Category Archives: Missouri

Family Fun on the Great River Road

Thursday, August 13, 2015

August is Family Fun Month, so hop in the car, get on the Great River Road and check out these family-friendly stops along the way.

  • MinnesotaMall of America, the largest shopping mall in the country is in Bloomington, Minnesota. Sure there are more than 400 stores, but there’s also a theme park, an aquarium, a comedy club, a mini golf course and more. Fun for all ages and interests. Bring your sneakers.
  • Wisconsin – In La Crosse, drive or hike to the top of Grandad Bluff. Have a picnic and enjoy the amazing views of this robust river town. After lunch, head downtown to the Gertrude Salzer Gordon Children’s Museum. You’ll find three floors of hands-on exhibits, including a giant Operation game, a kid-sized convenience store and a television news set.
  • Iowa – The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque is a must-see. Learn about the history of the river with historical exhibits and 3D and 4D theaters, then visit the aquarium and explore the wildlife that calls the river home, including turtles, fish, otters, even alligators!
  • Illinois – Head to Grafton and conquer your fear of heights together as a family! The Grafton Zipline at Aerie’s Winery has nine lines, nearly two miles in total length. Peak height? 250 feet up. It’s an exciting experience that’s safe enough for even your little ones.
  • Missouri – Your kids are bound to come across Mark Twain’s many works during their school years. Take them to Hannibal, Missouri to visit the author’s boyhood home. (It’s where the real adventures of Tom Sawyer took place!) You can also visit the Huckleberry Finn House, where the real Huck Finn grew up, and see seasonal performances of Twain’s works.
  • Tennessee – In the northwest corner of Tennessee you’ll find Reelfoot Lake State Park. The lake was created in the early 1800s by violent earthquakes that forced the Mississippi River to flow backwards. If that cool story isn’t enough for you, the lake is also a flooded forest, dotted with Cypress trees and home to tons of wading birds and waterfowl. Catch a canoe or pontoon boat tour and explore this unique gem.
  • Arkansas – Arkansas’s largest natural lake, Lake Chicot is a site to behold. Twenty miles long, the lake is nestled in a pecan grove, so the scenery is absolutely stunning. Rent a pontoon, fishing boat or kayak and spend the day exploring. There are wildlife tours available and a visitor center with interpretive exhibits that tell the story of the area’s natural history.
  • Mississippi – In Clarksdale, you’ll find the Delta Blues Museum. Situated in the “land of the blues,” this museum will teach your kids valuable musical history through sculptures, photography, interactive exhibits and of course, plenty of tunes.
  • Louisiana – At the end of the Great River Road, you’ll find great family fun. New Orleans is home to the Audubon Zoo, one of the top-ranked zoos in the country, with unique animals like white tigers and white alligators. It’s also home to Mardi Gras World, a hands-on museum celebrating the annual festival. Here kids can watch the floats being built, try on traditional costumes and sample king cake.

Chasing baseball down the Mississippi

Thursday, June 25, 2015

People traveling the Great River Road during the summer, may hear the crack of a bat, catch a smell of salted peanuts or see the lights of a stadium electrify the air. It’s baseball season in America and the most American of rivers will take you there. Travel on the Great River Road and you’ll happen upon scores of local parks.

Grab a seat, take in the atmosphere and chat with some locals – they make the perfect rest stop. If you have a little more time, catch a game in one of the minor-league or major-league parks on the road.

Here’s a listing of some of the teams located on the road:

Minnesota Twins

Saint Paul Saints (Not affiliated with MLB)

Quad Cities River Bandits (Not affiliated with MLB)

(Sauget, Illinois) Gateway Grizzlies (Not affiliated with MLB)

St. Louis Cardinals

Memphis Redbirds (AAA, St. Louis Cardinals)

New Orleans Zephers (AAA, Miami Marlins)

There’s perhaps nothing more American than the Mississippi River and baseball – just make sure to grab a hot dog and a slice of apple pie!

white-sox

Enjoy Bike Month Along the Great River Road

Thursday, May 14, 2015

May is National Bike Month, so hook the bike on the car and hop on the Great River Road for an early summer adventure you won’t soon forget.

