Weekend Trips From Kansas City: Top Road Trip Destinations Nearby

Nestled in the heart of America, this city offers more than just jazz, barbecues, and fountains. It’s also an excellent starting point for weekend getaways catering to every taste.

We’ve got the scoop if you’re looking to plan the best possible weekend trips from Kansas City. There’s a treasure trove of destinations within a short drive that promises relaxation, adventure, and quality time with your family or loved ones.

A weekend road trip can be the perfect way to recharge. Within a few hours’ drive, you can explore scenic landscapes, quaint small towns, or vibrant cities.

Whether you’re after a tranquil retreat into nature or a bustling cityscape to explore new cultures and cuisines, the region surrounding Kansas City is rich with opportunities.

Comfort is key to weekend getaways, and the midwestern charm found in the surrounding areas of Kansas City ensures that. From luxury spa resorts to cozy bed and breakfasts, there are various accommodation options to suit your preferences. Pack your bags for a memorable road trip where the ride is just as pleasant as the destination.

Best Road Trips From Kansas City

Weekend Trips From Kansas City

Sightseeing and Landmarks

Exploring the surroundings of Kansas City for weekend trips offers an array of sightseeing opportunities and landmarks. From historical attractions in Missouri to natural wonders and iconic sights across neighboring states, each is perfect for a fun weekend away.

Historical Attractions in Missouri

In Missouri, immerse yourself in history by visiting St. Louis, home to the renowned Gateway Arch. Standing as a symbol of westward expansion, it’s striking and steeped in history.

For a journey back in time, drive on the historic Route 66 and feel the nostalgia of America’s golden age of road travel. In the town of Weston, visit the Weston Historical Museum for a glimpse into local heritage or explore Ha Ha Tonka State Park, where you’ll find the ruins of an early 20th-century castle overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks.

Historical SiteDescriptionLocation
Gateway ArchThe 630-foot monument celebrates westward expansion.St. Louis, MO
Route 66Historic highway offering a slice of classic Americana.Starts in St. Louis, MO
Weston Historical MuseumChronicler of Weston’s vibrant past.Weston, MO
Ha Ha Tonka State Park20th-century castle ruins within a state park.Camden County, MO

Natural Wonders in Arkansas and Iowa

Venture to Arkansas and Iowa to experience the splendors of nature. Bentonville, Arkansas, is the gateway to the breathtaking Ozark Mountains. Here, you can visit the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, its architecture, and surrounding trails, a testament to nature’s beauty.

The Roaring River State Park in Missouri is another notable spot where you can find a large spring feeding into the Roaring River and a host of recreational activities. Meanwhile, the scenic beauty of the Missouri River can be best experienced in Iowa, alongside a myriad of state parks and lakes offering relaxation and outdoor adventures.

Natural WonderDescriptionLocation
Ozark MountainsA stunning highland region offering outdoor activities.Northern Arkansas
Crystal BridgesMuseum blending art and nature.Bentonville, AR
Roaring River State ParkA park with a spring-fed river for fishing and hiking.Cassville, MO
Missouri RiverAmerica’s longest river for sightseeing and fishing.The border between Nebraska and Iowa

Iconic Sights in Nebraska

Omaha, Nebraska, presents an assortment of memorable landmarks. Perhaps most significant is Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, lauded as one of the world’s best, perfect for a family outing. The Downtown Omaha Historic District showcases the city’s architectural and cultural chronicles that you can enjoy on a leisurely walk. Furthermore, Nebraska offers serene state parks and lakes that should not be overlooked for their tranquil beauty and recreational possibilities.

Iconic SightDescriptionLocation
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and AquariumA top-ranking zoo is known for its conservation efforts.Omaha, NE
Downtown Omaha Historic DistrictA district rich in history and culture.Omaha, NE
State Parks and LakesLocations for outdoor leisure and natural beauty.Throughout Nebraska

Outdoor Adventures

Escape the city’s hustle and invite nature’s serenity into your weekend. Whether you’re seeking thrilling hikes, peaceful waters, or a cozy campfire, the regions around Kansas City cater to every outdoor enthusiast.

