Kansas City, a bustling metropolis in the heart of the Midwest, is renowned for its delectable cuisine and soulful jazz music. However, this city has much more to offer than meets the eye. And so – let’s discover the best day trips from Kansas city!
Whether one seeks to traverse the picturesque hills of wine country, meander through quaint and historic streets, or immerse themselves in the great outdoors, the possibilities are infinite. Prepare yourself for an unforgettable excursion as we explore the remarkable day trips waiting to be discovered just a stone’s throw away from Kansas City.
Whether you are an adventure seeker, history buff, or food enthusiast, the region’s diverse and captivating landscape offers something for everyone. From scenic routes to charming villages, let us unveil the best trips from Kansas City.
Table of Contents
Best Day Trips from Kansas City, Missouri
1. Lawrence, KS
Are you seeking a day trip brimming with both excitement and enlightenment? Look no further than Lawrence, Kansas: a charming college town just an hour west of Kansas City. Boasting a population of approximately 100,000, Lawrence is the sixth-largest city in the state and offers many enriching activities.
How To Get There
For those wondering how to get there, the drive from Kansas City is a straightforward journey along the picturesque I-70 highway. Alternatively, travelers can opt for the Amtrak Southwest Chief train from Kansas City to Lawrence, which offers a serene and scenic ride through the mesmerizing Kansas countryside.
Once you arrive in Lawrence, begin your itinerary with a visit to the Spencer Art Museum. The Spencer Art Museum is an exceptional haven for art lovers worldwide. This remarkable museum boasts a vast and multifaceted collection of over 36,000 art pieces from across the globe, spanning ancient to contemporary times and encompassing artwork from Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
With such a wide range of artistic expressions, there is an abundance of creative excellence to discover and admire. Visitors to the Museum can expand their horizons by participating in various educational programs.
From guided tours to interactive art workshops, these programs offer a unique opportunity to learn about the museum’s collections and the diverse cultural contexts of the artworks.
The museum also hosts informative lectures and exclusive events that shed light on the artists’ creative processes, enriching visitors’ understanding of the artworks. The Museum building is an architectural marvel featuring the distinctive post-modernist style created by the renowned architect Robert Venturi.
This impressive structure is aesthetically pleasing and practical, housing the museum’s extensive collections in an exceptional manner. The museum’s outdoor sculpture garden is a serene oasis that offers visitors a peaceful respite to relax and revel in the art.
Located on the picturesque University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, the museum is at the heart of a charming college town with a rich historical and cultural legacy.
While exploring the museum, visitors can wander through the campus and explore the surrounding areas, which offer an abundance of attractions such as the Natural History Museum and the Kansas Union.
The University of Kansas, situated in Lawrence, is an awe-inspiring sight that one should not miss out on, with its striking architecture and deep-rooted history. The campus comprises several structures of historical significance, such as the Memorial Stadium and Fraser Hall, that bear testimony to the campus’s rich legacy.
It is a fusion of classic and contemporary architecture, providing an ideal backdrop for a leisurely stroll and an opportunity to relish the campus’s exquisite beauty.
A visit to downtown Lawrence is an absolute must for anyone looking for a distinctive and charming experience. The bustling locale offers a diverse array of local shops, antique stores, and delectable eateries, each with something unique to explore.
Downtown Lawrence is a haven for those seeking to relish delicious cuisines or find exceptional souvenirs.
For nature enthusiasts, Clinton State Park presents an extraordinary chance to explore the remarkable beauty of nature. This vast natural wonderland spans over 1,500 acres and encompasses lush rolling hills, woodlands, and prairies that beckon exploration.
Whether one desires to embark on a hike, enjoy a serene picnic, or merely immerse oneself in the spellbinding scenery, Clinton State Park offers a perfect setting. Furthermore, for adventure-seekers, the Kansas River offers a plethora of exciting opportunities for kayaking and fishing.
