Whether you’re looking for holiday gifts or just want to visit some of the country’s most unique retailers, you’ll find outstanding shopping opportunities up and down the Great River Road. Here’s a look at some of the distinctive shops you can discover as you travel along the Mississippi River.
Northern Great River Road
Minnesota is home to some one-of-a-kind retailers, and nothing is more one-of-a-kind than the Mall of America (located in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington), the country’s largest shopping and entertainment complex and one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul offer other outstanding local retailers, too, located in shopping districts like Nicollet, downtown Saint Paul, and the North Loop. Head further down the Mississippi to discover charming cities like Red Wing, where shoppers can explore the Red Wing Shoe Company store and museum and find Scandinavian gifts at Uffda Shop, or Winona, which is home to the Minnesota Marine Art Museum (which has an outstanding gift shop).
Galena is consistently cited as one of the most charming small towns in America, and this Illinois city boasts dozens of retailers in its historic downtown district. More than 125 storefronts offer a wide selection of clothing, jewelry, antiques, and more—don’t miss popular destinations like Galena Book & Paper Co. and Flashback. The Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa provide a memorable shopping experience at stores like Antique Archaeology (featured in the History Channel series “American Pickers”) in LeClaire, Iowa, and the John Deere Store (part of the sprawling John Deere Pavilion) in Moline, Illinois.
Central Great River Road
Historic Hannibal, Missouri, is not just the boyhood home of Mark Twain, it’s also a fun shopping spot—visitors can find retailers like the Dutch Country General Store, Mark Twain Book & Gift, and Mississippi Marketplace. Travel south along the river to St. Louis, where unique locales like City Foundry STL (a former foundry building that now houses a food hall and specialty retailers) and the Cherokee Antique Row shopping district await.
In Memphis, shoppers will find interesting souvenir shops all along Beale Street, including A. Schwab’s which was established in 1876 that carries everything from clothing to voodoo supplies. (The store’s motto is “If you can’t find it at Schwab’s, you’re probably better off without it.”) Speaking of iconic shopping spots, don’t forget Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid—a sprawling outdoors store that also features a 103-room hotel, a 600,000-gallon lagoon with more than 1,800 fish, and an amazing observation deck atop the 32-story building on the banks of the Mississippi River.
Southern Great River Road
Mississippi offers a unique shopping experience in historic downtowns all throughout the Delta region. Clarksdale—“the home of the Blues”—is home to the Delta Blues Museum (and its related gift shop) and one-of-a-kind stores like Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art. Vicksburg’s downtown and Washington Street hosts a wide variety of boutiques, antique shops, and more, including the Attic Gallery and the Levee Street Marketplace. Natchez, the oldest city on the Mississippi River, has a historic downtown filled with interesting shops like Silver Street Gallery & Gifts and Lower Lodge Antiques.
The southern end of the Great River Road travels through Louisiana, which is home to can’t-miss retailers in cities like New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge has a mix of retailers, restaurants, and entertainment spaces, and the city’s massive Mall of Louisiana, which features nearly 200 stores and the world’s third-largest indoor carousel. New Orleans is an iconic shopping destination, whether you’re exploring the French Market, Magazine Street, or the French Quarter.
Photo Credit: Explore Minnesota