The Great Plains region is full of epic road trips – though to be fair, most of us who find ourselves traveling through America’s amber waves of grain are typically just trying to get from one place to another.
Usually, that’s either across as fast as you can safely drive, or traveling between the major cities that mostly sit on the perimeter of the huge sprawling plains of North America. In any case, you might find yourself looking at the drive between Austin and Kansas City and wondering what you need to know before hitting the road.
In this post, I’ll cover all the details about the drive between Kansas City, Kansas, and Austin, Texas – two cities within the Great Plains that are bustling business centers and popular tourist destinations. Whatever the reason you need to travel between the two, you’ll soon know how long it will take, how far the drive will be, and where to stop along the way.
How long is the drive between Austin & Kansas CIty? The drive from Kansas City to Austin (or vice versa) is 738 miles (1188km) and should have a drive time of 10 hours, 45 minutes.
In this post, I promote travel along a route that crosses the traditional lands of the 𐓏𐒰𐓓𐒰𐓓𐒷 𐒼𐓂𐓊𐒻 𐓆𐒻𐒿𐒷 𐓀𐒰^𐓓𐒰^(Osage), Coahuiltecan, Jumanos, Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Ndé Kónitsąąíí Gokíyaa (Lipan Apache), Nʉmʉnʉʉ Sookobitʉ (Comanche), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Tonkawa, and Washtáge Moⁿzháⁿ (Kaw / Kansas) peoples, among others. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
This post was originally published in July 2022, and was updated most recently in May 2023.
Austin to Kansas City Drive Distance
As the crow flies, it’s roughly 635 miles between Austin and Kansas City. Unfortunately, routes rarely follow a straight line. The drive between Austin and Kansas City covers 738 miles one-way on I-35 N.
Remember, this driving distance is an estimate, as your final driving time will depend on your start and end points within each city.
In this post, I promote travel to destinations that are the traditional lands of the Gáuigú (Kiowa), 𐓏𐒰𐓓𐒰𐓓𐒷 𐒼𐓂𐓊𐒻 𐓆𐒻𐒿𐒷 𐓀𐒰^𐓓𐒰^(Osage), Wichita, Nʉmʉnʉʉ Sookobitʉ (Comanche), Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Chickasaw (Oklahoma), O-ga-xpa Ma-zhoⁿ (O-ga-xpa) (Quapaw), Jumanos, and Tawakoni peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
Austin to Kansas City Drive Time
Based on the distance between these two cities, you can expect the drive between Kansas City and Austin to be a long one. It takes approximately 10 hours and 44 minutes to cover the 737.6 miles along the I-35 and I-35 S.
While some brave drivers will drive from Austin to Kansas City without any stops, I think the rest of us will definitely include a couple of pit stops and book an overnight stay along the way.
Luckily, the Austin to Kansas City drive is full of interesting and beautiful stops you can visit.
Stops to Make on Your Drive between Austin and Kansas City
For those making the Kansas City to Austin drive a two-day trip, here’s a list of 16 great places worth visiting along the way between Austin and Kansas City.
Coke Can Silo
The Coke Can Silo, located in the flat lands of Kansas, is the perfect stop if you’re into ‘big things.’ This quirky attraction has been part of the landscape since the 1980s when the local Coca-Cola bottler decided to paint the farm silo as a giant Coca-Cola Classic can. Today, the Coke Can Silo is a popular stop among road-trippers for stretching their legs and taking a few pictures. Moreover, the silo is easy to find, and there are places to pull off the road and park easily.
The Keeper of the Plains
If you’re doing the drive between Austin and Kansas City, make sure to stop in Wichita to see The Keeper of the Plains.
The Keeper of the Plains is a 44-foot Cor-Ten steel sculpture and is the work of Kiowa-Comanche artist Blackbear Bosin. Thought-provoking and meaningful, the sculpture represents the brotherhood of all Indian Americans and the confluence of the Plains communities. It features numerous displays which describe the local tribes that used to inhabit this area, plus fire pits that light up to illuminate the statue at night.