In conclusion, Lawrence, Kansas, offers an enchanting day-trip adventure for anyone looking to break away from the city and embrace something novel.
With its striking art museum, picturesque university campus, charming downtown, and diverse outdoor recreation options, there is something for everyone to appreciate. Pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready for an unforgettable day-trip experience!
See Related: Best Day Trips from Reno, Nevada
2. Independence, MO
Are you seeking educational and delightful day trips from Kansas City? Look no further than Independence, Missouri, an enchanting town just 20 minutes away. Boasting a rich history and an abundance of attractions, Independence provides the perfect locale for history enthusiasts, families, and anyone yearning for a refreshing change of pace.
How To Get There
Getting to Independence is effortless. The town lies just east of Kansas City, and it takes a mere 20-30 minutes to drive there, depending on traffic.
Alternatively, those preferring public transportation can opt for the KCATA bus or the Truman Heritage Trail, a 6.5-mile trail connecting Independence to the wider Kansas City metropolitan region.
With a population of roughly 120,000, Independence exudes a small-town charm, but there is no scarcity of activities. The town is renowned for its connection to former President Harry S. Truman, who spent most of his life in Independence.
Visitors can explore the Truman National Historic Site, featuring the Truman family home and the Truman Presidential Library and Museum, offering a fascinating glimpse into the life and times of one of America’s most beloved presidents.
Aside from the Truman sites, Independence is steeped in a rich history that permeates throughout the town. Visitors can meander through the historic Independence Square, housing an array of shops, restaurants, and museums.
Surrounded by stunning 19th-century buildings, the square is a vibrant locale where numerous events and festivals occur throughout the year, making it an exhilarating place to explore.
Other attractions in Independence include the National Frontier Trails Museum, recounting the story of westward expansion and the pioneers who journeyed along the Oregon, California, and Santa Fe Trails.
The Vaile Mansion, a magnificent Victorian mansion that offers tours and events throughout the year, is yet another must-visit attraction.
In conclusion, Independence, Missouri, is an extraordinary day-trip destination from Kansas City. With its ease of access, rich history, and diverse attractions, it is sure to provide a memorable and enjoyable experience for visitors of all ages seeking to discover something novel and intriguing.
See Related: Best Bus Tours To Sight And Sound, Pennsylvania
3. Carthage, MO
Embark on a delightful and rewarding day trip from Kansas City to Carthage, Missouri, a small town nestled just over two hours south of the city. Carthage presents a plethora of exciting opportunities for visitors seeking a blend of entertainment, history, and distinctive experiences.
Start your exploration of Carthage at the historic Carthage Square, a charming hub of the town featuring a breathtaking courthouse, quaint shops, and restaurants. Delight in a leisurely stroll through the square, taking in the splendor of the courthouse, constructed in 1894, and recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.
Additionally, the square offers an array of retail outlets and eateries that cater to diverse preferences, such as artisanal crafts, souvenirs, and homemade ice cream.
Besides, the town boasts an alluring attraction, the Precious Moments Chapel, located just a short drive away from the town square. This extraordinary chapel displays over 50 murals that recount stories from the Bible, accompanied by a stunning outdoor garden that features sculptures and fountains.
The founder of the chapel is Sam Butcher, the creator of the adored Precious Moments figurines that have gained a worldwide following.
Another highlight of Carthage is the Powers Museum, a living history museum that provides insight into the lives of the town’s early settlers and pioneers. The museum is housed in a Victorian mansion, meticulously restored to preserve its charm and splendor.
The exhibits in the museum are wide-ranging, encompassing everything from Native American history to the Civil War and beyond.
How To Get There
Carthage is conveniently located off of I-49, an effortless and hassle-free day trip destination for visitors from Kansas City. Alternatively, you can opt for the scenic route and enjoy the mesmerizing Missouri countryside by taking US-71 south to Carthage.
While Carthage has a small population of over 14,000 residents, its size belies its charm, character, and amicable atmosphere. Visitors to the town are sure to appreciate the unique attractions and friendly ambiance of Carthage.
