There are many different reasons to visit Kansas City, including outstanding barbecue, the opportunity to see professional sports teams play and the city's fabulous art galleries and museums. Fabulous state parks offer plenty of canoeing, fishing, beachcombing and hiking fun. Consider making the trip in an RV so that you can stop at unique locations, like the Amana Colonies, and take a ride on a Mississippi River paddleboat. You may also want to go southeast a little bit from Chicago to visit Indiana Sand Dunes National Park. The Quad Cities and Des Moines beg you to come to explore them. Consider following this Chicago to Kansas City road trip itinerary so you can catch the highlights.
While there are no national parks in Illinois, Iowa and northern Missouri, you may want to head just across the Illinois-Indiana state line to visit Indiana Sand Dunes National Park before you head out on your Chicago to Kansas City road trip. You can also use this handy guide to national parks to find ones to include in future trips.
Indiana Sand Dunes National Park
Indiana Sand Dunes National Park stretches along 15 miles of Lake Michigan’s southern shorelines. You can find lots to do there, including playing on the beaches, biking along trails up to 19 miles long, horseback riding, fishing and picnicking. Sailboats, kayaks, canoes and other boats can be launched from nearby docks to play in the water just offshore. This park is also a favorite place to go cross-country skiing in the winter.
Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park
Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park is a unique state park spanning five Illinois counties and running for over 100 miles. The canal system constructed between 1892 and 1907 offers a wonderful place to go hiking. You can also use the trail for snowmobiling in the winter. There are numerous scenic places to enjoy a picnic at this site running from the Illinois River to the Rock River and north to the Rock Falls. While you will have to portage your boat in places because the locks are no longer operational, many enjoy canoeing and kayaking in the canal, and it's also a great place to go fishing.
Wildcat Den State Park
Wildcat Den State Park, located near Muscatine, Iowa, offers well-maintained hiking trails allowing you to see amazing views from the river bluffs. Hike to see the Pine Creek Grist Mill constructed in 1848. The Melpine Schoolhouse was constructed about 1900. One of Muscatine's first residents constructed the grist mill, and he used it to make a living for himself and his large family. The schoolhouse contains many pictures on the walls of early Muscatine scenes, desks of various sizes and old lunchboxes.
Rock Creek State Park
Located near Kellogg, Iowa, Rock Creek State Park offers all types of water fun. Play on its sandy beach or take your boat out on the water. You can also fish for bluegill, crappie, bass, catfish and other species from the shore or a boat at this state park where the average water depth is about 9 feet. The trail system at this park can be used for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. The beach is a fantastic place to relax.
Lake Ahquabi State Park
Stop and rent a paddleboat or canoe from the park vendor to enjoy playing on Lake Ahquabi State Park. Two boat ramps make it easy to launch your vessel. The name of this park near Indianola, Iowa, means peaceful retreat, and that is what you will find when you hike along the 9.5 miles of trails. Mountain bikers often enjoy riding on the gravel path that leads near the lake. In the winter, the trails are a popular place to go cross-country skiing. Find a place to warm up after playing in the snow.
Wallace State Park
The trails up to 3.5 miles long, lined with benches scattered along them, offer great hiking opportunities at Wallace State Park near Cameron, Missouri. Follow the trails to Deer Run Creek or the old quarry. The six-acre Lake Allaman makes an excellent spot to go fishing or sit back and bird-watch. Bikers love to get their workouts on the paved biking trail. Enjoy eating a picnic under the sycamore and bur oak trees at this state park.
Step back in time with a ride on the 750-passenger Celebration Belle on the Mississippi River. Two types of narrated cruises allow you to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the riverbanks or take your cruising to a new level with a dinner and dance evening cruise. Many trips depart from Moline, IA.
Herbert Hoover National Historic Site
Start your visit to the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, located near West Branch, Iowa, with a stop at the visitors center to get an overview of Hoover's life and presidency. Children will want to get the scavenger hunt from the park rangers. Tour the two-room cottage where Hoover was born and the blacksmith shop that his father owned and operated. See the one-room schoolhouse where he attended classes and the place where he and his wife are buried. Finish your tour by using an app to take a self-guided tour of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum and Library.
Amana Heritage Museum
The Amana Heritage Museum in Amana, IA, traces the history of the Inspirationists from 18th-century Germany to the present day. See various exhibits related to their winemaking, furniture building and basket weaving. Then, head out to see the 1870s schoolhouse, the 1864 Noe house, the communal kitchen and the communal washhouse. Stroll through the beautiful gardens that were established in the late 1800s. Drive carefully in this area as many residents still use horses and buggies to get around.
Greater Des Moines Botanical Center
The Greater Des Moines Botanical Center covers about 14 acres on the Des Moines River's banks. This facility has many gardens inside and out. Some of the outdoor gardens showcase roses, water plants and conifers. You will find over 1,000 taxa of tropical plants inside the geodesic-domed conservatory.
Glore Psychiatric Museum
The Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri, covers over 145 years of treatment for patients with psychiatric disorders at the State Lunatic Asylum. See many tools and the nurses' uniforms used to treat these individuals. Read patient notes and see many examples of the artwork that they created.
This city is the largest of the ones that make up the Quad Cities. Consider visiting the Fugge Art Museum and the Putnam Museum and Science Center on your Chicago to Kansas City RV road trip. Davenport campground options include Interstate RV Park and Rock Island/Quad Cities KOA. Davenport, Iowa, RV dump stations include Flying J Travel Plaza and Love’s Travel Stop. You can also consider these other Iowa RV dump station locations.
Iowa City, Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa, is home to the University of Iowa. You can go fossil hunting at the Devoman Fossil Gorge or let your children play while learning at the Iowa Children's Museum. Iowa City campground options include Sleepy Hollow RV Park & Campground and Linder Point Campground. Consider using Iowa City RV dump stations at West Liberty RV Park or the Water Pollution Control Plant during your road trip from Chicago to Kansas City.
Des Moines, Iowa
Iowa's capital is in Des Moines, and you can find a lot to do there, including visiting Blank Zoo and the Des Moines Art Center. Des Moines campground options include Adventureland Campground and Iowa State Fair Campground. Des Moines RV dump station options include Walnut Woods State Park and Pattee City Park.
Once you arrive at Kansas City, you may want to dine on the city's world-famous barbecue, get your thrills at Worlds of Fun and see the artwork at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. With so many fun things to incorporate into a Chicago to Kansas City road trip, you will want to leave very soon. Be sure to take your RV to enjoy camping fun. If you do not have an RV, rent one on RVshare.com in Chicago or Kansas City. You will love driving through the Prairie State into the land of tall corn before reaching the Show Me State.