Monthly Archives: November 2019

Holiday fun along the Great River Road

Friday, November 29, 2019

It’s easy to find fun ways to get in the holiday spirit this year along the northern Great River Road! Check out these holiday activities happening up and down the Mississippi in Minnesota and Wisconsin this December.

100 Miles of Christmas

100 Miles of Christmas isn’t just one festive event, but a whole series taking place in Winona, Kellogg and Lake Pepin, Minnesota, and Maiden Rock, Wisconsin, December 7-8, 2019. You can visit with Santa, take in a choral or orchestra concert, shop arts & crafts shows, raise a toast at a beer and wine tasting, attend a lighted parade or even an Elvis tribute!

Canadian Pacific Holiday Train

Courtesy of Canadian Pacific

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will make a stop in Winona, Minnesota, on December 9, 2019, from 3:45-4:15pm at the Winona Amtrak Depot. This beautifully decorated train brings along three performers who perform a mix of traditional and modern holiday songs. The event is free but they ask that you bring a food or monetary donation for the local food bank. If you want to see the train in its full glory at night, catch it in Wabasha the same day at 5:45-6:15pm.

Rotary Lights

Courtesy of Rotary Lights, La Crosse

Happening through New Year’s Eve in La Crosse, Wisconsin’s beautiful Riverside Park along the Mighty Mississippi, is the annual Rotary Lights. There are over three million lights on display and you can walk, drive or take a carriage ride (for a fee) to explore them all. Stop in the gingerbread house for hot drinks and cookies, check out the gift shop or check the schedule for all the special happenings going on throughout December. There will be live musical performances, a living nativity, Santa and his reindeer, hayrides and ice skating (weather permitting). It’s free to walk or drive through Rotary Lights, but they ask for food and cash donations to help feed the hungry.

Family Droppin’ of the Carp Party

Courtesy carpfest.org

Along the Great River Road in southern Wisconsin is the charming city of Prairie du Chien. On New Year’s Eve, they embrace the role that fishing plays in the community and throw a bash honoring river carp. At the Family Droppin’ of the Carp Party on New Year’s Eve early evening, families can play games, win prizes, enjoy food, music and a DJ all leading up the lowering of “Lucky Carp Jr.,” instead of a giant crystal ball, to ring in the new year.

Other options for holiday fun along the Great River Road:

  • Visit Alton, Illinois to marvel at more than 4 million lights at the annual Christmas Wonderland at Rock Spring Park, which runs nightly through December 29.
  • Take in the nightly Mighty Lights show at Big River Crossing, a pedestrian bridge that connects Memphis, Tennessee, to West Memphis, Arkansas
  • Find gifts for everyone on your shopping list at charming stores in river towns like Natchez, Dubuque, and Galena

Relay of Voices update: The final stretch

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

For four months this summer and fall, Relay of Voices traveled the Mississippi River north to south, sharing the stories of people and communities all along the Great River Road.

Now, they’re posting their final blog entries from their voyage, which ended at the mouth of the Mississippi River in southeastern Louisiana on November 5. Here’s a look at some of the latest entries.

Visit the Relay of Voices website to see more of their posts.

Five reasons to be thankful about the Great River Road

Monday, November 18, 2019

In 1938, states along the Mississippi River had the foresight to establish a driving route along America’s greatest river. The route was named the Great River Road and it spanned 3,000 beautiful miles and 10 states. For generations, people have been following the green and white pilot wheel signs to unforgettable adventures. There are probably as many reasons to be thankful for this route as there are travelers, but here are a few reasons why so many return to this beautiful byway.

Culinary adventures

The Great River Road leads travelers to some unforgettable meals. From Arkansas hot tamales to Louisiana beignets, you’re never far from a delicious local specialty. Need some recommendations? Check out our fan favorites- they’ve shared some of their favorite restaurants, bakeries, breweries, farmers markets and more. Search their tips by state to find great food stops for your trip.

Interpretive Centers

Travelers on the Great River Road will pass a network of more than 70 Interpretive Centers—these museums and historic sites showcase and preserve the incredible story of the river and its people. Centers include such treasures as the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, Arkansas, the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville, Illinois and the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site in Little Falls, Minnesota.

Music

The Mississippi Delta is Blues country, and the route is your ticket to the show. Start by taking a trip through the Magnolia State and drive through the land of legends. Here are some of the sights you won’t want to miss along the route.

Scenic beauty

The Mississippi River Valley offers spectacular scenery that changes dramatically along the route. Northern stretches will take you through forests and past towering bluffs. You’ll discover impressive vistas in places like Perrot State Park in Trempealeau, Wisconsin and Pikes Peak State Park in McGregor, Iowa.

Beautiful birds

Look up, when you’re on the Great River Road and you’ll likely find you have company. This Great River Road travels along the Mississippi Flyway, a migration route used by 40 percent of North America’s waterfowl and shorebirds. There are abundant birding locations along the route; here are a few good bets.

 

Holiday shopping along the northern Great River Road

Friday, November 01, 2019

Black Friday is just around the corner and thoughts are turning to holiday shopping. Here are some fun shops along the Great River Road, guaranteed to make you the season’s most unique gift giver!

Wabasha, Minnesota

Photo by Lark Toys

If you’ve got kids, Lark Toys in Wabasha, Minnesota is a must-visit. (You might even want to bring them along, this is place is so fun!) Lark Toys was voted Minnesota’s favorite toy store, with 20,000 sq. ft. of toys, puzzles, crafts, games, dolls, trains and even nostalgic toys to take you back to simpler times. They’ve also got a cafe with ice cream, a candy store full of taffy, jelly beans, old-fashioned candy and fudge and a hand-carved carousel you can ride for just $2. There’s an antique toy museum and you can watch them make wooden toys on site. Come back in the spring to play the 18-hole mini-golf course overlooking the bluffs of the Mississippi River!

La Crosse Area, Wisconsin

Photo by Great River Popcorn

La Crosse, Wisconsin is home to the largest shopping district in a nine-county area, so come hungry because this is the place to go for tasty food gifts! Le Coulee Cheese in nearby West Salem has 50 cheeses to choose from, along with Wisconsin sausage, honey, syrup and other gifts. At Great River Popcorn in La Crosse, there are 40+ flavors of high-quality gourmet popcorn to choose from, made in store, in small batches. A short drive north will take you to the Holmen Meat Locker where you can pick up artisan cheese, farm fresh eggs, sausages and other meats. If you stop by Friday between 6-10pm, check out their new wine bar with over 200 varieties of domestic and imported wines and raise a toast to getting a jump on your holiday shopping!

Red Wing, Minnesota

Photo by Featherstone Pottery

Red Wing, Minnesota is a great spot for handmade crafts and pottery. Visit Red Wing Arts Gallery & Shop, in a historic train depot, to shop for fine arts and crafts from over 100 local and regional artists, or swing by the Pottery Museum of Red Wing. Here you’ll find more than 6,000 pieces of stoneware, art, pottery and folk art on display—then check out their gift shop for a unique piece to take home. Two more spots for specialty pottery: Larry’s Jugs Antiques, for contemporary crocks, jugs, bowls, with antiques on site as well, and Featherstone Pottery, a stoneware and ceramics store run by two brothers.