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Best day trips from Kansas City, Missouri

Discover the hidden gems and thrilling adventures just a short drive away from Kansas City, Missouri.

November 2, 2023
 min read
Last updated:
Jan 15
A view of the Kansas City, Missouri skyline, with Union Station in the foreground.

Kansas City, Missouri, with its vibrant arts scene, rich history, and mouth-watering barbecue, is a jewel in the heart of America. But the fun doesn't stop at the city limits. The surrounding area is brimming with attractions that beg to be explored. So, let's dive into the top day trips that promise a delightful retreat from the city's hustle and bustle, shall we?

Weston, Missouri

Imagine a place where time slows, allowing the rich tapestry of American history to shine; that's Weston for you. This picturesque town offers more than meets the eye. Its historic downtown is a treasure trove, with the Weston Brewing Company offering tours and tastings that harken back to pre-Prohibition days. The Weston Red Barn Farm, especially in the fall, is a family delight with apple picking, hayrides, and a country store. Nature lovers will appreciate Weston Bend State Park, known for its scenic overlooks of the Missouri River, leaf-peeping in autumn, and trails that are perfect for hiking and biking.

Lawrence, Kansas

Lawrence, a hub of arts and culture, is an invigorating escape from the city's pace. It's a town where history meets modern comfort. The Spencer Museum of Art and the Lied Center of Kansas often host events that culture vultures will relish. Massachusetts Street, affectionately known as "Mass Street" to locals, is a lively mélange of shops, galleries, and restaurants, all with their unique flair. The outdoor enthusiasts shouldn't miss Clinton State Park, with opportunities for hiking, boating, and fishing. And for history buffs, the Watkins Museum of History offers profound insights into regional and national history.

Excelsior Springs, Missouri

When the daily grind gets overwhelming, Excelsior Springs calls you to step back and indulge. This city is a sanctuary for wellness and relaxation, thanks to its historic spas. The Hall of Waters, with its art deco architecture, once was the place to be for mineral water cures. While there, indulge in local eateries or unique boutiques downtown. For wine connoisseurs, Fence Stile Vineyards and Winery offers exquisite local wines in a cozy setting. Don't miss the chance to explore Watkins Mill State Park, where you can delve into the history of a 19th-century woolen mill and enjoy the natural beauty.

Atchison, Kansas

Atchison is a treat for anyone with a penchant for mystery and history. As the hometown of Amelia Earhart, it's brimming with memorabilia and stories of her life, encapsulated in the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum. The town's storied past doesn't end there; it's reputed to be one of the most haunted locales in Kansas. Thrill-seekers and curious minds can embark on a ghost tour, visiting sites known for paranormal activity. The Atchison Riverwalk presents breathtaking views of the Missouri River, perfect for a reflective end to your adventurous day.

Leavenworth, Kansas

Leavenworth offers a compelling blend of the past and present, making it an ideal getaway. This city isn't just known for its federal penitentiary; it's also rich in cultural heritage, evident in the Carroll Mansion, a museum that offers a peek into the 19th-century elite life. The Richard Allen Cultural Center provides profound insights into African-American history and the Underground Railroad. Fort Leavenworth, the oldest active Army post west of the Mississippi, has a captivating museum and a serene walking trail. Downtown Leavenworth is perfect for leisurely strolls, with an array of shops, restaurants, and seasonal events that reflect the community's heart and soul.

Jamesport, Missouri

Jamesport takes you on a serene journey away from modern-day hustle to a world where the Amish community's traditional lifestyle reigns. This town is a hub for those seeking handmade crafts, quilts, and classic Amish furniture. The countryside, dotted with farms, invites visitors to savor homemade baked goods, visit local produce auctions, and enjoy the simplicity of life. Horse-drawn buggy rides are a delightful way to explore the area and step back in time. The annual events, like the May Days Festival and the Fall Craft Fair, showcase the community's craftsmanship and culinary skills, promising a rich, immersive experience.

Hermann, Missouri

In Hermann, Missouri's wine country comes to life! This charming town, founded by German settlers, has a vibrant wine culture, with numerous wineries offering tours and tastings. Hermannhof Winery, Stone Hill Winery, and Adam Puchta Winery are a few that provide unique vintages and beautiful vineyard views. The Deutschheim State Historic Site offers insights into the town's German heritage and wine-making history. Beyond wine, Hermann's picturesque landscape is perfect for biking or hiking, and the quaint downtown is dotted with museums, shops, and hearty German eateries. The town's spirited Oktoberfest is a must-experience event, celebrating the local culture with music, food, and—of course—wine.

Fort Scott, Kansas

Fort Scott is a historical treasure trove, offering a vivid glimpse into the nation's past. The Fort Scott National Historic Site, with its well-preserved 1840s military fort, offers guided tours and reenactments, bringing history to life before your eyes. Downtown, the city's history unfolds in its classic architecture, with landmarks like the Liberty Theatre and the Bourbon County Courthouse. The Gordon Parks Museum celebrates the life of the iconic photographer, filmmaker, and writer. For a change of pace, the Gunn Park Trails provide miles of hiking and biking in lush, green surroundings. Before leaving, enjoy local cuisine at restaurants offering everything from home-style cooking to upscale dining.

Rocheport, Missouri

Rocheport is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and connoisseurs of fine wine. The Katy Trail, Missouri's scenic state park, runs through here, offering over 240 miles of trail ripe for exploring on foot or bicycle, with limestone bluffs and river views to captivate you. After an active day, relax at the Les Bourgeois Vineyards, where you can indulge in locally produced wines while soaking up panoramic views from the blufftop. The town's rich history is on display at the Rocheport Historic Museum, and its charming bed-and-breakfast establishments invite you to unwind in cozy comfort. The local galleries and shops, each with unique offerings, are the perfect spots to find a keepsake to remember your trip.

St. Joseph, Missouri

St. Joseph, or St. Joe as locals fondly call it, is a blend of cultural vibrancy and historical intrigue. It's famously known as the place where the notorious outlaw Jesse James met his end, and you can learn all about it at the Jesse James Home Museum. The city's rich musical heritage is celebrated at the Missouri Theater, while the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art showcases an impressive collection of 18th- through 20th-century American art. For a unique journey through the natural world, the Remington Nature Center offers exhibits on local wildlife and history. And if you're in the mood for a scenic walk, the Parkway System winds through town, linking parks and providing lovely trails.There you have it, fellow explorers—a list of fantastic day trips that cater to every taste, from serene nature walks to historical deep dives. Each destination offers a unique opportunity to create new memories, experience different cultures, and, most importantly, embark on unforgettable adventures. So, what are you waiting for? The road is open, your playlist is queued up, and these delightful spots are ready to welcome you with open arms. Happy travels!

*Prices fluctuate based on season and day of the week.

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