BEST OF KANSAS:
3-Day Weekend Road Trip Itinerary
Best Things To Do In Kansas
Kansas is known as both the ‘sunflower state’ and the ‘wheat state.’ Throughout Kansas, you’ll find rolling plains and rich agriculture. You’ll likely spot burly, broad-winged hawks perched in trees as you drive across I-70 highway. From quirky museums and roadside attractions, to unique land formations, this road trip through Kansas makes a great family vacation out of Kansas City, or a more adventurous route from KC to Denver.
DAY 1: Wamego, Rock City, & Wilson State Park
Starting in Kansas City, hop on the yellow brick road to Wamego- home of the Oz Museum. If your dog can be carried, they’re welcome to join you inside the museum. While in Wamego, be sure to snag some photos with all the different ‘Toto’s’ around town- especially the emerald Toto by the Yellow Brick Road sign! Grab a quick pick-me-up at The Brew Coffee Shop and stroll through nearby Wamego City Park. Need to stop for brunch on your way to Wagmego? Grab a bite at Ladybird Diner. This eclectic diner serves up comfort foods like sweet potato hash and fried chicken sandwiches, and has five dog-friendly patio tables out front.
Next pitstop: Rock City! This five-acre park contains about 200 huge Dakota sandstone concretions- which you’re actually encouraged to climb on. Have a Designated Driver? Drop in to Liquid Art Winery & Estate on your way to Rock City, and enjoy the views as you sit fireside with a glass of wine. They also offer craft cider tastings, cheese charcuterie boards, artisan pizzas and dessert pizzas. Hungry? Grab takeout on your way to Rock City from Hickory Hut Barbecue or Martinelli’s Little Italy in Salina, Kansas.
To finish the day, head to Wilson State Park and set up camp for the night at one of the most picturesque parks in Kansas. Enjoy a sunset paddleboard, cook s’mores and dinner on the fire pit.
Not into camping? The historic Midland Railroad Hotel in Wilson, Kansas has a few dog-friendly rooms. For dinner or a night cap, there is also dining on site here at The Sample Room Tavern and The Barn Kansas Libations Club, with outdoor dog-friendly patio seating- weather permitting.
DAY 1 TIMELINE:
0800-1000: KC to Wamego
1300-1430: Wamego to Rock City
1630-1730: Rock City to Wilson State Park
DAY 2: Monument Rocks Chalk Pyramids
Spend the morning making breakfast and enjoying Wilson State Park. Rock Town trail (2.5 miles) makes a beautiful sunrise hike- winding along portions of Wilson Lake as it passes by towering rock formations. The 24.5-mile long Switchgrass Bike Trail is popular with mountain bikers. If you didn’t bring your own watersport equipment, Knotheads Bait and Tackle Shop is located on the east side of Shoreline Drive just off 232 highway. They provide rentals for kayaks, paddle boards and canoes, as well as camping and fishing supplies.
For lunch, head into Wilson, KS and grab food on the dog-friendly outdoor patio at Midland Railroad Hotel. Pop into Grandma’s Soda Shop for an old-fashioned soda pop and kolache to-go on the way out of town. Snap a photo with the World’s Largest Czech Egg nearby.
Drive about 2.5 hours to Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park and Monument Rocks Chalk Pyramids. Try to time this stop so you get here at the beginning of sunset for some amazing photos. The chalk formations reach as high as 50 feet. Note: this landmark is on private land along a road that is impassable in inclement weather. There is no camping or climbing allowed.
From here, head back north towards Oakley, Kansas. High Plains Camping is the closest campground, but doesn’t have the best reviews- plus we just love KOAs. We recommend driving a bit further to Wakeeney KOA if you’re headed back towards Kansas City, or to Goodland KOA Journey if you’re going on to Denver. Both of these KOAs have economy cabins (without bathrooms) in addition to RV and tent sites.
DAY 2 TIMELINE:
0900-1200: Wilson Lake & State Park
1230-1400: Lunch in Wilson, KS
1400-1700: Drive to Jerusalem Badlands
1730-1800: Drive to Monument Rocks Chalk Pyramids (for sunset)
1900-2030: Head west to Goodland KOA or east to Wakeeny KOA
DAY 3: Mushroom Rock State Park & Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Good Morning! Continuing west to Colorado from Goodland, KS? Snag a photo on your way out of town with the World’s Largest Van Gogh painting & easel replica. Find our eastern Colorado road trip itinerary here. For more Colorado ideas, check out our travel guide on Instagram.
Headed back home to KC from Wakeeney? After breakfast, hit the road for Mushroom Rock State Park. This funky little rock is a smaller version of the rocks you explored at Rock City, and makes a fun pitstop. Afterwards, keep heading east towards Strong City, Kansas.
For lunch, stop at Ad Astra Food & Drink. They have a couple outdoor tables, or offer takeout if you have pups with you and can’t go inside. We recommend the Badger Brothers Sliders and sweet potato fries. Take a peaceful stroll at the nearby Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. Tallgrass prairie once covered 170 million acres of North America, but today less than 4% remains intact, mostly in the Kansas Flint Hills. Keep an eye out for bison roaming the plains. For dog-friendly hikes, the Fox Creek Trail, Z Bar Spur, Bottomland Nature Trail, and Southwind Nature Trail are open year-round. The Two Section Trail opens seasonally to pets (usually early Fall to early Spring) when cattle are not present in the pastures.
For dinner, stop at Radius Brewing Company in Emporia, Kansas. Hang out on their dog-friendly patio with a beer and a slice of wood-fired brick oven pizza until you’re ready to get back home to Kansas City.
DAY 3 TIMELINE:
0900-1030: Wakeeny to Mushroom Rock
1100-1230: Mushroom to Ad Astra
1330-1630: Tallgrass Prairie
1630-1700: Tallgrass to Radius
1800-1930: Radius to Kansas City
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