Overall, Carthage stands out as one of the most enjoyable day trips from Kansas City, offering visitors an engaging and thrilling experience that combines history, culture, and distinct sights. Plan your next trip to Carthage today and prepare for an unforgettable adventure!
See Related: Best Bus Tours in Branson, Missouri
4. Hermann, MO
For those seeking a pleasurable and restful day trip from the bustling city of Kansas, Hermann, MO, proves to be a delightful destination. This idyllic town, located approximately two hours east of Kansas City, boasts a variety of attractions that cater to diverse visitors.
Hermann prides itself on its rich history, a fact exemplified by the historic Hermann Museum. The museum stands as a must-see for history enthusiasts as it showcases exhibits on the town’s inception, the Civil War era, and the region’s winemaking and agricultural industries. Visiting this museum offers a great opportunity to gain insight into the town’s past and the people that shaped it.
Nonetheless, Hermann’s appeal transcends the town’s past as it also offers an excellent opportunity to revel in the present. The Somerset Wine Trail, a popular attraction among wine lovers, is a hub of more than ten wineries that offer tastings and tours.
It’s an ideal place to enjoy local wines and vineyards, whether one is a seasoned oenophile or a novice seeking a fun day out with friends.
Apart from wine tasting in the Somerset Wine Trail Distance, Hermann provides several other activities and attractions to savor. The town’s scenic splendor, which includes rolling hills, lush vineyards, and historic buildings, is a sight to behold.
Visitors can explore the charming downtown area with its shops, galleries, and restaurants. Furthermore, there are various parks and outdoor recreation areas nearby, such as Katy Trail State Park and Hermann City Park.
How To Get There
Getting to Hermann is a breeze. It’s a short drive from Kansas City on I-70, or visitors can opt for a scenic drive along Highway 94, following the course of the Missouri River. With a population of only 2,400, the town offers a warm and intimate community atmosphere.
Hermann makes for an excellent day trip destination for anyone seeking to explore the beauty and history of Missouri. From the Hermann Museum to the Somerset Wine Trail, this charming town caters to everyone. Pack your bags, hop in the car, and discover all that Hermann has to offer!
See Related: Best Day Trips from Greenville, South Carolina
5. St.Joseph, MO
For those seeking a nearby excursion from Kansas City, St. Joseph, Missouri, should be at the top of their list. Located just an hour north, St. Joseph offers a myriad of activities and attractions that make it a great day trip destination. Here are some of the reasons why St. Joseph should be on your list of must-visit day trip destinations.
Nestled in the northwestern region of Missouri, St. Joseph’s location off Interstate 29 makes it an easy commute from Kansas City. With a population of around 75,000 people, St. Joseph offers the perfect blend of quaintness and vibrancy.
One of the city’s primary draws is the Pony Express Museum. The Pony Express was a vital mail delivery service that operated from St. Joseph to Sacramento, California, in the mid-1800s.
The museum provides an engaging look into this significant chapter of American history. Visitors can marvel at original artifacts from the Pony Express, such as saddles, mailbags, and even a restored Pony Express horse.
St. Joseph’s location along the Missouri River is another feature that sets it apart. The river provides ample opportunities for leisurely strolls, hikes, and bike rides along its picturesque banks. Adventurous visitors can explore the river via canoe or kayak, while others can relax and enjoy the scenery at one of the many parks that line the river’s edge.
For those with an interest in higher education, Missouri Western State University is worth a visit. The university’s campus is situated in St. Joseph and offers a diverse array of undergraduate and graduate programs. Visitors can take a guided tour of the campus to gain insight into the university’s history and academic offerings.
St. Joseph’s downtown district is also worth a visit. This charming area boasts a wealth of shops, restaurants, and historic buildings. Visitors can stroll through the district, admiring the architecture or indulging in the local culinary delights, or picking up a souvenir from one of the area’s unique boutiques.
