24 Best Day Trips from Kansas City (Plan a Weekend Getaway)

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“24 Best Day Trips from Kansas City (Plan a Weekend Getaway)”

If you’re looking for short road trips or fun day trips from Kansas City, there’s 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’s places for everyone to go. We hope your family enjoys these fun day trip ideas for kids!

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 for?  Kids can make it 3 or 4 hours and then the questions begin and the movies get old. So we gathered…

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Best Road Trips from Kansas City!

.There’s 22 fun road trips from Kansas City, all about a 3 hour drive. These vacation ideas are perfect for a weekend getaway near Kansas City:  

Branson

Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Tanganika Wildlife Park

Wichita, KS

Topeka, KS

Eureka Springs, AR

Omaha, NE

St. Louis, MO

Des Moines, IA

NW Arkansas

Roaring River State Park

Rock City

Cave Springs

Eagles Bluff

Amana Colonies

Niangua River Canoe

Joplin, MO

Columbia, MO

Meade, KS

Safari

Atchison, KS

Springfield, MO

Sunflowers

Rent a Cabin

 

 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! 

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> 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

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> 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

 

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> 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 it’s 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 in Ozarks.

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Things to do at Haha Tonka:

There are lakes, 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 to 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!

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Where to Stay:

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


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> Canoe, Float, or Paddle the Niangua River

Lebanon, MO & surrounding areas (many camp sites & rentals)

(about 3 hours)

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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 are 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!

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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!

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Where to Stay:

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:

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> 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!)

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Where to Stay:

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


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> Northwest Arkansas

Rogers, Fayetville, Springdale

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

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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 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

Rogers, AR

Bentonville, AR

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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 from 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

1403 SE MOBERLY LN,

BENTONVILLE AR, 72712

Smokin Joe’s Ribhouse

2504 E Central Ave

Bentonville, 72712

Fred’s Hickory Inn

1502 N Walton Blvd.

Bentonville, AR 72712

In Springdale, AR try:

AQ Chicken House

1207 N Thompson St (Hwy 71B)

Springdale, AR 72764

Wagon Wheel Country Cafe

4080 N Thompson St.

Springdale, AR

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

Rogers, AR 72758

In Fayetteville try:

Hugo’s

25 1/2 N Block Ave

Fayetteville, AR 72701

Penguin Ed’s

2 locations in Fayetteville!

Hammontree Grilled Cheese

326 N West Ave #8

Fayetteville, AR 72701

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Where to Stay:


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> 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).

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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 stocked each night. There are also 7 trails that lead through the hills, including 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

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Where to Stay:

If you stay overnight, check out these local options:

weekend roadtrips from Kansas City

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> 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!

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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 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.

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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!

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Where to Stay:

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:

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> Rent a Cabin Near Kansas City

(1-3 hours depending on cabin)

There are many nice cabins near Kansas City, as well as in the city limits. Whether you’re looking for a staycation or 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.


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> 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.

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Things to do in Branson, MO:

There are so many things to do in and around Branson it is mind blowing;

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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!

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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 it’s 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…)

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Where to Stay:

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


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> 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!

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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 taking 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.

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Best Food in Amana Colonies:

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Where to Stay:

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


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> 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.

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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!

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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. You can also check out Porubsky Grocery and Meats for delicious chili. It’s been a family-owned classic in Topeka since 1947. If Mexican is your fam’s jam, El Centenario makes homemade dishes every day. You can’t go wrong with anything on your list. 

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Where to Stay:

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


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> 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. 

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Things to Do in Des Moines, IA:

Explore Adventureland Themepark, which includes an outdoor waterpark, 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.

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Where to Stay:


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> Wichita, Kansas Day Trip

(3 hours, 20 minutes)

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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 Plain statue!

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 in to Nuway! The kids will love it.

Where to Stay:

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

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> 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 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 are also 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!

Where to Stay:

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, Aerospace Museum, The Omaha Children’s Museum, 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 Cafefor delicious food near the old stockyards!

Where to Stay:


> 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 feature 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.

Where to Stay:


> 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 Monument, 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 adults-only road trip! 

Best Food in Joplin:

If BBQis 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! 

If you’re looking for a more laid-back meal, The Eagle Drive-In serves the best burgers in Joplin. 

Where to Stay:

> 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 wrongby stopping for a pizza at Shakespeare’s Pizza, a Columbia tradition since 1973 with 3 locations.

Where to Stay:


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

(2 hours, 49 minutes)

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 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 together!

Where to Stay:


> Atchison, KS

(1 hour)

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 or 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.

Where to Stay:

> 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.

Where to eat:

Find your favorite style 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.

Where to stay:

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

 

 

Find More Things to Do

 

Looking for other fun places to stay near Kansas City?

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

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

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From our family to yours, iFamilyKC



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