Hello, readers! I’m back from maternity leave and excited to share some tips for road tripping on the cheap and making great memories. As the weather gets warmer and the sun shines brighter, one of my family’s favorite things to do is take a weekend daytrip. Small towns have fun things to do that are also both inexpensive and educational. There’s a wealth of options in Kansas and Missouri, so go ahead and get out your map (or map app, as it is).
Missouri loves company
We all know that Missouri is the “Show Me State” and towns like Weston, Branson and Hannibal make sure the state lives up to its motto. Weston is a great place to spend a sunny summer Saturday. There are wonderful shops and restaurants and you can spend a whole afternoon exploring the trails at Weston Bend State Park.
Of course, there are a fairly unlimited number of options for family fun in Branson. Start your stay in Branson by taking a ride on a duck. Forget about the fowl; Branson’s ducks are amphibious vehicles that take you on a tour that covers both land and water, while guides share local history and fun facts about the Ozarks. Between the museums, live shows and theme parks, you’ll need somewhere to sleep. Rest assured, there are hotels, B&Bs, and especially vacation rentals for every price point. Try a website like airbnb.com to book unique lodging.
Keep heading east and you’ll arrive at a literary landmark. Mark Twain’s hometown of Hannibal is full of local attractions honoring the beloved author. You can schedule a sightseeing or dinner tour aboard a real steamboat. If you want to stretch your legs, be sure to go explore the famous Mark Twain Cave Complex.
A Visit to Kansas
On the Kansas side, there’s just as much history to explore. Historic Abilene and Atchison in Kansas offer a variety of attractions, ranging from presidential-grade museums to ghost tours.
Abilene, home of the 34th United States president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, is where you can check out his presidential library and learn why so many “liked Ike.”
There are rotating American history exhibits, so plan ahead for a subject or era that interests you. In Abilene, you can also check out the Greyhound Museum (canines, not buses) or go back in time with a visit to Old Town Abilene, a living history show. Make a point not to miss the Excursion Train – you can even catch dinner on the rails! On the way there or home, you can swing by Wamego, Kansas, and tour the Wizard of Oz museum.
Atchison, Kansas, boasts its own fun attractions. Pack your bikes and hiking boots, and spend some time on the Independence Creek Hiking/Biking Trail. At the trailhead, you’ll find a recreated Kanza Indian lodge and explore where Lewis and Clark camped in 1804. If you’re looking for a more ghoulish adventure, you’re in luck. Atchison is widely known as the most haunted town in Kansas. Catch a “ghost tour” on the trolley or walk the cemeteries with a guide.
On Your Way
Once you’ve decided where you’ll go, visit the destinations’ websites to find more deals. You can find coupons for everything from admissions to parking. Some attractions team up with area hotels for package deals. Another great way to cut costs is to pack your own snacks or even bring a few lunches in the cooler. With so many awesome parks and outdoor spaces, you can make the best of spring and summer weather with picnics. Lastly, don’t forget to take your camera! Small adventures like these usually add up to big memories for your family!
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens.