20 Family Vacation Spots Within 5 Hours Of Kansas City

Kansas City may be landlocked, but when it comes to summer vacations and long weekends there is no lack of fun places for families ready to hit the road! We’ve rounded up 20 vacation spots within a 5-hour drive of Kansas City as well as information about the length of the drive, things to do when you get there, and trip reports we’ve written over the years to help you make your plans.

Mom Pro Tips

Happy trails!


Flint Hills and Manhattan


  • Distance: 30 minutes.
  • Things to Do: Prairie Park Nature Center, The Toy Store, Downtown Lawrence, KU Natural History Museum, Up and Away Play. Check out our guide to a day trip to Lawrence.


  • Distance: 1 hour.
  • Things to Do: Topeka Zoo, Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, Gage Park, Brown V. Board of Education National Historic Site, tour the Kansas State Capital building. We have a full guide to help you plan your visit to Topeka.


Wherever you choose to go, take a peek at our guide to the top Kansas state parks to visit with kids and see what’s nearby!



Lake of the Ozarks

  • Distance: Just under 3 hours.
  • Things to Do: Boating, swimming, mini-golf, Ha Ha Tonka State Park, Bridal Cave, Margaritaville Indoor Water Park.


  • Distance: 2 hours.
  • Things to Do: Walt Disney Hometown Museum, Disneyland’s Midget Autopia, Disney Family Farm. Read our full guide to a day trip to Marceline for all the details.



  • Distance: Just under 3 hours.kids in front Springfield mural
  • Things to Do: Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, Fantastic Caverns, Discovery Center of Springfield, Dickerson Park Zoo. Be sure to check out our full guide to a weekend in Springfield.

St. Louis

  • Distance: Just under 4 hours.
  • Things to Do: St. Louis Zoo (free), Magic House, St. Louis Science Center, City Museum, Missouri Botanical Garden. Check out our full guide for a road trip to St. Louis.

Wherever you choose to go, take a peek at our guide to the top Missouri state parks to visit with kids and see what’s nearby!



  • Distance: 3 hours
  • Things to Do: Lincoln Zoo, Lincoln Children’s Museum, Sunken Gardens. Check out our weekend guide to Lincoln.


  • Distance: 3 hours
  • Things to Do: Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Omaha Children’s Museum, Lauritzen Gardens, Kiewit Luminarium. Our family getaway guide for Omaha can help you plan your trip.


Des Moines


  • Distance: 3.5 hours
  • Things to Do: Prime times to visit are during Tulip Time in May or for Kerstmarkt in December.


Carlton Landing


Oklahoma City

  • Distance: Just under 5 hours
  • Things to Do: Oklahoma City Zoo, Science Museum of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. Be sure to check out our Oklahoma City Road Trip Guide for all the details.

Willing to drive a little further? Check out Broken Bow


Beaver Lakeboats on a foggy lake on White River, Arkansas

Buffalo River/White River

  • Distance: 5 hours.
  • Things to Do: Hiking, fishing, zip-lining, Dry Run Creek and fish hatchery, float trip (on Buffalo River in summer). Read tips for visiting in the summer or fall in our two guides for that area.

Northwest Arkansas (Bentonville/Rogers/Fayetteville)

Julia Willhite
I'm Julia and I live in Olathe with my husband of 16 years, my 10 and 6 year old daughters, and our rescue pug Mabel. I’m a social worker turned SAHM and love Dr. Pepper, thunderstorms, and talking to other adults. I hate coffee, diet culture, and washing dishes. I'll talk your ear off about the best local parks and which restaurants have wronged me by changing their long-standing menu items. I try to walk the line between knowing a lot of stuff and not being a know-it-all. Some days I'm better than others.