Sometimes the itch to escape just hits you. But even when our minds and souls long for a getaway, our lives don’t always allow for a week — or even a few days — away from the daily grind.
Enter: the one-tank road trip.
We have found five of the most interesting, serene and memorable “daycations” — all within a two-hour drive of Kansas City.
From fabulous antique stores and picturesque wineries to historical landmarks and a taste of yesteryear, you are sure to find the escape you are longing for in one of these destinations. From girlfriends-only getaways to family-friendly excursions or romantic respites, these day trips will make you feel as if you have been on vacation — and you can be home in time for supper. That is, if you can pull yourself away!
Follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark 50 miles northwest of Kansas City to this quaint and historical river city, which is the birthplace of Amelia Earhart and home to oodles of breathtaking Victorian homes, charming boutiques, and antique stores, art galleries, museums and more. Built upon the bluffs of the Missouri River, Atchison defies the
Santa Fe Depot
Kansas prairie stereotype with its landscape of lush wooded areas and rolling hills.
Plan to take the Atchison Trolley Tour upon your arrival, which will give you a guided tour of all Atchison has to offer and a crash-course in the town’s history. With tours starting on the hour, the trolley runs from April to October and is located at 200 S. 10th St. (Call (800) 234-1854 for more information). The trolley departs from the Santa Fe Depot, which is also home to the Santa Fe Rail Museum. Among other captivating tidbits of information, the trolley tour includes tales of Amelia Earhart, as well as the town’s rich German, Irish and Catholic heritage with stops at Benedictine College and several breathtaking churches and historic homes. These places are also part of the town’s legendary Haunted Atchison Tour, which takes place every September and October. If you are an architecture buff, don’t miss out on a tour of St. Benedict’s Abbey.
Head downtown to do some shopping at renowned stores such as Mary Carol Garrity’s nationally acclaimed flagship emporium of home furnishings and décor, Nell Hills (501 Commercial St.). And don’t head back south without visiting the Amelia Earhart birthplace home (223 N. Terrace St.) and museum. One of Atchison’s many claims to fame is the annual Amelia Earhart Festival, which takes place in July.
For more information, visit cityofatchison.com.
Drive Interstate 29 North to Exit 20 (Tracy/Weston). Turn left onto Missouri Highway 273/Elm Grove Road. Continue to follow MO-273. Turn right onto Missouri Highway 45/MO-273. Turn left onto US Highway 59/MO-273. Continue to follow US-59 (crossing into Kansas). Turn right onto 10th Street/Kansas Highway 7. Turn left onto Main Street/K-7.
Excelsior Springs, Missouri
Hall of Waters
Excelsior Springs, Missouri
If you are looking for relaxation, Excelsior Springs is a prime destination. Located a short 30-minute drive from Kansas City, this charming town is perhaps the area’s best-kept secret getaway. Home to the iconic Elms Hotel & Spa (elmshotelandspa.com), Excelsior Springs is a spa-goer’s dream. Renowned for its lavish gardens and beautiful accommodations, The Elms has played host to celebrities and politicians alike, establishing it as one of the nation’s most storied hotels. Having just undergone a $20 million face-lift, The Elms is now even more luxurious. And with a full spa menu, it’s the perfect start or end to any day trip to Excelsior Springs.
Located in the heart of the town, The Elms is near the historical Hall of Waters and Cultural Museum, an art deco masterpiece erected in the 1930s, which is listed on the National Historic Register, as well as area vineyards, wineries, nearly 120 acres of parks and hiking trails, including the championship 6,603-yard, 18-hole Excelsior Springs Golf Course (excelsiorgolf.com), designed by renowned golf course architect Tom Bendelow.
Don’t leave without perusing the unique shops and restaurants located throughout the downtown area, and check out the local events calendar before planning your day trip as Excelsior Springs is home to festivals and special events throughout the year such as Gatsby Days in the spring, Waterfest in June, the annual BBQ Contest in August, and Wine and Jazz Festival in October. The Wabash Blues Garden is open on weekends May through September, and live theater is abundant at the Paradise Playhouse Dinner Theatre, Community Theatre and Kiwanis Broadway Musical Production throughout the year.
Drive Interstate 35 North to Exit 20. Merge onto Missouri Highway 33 North/US Highway 69 North. Continue to follow US-69 North.
