Leawood, Kansas, has so much beauty and so many activities to offer that it’s easy to want to just stay in the area. However, there are some really cool places to discover not far from town. The next time you want to explore other areas near Leawood, check out these five fascinating day trip destinations.
Image via Flickr by Conal Gallagher
See gorgeous flowers, hummingbirds, and butterflies when you visit Powell Gardens about 30 miles east of Leawood in Kansas City. Discover the beauty of seasonal plants and flowers within the seven specialty-themed gardens spreading over 970 acres. Start your tour at the visitor’s center to learn about the history of Powell Gardens. The centerpiece of the visitor’s center is the glass-domed conservatory with year-round seasonal plants and interpretive displays. In late summer, the conservatory transforms into the spectacular butterfly habitat just in time for the Festival of Butterflies.
Stroll through the Terrace Gardens to see rotating, native seasonal annuals and perennials. Learn about conifers from around the world at the Conifer Garden. Visitors can see yews, Douglas fir, hemlocks, bald cypress, and more in the American Conifer Society certified garden. Stroll along the 1-mile or 3.25-mile Byron Shutz Trail System to see wild native plants and a natural pond that’s home to geese, ducks, and other water birds.
Key themed gardens include the Marlese Lowe Gourley Island Garden with a 12-acre lake, the Fountain Garden, and the Heartland Harvest Garden, featuring an edible landscape. Members get free admission and a discount at the gift shop, while the general public pays a $10 entrance fee, seniors pay $9, kids ages 5 to 12 are $4, and those under age 5 enter for free.
Just 20 minutes from Leawood is the beautiful and popular Lake Jacomo. Located in Fleming Park, the 970-acre lake is an anglers’ and water lovers’ paradise. Bring your sailboat, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard to enjoy exploring the lake, or rent a boat from the marina. Also at the marina, you can stock up on picnic supplies, bait and tackle, and fuel for your boat. Windsurfers love flying across the lake, and paddle boarders find the calm waters easy to maneuver around.
Bring your fishing gear, and fish from shore, the pier, or from your boat and catch crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass, walleye, and catfish. After a busy day of boating and fishing, take a dip in the refreshing water at Blue Springs Lake Beach or Longview Lake Beach.
Cedar Cove Feline Sanctuary and Education Center
The entire family will love taking a day trip about 35 miles south of Leawood to see the magnificent cats at the Cedar Cove Feline Sanctuary and Education Center. The center is a nonprofit sanctuary staffed entirely by volunteers committed to the care and preservation of a variety of large cats and other predatory species.
See and learn about tigers, lions, servals, leopards, cougars, bobcats, and other big cats. You’ll also see wolves and white-nose coati. All the animals at the sanctuary were at one time abused, neglected, or abandoned until they were rescued and found a forever home at the sanctuary.
When you take a guided tour of the sanctuary, you’ll learn about the natural habitat these animals normally live in, what kind of food they eat, and each of their unique behaviors. One of the highlights of the sanctuary is feeding time, where you can see and hear the big cats and wolves crunching on bones while eating their breakfast or dinner. The entrance fee is $18 for adults, $9 for seniors, and $12 for children. All of the money goes directly into feeding and caring for the animals.
The Spa at the Elms
Pamper yourself with a day trip to The Spa at the Elms in the quaint town of Excelsior Springs, about 45 miles northeast of Leawood. Located in the stunning Elms Hotel, the spa uses water from a natural spring that originates from the Fisher River. In the late 1880s, people flocked to the town of Excelsior Springs to partake in the healing waters there.
The original Elms Hotel, built in 1888, burned to the ground a year later, and in 1912 was rebuilt and attracted high-end clientele from around the world. In 2011, investors spent $20 million to bring the hotel into the modern era with a state-of-the-art spa.
Spend the day in the 25,000-square-foot spa starting with a visit to The Grotto featuring a steam shower, hot tub, cold plunge, steam room, and dry sauna. After a visit to The Grotto, indulge in a massage, facial, hydrotherapy treatment, or body treatments that include a mineral mud wrap or Himalayan salt scrub.
Missouri Town 1855
Travel about 20 miles east of Leawood to Fleming Park and step back in time to experience what life was like in the Midwest by visiting Missouri Town 1855. Missouri Town 1855 is a living history museum set on 30 acres, which features over 25 buildings still standing from the mid-1800s.
As you wander through the town, costumed history interpreters guide you through the museum to explain what life was like for settlers of this region. Watch ranchers tend to livestock, farmers plow the garden using cows and oxen, and sheep graze on the green grass. Wander through the buildings to see what a schoolhouse, blacksmith’s shop, bakery, and the general store looked like.
Throughout the year, Missouri Town 1855 holds special events like the Fourth of July Parade, special holiday events, and Civil War reenactments. Check the museum’s calendar for dates when they hold Children’s Day at Missouri Town 1855, where kids can learn skills such as candle dipping, bread baking, and gardening. They’ll have fun with games such as hoop rolling, gunny sack races, pie-eating contests, and tug-of-war. Adults pay $7 to enter, kids ages 5 to 13 pay $4, and seniors and little ones enter for free.