’s story comes to the stage as “MJ,” a Tony Award-winning musical. This new show is stopping in Kansas City on its first national tour.  

Final Spike Anniversary Steam Tour (May 18) – At this free event, CPKC celebrates the anniversary of the final spike that connected Canada, the U.S. and Mexico by rail. The Empress 2816 Steam Train will be on display at Union Station as guests learn more about CPKC and North American rail history.  

Turkey Creek Festival (May 18) – This all-day event in Merriam, Kansas, includes everything from a pancake breakfast and a 5K to live music and a Kid Zone at the picturesque Antioch Park. 

Kelce Jam (May 18) – Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce is hosting his second annual Kelce Jam at Azura Amphitheater. Rappers Lil Wayne, Diplo and 2Chainz are this year’s headliners.  

Kansas City Triathlon (May 19) -- KC's premier triathlon event kicks off the summer season at Longview Lake . Options include Olympic, Sprint and Relay distance options as well as a duathlon. 

“Disney100” (May 24 through Nov. 30) – Walt Disney began his animation career right in the heart of Kansas City. This summer, Disney’s history and impact will come to Kansas City again as “Disney100: The Exhibition” takes over Union Station . Kansas City is one of the first three cities to host the historic North American tour.  

Oceans of Fun opening day (May 25) – The largest outdoor water park in the Midwest begins its summer season, stretching the fun until Labor Day. 

Celebration at the Station (May 26) – Enjoy the official start of summer with the largest free Memorial Day weekend event in the Midwest. Against the majestic backdrop of Union Station, the Kansas City Symphony performs patriotic favorites, followed by fireworks. 

Festa Italiana (May 31 through June 3) – Eat and drink your way through Italy—no passport required! Italian culture takes center stage in this event at Zona Rosa , which includes food, a beer garden, a car show and novelty booths. 

Tacos and Tequila Festival Kansas City Kansas

Hospital Hill Run (June 1) – Featuring half-marathon, 5k and 10k races, this Kansas City running tradition benefits Children's Mercy Hospital. Do you have what it takes to challenge "the thrill of the hill"? 

Tacos and Tequilia Festival (June 1) – The popular Tacos and Tequilia Festival is back, this time with T-Pain, Ashanti, Chamillionaire and more hitting the stage. And of course, there will be plenty of tacos from KC chefs, margaritas and tequila tasting.   

Vaile Strawberry Festival (June 1) – The beautiful, historic Vaile Mansion hosts this annual event, which welcomes craft and antique dealers who set up their wares throughout the mansion—and, of course, strawberry treats as you shop.  

Noah Kahan at Azura Amphitheater (June 5) – After a breakout year, Grammy nominee Noah Kahan is hitting the road in 2024 and he’s headed to Kansas City. The singer-songwriter is known for hits like “Dial Drunk,” “Stick Season” and “She Calls Me Back.” 

Old Shawnee Days (June 6-9) – Past meets present during this four-day event that celebrates the history of Shawnee, Kansas, with attractions including rides, music, games, historical reenactments and crafts. 

KC Pride (June 7-9) – See why The Advocate named KC Pride one of the top 10 LGBTQ festivals in the nation. Throughout the weekend event, celebrate inclusion, diversity and pride with live music and performances from local and national headliners. 

Heart of America Shakespeare Festival (June 11-30) – To festival, or not to festival? At the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, that’s not even a question. This year, the free festival features performances of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” 

Boulevardia (June 14-15) – Crown Center transforms into an all-senses destination during this festival hosted by Boulevard Brewing Co. , complete with food trucks, concerts, maker booths, a family carnival and, of course, beer stations that offer local, regional and national brews. 

JuneteenthKC Heritage Festival (June 15) – This annual festival in Kansas City’s Jazz District will feature live entertainment from local artists, including a gospel jubilee, plus food, vendors and children’s activities.  

Great Lenexa BBQ Battle (June 21-22) – Started in 1982, this Sunflower State competition attracts barbecue teams and cooks from all over the country to compete for the coveted title of Grand Champion of the Great Lenexa BBQ Battle, The Kansas State Championship. 

Q BBQ Fest (June 21-22) – Pitmasters from across the country gather at GEHA Field at  Arrowhead Stadium for this family-friendly festival. Featuring free admission for all, individual pitmasters offer barbecue dishes for sale. The event also features live music, beer, VIP experiences and more. 

Copa America 2024 Peru vs Canada (June 25) – Children’s Mercy Park will host two-time Copa America champions Peru vs Canada, playing in the tournament for the first time. Copa America is the oldest national team tournament in the world, and Kansas City is one of 13 host cities.  

