Your travel plans are set: you need to get from Omaha to Kansas City, Kansas. These two Great Plains cities sit along the Missouri River, on the eastern border of the sweeping Great Plains. The only question is: should you drive? Is there anything to see along the way? The drive between Omaha and Kansas City isn’t necessarily picturesque or interesting like some drives, but there’s more than you might think along the route.
It might be a little confusing, but your drive from Omaha (Nebraska) to Kansas City (Kansas) mostly occurs in neighboring Iowa and Missouri. Though the drive along Interstate 29 doesn’t technically take place in the Great Plains states, it does connect two Great Plains cities. If you’re planning this road trip – whether it’s for fun or function – here’s everything you need to know about making the drive from between Kansas City and Omaha.
TL;DR: How long is the drive between Kansas City and Omaha? The direct drive from Omaha to KC (or vice versa) is 191 miles (307 km) and should have a drive time of 3 hours, 2 minutes in normal traffic.
In this post, I promote travel to destinations that are the traditional lands of the 𐓏𐒰𐓓𐒰𐓓𐒷 𐒼𐓂𐓊𐒻 𐓆𐒻𐒿𐒷 𐓀𐒰^𐓓𐒰^(Osage), Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Washtáge Moⁿzháⁿ (Kaw / Kansa), Umoⁿhoⁿ (Omaha), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, and Jiwere 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.
This post was originally published in March 2021, and was checked and updated in April 2022.
Omaha to Kansas City Distance
As you plan your drive from Omaha to Kansas City, it helps to know how far apart the two are. As the crow flies, it’s 152 miles between Kansas City and Omaha; luckily this flightpath is mirrored on the ground by Interstate 29 (I-29) which follows the path of the Missouri River south.
The driving distance between Omaha, Nebraska and Kansas City, Kansas depends on your start and end addresses. On average, the distance between Omaha and Kansas City is roughly 200 miles.
This also means you can expect the drive between Omaha and Kansas City to use less than one tank of gas. Score!
Omaha to Kansas City Drive Time
Similarly, the driving time between Omaha and Kansas City depends on your start and endpoints. As the majority of the drive is on the interstate through rural areas, you can generally make good time thanks to the fast interstate speed limits in Iowa (65mph) and Missouri (70mph).
Keeping this in mind, it takes roughly 3 hours to drive between Kansas City and Omaha.
The extra driving time is caused by getting out of Omaha and into Kansas City; obviously your final travel time may vary.
What’s on the Drive between Omaha and Kansas City?
During your Omaha to Kansas City drive, you might want to stop and stretch your legs – or to see some of the sights along the way. (Yes, there are some!) We won’t say they’re “must-see” sights, but they’re definitely interesting and can keep bored passengers or kids entertained despite the brevity of the drive.
Here are some stops you can make on your drive between Omaha and Kansas City:
1. Golden Spike Monument
This monument is located in Council Bluffs, Iowa, a short detour from the main route of the drive between Kansas City and Omaha. The 56-foot high Golden Spike Monument commemorates the joining of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railways as they connected the east and west coasts of the country.
2. Historic General Dodge House
This house museum is also located in Council Bluffs, and is great for history and architecture buffs. The house, named for Union Army general Grenville M. Dodge, was built in 1869. General Dodge was a major figure in the development of railroads in the American West. (website)
3. Raceway Park of the Midland
(Formerly Mid America Motorplex) This stop might be worth skipping if there’s no race, but race fans might find the whole place fascinating even in the off-season. (website)
4. Rock Bluff, NE
Across the Missouri River, Rock Bluff is now a ghost town (who doesn’t love a ghost town?!). But, the remains of the town still stand as a monument to its role in helping Nebraska achieve statehood in 1867.
5. Missouri River Basin Lewis & Clark Interpretive Trails & Visitor Center
Curious about the landscape you’re driving through? Stopping at this visitor center is a must-do; you’ll find exhibits and trails that give you a sense for the history of the Missouri River Basin – from prehistoric times through the historic Lewis & Clark expedition to today. (website)
6. George F. Lee Octagon Houses
Houses are square, right? Not in Nebraska! The George F. Lee Octagon Houses are located a short detour across the Missouri River and oddly fascinating. These were built before 1972; they’re now on the National Register of Historic Places.
7. John Dickinson Dopf Mansion
Another one for you fans of history and architecture, the John Dickinson Dopf Mansion is a good spot for a short leg-stretch. This house was built in 1876 and features a special type of roof shingling.
8. Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge
If you’re driving through during the migratory months, Loess Bluffs is a cool stop for people who love birding. It was established in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. (website)
9. Four State Lookout
As you travel south along the Missouri River, keep your eyes peeled: this is one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas’ geography! On a clear day, you can see four states: Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa. (website)
10. Pony Express Museum
Curious about the Pony Express, which helped deliver mail across the American West during the development of the United States? There’s a museum for that! Located in St. Joseph, Missouri, this museum gives great information to all fans of American History. (website)
11. Glore Psychiatric Museum
If the human mind fascinates you, this museum might also be worth visiting on your drive between Kansas City and Omaha. The exhibits document the 145-year history of the state hospital and centuries of mental health treatment, including treatments we no longer consider effective (or humane!). (website)
You can also learn more about each of these using the interactive map at the top of this post, which has icons for each of these sights and experiences.
Other Tips for Your Drive Between Omaha and Kansas City
Here are some final tips to help you plan your drive between Kansas City and Omaha.
- St. Joseph, Missouri is generally considered the halfway-ish point of this road trip, and has plenty of services and other sights.
- There are two rest stops on I-29 southbound between Omaha and Kansas City: the I-29 Rest Area just south of Omaha and the Dearborn Rest Area.
- You can also stop at the Missouri Welcome Center when you cross from Iowa to Missouri.
- There are plenty of gas stations and truck stops along I-29 if you need fuel, toilets, snacks, or other services.
Should You Fly between Omaha to Kansas City Instead?
You might be wondering: is it better to fly from Omaha to Kansas City instead of driving? Aside from the fact that you’ll miss the beautiful scenery of the Missouri River and the Great Plains, it’s actually better to drive than fly.
This all comes down to how short the drive between Kansas City and Omaha is: at just about 3 hours, you’ll spend more time arriving early at the Omaha airport, waiting for your flight, in the air (about 47 minutes), and deplaning than you would spend in the car. You’ll also need a car/ride to get around Kansas City; bringing your own takes care of that issue.
Unless you don’t want to or can’t drive, it’s better to drive between Omaha and Kansas City instead of flying.
Have other questions about the drive between Omaha and Kansas City? Let us know in the comments!