How To Get There
Getting to St. Joseph from Kansas City is hassle-free. A short drive on Interstate 29 North for approximately an hour will take you to the heart of the city. Alternatively, visitors can opt to take a bus or train if they prefer not to drive.
St. Joseph, Missouri, is an excellent day trip destination for anyone seeking a blend of history, outdoor activities, and local culture. With its proximity to Kansas City, a visit to St. Joseph is a must. With a plethora of attractions and activities to enjoy, it’s the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Chiang Mai, Thailand
6. Council Grove, KS
Looking for an exciting day trip from Kansas City that combines history, culture, and outdoor adventure? Look no further than Council Grove, a charming town nestled just two hours southwest of the city. With its small population of just over 2,000 residents, Council Grove offers visitors a unique experience filled with opportunities to learn, explore and unwind.
One of the town’s top attractions is the Kaw Mission State Historic Site. This fascinating museum shares the story of the Kaw Indian tribe, who lived in the area for centuries before being relocated to a reservation in Oklahoma in the 1870s.
The museum boasts a variety of exhibits on Kaw culture, as well as the mission’s history, which was established in the mid-19th century to educate Kaw children.
However, Council Grove offers more than just history; it also provides a gateway to the stunning Flint Hills, an area known for its picturesque tallgrass prairie that spans across much of eastern Kansas. Visitors can enjoy scenic hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of rolling hills, wildflowers, and wildlife.
Those who prefer shorter hikes can explore the Morris County Trail, a 1.5-mile loop that winds through the woods and a creek. For a more challenging trek, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve boasts over 40 miles of trails that provide an immersive experience in the heart of the Flint Hills.
Council Grove is also a haven for foodies, shopaholics, and art enthusiasts, with a range of shops, restaurants, and galleries. The Hays House is a must-visit, serving up home-cooked meals since 1857. Visitors looking for unique souvenirs should check out the Council Grove Gallery, which features the work of local artists and craftsmen.
How To Get There
Getting to Council Grove is simple. Take I-35 south from Kansas City and exit 128, then continue west on US-56 for approximately 25 miles. As you approach the town, you’ll be captivated by its historic architecture, brick buildings, and charming downtown area.
In conclusion, pack a picnic, wear hiking boots, and embark on a memorable day trip to Council Grove. This town offers an exciting mix of history, culture, and outdoor adventure, making it a must-visit destination for those looking for a unique and enriching experience.
7. Atchison, KS
Are you in search of an enriching and entertaining day trip from Kansas City? Look no further than Atchison, KS, a picturesque town located just an hour’s drive north of Kansas City. Brimming with culture, history, and attractions, Atchison is sure to leave you spellbound.
Atchison, with a population of around 10,000 people, is renowned for its stunning architecture and rich history. The town was founded in 1854 and is named after Senator David Rice Atchison, a significant figure in the early history of Kansas. Today, Atchison is a thriving community that takes pride in its heritage and is eagerly anticipating a bright future.
One of the must-see attractions in Atchison is the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum. Situated in the house where the legendary aviation pioneer was born in 1897, this museum is dedicated to preserving Earhart’s legacy.
It showcases exhibits on Earhart’s life and career, along with an array of artifacts related to her time in Atchison. Aviation and women’s history enthusiasts should not miss this landmark destination.
The Atchison Rail Museum is another unmissable attraction. Housed in the historic Santa Fe Depot, the museum boasts exhibits on the history of railroads in Atchison and the surrounding areas.
Visitors can learn about the role railroads played in the town’s growth and development and witness a collection of historic locomotives and rail cars.
Apart from museums, Atchison is home to several historical sites worth exploring. The Jasper County Courthouse, a stunning example of Second Empire architecture, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Middle Creek, a popular historic site, is well-known for its captivating natural scenery and intriguing history.
How To Get There
Traveling to Atchison from Kansas City is a breeze. Simply drive north on I-29 for an hour, and you will find yourself in Atchison in no time. Upon arriving, you will find ample parking options, and most of the town’s attractions are within walking distance of each other.