Country Stampede (June 27-29) – The popular Country Stampede festival is making Azura Amphitheater its new home. This year’s lineup includes Jon Pardi, Riley Green, Billy Currington, Chris Janson and more.  

Stars and Stripes Picnic Kansas City

Copa America 2024 USA vs Uruguay (July 1) – The U.S. Men’s National Team comes to GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium to face Uruguay in a major matchup. The USMNT has never lost in Kansas City, so all eyes will be on the soccer capital of America. 

Stars and Stripes Picnic (July 4) – Celebrate July Fourth on the lawn of the National WWI Museum and Memorial for Kansas City's official Independence Day event. Enjoy live music, shop and eat from local vendors and experience the largest fireworks display in the city. 

Kenny Chesney at Arrowhead Stadium (July 6) – Country music star Kenny Chesney is returning to GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, already holding the record for the most performances in history at the stadium. The Zac Brown Band, Megan Moroney and Uncle Kracker will join him.  

Barbie the Movie: In Concert (July 15) – Barbie fans of all ages can enjoy a new experience under the night sky at Starlight Theatre . The hit movie “Barbie” will play while accompanied by an all-women orchestra.  

Festival of Butterflies (July 18 through Aug. 24) – At this perennial favorite at Powell Gardens , step into the magical world of butterflies and enjoy opportunities to learn more about the fluttering creatures. 

KC Fringe Festival (July 18-28) – There’s no better time to celebrate Kansas City’s vibrant creativity than during this 14-day showcase of local performing and visual arts. 

Amelia Earhart Festival (July 19-20) – Head to Atchison, Kansas, Amelia Earhart’s birthplace, for an annual celebration of the aviation icon packed with events, including live music, carnival rides, a food and crafts fair, aerobatic performances and a fireworks show. 

“Moulin Rouge” at the Music Hall (July 23 through Aug. 4) – The popular film comes to life on stage in this Tony Award-winning musical. Enter a world of splendor and romance as “Moulin Rouge” comes to Kansas City in its first US tour.  

Olivia Rodrigo at T-Mobile Center (July 26) – Popstar Olivia Rodrigo is coming to T-Mobile Center for her GUTS Tour, her first arena tour. It’s also her first show in Kansas City.  

Starlight Theatre Kanas City

Heart of America Hot Dog Festival (Aug. 3) – The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum welcomes hot dog aficionados to sample delicious ballpark franks, including the signature Kansas City Monarch Dog, plus live music and admission to the museum. 

“Come From Away” at Starlight (Aug. 6-11) – Enjoy a night under the stars with the true story of “Come From Away.” The musical explores a town’s remarkable act of kindness after the 9/11 attacks.  

PickleCon (Aug. 8-11) – Pickleball has taken the nation by storm, and the center of all the action can be found here in Kansas City. The first-ever PickleCon will fill the Kansas City Convention Center with 100 courts, plus clinics, adaptive play and other opportunities for fans at all levels. 

Blink-182 at T-Mobile Center (Aug. 9) – Blink-182 will bring their “ONE MORE TIME…” tour to Kansas City’s T-Mobile Center. The reunited pop-punk band are off on their first tour in about a decade.  

Sunflower Festival (mid-August) – Enjoy Kansas’ state flower as it pops up at dozens of local fields, including the popular KC Pumpkin Patch . The sunflowers make for great photo opportunities, and this Olathe farm has plenty of fun for the family.  

Zach Bryan at T-Mobile Center (Aug. 20 and Aug. 21) – After setting a new attendance record last year, country star Zach Bryan is returning to T-Mobile Center – this time for two shows.  

Parkville Days (Aug. 23-25) – The quaint riverfront community of Parkville, Missouri, celebrates its history and future with this annual family friendly festival, featuring crafts, carnival favorites and more.  

SantaCaliGon Days (Aug. 30 through Sept. 2) – This Independence, Missouri, festival commemorates the origin of the Santa Fe, California and Oregon trails during westward expansion. Browse over 500 artisan, craft, food and commercial vendor booths, a carnival, a 5K and more. 

Kansas City Irish Fest (Aug. 30 through Sept. 1) – Celebrate KC’s Celtic heritage with three days of live music, special performances, locally provided libations, activities for young ones, tastings and plenty more in this beloved Crown Center bash. 

long weekend trips from kansas city

The best days to fly around the Fourth of July this year

( NerdWallet ) – For folks planning July Fourth vacations, prepare for crowds. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened a record number of passengers in 2023, and those records are likely to be broken in 2024. In fact, in the first two months of 2024, travel volumes were roughly 6% higher than the same period in 2023, according to the TSA.

