18 Close(ish) Day Trips from Kansas City [Weekend Trips & Road Trips]
If you’re looking for fun day trips from Kansas City, we’ve got close family road trip ideas. We know you don’t want to drive too far…
…but, there are great places for weekend trips nearby!
Just a short 3 (ish) hour day trip with the family.
Whether you’re looking for a cheap family vacation, to explore the outdoors, or just find things to do in new cities, we hope your family bonds using these fun day trip ideas for kids!
The Best Day Trips from Kansas City: Family Fun
Find day trips (or weekend trips) near me…
If you can’t get out of KC, check out our Downtown KC Staycation Guide. But if you’re looking for fun day trips from KC…or better yet a weekend adventure, this is for you!
Where are 3 Hour (ish) Day Trips from Kansas City?
Best Day Trips from Kansas City?
(3 hours or less)
Branson, and the Lake of the Ozarks area, is one of the best day trips from Kansas City, so start planning a fun weekend getaway. The Ha Ha Tonka State Park is also not far from Branson, MO. Be sure to read below about the park, so you can stop by!
Things to do in Branson, MO:
There are so many things to do in Branson it is mind blowing; shopping at outlets, dining, amusement parks, go-karts, bumper cars & boats, duck rides, museums, & 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!
There is also Lake of the Ozarks & Table Rock Lake nearby so you can cool off too. Visit Lake of the Ozarks State Park, which has fantastic camping, fishing, & 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!
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…)
(2 hours, 41 minutes)
Things to do:
1515 High St, Baldwin City, KS 66006
(1 hour, 5 minutes)
Things to do in Baldwin, KS:
Best Food in Baldwin City:
Lebanon, MO & surrounding areas (many camp sites & rentals)
(about 3 hours)
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. One-Eyed Willy’s offers adorable cabins, canoes, camping & great fishing spots too!
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!
Wichita, Kansas Day Trip
Things to do in Wichita, KS:
Best Food in Wichita, KS:
1000 S. Hawkins Lane, Goddard, KS 67052
(3 hours, 8 minutes)
(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 KC! With Topeka less than an hour from most places in KC, it is a cheap getaway from Kansas City.
Things to do in Topeka, KS:
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!
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. There are also gluten-free spots like Cafe Holliday!
(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.
Things to Do in Des Moines, IA:
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.
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.
Things to Do in Eureka Springs, AR:
Best Food in Eureka Springs:
Rogers, Fayetville, Springdale
(3 hours, 15 minutes)
Things to Do in NW Arkansas:
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!
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.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, the Shady River Getaway Cabins will take you right back to summer camp when you were a kid!
12716 Farm Road 2239, Cassville, MO 65625
(3 hours, 17 minutes)
Things to Do in Roaring River:
(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), Bob’s Donuts (for some creative, delicious donuts) or Big Green Q for delicious food AND ice cream!
Check online to find tons of fun things to do online on our partner site.
(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, Bird Museum, World 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 brunch at The Cinder House!
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 delicious donut shops like World’s Fair Donuts & O’Fashion Donuts.
(2 hours, 30 minutes)
Things to Do in Joplin, MO:
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!
Best Food in Joplin:
If hot dogs are your thing, you can’t miss Instant Karma Gourmet Hot Dogs. The locals love this spot for its unique takes on hot dogs, 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.
622 46th Avenue Amana, IA 52203
(4 hours, 29 minutes)
Things to Do at Amana Colonies:
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.
Best Food in Amana Colonies:
1051 Ivy Road Minneapolis, KS 67467
(2 hours, 49 minutes)
Columbia, MO 65203
(2 hours, 6 minutes)
124 Jungle Drive, Strafford, MO 65757
(2 hours, 49 minutes)
Looking for more unique day trips from Kansas City? How about a wildlife excursion…it’s a drive-thru animal safari in the middle of Kansas! 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.
What are some of your favorite places to visit near the metro? Let us know in the comments!
From our family to yours, iFamilyKC.