Atchison is a splendid day trip destination for those keen on delving into the culture and history of Kansas. With its captivating museums, magnificent architecture, and rich history, Atchison has something for everyone to relish. So, pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready for an enthralling day of adventure in Atchison, KS!
See Related: Best Day Trips from Baltimore, Maryland
8. Weston, MO
Are you seeking a delightful and enlightening day trip from downtown Kansas City? Look no further than the idyllic town of Weston, Missouri. Situated just 30 minutes north of Kansas City, Weston is an ideal destination for those yearning to escape the hectic pace of city life and immerse themselves in a quintessential small-town atmosphere.
Brimming with a population of just under 2,000 friendly locals, Weston boasts a welcoming community that exudes history and culture.
This charming town, established in 1837, played a pivotal role in developing the Western United States, serving as a significant center for commerce and trade during the mid-19th century.
Among the must-see attractions in Weston is Green Dirt Farm, a local farm that specializes in the creation of sheep’s milk cheese. The farm provides tours and tastings of its award-winning cheese, enabling visitors to learn about the cheese-making process and indulge in some of the finest cheese in the region.
Don’t forget to stock up on cheese and other locally sourced products at the farm’s store before you depart!
Another must-see attraction in Weston is Missouri Town, a living history museum that transports visitors to experience life in Missouri during the 1800s. The museum boasts over 25 restored historic buildings and structures, including schools, homes, and businesses. Visitors can wander the museum on their own or opt for a guided tour to gain deeper insight into life in the 1800s.
How To Get There
Traveling to Weston is simple. If you are driving from Kansas City, take I-29 North for roughly 30 minutes until you arrive at the exit for Weston. The town is also conveniently accessible by car from neighboring cities, such as St. Joseph and Leavenworth.
Aside from Green Dirt Farm and Missouri Town, Weston has an array of other captivating attractions and activities to entertain visitors. The town boasts several wineries and breweries, as well as a multitude of antique shops, art galleries, and boutiques.
Visitors can also explore the picturesque Weston Bend State Park, which offers breathtaking vistas of the Missouri River and the surrounding countryside.
In conclusion, Weston, Missouri, is an outstanding day trip destination for anyone looking to discover a captivating small town with a rich history, diverse culture, and delectable cheese.
Whether you are a history enthusiast, a culinary connoisseur, or simply seeking a day of relaxation outside the city, Weston has something to enchant everyone.
9. Louisburg, KS
Nestled 20 miles south of the bustling city of Kansas lies the quaint town of Louisburg, Kansas, an idyllic hidden gem perfect for a day trip. With a population of just over 4,000, Louisburg is a charming small town that offers a unique blend of history, outdoor recreation, and farm-to-table dining.
Here are some compelling reasons why Louisburg is undoubtedly one of the best day trip destinations from Kansas City.
How To Get There
Arriving in Louisburg is a breeze. From Kansas City, simply embark on a southward journey on US-69, and you’ll reach your destination in approximately 30 minutes. If you prefer a more picturesque route, you can alternatively traverse Metcalf Avenue south to 191st Street and then venture westward to Louisburg.
Despite its modest size, Louisburg has a lot to offer visitors, whether you’re interested in history, outdoor recreation, or just a relaxing day away from the city. With a population of just over 4,000, the town may seem diminutive, but its plethora of attractions ensures something for everyone.
One of the highlights of visiting Louisburg is immersing yourself in the town’s rich history. The town was established in 1857 and played a pivotal role during the Civil War.
Visitors can get a glimpse of the town’s storied past by visiting the Old Depot Museum, housed in a refurbished train depot constructed in 1887. The museum showcases an exhibit on local history, along with a collection of artifacts from the Civil War.
Louisburg boasts an abundance of options for those seeking to bask in nature and relishes fresh air. The town is home to three enchanting parks: Lewis-Young Park, Rockville Park, and City Lake Park, each offering an array of amenities, including walking trails, playgrounds, and picnic areas.