Hiking and Trails

1. Ozark Trail

  • Distance from KC: 185 miles
  • Highlights: Breathtaking views, rugged terrain

2. Weston Bend State Park

  • Distance from KC: 30 miles
  • Trails to Explore: Harpst Trail, Paved Bicycle Trail
  • Special Notes: Overlook of the Missouri River

Water Activities

ActivityLocationKey Features
FishingLake of the OzarksAbundant bass, catfish, crappie
BoatingTable Rock LakeVariety of boats available for rent
CanoeingBuffalo National RiverScenic river bluffs, wildlife

Camping and Cabins

  • Locations:
    • Lake of the Ozarks State Park
      • Amenities: Cabins, camping sites, marina
      • Activities: Hiking, fishing, water sports
    • Branson Treehouse Adventures
      • Unique Stay: Treehouse cabins
      • Extra: Zip line tours available

Urban Escapes

Exploring the urban escapes close to Kansas City provides numerous cultural, gastronomic, and entertainment options. From visiting a world-class history museum to savoring sumptuous BBQ joints and vibrant nightlife, there’s something to satisfy every urbanite’s craving.

Arts and Culture

Kansas City prides itself on a rich cultural tapestry. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art showcases a vast collection of ancient and modern works, ensuring a fulfilling visit for art aficionados. If you’re curious about local history and spirit, the American Jazz Museum in the historic 18th and Vine district immerses you in the city’s renowned jazz heritage.

  • Museum Highlights
    • Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: Exhibits spanning 5,000 years of history.
    • American Jazz Museum: Celebrates jazz icons and Kansas City’s role in the genre’s history.

Culinary Delights

Kansas City’s reputation for BBQ is well-deserved, with many restaurants offering a smoky and savory experience. But beyond BBQ, you’ll find a burgeoning foodie scene with innovative eateries catering to every palate.

Enjoy a culinary tour from blazing hot chicken spots to refined farm-to-table experiences highlighting fresh, local ingredients.

  • Foodie Experiences
    • BBQ: Smoked brisket, ribs, and burnt ends.
    • Farm-to-Table: Seasonal dishes with local sourcing.
    • Craft Beer: Tours and tastings at local breweries.

Entertainment and Nightlife

After dusk, Kansas City’s nightlife comes alive. Try your luck at one of the casinos nearby, or enjoy the lively atmosphere at local bars and clubs.

Live music, especially jazz and blues, can be found throughout the city and on the must things to do in St Louis list, providing soulful soundtracks to your evenings. For one of the coolest experiences, venture out to the Fantastic Caverns north of Springfield for an underground concert.

  • Nightlife Hotspots
    • Live Music Venues: Jazz and blues performances in intimate settings.
    • Bars & Clubs: Craft beer, cocktails, and dancing.
    • Casinos: Games, entertainment, and late-night dining.

Relaxation and Luxury

For a serene getaway filled with pampering and high-end experiences, you don’t have to venture far from Kansas City. Indulge in rejuvenating spa retreats, stay in the finest upscale lodging, and immerse yourself in an exclusive shopping experience—all within a short drive.

Spa Retreats

When you need relaxation, spa retreats are your sanctuaries. The Elms Hotel & Spa in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, just a 30-minute drive from Kansas City, offers a comprehensive spa menu. Their services focus on wellness and rejuvenation, ensuring you’ll find solace and invigoration. Amenities include a grotto, steam rooms, and detoxifying mineral soaks.

  • Spa Name: The Elms Hotel & Spa
  • Location: Excelsior Springs, Missouri
  • Distance from Kansas City: 30 minutes

Upscale Lodging

Your quest for upscale lodging leads to luxurious hotels and quaint bed and breakfasts. In Branson, Missouri, the grandiose Chateau on the Lake Resort Spa & Convention Center stands out with its impeccable cleanliness. It also offers breathtaking views of Table Rock Lake. Alternatively, you might prefer the intimate bed and breakfast setting, such as the elegant Inn at Harbour Ridge in Osage Beach.

  • Lodging Options:
    • Hotels: Chateau on the Lake Resort Spa & Convention Center
    • Bed and Breakfast: Inn at Harbour Ridge

Exclusive Shopping Experience

Step into Bentonville, Arkansas, for an exclusive shopping experience. Home to the original Walmart Museum and boutique shops, it’s a must-visit for unique finds and historical insights. The convenience and variety of shops ensure a pleasant day trip for those looking to bring a piece of luxury home.

  • Shopping Hotspots:
    • Walmart Museum
    • Bentonville Square Boutiques

Enjoy your lavish weekend escapade from Kansas City, where splendor and relaxation await everywhere.

