September 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.