Try exploring a classic river town on two-wheels along the Mississippi River Trail. It’s nearly 3,000 miles of on-road bikeways and pedestrian and bike paths you can take from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.

Check out these National Wildlife Refuges along the Mississippi River Trail:

  • Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (240,000 acres, 241 river miles long through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa)
  • Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge (15,000 acres, part of the largest bottomland hardwood swamp in America, runs through Louisiana)

Or bike to a national park:

  • Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (aka the St. Louis Gateway Arch)
  • Natchez National Historical Park (Natchez, Mississippi; see an antebellum estate)
  • Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve (New Orleans, Louisiana; made of six sites where you can learn about everything from wildlife to the Battle of New Orleans)

Find out more about the Mississippi River Trail and get detailed maps here.

Celebrate Drive the Great River Road month

Thursday, September 04, 2014

sept 1 great river road red wing mnSeptember is Drive the Great River Road Month, a great time to explore America’s longest and oldest National Scenic Byway.

Fall is the perfect time to drive the Great River Road. Vibrant colors paint the trees from Minnesota to northern Mississippi, and you’ll find festivals, farmers markets and fun activities all along the Mississippi River corridor.

Looking for a few things to see and do in each of the 10 Great River Road states? We’ll head north to south with our suggestions:

  • Minnesota: Want to see where the Mississippi River starts its journey to the Gulf of Mexico? Visit Itasca State Park in Minnesota, where you can walk – yes, walk – across the headwaters of the Mississippi.
  • Wisconsin: A perfect stop to see fall color, Grandad Bluff in La Crosse gives you a 600-foot-high view of the city below and the Mississippi River beyond.
  • Illinois: Make a stop in the charming community of Galena, where you can find historic sites, tempting shopping, and toast-worthy wineries.
  • Iowa: Want a great view? Hop aboard Dubuque‘s Fenelon Place Elevator, the world’s shortest, steepest scenic railway. Ride to the top for an astonishing panoramic view of the Mississippi River and three states.
  • Missouri: This stop isn’t really more of a where, it’s a what: St. Louis barbecue. St. Louis has dozens of delicious barbecue options, including perennial favorite Pappy’s Smokehouse.
  • Kentucky: Learn about the Mississippi River’s role in the Civil War at Columbus-Belmont State Park, where you can find a six-ton anchor that – along with a mile-long chain – was used to blockade the river during battles between the North and South.
  • Tennessee: Students of American history should visit The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, an educational experience built around the preserved Lorraine Motel. Learn about the struggle for civil rights in America and see the preserved hotel rooms where Martin Luther King, Jr., spent his last hours.
  • Arkansas: Don’t miss the The King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, which welcomes tens of thousands of blues fans to the Mississippi Delta every year. Don’t miss this year’s festival Oct. 8-11.
  • Mississippi: Traveling through the Mississippi Delta? Stop by the Gateway to the Blues Visitor Center and Museum on Highway 61 in Tunica. There, you’ll find valuable travel tips and advice from area experts. The museum is scheduled to open later this year.
  • Louisiana: You might recognize this place from numerous movies and TV shows — Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie welcomes visitors with an awe-inspiring canopy of 300-year-old oak trees leading to a pristine antebellum plantation.

Find more attractions in each state here.

 

What to see on the Great River Road in Missouri

Friday, July 11, 2014

Saint Louis Art Museum

Saint Louis Art Museum

Traveling along the Great River Road in Missouri? Here are a few “musts” to put on your itinerary.

1. Get to know Mark Twain’s hometown. Hannibal, Mo., which sits about two hours north of St. Louis on the Mississippi River, was once home to a young lad by the name of Samuel Clemens. Now, you can visit this quaint river town and see how it celebrates the life and stories of Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. See where Twain lived and learn about his time here at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum. And, if you’re in town on the Fourth of July, be sure to catch National Tom Sawyer Days, which features a fence-painting competition, a frog-jumping contest and more.

2. Visit the Saint Louis Art Museum. If you’re exploring St. Louis’ Forest Park (which you should, because you can get into great free attractions like the Saint Louis Zoo and the Missouri History Museum), be sure to take some time to take a look around the Saint Louis Art Museum, housed in one of the only surviving buildings from the 1904 World’s Fair. The museum (admission’s free here, too) boasts more than 33,000 works, covering everything from ancient Egypt to contemporary American art.

