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!
We are 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?
Where are 3 Hour (ish) Day Trips from Kansas City?
My kids can make it 3 to 5 hours and then the questions start and the movies get old.
…so, we gathered 18 fun day trips near Kansas City, all about a 3 hour drive from KC. These vacation ideas are perfect for a weekend getaway near Kansas City, so check out these road trip vacation spots near you:
Best Day Trips from Kansas City?
Get your family out of town…even if it’s just for a weekend trip!
(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. 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.
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.
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! 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!
1491 State Road D, Camdenton, MO 65020
(2 hours, 41 minutes)
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. 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 then 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!
1000 S. Hawkins Lane, Goddard, KS 67052
(3 hours, 8 minutes)
Tanganyika Wildlife Park is a great day trip from KC. 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!)
If you are looking for other fun things to do near Wichita, KS check out the things to do in Wichita below!
1515 High St, Baldwin City, KS 66006
(1 hour, 5 minutes)
This spot is one of the quick day trips from Kansas City to Baldwin City – your kids can definitely make this drive!
Plus, doesn’t everyone love riding trains?
There are special train events like the Polar Express or Peanuts-themed train rides. Check the train schedule
& buy tickets online
to plan your weekend getaway or day trip with your kids.
Wichita, Kansas Day Trip
(3 hours, 20 minutes)
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.
(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. There are tons of fun things to do like the Topeka Zoo & Shawnee Lake. Check out our top 6 things to do with kids while in Topeka.
You can even climb to the TOP of the state capitol building, which we definitely recommend during your day trip.
(2.5 – 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.
Explore Adventureland Themepark, which includes an outdoor waterpark & theme park as well as indoor pools. Or, your family can check out the Science Center of Iowa, where learning is brought to life.
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 IA State Fair). There’s also the State Capitol Building and the downtown farmer’s market.
(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!
The city itself is nestled in the Arkansas hills and has great hiking & outdoor adventures. 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.
Plan on staying the night in either The Crescent or The Basin. 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
Rogers, Fayetville, Springdale
(3 hours, 15 minutes)
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.
There is the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, Charlie & Willie George Park, & TONS of great hiking. Check out the family resources for Northwest Arkansas for more fun things to do with kids at the link above.
12716 Farm Road 2239, Cassville, MO 65625
(3 hours, 17 minutes)
I grew up in Southwest Missouri, so I have spent quite a bit of time exploring the Roaring River. The Roaring River State Park is a great day trip or weekend trip from Kansas City.
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.
(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…
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, beautiful state parks for hiking, the Omaha Children’s Museum, the Rose Theater, & tons of free things to do throughout the year.
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! You can explore the St. Louis arch, Bird Museum, World Aquarium, Magic House Children’s Museum, and many other kids activities.
Check out our St. Louis Road Trip post for more ideas of things to do in St. Louis. You could fill an entire weekend trip with these ideas!
(2 hours, 30 minutes)
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!
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!
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.
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 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
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.
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.
Lebanon, MO & surrounding areas (many camp sites & rentals)
(about 3 hours)
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 too, so it can definitely make a fun weekend trip.
Check out Floating R or NRO, which has free camping options available. One-Eyed Willy’s offers adorable cabins, canoes, camping & great fishing spots too!
If you want to stay up to date, join the scoop
to get it delivered right to your inbox!
What are some of your favorite places to visit near the metro? Let us know in the comments!
From our family to yours, iFamilyKC.