Best of KC: Best Places to Get Out of Town Without Getting Out of Town
Check the calendar. Summer is half over. And if you’re like me, most of your summer plans have been canceled. Whether your finances were demolished by Covid or lockdowns and social distancing protocol have made traveling impossible, you don’t have to waste the entire season. Summer can still happen! There are very affordable options within driving distance—perfect for a day trip or quick weekend jaunt. Here are some of the best summertime adventures nearby.
West Bend State Park
Get away from town by heading up to Weston and West Bend State Park. Hike up West Ridge Trail along the Missouri River and connect to Harpst Trail or the Paved Bicycle Loop. All three trails will take the average walker about two-and-a-half hours, culminating in a lookout point just beyond the West Ridge Trailhead. There’s also a campground if you’re looking to extend your escape from city life.
Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Boasting that it’s where nature and history come together, Ha Ha Tonka State Park is full of bluffs, sinkholes, caves, and natural springs while also featuring the ruins of a castle build in 1903 by natural gas baron Robert McClure Snyder. The surrounding trails allow for hiking and picnicking around the lake, through lagoons, up steep bluffs, and across manmade boardwalks.
St. Louis is a fun city to visit, but maybe not during a pandemic when social distancing protocol has become the norm. Fortunately, there are some more remote sites where you can avoid people and keep your germs to yourself. Nearby Cahokia, a Native American settlement on the eastern shore of the Mississippi River, still boasts some remains that you can visit. In fact, archaeologists believe it was as large as London during the Middle Ages. Monk’s Mound, which rises 100 feet over St. Louis and features views of the skyline, is the largest Native American Mound North of Mexico.
Sure, we’re all hit up the trolley trail before, but why not make a day of it? The trail only runs for about six miles, from the Plaza to just south of Waldo, but if you plan out a route and a few stops at restaurants or coffee shops in Brookside or Waldo, you could easily call it a vacation. Aim for Betty Rae’s Ice Cream, the Roasterie, KC Bier Co. or the rooftop of The Well. If you want something a little more rural, check out Indian Creek Trail, which starts at Indian Creek and Blue River before heading west into Overland Park, shaded and flat, for 17 miles.
Or, the Heritage Riverfront Trail is fifteen miles along the Missouri River downtown and has sporadic offshoots that riders can go explore along the way. River Market and the West Bottoms are some great spots to grab coffee or stop for lunch. The Gary Haller trail is a paved 17-mile ride that starts on the Kansas River before heading south through Shawnee and Lenexa and ending in Olathe. If you’re into nature, it’s more scenic than some of the other trails in the metro and has several access points and shorter trails that intersect along the way.
And if those leisurely shaded routes aren’t enough of an adrenaline rush, check out some mountain biking around town, specifically in Bentonville. There’s a network of interconnected trails and surrounded by hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Slaughter Pen is over twenty miles long and is accessible to both beginners and more expert riders. Razorback Regional Greenway is off-road, protected bike lanes that span more than thirty-six miles. And the most challenging series of trails is probably the Coler Preserve trails, which have been built on a mountain bike preserve and feature jumps, rocky sections, and great scenery.
And when you’re ready to return to Kansas City and need a little assistance advancing your career, check out our website at https://www.chiefofstaffkc.com.
Blog written by Erin Greenhalgh