City Lake Park boasts a swimming beach and fishing lake, making it an ideal spot to cool off during a sweltering summer day.
Louisburg’s farm-to-table dining scene is one of the most significant draws of the town. Surrounded by farmland, many local restaurants utilize the freshest, locally-grown produce. The Louisburg Cider Mill, one of the most popular restaurants in town, is renowned for its apple cider donuts and fresh cider.
Another excellent option is Nick and Jake’s, which serves scrumptious farm-to-table cuisine in a cozy ambiance. Louisburg, Kansas, is a fabulous day trip destination from Kansas City.
With its rich history, stunning parks, and farm-to-table dining, Louisburg offers something for everyone. So pack a picnic lunch, hop in the car, and head south to Louisburg for a day of fun, relaxation, and exploration.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Kansas City, Missouri
10. Lecompton, KS
Looking to embark on an enriching day trip from Kansas City? Look no further than the quaint town of Lecompton, KS! With a population of approximately 600, Lecompton is teeming with history and culture, promising a memorable experience for visitors of all ages.
How To Get There
Nestled about 25 miles northwest of Topeka, Lecompton can be conveniently accessed within an hour by car from Kansas City. Upon arrival, visitors will be greeted with the picturesque surroundings of historic buildings and a charming atmosphere indicative of this quaint town.
Despite its small size, Lecompton boasts an array of attractions for visitors, especially those interested in delving into the region’s intriguing history and culture.
One of the most prominent attractions in Lecompton is the Territorial Capital Museum, a treasure trove of artifacts and exhibits that provide insight into the town’s history and that of the state of Kansas.
As the first capital city of the Kansas Territory, Lecompton played a pivotal role in the state’s and the nation’s history. Visitors can delve into the pre-Civil War era, the territorial period, and the early statehood of Kansas, learning about the town’s significance in the fight against slavery and how the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 led to the formation of the Republican Party.
Aside from historic sites, visitors can also relish a leisurely stroll through the historic district, home to several mid-1800s buildings. The Lane University building, constructed in 1867, is another must-see attraction, given its historical significance as one of the earliest institutions of higher learning in Kansas. It is named after James H. Lane, a prominent figure in the state’s history.
For those seeking outdoor adventures, Lecompton’s proximity to lakes and parks, including Clinton Lake and Perry Lake, presents an excellent opportunity for fishing, boating, hiking, and camping, making it an idyllic destination for nature lovers.
Lecompton, KS, is an unmissable destination for those interested in history, nature, and unique day trips from Kansas City. With its rich history, quaint downtown, and nearby outdoor activities, the town caters to an array of interests.
Be sure to add the Territorial Capital Museum, the Lane University building, and a stroll through the historic district to your itinerary to fully experience the town’s offerings.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Louisville, Kentucky
Why do people travel to Kansas City?
Kansas City boasts a plethora of attractions that cater to the diverse interests of travelers, ranging from compelling dining options to captivating art exhibitions and charming shopping venues. You can find some of the best-guided tours on GetYourGuide and Viator.
With an array of opportunities to indulge in a memorable experience, visitors are sure to be spoiled for choice. Just a short drive from Independence, the city offers a full day of entertainment or a unique date night that is sure to leave a lasting impression.
What is the best time of year to take a day trip from Kansas City?
If you are contemplating a day trip from Kansas City, it is recommended that you plan your visit during the tranquil and moderate seasons of spring and fall. These clement months offer a delightful respite from the harsh extremes of summer and winter, allowing visitors to revel in the refreshing gusts and pleasant temperatures while savoring the allure of their chosen destination.
How far are the day trip destinations from Kansas City?
When considering a day trip from Kansas City, one may wonder how far each destination lies from the city. While the distances may vary, the good news is that all the day trip destinations are within a comfortable few hours’ drive from Kansas City.