Smithville Lake in Kansas City
Image via Facebook.com/smithvillelake

Take a breath. Look around. Pastures roll by, extending seemingly endlessly, reminders of the inspiration our foremothers and forefathers spoke about in days of old. You’re only 15 minutes outside town, and yet, it feels like a completely different world. We all need a break from the hustle and bustle of city life every once in a while. Thankfully, Kansas City’s geographic makeup is unique in that it allows people to escape the urban landscape, if just for a moment, in little to no time at all. Go ahead, explore.

Here are some of the best ways to escape the city life, if just for a moment: 

Break Out to Experience Nature

Powell Gardens in Kansas City

Wildflowers in bloom, scenic bodies of water and the nation’s largest “edible” landscape are all in store for you at Powell Gardens, a 915-acre botanical garden located less than 45 minutes southeast of Downtown KC. Children love the wildlife programs at Lakeside Nature Center, where they’re able to interact with live animals, hike and more, all while in Swope Park, one of the biggest urban parks in the country.

Those seeking active adventures will find that KC is king when it comes to thrilling outings, such as watersports at Jackson County's Lake Jacomo and more. If camping is more up your alley, head out to Smithville Lake, where you’ll find more than 750 campsites and 175 miles of lake shoreline, making for the perfect view as you fish, cook, bike and more. Orchid lovers can head underground to Bird’s Botanicals for an unforgettable experience. Open to the public on Tuesdays, guests can shop or explore the greenhouse, located in the climate-controlled SubTropolis. 

Take a Daytrip


Image via Facebook.com/greendirtfarm

One of the best ways to get out of town for a moment is by taking a daytrip to Weston, a historic community just 40 minutes north of Kansas City. There you’ll find Green Dirt Farm—a dairy that churns out sheep’s milk cheeses and products—as well as Green Dirt Farm Creamery, a great lunch and dinner spot that utilizes the dairy’s fresh cheeses to make unparalleled sandwiches and charcuterie. Grab a drink at O’Malley’s 1842 Pub, an Irish bar serving up Weston Brewing Company beer, plus live music and tons of Celtic fun.

While you’re in town, take a tour of Holladay Distillery, home of McCormick Distilling Co., the oldest distillery west of the Mississippi River on its original site. Get an inside look to see how the distillers use limestone spring water to craft vodka, bourbon and more on this interactive excursion. Then, swing by Pirtle Winery to sample Weston-made wines and mead, plus cheese and summer sausage (among other snacks) for the perfect drink accompaniments.

Louisburg Cider Mill

Head south of the metro and you’ll find Miami County, Kan., a veritable paradise for big city escapism. Travel along the Somerset Wine Trail, featuring four area wineries, including Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery. Get up close and personal with big and little cats at Cedar Cove Feline Sanctuary & Education Center, a non-profit organization devoted to endangered large cats (and great for guests young and old). Locals love Louisburg Cider Mill for its apple drinks, annual events and tons more. 

Kick Your Feet up at the Spa

Spend the day out in Excelsior Springs, a tightknit community located less than 40 minutes northeast of Downtown KC. There you’ll find The Elms Hotel & Spa, a prestigious destination dating back to 1888 with a bevy of famous former patrons, such as Al Capone and Harry S. Truman. Relax with dozens of luxurious services, including hydrotherapy, massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and a salon. Afterward, treat yourself to Dari-B Drive-In, a local favorite for ice cream treats. 

Tour the Area’s History

Immerse yourself in the nation’s history by visiting Independence, Mo., the lifetime home of Harry S. Truman, America’s 33rd President and one of the most notable Kansas Citians of all time. Tour his presidential library, where you’ll be guided through Truman’s life and tenure as commander-in-chief, from the end of World War II through the beginning of the Cold War.

A little further east, travelers will find Missouri Town 1855, a living history museum where reenactors depict life from a simpler time, including a functioning blacksmith shop, a mercantile, old-time church and more. Trace the steps of infamous outlaw Jesse James in St. Joseph, a community northwest of Downtown KC and site of the Jesse James Home, where the bandit was assassinated in 1882.

Where to Stay Off the Beaten Path


Image via Facebook.com/theeldridgehotel

When the day’s done, cap off your break from the big city bustle by crashing at the Jefferson House Bed & Breakfast in the Westside neighborhood. It isn’t exactly outside the metro, but the cozy surroundings and residential atmosphere provide the R&R you’ll need after a long outing. If you’re out west, bed down at The Eldridge Hotel, a boutique hotel in downtown Lawrence, Kan., a college town less than 45 minutes from Kansas City. For something totally different, stay out at Worlds of Fun Village. The lodging site boasts 20 cabins, 22 cottages and 82 deluxe RV sites, plus is only steps from the thrills of Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun.

Looking for More Day Trip Ideas?

Visit our day trips section to see more towns that are well worth exploring and are within an hour's drive of Kansas City, MO.

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