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11 Family-Friendly Day Trips from Kansas City

day trips from kansas city

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Straddling the border of Kansas and Missouri, Kansas City is a Midwest city along the Missouri River renowned for its barbecue, jazz heritage. It is the largest city in the state of Missouri.

The larger metropolitan area of Kansas City, Missouri, spans 319.03 square miles in the county seats of Jackson County, along with other major Missouri cities of Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit and the Kansas cities of Overland Park, Kansas City, and Olathe.

11 Family-Friendly Day Trips from Kansas City, Missouri

While Kansas City is filled with activities, attractions, and fun family destinations, there are also many exciting day trips in the area to discover. If you are looking for a fun weekend getaway or trip ideas to take with the family outside of the city, you are in luck! We have curated a list of the best day trips to take from Kansas City that are perfect for the entire family.

From small towns with a significant history to half-hour drives that make for great day trips to Civil War history museums for the history buff in the family to iconic spots in North America’s past, the Kansas City region has a family-friendly day trip for you.

1. St. Louis

A 5-hour drive east of Kansas City lies the city of St. Louis, a hub for outdoor activities, beautiful parks, biking along nature trails, and eating delicious barbecues. The town sits at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. It is home to the incredible Missouri Botanical Garden, a must-see for kids and families.

2. Lawrence

Situated in Douglas County, just 40 minutes from the city, Lawrence is a vibrant college town with a beautiful live music scene and a thriving population of young folks attending the University of Kansas. Lawrence is home to Clinton Lake State Park, where people enjoy a marina, sports fields, picnic areas, and camping.

3. Watkins Woolen Mill State Park

Just over a half-hour drive from the city, Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site is a proper visit to the area’s history. This historic site features a building and a three-story woolen mill that has been around since the 1870s. History buffs and their children can go to the visitor center, which provides interesting information about the Watkins family and the state park, as well as miles of hiking trails to meander on.

4. Atchison

Located on the Kansas/Missouri border on the river in Kansas, Atchison is a sure bet for a fun hour-long road trip for the family. Known for being the home of Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the entire Atlantic Ocean. Take the kids to see the Birthplace Museum, the Earthwork hillside portrait, and the yearly Amelia Earhart Festival. After exploring the history museums, you can have a day of fun in the sun at Jackson Park and Warnock Lake.

5. Weston

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A small town 40 minutes northwest of KCMO, Weston offers a fun day trip idea for families. Weston is famous for Green Dirt Farm, where you book a tour to check out the farm, the milking, and cheese-making process, and taste the farm’s creation at the retail shop. Adults can enjoy a beverage at the Weston Brewing Company, and the kids can enjoy a soda! Take a stroll down Main Street to shop, dine, and enjoy the small-town charm.

6. Bentonville, Arkansas

Nestled just over 3 hours south of Kansas City, Bentonville, Arkansas, is a great place to take the kids for a weekend getaway. Discover the magic of the Ozarks or enjoy delicious eats downtown. The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is a beautiful place to take the kids. It is also enjoyable for the adults in the group.

7. St. Joseph

St. Joseph lies an hour north of the city and is home to two very famous icons, Jesse James and the Pony Express. An old Wild West outpost and frontier town and the birthplace of rapper Eminem, St. Joseph is a sure bet for a day trip from Kansas City. There are 26 miles of the parkway for biking and hiking, as well as the Pony Express Museum, where you can ride a horse and explore 150-year-old stables.

8. Lake of the Ozarks

Lake of the Ozarks is one of the most fun family vacation ideas, just 2.5 hours from the city. This fantastic lake offers the prime opportunity for a weekend getaway or a great day trip from boating to nightlife to spas to lazy days on the water.

9. Omaha, Nebraska

Almost three hours away in Nebraska, Omaha provides a plethora of activities for the kids! From the Joslyn Art Museum to tubing the Elkhorn River to Lauritzen Gardens to a family-friendly show at the Rose Theater, Omaha is the prime stop for an escape from the city. Another terrific idea is to take a tour of the city’s gourmet ice cream shops, including Coneflower Creamery and Ted & Wally’s.

10. Powell Gardens

This one may be just outside of downtown Kansas City, but we are still adding it to our list as a fun day trip for kids. These famous botanical gardens feature a wide array of activities specifically catered to the youth of the city.

11. Excelsior Springs

Nestled just a half-hour outside of town, Excelsior Springs has presented an exciting tourist attraction since its inception as a 19th-century spa resort town. Visit the Art deco-style Hall of Waters, the historic Elms Hotel, and spend a day shopping on the kid-friendly streets. Excelsior Springs sits close to Watkins Mill State Park and the Worlds of Fun amusement park, ideal for kids looking to have some fun!

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