Old Cowtown Museum
On your way through Wichita, you can also visit the Old Cowtown Museum. This open-air history museum recreates the lifestyle of Wichita during the 1870s.
The museum has about 40 Old West buildings spread over 23 acres, like the old Wichita Eagle newspaper office and the blacksmith shop. The museum has staff dressed in period costumes who demonstrate everyday activities such as gardening, tending livestock, and cooking. There are Can Can Dancers, sheriffs, outlaws, and many other iconic Wild West figures.
The drive between Kansas City and Austin also has a stop for little science junkies: Exploration Place.
Exploration Space is a science museum located in Wichita. It features educational and hands-on exhibits about pretty much every scene field you can imagine. There are exhibits about tornadoes and wind, aviation, spaceships, and Kansas biodiversity. It also has an enormous three-story playhouse and miniature town for toddlers.
The highlight of the museum is its live science shows. Currently, they’re hosting an interactive show to uncover the science of staying calm.
Frontier City Theme Park
nFor an adrenaline rush, make your way to Frontier City Theme Park, located just outside Oklahoma City. This amusement park is a great place for families, especially for kids. It has many nice rides for different ages, dancing and magic shows. If you need a break from the carousel or roller coaster, you can always take a bite and cool off at Chuckwagon Food Court.
Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
The Oklahoma City National Memorial is a must-stop along your drive from Kansas City to Austin. This memorial is a poignant yet beautiful reminder of the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995.
It pays homage to the victims, survivors, and rescuers involved in the tragedy.
Visitors can visit the museum or simply explore the exterior grounds. The site has numerous areas which stand as a metaphor for the events:
- The Field of Empty Chairs features 168 empty chairs and is a physical representation of the Murrah building victims.
- The Survivor Tree survived the Oklahoma City bombing and stands as a reminder of resilience in the face of turbulent times.
- The Reflecting Pool creates the reflection of someone changed forever by their visit to the Memorial.
- The Gates of Time are twin gates that state the moment of destruction, the innocence before the attack, and the moment healing began. The 9:02 AM gate represents the moment of destruction; the 9:01 Gate represents the innocence before the attack, and the 9:03 Gate symbolizes the moment healing began.
Spider Bug-Wilson VW Auto
The Spider Bug-Wilson VW Auto is one of the quirky sights you’ll see driving through Oklahoma.
The giant Spider Bug-Wilson VW Auto is the creation of Monte Bodine. He built the spider in 1973-74 out of a Volkswagen Beetle. The lurking bug is 15 feet high and sits on what used to be the world’s largest VW salvage yard.
The sculpture has been the subject of debate. Why? Some argue the sculpture is a bug, while others state it is a spider. The design is confusing. At a glance, the sculpture looks like a spider, but then you see it only has six legs instead of eight. What do you think?
Toy and Action Figure Museum
Stop by the Toy and Action Figure Museum to bring back childhood memories. The Toy and Action Figure Museum in Pauls Valley is a fun (and nostalgic) pitstop along the Austin to Kansas City drive.
The museum houses over 13,000 action figures. I’m not exaggerating; the place is packed to the ceiling with a wide range of cool figures to look at, from My Little Ponies and GI Joe to Hot Wheels and Star Wars. The museum has meticulously oriented and displayed the toys to show how action figures have progressed throughout history. So it is also an educational experience.
Frank Buck Zoo
If you’re driving with little ones who crave a bit of fun, make your way to the Frank Buck Zoo in Gainesville, Texas. This zoo is not big but still has a nice variety of animals. It s home to 130 animal species and offers an entertaining experience for nature enthusiasts of all ages. They also have a park located right out in front of it, which is really nice for the kids.
Greater Southwest History Museum
Take some time to visit the Greater Southwest History Museum. The museum is a hidden gem in Ardmore, showcasing the rich heritage and diverse history of the region. Its best asset is that it chronicles the history and contributions of small towns that we easily forget.
From Native American artifacts to pioneer exhibits, they have stunning displays that create a journey through time. It even has a good military section and an old log house inside the building.
Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum
Every object in this world is susceptible to becoming a piece of art, and Barney Smith’s toilet seat art is just the perfect example of such a statement.
