From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
Located on the western edge of Missouri is the state’s largest city, Kansas City. Affectionately known for its jazz history, love of barbeque, and fountain-decorated streets, Kansas City is home to almost half a million residents, making it the 38th most-populous city in the United States.
With its bounty of parks and trailheads, as well as its thriving arts, cultural, and dining scenes, there’s just no denying that Kansas City has plenty to offer even the most seasoned of travelers, not to mention those who have been lucky enough to call the region home for several years now.
Ready to discover the best of Kansas City, Missouri? Let’s get started!
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
If the bustling city streets have got you craving Mother Nature, you’re in luck. Kansas City is home to several state parks and recreation areas, all of which are just a short drive away. Here are our top recommendations of places to enjoy the great outdoors.
Jackson County Parks & Rec: Just over a 20-minute-drive from the city center is Jackson County Parks & Rec, which offers everything from camping, boating, and fishing, a native animal enclosure, model airplane fields, and swimming beaches. There’s also an extensive network of trails that are perfect for bicycling, jogging, hiking or just walking.
Weston Bend State Park: With its numerous overlooks offering stunning views of the Missouri River, Weston Bend State Park is a favorite escape among locals. It’s just over a 30-minute drive from the city center, but will lead you to secluded picnic sites, a campground, and a 3-mile paved bicyle trail that takes hikers and bikers through the park's woodland landscape.
Lewis and Clark State Park: This state park is also home to the Lewis and Clark Lake, which offers plenty of recreational activities such as fishing and boating. While here, you can also enjoy camping, hiking, interpretive programs, picnics, and more. It’s the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon.
Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and State Historic Site: With its 100-acre lake, textile mill, living history farm, campground, and more, the Watkins Woolen Mill State Park has got it all. If fishing isn’t your thing, you can ride your bike or walk around the lake path, or why not enjoy a spot of nature watching in a place where white-tailed deer and wild turkey are in abundance?
Wallace State Park: Located just less than an hour from Kansas City is Wallace State Park, which locals like to refer to as an “island of serenity”. Here, you’ll find family-oriented campgrounds, a six-acre lake (perfect for fishing) or four scenic trails, which are great for hiking or biking.
If you’re still craving some additional hiking experiences after visiting the fascinating state parks that the region has to offer, then you’ll be pleased to hear that there’s more. Kansas City is also home to some intriguing hiking trails, with the following being our most recommended.
White Tail Trail: This 4.2 kilometer heavily trafficked loop trail located near the city and is perfect for beginner hikers. It’s accessible all year round and will take hikers through an urban forest, complete with a scenic river and the opportunity to spot countless wildlife, including deer. Trail guides are available at the trail head.
Blue River Parkway and Minor Park Trail: This 8.7 kilometer heavily trafficked loop trail is also located near the city and is most popular from May to October. It is dog-friendly and great for all skill levels, plus it provides plenty of wildflowers to admire along the way. You can also bring your mountain bike, if biking is more your thing.
Old Kate & Waterfall Trail: Fancy a short hike out to a picturesque waterfall? Rated easy for hikers of all ages and abilities, the Old Kate & Waterfall Trail is just a 0.8-mile in length and offers a wooden boardwalk surface, towering trees, and the tranquil sound of the gushing waterfall. When in Kansas City, it’s a must!
While those hikes may have been rated easy, there’s no doubt you’ve worked up quite the appetite from being on your feet all day! Ready to experience Kansas City’s thriving food scene for yourself? These are our top restaurant recommendations within the region.
If you haven’t heard of this establishment’s famous Chicken Spiedini, then you’re in for a treat. Garozzo’s Ristorante is a traditional Italian restaurant that serves well-known city favorites, including stuffed artichoke, tiramisu, and $5 martinis every Wednesday night. You may even recognize the owner and chef Michael Garozzo from his TV Talk Show cooking appearances!
Corvino famously offers two concepts under one roof, a Supper Club and a Tasting Room, with each capturing different experiences from Chef Michael Corvino. The Supper Club centers around social dining, featuring a wide variety of shareable plates based on seasonality, while the Supper Club offers you the theater of an open kitchen with a 10+ course tasting menu experience.
How do 100% plant-based burgers and hand-cut fries sound? That’s right, even if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you can still get your fix at one of the most popular burger joints within the region: Pirate’s Bone Burgers. It has been called Kansas City's best minority owed test kitchen, with many highly rating their “I can’t believe it’s not beef” classic burger.
Remember how we mentioned that Kansas City has a love of good ol’ barbeque? Well, when it comes to the art of KC barbeque, you just can’t look past dining at Q39 in Midtown. Enjoy their mouth-watering brisket plate, specialty Mr Burns sandwich, herb-smoke pork shank, and more.
Ready for the best Austrian cuisine in Kansas City? Grünauer is a popular restaurant situated in a historic dark-wood-and-brick Freight House space. Here, you can enjoy classics such as wiener schnitzel, Hungarian style beef goulash, crispy pork belly, and more.
After feasting and enjoying all that nature has to offer, you may be wondering: “what next?” Well, when it comes to Chicago’s attractions and activities, you’re only just getting started. Here are some of the most fun things on offer in and around the city!