With the expected big crowds in mind, are some days better for air travel than others?

In 2024, July Fourth falls on a Thursday, which puts a wrench in predicting travel crowds. Will folks take the Friday after off to enjoy the long weekend? Or will they decide their vacation time is best used for another holiday?

Here’s some guidance around booking July Fourth weekend air travel in 2024, how you might be able to avoid the crowds — and potentially save money on airfare .

The best and worst days to fly July Fourth weekend

Are airports busy on July Fourth? NerdWallet analyzed TSA data showing the number of passengers screened at its U.S. checkpoints over the past three years, homing in on the seven days before and after July Fourth, to find the busiest days to fly.

The worst days to fly: To avoid crowds, don’t fly the Friday before July Fourth. In each of the past three years, the Friday before July Fourth was the busiest travel day before the Fourth of July weekend.

For post-holiday travel, the Sunday after ranks as the busiest day to fly.

The best days to fly: Typically, July Fourth is the least busy day to fly. On July Fourth of last year, airport crowds averaged just 70% of what they were relative to the busiest travel day, which was the Friday before July Fourth (June 30, 2023).

But if you’d rather spend July Fourth celebrating — and not in an airport — turn to Tuesday. The Tuesdays before and after the holiday rank among the least busy days to fly during July Fourth week.

The rankings of best and worst days to fly for July Fourth follow year-round travel patterns. No matter when you’re traveling, Fridays are, on average, the busiest day to fly, and Tuesdays are, on average, the least busy days to fly.

How this year’s Thursday holiday might impact long weekends

July Fourth falls on a Thursday, so people intending to travel for the holiday will likely take the next day, Friday, off and make it a long weekend. But given how few people are willing to travel on Independence Day, when will people actually fly?

The last time July Fourth fell on a Thursday was in 2019. Here’s a look at travel crowds by day in 2019, ranked from most to least crowded:

  • Sunday after, July 7 (most crowded).
  • Monday after, July 8.
  • Friday before, June 28.
  • Thursday before, June 27.
  • Sunday before, June 30.
  • Thursday after, July 11.
  • Wednesday before, July 3.
  • Wednesday after, July 10.
  • Tuesday after, July 9.
  • Monday before, July 1.
  • Saturday before, June 29.
  • Tuesday before, July 2.
  • Saturday after, July 6.
  • Friday after, July 5.
  • Thursday, July Fourth (least crowded).

In 2019, the July Fourth holiday was the least busy day to fly. Meanwhile, July 5, the day after the holiday, wasn’t busy either. That bucks the usual trend of Friday being the busiest travel day of the week. When it comes to July Fourth weekend travel, most people are already set in their locations by Friday.

But there’s one day that people are definitely crowding airports, and that’s the Sunday after July Fourth. Flying this day will cost you, too. According to travel booking app Hopper’s 2024 Travel Booking Hacks report, Sunday is the most expensive day to fly in the U.S., with airfares averaging 15% more than midweek departures.

The smarter, cheaper Fourth of July travel itinerary in 2024

Following typical July Fourth holiday travel patterns could mean costs in terms of airfare and time spent waiting in line at the airport. Deviate from that schedule to find lighter crowds and perhaps better July Fourth flight deals, too. Try these travel days instead:

Fly on July Fourth

If you don’t mind traveling on the holiday, you’re looking at the single emptiest air travel day of the period analyzed.

Do one better by flying early on the holiday. Hopper’s spring 2023 Flight Disruption Outlook found that flights that depart from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. are half as likely to be delayed as flights with scheduled departure times after 9 a.m.

Plus, a morning flight improves your odds of catching the fireworks at your final destination.

Embrace Saturday travel

Rather than rush out from work on the Friday afternoon before the holiday to jump on a flight, relax at home that evening and depart Saturday morning before instead. Simply shifting your trip by one day could likely result in going from one of the busiest to lightest travel days of the July Fourth travel period.

The same goes for returning home. While it can be tempting to extend your trip as long as possible before you have to get back to work on Monday, skip the Sunday flight and fly home on Saturday instead. Bonus: You’ll have a day at home to rest and recover before the new workweek. How responsible of you.

Fly on July 5

Though Friday is typically one of the most expensive days to fly year-round, that’s unlikely to be the case this particular week.

So another option is to fly home on July 5. This allows you to still spend the holiday in your destination of choice. By returning on Friday, you’ll still have the full weekend at home to take a vacation from your vacation before Monday.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports.

The best days to fly around the Fourth of July this year


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