Travel back (and I mean way back) in time with a trip to Jamesport, home of the largest Amish community in the state and the largest Old Order Amish settlement west of the
Mississippi. Chock-full of antique stores, Amish craft and variety stores, and Amish bakeries and restaurants, Jamesport’s downtown area (the intersection of Broadway and Auberry Grove) is the hub of the community.
You won’t want to miss the Countryside Bakery, Fabric Barn and H&M Country Store. Selling a variety of bread, rolls, noodles, cinnamon rolls, pies and the like, the Countryside Bakery is a carb-lover’s dream. You will experience a true Amish grocery store at H&M with bulk spices, jams, butters and farm-fresh eggs. At Oakridge Furniture and Sherwood Quilts, peruse handcrafted furniture, wooden toys and clocks, as well as quilts, lace, Amish cookbooks and candles. On Saturdays, seasonally enjoy horse-churned ice cream.
Bring a cooler — you won’t regret it! Do take note, however, that most Amish shops are closed on Thursdays and Sundays and most do not accept credit or debit cards.
And don’t expect to get a cell phone signal — the vast majority of Jamesport’s population is of Amish descent. Fulfilling their desire to separate themselves from the superficialities of society, the Amish live in modest homes on rural farms and travel by horse-drawn vehicles. Their lifestyle revolves around a close-knit family, the discipline of their faith and the utilization of the land, all of which is evident as you travel through the countryside.
For more information, visit jamesport-mo.com.
Drive Interstate 35 North to Exit 61 (US Highway 69) toward Winston. Turn right on US-69. Stay straight onto Missouri Highway 6. Turn right onto Missouri Highway F.
Pack your bike, a picnic and your wine-drinking prowess to travel to this gem of a Missouri River town, located just about two hours from Kansas City. Rocheport, tucked halfway between Columbia (home of the Mizzou Tigers) and historic Boonville, is recognized as “One of America’s 10 Coolest Small Towns” by Frommer’s Budget Travel Magazine.
Spend the day biking on the Katy Trail, which runs alongside the river, or stroll the boardwalk, hike the bluffs and view wildlife in the marshlands at Diana Bend. Or if you are feeling adventurous, take a guided canoe tour down the river as you relive the discoveries of Lewis and Clark. Bikes are available for rent at the Trailside Café & Bike Shop (trailsidecafebike.com).
Take in the town as you explore the historic village before sipping on reds and whites at the renowned Les Bourgeois Vineyards and Winery. Nestled in the picturesque bluff tops with a breathtaking view of the Missouri River Valley, Les Bourgeois is family-owned and -operated and is the third largest winery in the state of Missouri, producing more than 120,000 gallons of wine per year. Take in the scenery at the Blufftop Bistro which offers a full seasonal menu including signature house-smoked meats, fresh seafood and fresh, sun-ripened produce from the Les Bourgeois gardens, or enjoy a picnic at the famed A-frame picnic area overlooking the river.
Visit missouriwine.com for more information.
Drive Interstate 70 East. When you cross the Missouri River Bridge, immediately take Exit 115. Turn left at the top of the exit and then drive two miles.
Less than one hour north of Kansas City, Weston is laced in historical relevance. Home to more than 100 pre-Civil War buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, at one time Weston was the westernmost town in the United States and the second largest port on the Missouri River with more than 300 steamboats docking there per year in
Start your day with a walking tour of Weston, which includes 91 historic and antebellum homes (visit the Weston Information Center, 526 Main St., for more information). Enjoy live entertainment, fine dining or shopping at one of the more than 30 boutiques and antique stores in quaint downtown Weston. Or take in a day of berry or peach picking at one of Weston’s educational farms such as the Red Barn Farm (westonredbarnfarm.com) or Alldredge Orchards (alldredgeorchards.com).
If you are up for a “tasting,” Weston is also home to a brewery, McCormick Distillery, the oldest in the United States, as well as the Pirtle Winery, best known for its line of Mead wines made from honey, which inspired the term “honeymoon.” Located in a former Lutheran Evangelical Church built by German immigrants in the 1860s, the Pirtle Winery grounds include a working production facility as well as an enchanting wine garden and tasting room, not to mention the four-star Vineyards Restaurant, located across directly the street.
Visit pirtlewinery.com for more information.
Drive Interstate 29 North to Exit 20. Turn left onto Missouri Highway 273/Elm Grove Road. Continue to follow MO-273. Turn right onto Missouri Highway 45/MO-273. Turn right onto Missouri Highway H.