Five outdoorsy events worth the drive outside of KC this summer

No mountains, no ocean — yeah, yeah, we know: Kansas City isn’t exactly a destination city for nature lovers. But start venturing further out into Missouri and Kansas, and there’s actually plenty to see and explore. You just gotta know where to look. Lucky for you, we’ve done a bit of the legwork already. Here’s five outdoorsy events worth the drive (or bike) (or hike).

Katy Trail Guided Hike

Katy Trail State Park, 2503 West 16th Street, Sedalia, MO

June 15

The Katy Trail is one of Missouri’s recreational crown jewels, and this relatively short (1.5 miles) guided tour, led by an experienced naturalist and park expert, is a useful introduction to what the MKT has to offer. Plus, it’s free. Call 660-563-2463 for more information.

Midsummer’s Swedish Festival

104 East Lincoln Street, Lindsborg, KS

June 15

Lindsborg, aka “Little Sweden, USA,” is an adorable town about a half-hour’s drive straight south from Salina. Every June, Lindsborg hosts an equally adorable festival featuring loads of Swedish food, dancing, games, and music. See for details.

Meramac Caverns Lantern Tours

Meramac Caverns State Park, 1135 Route W, Stanton, MO

June 1, 8, 15, 22

The spectacular Meramac Caverns are closer to St. Louis than Kansas City, but this commercial cave — eerie and massive, with seven levels of passages — is truly a must-see. Tours are held daily, but special tours are offered on certain dates in June; for $22, you can do a 80-minute hike guided only by an old-fashioned lantern. See for more info.

Island Cave Hike

Ha Ha Tonka State Park, 1491 Missouri D, Camdenton, MO

July 12, 19, 26

This hike, at the Lake of the Ozarks-area Ha Ha Tonka State Park, takes you past rushing water and a small, bright turquoise lake before depositing you outside a large, natural karst cave. It’s normally restricted to visitors, but not on these hikes. Call the park at 573-346-2986 to reserve your spot. (There’s no fee other than regular park admission.)

Float Your Boat Cardboard Boat Races

Milford State Park, 3612 State Park Road, Milford, KS

August 10

If you can build a boat out of only cardboard and duct tape, you can race it at Milford State Park on this mid-August afternoon. And if you don’t trust your construction skills, consider attending simply to watch the boats go by; these handmade vessels are often quite elaborate. The event is free and requires no registration.


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