16 Best Day Trips From Kansas City, Missouri (2024 Guide)

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.

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.

Somerset Wine Trail

  • 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.

Roaring River State Park

  • 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
Immerse yourself in greenery in Roaring River State Park.

Weston

  • 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

St. Louis

  • 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.

Mushroom Rock State Park

  • 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

Hermann

  • 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
Check out some stunning historic landmarks in Hermann and the nearby town of Starkenberg.

Tanganyika Wildlife Park

  • Distance from Kansas City: 212 miles
  • Driving time: 3 hours

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!

Excelsior Springs

  • Distance from Kansas City: 28 miles
  • Driving time: 40 minutes

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.

Powell Gardens

  • Distance from Kansas City: 42 miles
  • Driving time: 48 minutes

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

Topeka

  • 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
Be sure to check out the Kansas State Capitol while exploring Topeka!

Atchison

  • 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.

Lawrence

  • 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

Shoal Creek Living History Museum

  • 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!

Carthage

  • 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!

Overland Park

  • 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
There is lots of beauty to see in the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

St. Joseph

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.

DISCLAIMER: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you book accommodation, tours or buy a product, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us keep creating more free travel content to help people plan their holidays and adventures. We only recommend the best accommodations, tours and products that ourselves or our fantastic editorial team have personally experienced, and regularly review these. Thanks for your support, kind friend!

About the Author - Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Leave a comment