The four-week home stretch until Spring Break can be an agonizing calendar countdown. So why not take an “appetizer” vacation that can appease your hunger for exploring in the meantime? Fill your gas tank, queue your favorite Spotify playlist, gather your pals and summon your inner wanderlust, because this is your guide to nearby day or weekend trips that don’t require a plane ticket (ew, airport lines).
Distance from East: 48m
Overview: Only a few episodes of “The Office” away from KC, Weston, Mo. transports you to a rustic town surrounded by rolling farm hills. While you’re there, check out the charming, old-timey downtown strip. Not only does it look straight out of “True Grit,” but it’s home to surprisingly adorable boutique shopping, art and locally-made cheeses.
Eat: Tin Kitchen is what First Watch aspires to be with a brick industrial vibe and mouth-watering brunch options (I highly recommend their pigs in a blanket). For lunch, Green Dirt Farm Creamery serves up ~artisan~ sandwiches with ingredients sourced straight from the farm itself, like their signature goat cheese. Bonus points for it all taking place in a building that resembles those in the dreams of Pinterest wedding planners everywhere.
Do: Winter Sports at Snow Creek, Weston Red Barn Farm
Distance from East: 1h 6m
Overview: Known for being both the “Most Haunted Town in Kansas” and the birthplace of Amelia Earhart (these things aren’t correlated, unless you’re an aviation conspiracy theorist), Atchison offers up more than just food and unique shopping — the rich history is a definite draw. Horror junkie? Try out the Haunted Atchison Tour where you’ll see paranormally-infested 19th century homes. Head always in your AHAP textbook? The Amelia Earhart museum is sure to entice with its genuine artifacts and anecdotes.
Eat: A grandiose, long, winding drive through the golden hills of Atchison leads you to a secluded barn revamped into Cedar Ridge Restaurant. While it’s only open on weekends, that adds to the novelty of the full on family style meals they serve (yes, there’s one set menu each night, and yes, their chicken noodle soup is far superior to your mother’s).
Do: The (Haunted) Sallie House, Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum, Atchison Trolley
Distance from East: 3h 7m
Overview: Want to experience classic literature outside the confines of the English hallway? Tow on down to Florida, Mo., the birthplace of Mark Twain. Although the core town has been uninhabited for over half a century and the drive is lengthy, the teeny town’s Tom-Sawyer-abandoned-ghost-town vibe is worth the drive (and possible English extra credit points).
Eat: Rustic Oak Cabin Steakhouse, a right-off-the-road Lincoln log cabin, serves up comfort food like prime rib, sirloin, mashed potatoes and biscuits. When they’re not grubbing, diners can enjoy the taxidermied elk, bobcats, racoons and turkeys mounted on the ceiling. Welcome to Missouri!
Do: Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site, Camping and Hiking at Mark Twain State Park
Overview: KC is no Colorado, but for someone looking to get into the wilderness while still staying in the metro area, Parkville, Mo. is a close bet. With its plethora of hiking trails and sitting right on the bluffs of the Missouri River, you’ll finally be able to use your REI gift card on something useful. For those not wanting to dirty their Adidas Superstars, the quaint main street offers up experiences like an annual festival (live music and year-round Christmas shop.
Distance from East: 26m
Eat: Stone Canyon Pizza is the Parkville equivalent to KC’s Waldo Pizza. Right on Parkville’s main strip, this local favorite is perfect for a quick and casual slice. Looking to get your Greek on? Try Café Cedar for a delicious blend of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Greek and American dishes.
Do: Parkville Mini Golf, English Landing Park, Parkville Nature Sanctuary, H.M.S. Beagle Science Shop