Let's be honest, Kansas City, Missouri, is a pretty sweet place. I mean, it isn't known as the Barbeque Capital for nothin'... But what's even sweeter is the city's conveniently central location to some other really amazing place. In fact, with so many great places to take day trips to, it's just wrong not to take advantage of what the local area has to offer.
So next time you're bored and need something to do, choose to visit one of these epic places within 3 hours from KC for a spontaneous day trip!
Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area
Distance: 1 h 55 mins (126 miles)
This is a great place for a day, er, night trip. There are actually several places throughout the state to get a clear view of the Milky Way, but this is one of the closer areas. The Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area is perhaps the best spot with the lowest light pollution for miles.
Distance: 1 h 58 mins (119 miles)
An eerie Kansas destination.Dunlap is one of many Kansas ghost towns. Once a thriving town in the early 1900s, it soon became victim to the Great Depression and most residents and businesses were forced to leave in search of a more promising life elsewhere. The current population is around 80, so most of the town's buildings are deteriorating. If you enjoy urban exploration, this should be a top destination on your list.
Wild Animal Safari
Distance: 2 h 49 mins (174 miles)
Get up close and personal with some wild animals as you drive through five miles of man-made safari land. Many of the animals will even walk right up to your car, adorably harassing you for attention and food. Just watch out for those alpacas and llamas; they will happily spit on your face if they think you're shady - or just because they can... How can something so cute be so evil?
Missouri Town 1855
Distance: 35 mins (25.1 miles)
Step back into the mid-19th century at Missouri Town 1855, where the workers are actors dressed up in character and the entire town is set up to replicate life during that time. It's a truly eye-opening adventure, and you'll surely leave thankful for all the comforts we have available to us today.
Coronado Heights Castle
Distance: 2 h 57 mins (198 miles)
Located in Lindsborg, Kansas - a small town with a big personality and deep-rooted history. Not only is Lindsborg (aka "Little Sweden") known for its association with Swedish heritage and the biennial Svensk Hyllningsfest, but it's also home to the stunning and historic Coronado Heights Castle. Spend a day browsing the culture-rich village, then head over to the castle to wrap up a fun-filled day in a charming town you won't find anywhere else.
Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Distance: 2 h 38 mins (152 miles)
This state park is home to the Europen-style Ha Ha Tonka Castle Ruins. Besides the physical ruins, the story behind how the castle came to be and it's unhappy ending is interesting alone. I don't want to spoil it for you, so I'll let you figure it out during your trip here... Don't you dare Google it either, you cheater. While the castle may be the main attraction, there are other things to check out here, like a bright blue spring and awesome rock formations.
Distance: 1 h (63.3 miles)
As the capital city of Kansas, you know Topeka will have some pretty amazing things to see and do. There's the zoo, discovery center, Truckhenge, Equality House, and Evel Knievel Museum, to name a few. Click here to see a larger list of attractions in the city.
St. Joseph, Missouri
Distance: 53 mins (54.6 miles)
If you enjoy a good museum day, a short drive to St. Joseph would certainly be in order. There are three unique museums to visit, Glore Psychiatric Museum, showcasing the evolution of mental illness treatment at the State Lunatic Asylum No. 2; Jesse James Home Museum, showcasing the legacy of the notorious famed outlaw; and The Pony Express National Historic Trail and Museum, pretty obviously showcasing the fastest mail service in the Old West.
Baldwin City Train Depot
Distance: 49 mins (45.8 miles)
Eat, drink, and enjoy the Midwest countryside via train. The Train Depot and trains are modeled in a classic 1940s style for an authentic old-fashion feel. Plus, they offer three-hour dinner tours through the scenic countryside. Occasionally, the company hosts events like wine tastings, murder mysteries, and special holiday runs, just to name a few!
Mushroom Rock State Park
Distance: 3 h (201 miles)
Pushing the limits of our three-hour criteria (depending on how fast you drive, of course), Mushroom Rock State Park in Kansas is a must-see for any nature lover out there. If you haven't guessed from the photos, the park was named for the curiously shaped rock formations, much resembling a mushroom. It has been enjoyed by humans for centuries.
Distance: 42 mins (40.4 miles)
Why not get away from the city by visiting another one? Lawrence is full of great shops, a fantastic state park, and the must-see Museum of Odd. Actually, that's barely scratching the surface of attractions here, so click this link and plan your much-needed outing.
Prairie Band Casino & Resort
Distance: 1 h 21 mins (87.0 miles)
Good food and good fun all in one location. Spend a day getting pampered and betting your luck at this amazing casino - only a short drive west into Kansas. Who knows? Maybe you'll walk away the next big winner!
Distance: 2 h 32 mins (153 miles)
Located in Joplin, Missouri, is perhaps one of the most incredible sights in close proximity to Kansas City. Grand Falls is one of the top tourist spots in the entire city, and rightfully so. Cascading off a 163-ft.-wide ledge, the falls are a great area in the creek for swimming, fishing, and Insta photos. The city wouldn't be complete without its very own oddity, so after you spend the day sightseeing and touring, be sure to investigate the mysterious Ozark Spooklight.
The (haunted) Sallie House
Distance: 57 mins (51.1 miles)
Atchison's most haunted house is less than an hour drive from Kansas City, so why haven't you visited it yet? In September and October, you can do a self-guided tour or you can take a guided tour throughout the year. If you're feeling particularly brave, you can even stay the night. If you're not a believer, this house just might change that.
Distance: 1 h 51 mins (123 miles)
If you love natural picturesque beauty, you will thoroughly enjoy a trip to the Konza Prairie Biological Station. It consists of 3,487 hectares (that's 8616.5 acres) preserving a native tallgrass prairie in the Flint Hills of northeastern Kansas. Herds of wild buffalo, white-tailed deer, flocks of turkey, and numerous wildflowers call this prairie home. I hear the sunsets over these flatlands are absolutely captivating.
Walt Disney Hometown Museum
Distance: 1 h 56 mins (125 miles)
Disney World is kind of far away, so this Walt Disney Museum is probably the next best thing. You could easily spend hours here looking at all of the Disney-related exhibits and displays. In fact, there are a few different memorials throughout the city dedicated to Mr. Disney (even the elementary school is named after him), so don't just stop at the museum. It's not surprising that this little town is super proud of the influential artist who once called it home.
Rock City Park
Distance: 2 h 46 mins (183 miles)
The Kansas state animal should be a rock... But I digress. Anyways, Rock City is a state park filled with, you guessed it, rocks! These aren't just any rocks though, they're spherical boulders made of sandstone concretions created millions of years ago when Kansas was under oceanic water. This is the largest collection of these boulders in one place; it's estimated there are over 200 formations spanning over five acres; some are almost 30 feet across. That rocks!
Joyland Amusement Park
Distance: 2 h 55 mins (197 miles)
More urban exploration for those into the creepy dark-carnival atmosphere of an abandoned amusement park. After a good run of 55 years, the Joyland Amusement Park closed permanently in 2006 - perhaps drawing more tourists in its closure than ever before. You may have to get creative with how you access the property, but people often manage.
Somerset Wine Trail
Distance: 45 mins (44.5 miles)
Those who enjoy the finer tastes in life will have a blast touring the Somerset Wine Trail vineyards and tasting local wines. The trail is composed of four award-winning wineries: Somerset Ridge, White Wind Farm, Middle Creek, and Night Hawk.
We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.