Barney Smith was a retired master plumber who combined his love of art with his trade. The result: a massive collection of toilet seat art. The decorated toilet seats and lids cover every inch of the museum’s walls, now located at the Texas Truck Yard in Dallas. Smith embellished the toilet seats with every imaginable fabric, paint, and object. Some even have pieces of the Berlin Wall and barbed wire from Auschwitz.
Dealey Plaza National Historic Landmark District
Instead of following the slightly shorter route through Fort Worth, you could instead drive through Dallas and stop at the Dealey Plaza National Historic Landmark District. This site, oftentimes called the “birthplace of Dallas”, holds a place in American history as the location where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
It’s a must-see if you have studied JFKs life, but also a great place to gain a deeper understanding of this pivotal moment that influenced American history so drastically.
Munster Mansion Replica
If you grew up watching the classic TV show “The Munsters” or watching the reruns, you’ll love the Munster Mansion Replica.
Sandra McKee was a die-hard fan of the 60s show. So much so that she decided to buy a house and make it an exact replica of the one in the TV show. She and her husband, Charles McKee, watched the show thousands of times to get every detail right. Sarah gives private tours – you have to book in advance – of the house as she shares interesting facts about the show, the characters, and all the treasures in her home.
Fort Worth Water Gardens
The Fort Worth Water Gardens is a great stop when you feel the urge to stretch your legs. This oasis in the heart of the city was designed by Philip Johnson and features stunning gardens with cascading waterfalls, serene pools, and beautiful architecture, which create an atmosphere of tranquility and natural beauty. You’ll find lots of places to sit and relax with trees all around for shade.
Parking is not easy, but paid parking is available at the South end of the park in front of the Texas & Pacific Lofts off Lancaster Avenue.
Historic Sinclair Gas Station
A must-visit attraction awaits you in Fort Worth – the Historic Sinclair Gas Station. This historic gas station is a sort of “rite of passage” for many motorcycle riders. It’s a true voyage back in time, with the well-preserved architecture and iconic Sinclair dinosaur logo. This station serves as a nostalgic reminder of America’s golden era of motoring and is a fantastic spot for a photo.
Czech Stop is one of the best/worst kept secrets in all of Texas right off the side of I-35 in between Hillsboro and Waco. This little bakery is famous for its mouthwatering Czech pastries and delicious homemade goodies.
Whether you’re a foodie or not, this will be a pit stop you will be dreaming of weeks after your first experience. I’m not kidding. They have the best molasses cookies in the world! Also, get some kolaches for when you feel peckish on the road.
Tips for your Drive Between Austin and Kansas City
Now that you know the basics of the drive and are inspired to make a few stops, here are some final tips to help you finish planning your road trip:
- The route between Austin and Kansas City occurs across three states: Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.
- There are several big cities along the route, including Oklahoma City and Wichita.
- If you’re looking for a good halfway point to stop for a few hours or overnight, consider Oklahoma City, which is 6 hours from Austin and 5 hours from Kansas City.
- There are also plenty of rest stops and commercial truck stops to choose from along the way… literally dozens!
- There are also plenty of gas stations and truck stops along I-35 if you need fuel, toilets, snacks, or other services.
Should You Fly from Austin to Kansas City Instead?
The long distance from Austin to Kansas City might make you wonder whether flying is better than driving. Ultimately, the answer comes down to two variables: time and cost.
Time-wise, flying from Austin to Kansas City takes 3 hours and 16 minutes – counting the time you need to get to the Austin airport, do the check-in, and then arrive at your destination in Kansas City. In contrast, the drive between Austin and Kansas City takes approximately 10 hours and 44 minutes to cover the 738-mile trip.
A round-trip flight ticket costs around $238, whereas if you drive between Kansas City and Austin, you can spend $230 on gas for a round trip. As you can see, you get to spend pretty much the same amount of money.
As I always say, choosing the mode of transportation depends on how much time you have and what you want from your trip. If you have no time constraints, I highly suggest you grab the car keys and make the drive!
Have any other questions about making the drive between Austin and Kansas City, or reverse? Let me know in the comments!