Looking for a fun family day out? Look no further, as these activities and attractions will keep your toddler, kid, or teenager entertained for hours on end.
Is there anything children love more than seeing animals up close? At the Kansas City Zoo, you and your family can enjoy zoo rides such as boat, train, tram, or carousel rides, as well as fascinating animal education. Then, of course, there’s the adorable animals, with elephants, African lions, leopards, monkeys, orangutans, and so many more calling this place home.
Located over near the Jackson County Parks & Rec area is Missouri Town 1855, a circa 1820-1860 living history village and museum including 25 original structures. Visitors of all ages will love the interpreters in period clothing, as they portray life as it was in western Missouri during the mid-1800s. Admission costs just $4 - $7.
Whether it’s date night or you simply find yourself wandering around the city long after the sun has gone down – here are our top activities to enjoy in Kansas City during the darker hours.
Located in the American Jazz Museum is the Blue Room Jazz Club, which simultaneously honors the past and showcases the present names in jazz. Enjoy the museum in the day, followed by live music in the evening, as well as drink specials and no cover during “Indigo Hour”, which is from 5:00-7:30 pm on Fridays.
If you’re looking for a fun experience to spend your evening hours, look no further than an after-dinner performance at The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. This mega-modern, state-of-the-art facility is home to two awe-inspiring performance venues: The Muriel Kauffman Theatre and the Helzberg Hall, so you’ll never be far from the action.
Looking to experience Kansas City while sticking to a strict budget? Don’t worry, there are plenty of fun things to do and see in this city, all “on the cheap!”
Kansas City is home to the very important National WWI Museum and Memorial, which is America's “leading institution dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community.” Take a look at the numerous exhibits or educational programs on offer, visit the memorial, or take a moment to rest your feet at the museum café. Admission ranges from $10 - $18 for those aged over 6.
The Negro Leagues were established in 1920 and the museum recreates the look, sounds and feel of the game's storied past. Highlights at this museum include 10 life-sized bronze sculptures of Negro Leagues greats, a documentary film, narrated by actor James Earl Jones, and The Hall of Fame Lockers area, which pays tribute to the players who have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Admission costs $6 - $10 for those aged over 5.
Did you know that there are also plenty of amazing things to experience in Kansas City, all of which don't cost a cent? That's right - here are our favorite things to do in the city for free!
Recognized internationally as one of the finest general art museums in the United States, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a must-have on any list of free things to do in Kansas City. Here, you can enjoy nearly 40,000 works of art across many intriguing collections, or why not enjoy art outdoors in the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park, which houses more than 35 sculptures by many famous 20th century artists?
This 104-year-old historical landmark was recently awarded "Favorite Attraction" and "Best of KC", among others. At Union Station, you’ll find attractions including Science City, the Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium, the Regnier Extreme Screen Theatre, the Model Railroad Experience, City Stage featuring live theater, and a selection of unique shops and restaurants.
If you’re craving some rest and relaxation, or even a bit of pampering, these are two of the best spas in the Kansas City region.
Located in the heart of Kansas City is Spa On Penn, which encourages patrons to “relax, refresh, and rejuvenate”. They offer a long list of services across massage therapy, wellness, skincare, hair, waxing, body treatments, energy therapies, and so much more. You could say it’s your one-stop-shop for feeling and looking great.
Salon Oasis and Day Spa is a full-service hair salon and spa that can be likened to a luxurious retreat designed to meet your beauty and relaxation needs. In fact, they offer everything from facials, body treatments, and massage therapy, to manicures and pedicures, full body waxing and even makeup artistry. As the salon explains: “If you are ready to escape... we are ready to take you there.”
If rejuvenation for you is less about deep relaxation and more about sweating it out, then you’re in luck. Kansas City is home to some of the highest-rated gyms and yoga studios within the region.
Hagoyah is more than just yoga classes. This place practices holistic beauty, offering a salon, spa, and yoga den. Their yoga classes cost just $5 - $15, as they believe achieving more strength, peace, and clarity shouldn’t cost a small fortune. Amen to that!
With a warehouse style location in the Stockyards of Kansas City, Freight House Fitness is an intriguing and inspiring place to break a sweat. You see, their aim is to break down limiting beliefs and plant roots of radical self-care and self-love within each person who walks through their doors. You won’t look back.
Looking to fulfill your wanderlust by heading outside of the region for a day? You could spend decades within Kansas City without barely scratching the surface of all there is to do in this large city, but consider these days trip next time you fancy a new adventure.
Just less than an hour’s drive over the border and into Kansas is Lecompton, known as a civil war birthplace and celebrated for its role in growing resistance to African-American slavery. It was voted as one of the state’s best small towns in 2016 and features attractions such as Constitution Hall and the Territorial Capital Museum, as well as must-visit shops such as Recollections antique and gift shop and Claymama’s art boutique.
If you’re looking for a weekend escape to some of the best natural scenery that Missouri has on offer, then a drive to Mark Twain National Forest is completely worth it. Encompassing 1.5 million acres, this national forest offers recreational activities such as campgrounds, 750 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and motorized use, and over 350 miles of perennial streams, suitable for floating, canoeing, and kayaking.
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Kansas City that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Kansas City? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.