Family-Friendly Getaways

When planning a family weekend getaway from Kansas City, you’re lucky with several nearby amusement parks, zoos, and resorts catering to all ages. Discover the magic of Disney-like theme park experiences without the drive, the thrill of sports, and the joy of interactive wildlife parks.

Amusement Parks

  • Worlds of Fun: A mere 20-minute drive from downtown Kansas City, Worlds of Fun offers over 100 family rides, shows, and attractions. It also includes the popular Planet Snoopy for younger children.
  • Silver Dollar City: A bit further away in Branson, Silver Dollar City is a 19th-century themed amusement park with roller coasters and water rides. It’s about a 3 hr 15 min drive from Kansas City.

Zoos and Wildlife Parks

  • Kansas City Zoo: Featuring a range of exhibits from Africa to Australia, your family can enjoy interactive experiences and view over 1,700 animals. Don’t miss the Helzberg Penguin Plaza.
  • Tanganyika Wildlife Park: Located in Goddard, about a 3-hour drive from Kansas City, this park offers hands-on animal encounters with species like lemurs, giraffes, and kangaroos.

Family Resorts and Activities

  • Great Wolf Lodge: This resort in Kansas City has an indoor waterpark and themed rooms for families, ensuring fun regardless of the weather.
  • Lindsborg: Known as “Little Sweden, USA,” Lindsborg is only a 3-hour drive away and offers cultural experiences with its art galleries, Swedish festivals, and outdoor activities like hiking and biking.

Events and Seasonal Trips

Consider the vibrant events and seasonal attractions when planning your weekend getaways from Kansas City. These trips promise memorable experiences for music enthusiasts and sports fans alike.

Festivals and Concerts

Kansas City’s central location makes it a hub for music festivals and concerts that attract fans from all over the region.

  • Rocklahoma: Just a 4-hour drive from Kansas City, this Pryor, Oklahoma event is a must-visit for rock music followers. It’s an electrifying (music pun intended) weekend of high-octane performances held annually in late May.
  • Wakarusa Music Festival: Located in Ozark, Arkansas, approximately a 4.5-hour drive, this festival offers a diverse music lineup over a weekend in June.

Sports and Competitions

For sports enthusiasts, weekend road trips from Kansas City provide the thrill of live competition, from college sports to pro events.

  • College World Series: If you’re a baseball fan, head to Omaha, Nebraska, just a 3-hour drive north, for this premier NCAA event in June. Witness the best in college baseball compete for the championship.
  • Sporting Events: Consider a trip to St. Louis, Missouri, for year-round sporting events. At just under a 4-hour drive, you can catch a variety of professional sports, including St Louis Blues hockey, St Louis Cardinals baseball, and college football games, depending on the season.
  • Chiefs Training Camp: Drive northward to the small college town of St Joseph, Missouri, to see Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and other well-known professional football players preparing for the upcoming season. Usually held the last week of July, this event is perfect for a weekend getaway and definitely worth a visit for all football fans.

Plan in advance to purchase tickets and book accommodations to avoid disappointment and/or increased costs. Major events like the College World Series attract large crowds and fill up quickly.

Weekend Trips From Kansas City FAQ

1. What are some popular weekend getaways from Kansas City?

You can take many wonderful road trips for a perfect weekend getaway. Some of the best road trips from Kansas City include Des Moines, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Wichita, Bentonville, Springfield, St Joseph, and the beautiful Ozarks. All are amazing road trips from Kansas City, have a lot to offer, and are great destinations to consider.

2. How far are the state parks from Kansas City for a road trip?

For a day filled with nature and adventure, consider visiting Ha Ha Tonka State Park or exploring the hiking trails near Kansas City. These destinations offer a perfect escape for outdoor enthusiasts.

3. Which nearby city is ideal for a romantic weekend getaway from Kansas City?

If you’re seeking romance, plan a weekend trip to Springfield or Crystal Bridges for a lovely escape. These destinations are perfect for couples looking to unwind and enjoy a romantic getaway.

4. Can you suggest any great weekend activities near Kansas City?

There are many fun things to do day or night in nearby cities for a long weekend. Consider exploring art museums, wineries, and zoos and attending live music events, or grab some great food for a memorable weekend getaway.

5. Are there any outdoor adventure options close to Kansas City?

If you plan your trip as an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll enjoy the biking and mountain biking trails near Kansas City or take a short drive to take a stroll and explore the Mississippi River. Table Rock Lake near Branson is considered one of the best fishing hot spots.