3. Travel to the top of the Arch. You can’t miss the opportunity to travel to the top of St. Louis’ Gateway Arch when you’re in town. A trip to the top of the 630-foot Arch will put you at the highest point in downtown St. Louis, and, if it’s a clear day, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view. (Be sure to take in the exhibits at the Arch to learn more about the history of St. Louis and the Arch itself, too.)

4. Learn about Missouri’s earthquake history (really). In 1811 and 1812, the river town of New Madrid in Missouri’s southeastern corner experienced three significant earthquakes, all with magnitudes of 7.5 or above. The temblors were felt as far away as New York City, Boston and in Washington, D.C., and caused the Mississippi River to run backwards for several hours. You can learn more about this unique seismic event and more at the New Madrid Historical Museum.

Can’t-miss restaurants along the Great River Road

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

While journeying down the Great River Road, you’ll pass through ten different states, each with its own unique dining culture. Here are some restaurants located just off the GRR that you should definitely check out.

Minneapolis, MN: The Bachelor Farmer
Located in a newly restored building built in 1881, The Bachelor Farmer captures the historic yet modern feel of the downtown Twin Cities. You’re guaranteed the freshest Nordic-style food, thanks to their use of local ingredients, including produce from their rooftop garden.

La Crosse, WI: The Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern
Dine on Waterfront Restaurant‘s contemporary versions of American classics, relax in the cushy lounge and enjoy the smooth sounds from the piano bar. And as the name hints, patrons can appreciate panoramic views of the Mississippi River, as the restaurant is situated along the waterfront.

Dubuque, IA: L. May Eatery
L. May Eatery takes pride in its use of local ingredients, serving a rotating seasonal menu of “gourmet comfort food.” Whether you’re craving a sophisticated pizza, delectable seafood or a refreshing cocktail, L. May guarantees delicious cuisine.

Quincy, IL: Tiramisu’
Order the unique homemade pasta when you visit Tiramisu’. This Italian restaurant also offers a fine selection of wine, pizzas and more. A great place to unwind.

St. Louis, MO: Bogart’s Smokehouse
Strap on your bib for a BBQ excursion at Bogart’s Smokehouse. You’ll need an appetite for this one, as the smokehouse serves up mouthwatering meats like pulled pork, smoky brisket, apricot bruleed ribs, pastrami and prime rib.

Memphis, TN: Restaurant Iris
Specializing in French-Creole cuisine, Restaurant Iris has been named Memphis’ “Best Restaurant” for the past four years by a number of qualified reviews. Its charming atmosphere can be attributed to its presence inside a restored old home near the historic Overton Square.

New Orleans, LA: Commander’s Palace
Last stop on this culinary food tour of the Mississippi… New Orleans! Commander’s Palace is the perfect place to experience New Orleans culture. Serving award-winning Creole dishes since 1880, the restaurant holds vibrant history, and vast experience has driven their success throughout the years.

September is Drive the Great River Road Month

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

American QueenPlan a fun and memorable road trip this September along the Great River Road! This 3,000-mile long byway is one of the oldest, longest and most unique in North America, and along the way you’ll find plenty to explore.  Experience a variety of cultures as you travel down the river, from Midwestern Minnesota and Iowa down to Southern Mississippi and Louisiana and all of the cultural blend in between.

Your trip down the Mississippi should include stops in each of the bordering ten states. Plan to see popular attractions like the Mall of America in Bloomington, Navy Pier in Chicago, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, and more. Experience natural wonders, captivating historical sites and rich agriculture as well. There’s so much to see along the Great River Road! Plan your trip down the river this September.

Agritourism options along the Great River Road

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Blue Sky Vineyard, Makada

Credit: Blue Sky Vineyard

Agritourism encourages travelers to learn about a region by exploring its diverse agricultural landscape. And the Great River Road offers an abundance of agriculture for you to see. Along the Mississippi, you’ll find orchards, cheese factories, gardens, nurseries, tree farms, farmers markets, museums and more. Make sure to pencil in a stop at one of these farm-related attractions when you visit the Great River Road.