Day Trips

Kansas City is surrounded by a number of communities, each just a short drive from Downtown and perfect for a fascinating day trip. Visit the birthplace of the Pony Express or of Amelia Earhart, picnic by the river, immerse yourself in Civil War history, or sample some of the best antique shops anywhere. Plan your itinerary to visit one of these communities on your way in to or out of Kansas City.

ATCHISON -- Historic Atchison, Kansas, is perhaps best known as the birthplace of world-famous aviator Amelia Earhart. Atchison will host a year-long celebration in 1997 with various special events to honor the 100th anniversary of her birth. Her grandparents' Victorian home (where Earhart was born) is now a museum operated by the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of women pilots established by Earhart in 1929. The museum, located at 223 North Terrace Street, is being restored to its original condition in preparation for the centennial celebration.

Sitting on a slope near Atchison's Lake Warnock is the International Forest of Friendship, comprised of trees representing the 50 states and more than 35 countries. The forest also was founded with assistance from the Ninety-Nines. A walkway bearing plaques honoring more than 700 men and women for their contributions to the advancement of aviation and aerospace winds through the forest.

The Atchison Trolley, which begins its journey at the old Santa Fe depot, is one of the most popular (and convenient) ways to tour this picturesque city. After leaving the depot, the trolley provides a narrated tour past 18 sites on the National Register of Historic Places. The trolley also passes the downtown mall, antique stores, museums, and the city's massive stone courthouse and post office, both built in the 1890s. Visitors can step off the trolley at several points along the way.

LAWRENCE-- About 45 minutes west of Downtown Kansas City, Lawrence, Kansas, is ranked 15th among the 100 best small arts towns in America.

Take a stroll down Massachusetts Street and you'll soon discover why "Mass" has been called one of America's loveliest main streets. The five-block long downtown district is lined by century-old buildings, eclectic boutiques, diverse restaurants, galleries, and antique shops. Numerous art galleries and studios are located downtown, including the Lawrence Arts Center. Liberty Hall, a restored opera house, provides a beautiful setting for live entertainment as well as cinematic releases.

Lawrence also is the home of the University of Kansas. The KU Natural History Museum features four floors of fossils and plant and animal exhibits. The Spencer Museum of Art, comprised of 11 galleries, is considered one of the nation's top university art collections. The KU Museum of Anthropology is housed in the oldest building on campus, Spooner Hall, and features beadwork, artifacts, African masks, and a totem pole. The museum sponsors the annual Lawrence Indian Arts Show, a full month of activities kicked off by the two-day outdoor Indian Market scheduled for September 7 and 8.

Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence was founded in 1884 and is one of the nation's oldest Native American educational institutions. The student population numbers roughly 800 Native American and Alaska Natives per semester. Each May, Haskell hosts its annual commencement pow wow, featuring hundreds of Native American dancers, musicians, and craftsmen.

Lawrence has two outlet malls for visitors who like to shop. The Tanger Factory Outlet features more than 30 shops a few blocks from the downtown area. The Lawrence Riverfront Plaza Factory Outlet is located on the north end of downtown and houses more than 50 stores on three levels.

The Old West Lawrence historic neighborhood includes three square blocks of beautiful homes built between 1860 and 1920. Many homes feature impressive architecture from Victorian to Italianate. Guided and self tours are available through the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau.

LEAVENWORTH -- Leavenworth, Kansas, is known as the "First City in Kansas," established in 1854 and located on the west banks of the Missouri River. Visitors will enjoy browsing Leavenworth's historic riverfront downtown, which offers many antique and unique shops.

Built in 1867, Leavenworth's Victorian Carroll Mansion, with beautiful woodwork and stained glass windows, is open daily to the public. Adjacent to Leavenworth is Ft. Leavenworth, the oldest continuously operating fort west of the Mississippi River. Today Ft. Leavenworth is considered one of the most beautiful and well-maintained forts in the United States. It contains several historical sites, including the Frontier Army Museum, Santa Fe and Oregon trail cuts, the National Cemetery, and the Buffalo Soldiers Monument, dedicated by General Colin Powell in 1992 to honor the African-American soldiers of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments.

LEXINGTON -- Lexington, Missouri, founded in 1822, was an important trading center on the Missouri River and a major outfitter for the Santa Fe, California, and Oregon trails. By 1830, it was considered the largest and most important town west of St. Louis. Lexington's history is evident in the numerous historic sites open to the public and the preservation of more than 100 historic buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

"Madonna of the Trail," a 1928 statuary tribute to pioneer women is located in Lexington. The statue is one of 12 placed in each state crossed by the National Old Trails Road, a route taken by early settlers that stretched from Maryland to California.

The Battle of Lexington Historic Site and Visitors Center is one of the few Civil War battlefields never cultivated. A self-guided walking tour reveals battle trenches still visible. On the grounds of the site is the restored Anderson House, built by Colonel Oliver Anderson and used as a field hospital during the battle.

