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Best weekend trips from Kansas City, Missouri

Unlock the magic of the Midwest with these top weekend getaways, all just a short drive from Kansas City.

November 3, 2023
 min read
Last updated:
Jan 15
A view of the Kansas City, Missouri skyline, with Union Station in the foreground.

Sometimes, the urge to escape the familiar scenes of Kansas City hits, and luckily, this slice of Missouri serves as a prime jumping-off point for a variety of adventures. Whether you're chasing outdoor thrills, craving culinary delights, or seeking a serene retreat, there's a weekend destination with your name on it. So, let's dive into these not-to-be-missed escapes that promise a refreshing break from your routine.

St. Louis, Missouri

First up, St. Louis isn't just any Missouri city; it's a place where history echoes and the future awaits. The city's centerpiece, the Gateway Arch, isn't only for viewing. You can take a tram ride to the top, where a stunning panorama of the cityscape awaits. For a whimsical adventure, the City Museum invites you with its enchanted world of giant slides, reclaimed architectural and industrial objects, and a maze of tunnels that you can explore. When the sun sets, the live blues music scene here is second to none, offering a soulful end to your days. And let's not forget the cuisine; from mouth-watering barbeques to international delicacies, the city caters to every palate.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs, a town seemingly untouched by time, offers more than meets the eye. Its streets, a display of well-preserved Victorian buildings, are a gateway to the past. But it's not just about history; the town is a cultural hub known for its vibrant arts scene, with numerous galleries and shows that shouldn't be missed. The natural springs, surrounded by lush landscapes, are perfect for those seeking relaxation and a bit of legend — they're said to be healing! Additionally, the local shops offer a unique assortment of goods, perfect for finding one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha is a treasure trove of surprises. The Old Market, with its preserved 19th-century buildings, houses an array of eclectic shops, galleries, and restaurants serving everything from hearty Midwestern fare to more international cuisine. The city's zoo isn't just a place to see animals; it's an immersive experience with the world's largest indoor desert and nocturnal exhibits. If you're into history, the Durham Museum provides rich insights into the region's past. And for a touch of greenery in the city, Lauritzen Gardens offers a tranquil escape with its beautiful botanical displays.

Wichita, Kansas

Wichita blends the bustle of a modern city with the soul of a heartland community. The Arkansas River Trail is perfect for bikers and joggers, or for a leisurely walk with scenic views. History buffs will appreciate the Museum of World Treasures, with artifacts ranging from Egyptian mummies to signed baseballs. Exploration Place gives a hands-on science experience that both kids and adults will love. The Keeper of the Plains statue, especially stunning at sunset, is a cultural landmark that's not to be missed. And when it comes to dining, Wichita is burgeoning with options, from traditional diners to upscale eateries.

Branson, Missouri

Branson is a one-stop destination for entertainment and nature lovers alike. It's known for its lively theater scene, with shows ranging from musical acts to magic shows. Silver Dollar City, a 1880s-themed park, offers fun rides and insight into the area's traditional crafts. Nature enthusiasts will find their haven in the Ozark Mountains, with options for hiking, fishing, and even cave exploring. Table Rock Lake is ideal for boating, swimming, and picnicking. And don't miss the Titanic Museum, a two-story museum shaped like the Titanic, offering interactive exhibits for all ages.

Hermann, Missouri

Hermann transports you to a different time and place, often feeling more like a quaint European village than a Midwestern town. This charming place is deeply rooted in its German heritage, evident in the architecture, traditions, and the welcoming nature of its residents. It's the heart of Missouri Wine Country, so a visit isn't complete without touring the local wineries, each offering a unique array of vintages and stunning views of the surrounding hills. The town's beauty is amplified in fall, making it a perfect spot for those autumn weekend getaways. Beyond the wine, Hermann is rich in cultural experiences, with museums dedicated to its history and local festivals that celebrate its unique heritage.

Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines, a city that's both dynamic and laid-back, offers a variety of experiences for every traveler. Art enthusiasts will be drawn to the Des Moines Art Center, with an extensive collection spanning centuries, and the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, an urban open-air gallery. The Downtown Farmers' Market is a lively affair, showcasing the region's best in produce, artisan foods, and crafts — not to mention it's an ideal spot for people-watching and soaking up local flavors. Adventure seekers can explore the area's extensive trail system, while those looking for a more relaxed visit can enjoy the serene setting of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

In Hot Springs, relaxation is not just an activity, but a way of life. The city is renowned for its namesake hot springs, filling various bathhouses around town with naturally warm, mineral-rich waters — a must-experience rejuvenation spot. But there's more to this town than its spas. Hot Springs National Park is not only a site of natural beauty but also offers a wealth of hiking trails and picnic areas. For families and thrill-seekers, Magic Springs Theme Park provides a day of excitement. History comes alive at the Gangster Museum of America, highlighting the city's unexpected past, while the thriving arts scene can be witnessed in the local galleries and studios scattered throughout the town.

Lawrence, Kansas

Lawrence exudes a youthful energy and creative spirit, largely driven by the students of the University of Kansas. Massachusetts Street, or "Mass St," is the town's main artery, lined with shops, galleries, and eateries that are a testament to the city's artistic soul and indie vibe. The Spencer Museum of Art and the Lawrence Arts Center are hubs for the visual arts, while the live music scene in this town is robust and cutting-edge. History enthusiasts will appreciate the Watkins Museum of History and the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics. Nature lovers aren't left out either; Clinton State Park offers a beautiful backdrop for outdoor activities.

Springfield, Missouri

Springfield is a city that manages to be both trendy and steeped in history. The Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium is a state-of-the-art facility celebrating conservation and the beauty of the great outdoors. History is palpable at the Wilson's Creek National Battlefield, offering insights into the region's Civil War past. For a unique experience, Fantastic Caverns, America's only ride-through cave, is a must-see. Springfield's gastronomy is noteworthy, with an emerging craft brewery scene and a range of dining options to satisfy all culinary cravings. The city's nightlife is vibrant, with plentiful bars, live music, and performances.So, there you have it — the top weekend trips from Kansas City, Missouri, each offering its own unique flavor and flair. Whether it's the call of nature, the allure of history, or the promise of culinary delights that motivates you, these destinations have something special in store. So why wait? Pack your bags, hit the road, and make some unforgettable memories this weekend!

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

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