|Day Trips from Excelsior Springs
Watkins Woolen Mill
Located 5 minutes from Excelsior Springs off 92 Hwy.
Watkins Mill State Park, a 1000-acre park, is located just north of Highway 92 on State Highway RA. The site provides camping, picnicking, bicycling, swimming, boating and fishing, as well as walking and nature-watching opportunities. Watkins Woolen Mill State Histtourism.html a 19th century woolen mill, complete with house and outbuildings, a churchhistory.htmlouse, and a modern visitors' center. A Living History Program provides schep-calendar.htmls on weekends. Contact the Mill at 816-296-3357, or the Park Office at 816-dining.htmlr further information.
Located 10 minutes from Excelsior Springs off 92 Hwy.
Located 15 minutes from Excelsior Springs
Kearney is the home of Frank and Jesse James, who were born on a farm three miles northeast of the city. The original house is still standing and is open to the public at the James Farm, operated by the Clay County. A new visitor center and museum are located on the property. Jesse James is buried in the historic Mt. Olivet Cemetery, his funeral being held in the Mt. Olive Baptist Church, where he was a member of the choir. Other family buried in the cemetery include Jesse's wife and first cousin, Zerelda; his mother, Zerelda; his stepfather, Dr. Ruben Samuels; and his half-brother, Archie Payton, who died during a Pinkerton raid at the James farm.
2004 marks the 34th Annual Jesse James Festival, held at the Jesse James Festival Grounds. A carnival, parade, rodeo, historic reenactments, craft exhibits and a KCBS-sanctioned Bar-B-Que cookoff are just some of the highlights. The festival is held the 3rd weekend during September.
Kearney is also the home of the Mt. Gilead Historical Site, which features a two-story schoolhouse, built in 1879. Historians believe that Mt. Gilead was the only school west of the Mississippi River to continuously hold classes during the Civil War. Clay County acquired the historic site in the mid 1980s and restored the school in 1998. Mt. Gilead Church, was built in 1872, offers a picturesque view of 19th century life through its period-style architecture and furnishings. The Church is available for public use.
Located 15 minutes from Excelsior Springs
Liberty has a rich history and it's historic town square showcases early 19th-century architecture around a stately white stone courthouse built in 1935. The Historic Liberty Square features a variety of stores, antique shops and restaurants, including the famous Hardware Cafe complete with old-fashioned soda fountain. The Jesse James Bank Museum, the oldest building on the square, was the site of the first successful peacetime daylight bank robbery in the U.S. The square is also the home of the Clay County Museum and Historical Society, which was built in 1877 as a drug store with a doctor's office located on the second floor. Located a few steps off the square is the Historic Liberty Jail. The jail features many exhibits, sculptures and artwork.
The square is the site of the annual Spring on the Square and Fall Festival. Spring on the Square offers a farmer's market, reenactment of the first bank robbery, crafts, art and antique booths, exhibits, entertainment, food and more. The Fall Festival celebrates with three days featuring a parade, car show, carnival, entertainment, BBQ contest, and crafts.
A private nonprofit nature sanctuary, the Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary, is located on North Lafrenz Road in Liberty. The sanctuary manages 100 acres of land, including the Rush Creek Natural Area, with about four miles of trails. Most of the trails are less than a mile in length, two are asphalt and one is ADA accessible. A Nature Center provides restrooms, drinking fountains, exhibits (including live animals), classrooms, and a gift shop. Programs provided by the Center are listed in our Community Calendar.
Located 20 minutes from Excelsior Springs
Serving as the Ray county seat, Richmond was built in a "town square" pattern with the major business district around the central Historic Courthouse. Located off the west side of the square is the Farris Theatre, built in 1901 as an opera house. It is one of the best examples of the turn-of-the-century theatre architecture and has been restored as near as possible to its original state.
The County Home is located on the site of the Ray County Fairgrounds. The three-story building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and today houses the Ray County Museum. The displays preserve Ray County's rich heritage and historical events including the Civil War, World War I and II, Indian artifacts, coat mining, country school, post office, the Mormon History Exhibit Room with replica of the Golden Tablet and more. A very extensive genealogical library is located just off the main entryway. The Ray County Museum is rated at the top for county museums in the State of Missouri. Open year-round.
Claiming it's own connection to the legendary Jesse James, Richmond is the burial place of Bob Ford. Ford shot and killed James in hopes of collecting a $10,000 reward. Ford and his brother, Charley, are buried in the historic Sunny Slope Cemetery. Another cemetery, known as Pioneer Cemetery, is the burial place of other historic figures including Oliver Cowdery, who copied the original manuscript for the printers use and was proofreader of the 1st Edition of The Book of Mormon and William T. Anderson, known as "Bloody Bill Anderson", who was a guerilla for the Confederacy in the Civil War.
Richmond celebrates the Annual Mushroom Festival in the spring. The event has drawn crowds estimated between seven to ten thousand for a two-day festival featuring parade, craft and food booths, carnival, and many other fun activities.
Located 25 minutes from Excelsior Springs
Smithville Lake has over 175 miles of shoreline offering excellent boating and fishing opportunities, two full-service marinas, and five multi-lane boat launch ramps for easy access to the 7,200 acre lake. A special sailboat launching area is available for the exclusive use of sailboaters. Located along the shores of the Smithville Lake is the 36-hole Paradise Pointe Golf Complex featuring two public 18-hole championship golf courses. The Jerry L. Litton Visitors Center offers exhibits portraying the late 6th District Congressman's life and his contributions to society. Smiths Fork Park, located below the dam, is operated by the City of Smithville and offers a wide variety of recreation facilities including camping, fishing, picnic area, amphitheater, softball, and soccer fields, go-carts, batting cages, and an archery range.
Other activities around Smithville Lake include trapshooting, hunting, camping, picnic sites, Kelsey Short Youth Camp, horseback riding and hiking trails. There are more than 25 shops and businesses located in Smithville's beautiful Downtown Heritage District.
Located 35 minutes from Excelsior Springs
The home of Harry S. Truman, one of the greatest American presidents ever, is celebrated in Independence. Tours at the Truman Home offer a glimpse at the personal life of the 33rd President of the U.S. The Truman Presidential Museum and Library includes a replica of Truman's Oval Office. An audio-visual show in the Independence Square Courthouse highlights Truman's rise to power. The Truman Depot was the final stop in Truman's 1948 Whistlestop Campaign and Clinton's Soda Fountain is the site of Harry Truman's first job.
Other Independence attractions include the Historic Independence Square; the National Frontier Trails Museum, presenting the history of the Santa Fe, California and Oregon Trails; the Bingham-Waggoner Estate, once owned by George C. Bingham, famed Civil War artist; 1827 Log Courthouse; Pioneer Spring Cabin; and 1859 Jackson County Jail, which once housed Frank James, provides a look at the Civil War heritage of Independence.
Every Labor Day weekend, Independence hosts a Santa-Cali-Gon Days Festival featuring one of the Midwest's largest arts and crafts shows, national country music, and family entertainment.