The Lexington Historical Museum, built in 1846 as the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, contains extensive exhibits on the Civil War, Pony Express, and other bits of Lexington's history. The oldest courthouse in continuous use west of the Mississippi, Lexington's Lafeyette County Courthouse retains a souvenir from the Confederate victory in the 1861 Battle of Lexington a cannonball embedded in the east column.

PLATTSBURG -- Plattsburg, Missouri, just 30 miles northeast of Kansas City, is home to the Clinton County Historical Museum, four antique shops, several specialty shops, two bed-and-breakfasts, an 18-hole golf course, and unique turn of the century homes.

Plattsburg hosts a Homes Tour every June, a Greet the Summer Festival with bands and outdoor flea markets, an Art Show, a Historic Church Tour in December, and lots of other interesting events.

ST. JOSEPH-- Perched on scenic bluffs overlooking the river, St. Joseph, Missouri, is a contemporary city with more than 150 years of colorful history. Joseph Robidoux established it as an Indian trading post and it quickly expanded into a major trade center. St. Joseph was incorporated in 1843 and named after the patron saint.

The Pony Express National Memorial includes a 70-foot-long, three-dimensional diorama depicting the various trail conditions endured on the 2,000-mile journey. The Pony Express Monument, a larger-than-life bronze statue of a rider, commemorates the Pony Express' origins in St. Joseph.

A curious and fascinating mix of museums also can be found in St. Joseph. The Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art houses one of the finest collections of 18th-20th century American art in the Midwest. The Glore Psychiatric Museum displays more than 400 years of psychiatric history including the Bath of Surprise and the Tranquilizer Chair. At the Knea-Von Black Archives visitors travel through a simulated underground railroad to a room devoted to noted black leaders and pioneers including George Washington Carver and Martin Luther King, Jr. The Society of Memories Doll Museum houses 600 dolls from the 1840s to the present. Additional unique attractions include the Stetson Hat Factory Outlet.

Getting around St. Joseph is easy aboard the popular First Street Trolleys. The city's Historic Downtown Walking Tours are another way to experience St. Joseph's charm. Tour maps are available through the St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau.

WESTON -- Weston bills itself as the "Town that Time Forgot" and welcomes visitors with antique shops, two wineries, a 1,055-acre state park on the Missouri River, and a 22-block historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Weston is home to the McCormick Distilling Company, one of America's oldest distilleries. The former German Lutheran Evangelical Church, built in 1867, houses the cellars of the Pirtle Winery, where wine tastings are conducted. At O'Malley's 1842 Irish Pub, visitors sample Irish beer in the cellar of the oldest brewery west of the Hudson River.

Numerous historic sites attract visitors year-round. The Weston Historical Museum features artifacts depicting life in Weston from prehistoric times to World War II. Tours are offered of the Price-Loyles House, an 1857 Federal-style home filled with original family furnishings and toys from the 1860s. This was home to four generations of Daniel Boone's descendants. The Herbert Bonnell Museum offers a glimpse into household and farm life during the 1800s.

Nearby Weston Bend State Park, administered by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, offers scenic overlooks, camping facilities, and hiking and biking trails. Four tobacco barns are located within the park's boundaries and one is used to tell the story of tobacco production. More outdoor adventure can be found at the Snow Creek Ski Area. Snow Creek's snow-making capabilities keep the slopes open from mid-December through mid-March.

Directions from Downtown Kansas City, Missouri to...

Atchison, Kansas
North on I-29, take Exit 20 and follow Missouri Highway 273 to Missouri Highway 45. Go North on Highway 45 to US Highway 59. Take US Highway 59 West four miles to Atchison.
Atchison Area Chamber of Commerce: (913) 367-2427

Lawrence, Kansas
I-70 West about 45 miles to Lawrence (two exits).
Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau: (913) 865-4411 Visitor Information Center in historic Union Pacific Depot (Exit 204): 1-800-318-8995

Leavenworth, Kansas
I-70 West to I-435 North to Highway 24-40 West to Highway 7-73 North to Leavenworth.
Leavenworth-Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau: 1-800-844-4114

Lexington, Missouri
I-70 East to the Lexington Exit (Route O). Travel North on Route O for approximately 15 miles. Continue North on Highway 13 to Lexington.
Lexington Tourism Bureau: (816) 259-4711

Plattsburg, Missouri
I-35 North to Missouri Highway 116 West.
Plattsburg Chamber of Commerce: (816) 539-2649

St. Joseph, Missouri
I-29 North to St. Joseph (approximately 45 miles).
St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau: 1-800-785-0360

Weston, Missouri
I-29 North to Exit 20 (just north of Platte City). Go west on Highway 92 to Tracy, Missouri. Follow signs to Weston (six miles).
Weston Development Company: (816) 640-2909

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