A network of nearly 100 museums and historic sites showcases fascinating stories of the Mississippi River. Learn about the river and find useful travel information.
See Locations On Map
Arkansas: See on map
- Delta Gateway Museum – Blytheville
Uncover the history and heritage of the Arkansas Delta at this museum housed in the historic Kress Building in downtown Blytheville. Exhibits educate visitors about local industries (agriculture, lumber, steel) that have supported the community for hundreds of years, as well as historical information about Native American culture, earthquakes, floods and more.
- Mississippi County Historical & Genealogical Society Museum – Osceola
Located in an old storefront in the center of Osceola, the Mississippi County Historical & Genealogical Society Museum is a true local history museum. The museum is packed with a variety of art, objects, documents, furniture, and advertisements telling the story of the community and its residents. The museum includes a coffee shop, a gift shop and a research center.
- Historic Dyess Colony | Johnny Cash Boyhood Home – Dyess
When the Dyess Colony—a federal agricultural settlement community that was part of the New Deal—was created in 1934, it provided a new start for hundreds of poor farming families in Arkansas, including the family of music legend Johnny Cash. Several of the colony’s buildings have been restored and are open to visitors, including Cash’s nearby boyhood home.
- Hampson Archeological Museum State Park – Wilson
The Hampson Archeological Museum State Park is home to an incredible collection of artifacts from the Nodena site, a 15-acre palisaded village on the Mississippi River. You’ll learn about the lives of the people who lived and farmed the land here from A.D. 1400 to 1650. Discover the ancient community’s farming techniques, hunting, religious practices, political structure and trade network. A magnificent effigy head vessel is the highlight of the collection.
- Parkin Archeological State Park – Parkin
This park protects the site of an Indian village that occupied this location on the St. Francis River from A.D. 1000 to 1600. It is thought by many historians that explorer Hernando de Soto visited this village in 1541. The Arkansas Archeological Survey actively digs at this site, giving visitors an opportunity to see an archeological investigation in action. The center also includes exhibits and a gift shop.
- Sultana Disaster Museum – Marion
Learn the story behind the greatest maritime disaster in United States history. The Sultana, a Civil War-era steamboat, exploded on the Mississippi River on April 27, 1865, killing more than 1,200 aboard, including Union soldiers that had been released from Civil War prison camps in Andersonville and Cahaba. Discover what happened that fateful night and why this tragic event in American history has long been overlooked.
- Mississippi River State Park – Marianna
Located on the shore of the Mississippi River in the St. Francis National Forest, this park features dramatic and beautiful scenery. Explore the park’s trails or go fishing for largemouth bass, shell crackers, crappie and channel catfish. The park is on the Audubon Great River Birding Trail and it offers a diverse array of birds and wildlife. The park’s visitor center includes a large, multi-purpose area that’s available for meetings, family reunions and other group events.
- Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie – Stuttgart
See a variety of historical exhibits featuring home living, settlers’ entertainment and education, and early farm life. One of the most popular displays is the Waterfowl Wing, which features all species of waterfowl that frequent the Mississippi Flyway. The birds are displayed as if they were coming to the small pond to rest.
- Helena Museum of Phillips County – Helena
This local history museum offers a rich collection of exhibits and artifacts. The collection includes American Indian artifacts, period apparel, fine art, antique furniture, military artifacts and photographs. A special exhibit sheds light on the Civil War’s Battle of Helena. Other exhibits feature the inventor Thomas Edison and famous American author Mark Twain. This museum has something for everyone.
- Delta Cultural Center – Helena
The Delta Cultural Center is your door into the world of the Arkansas Delta. Through exhibits and guided tours, the center brings to life the history of this region. You’ll learn the story of Arkansas Delta and its contributions to blues music and American culture. The museum includes a visitor center, The Depot and a recording studio where the King Biscuit Time KFFA radio show broadcasts blues music daily.
- Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge – St. Charles
The White River National Wildlife Refuge is one of the finest birdwatching destinations on earth. This complex of bottomland forests, lakes and wetlands supports hundreds of species of birds who nest here or use the refuge as a stopping point during their migrations. At almost 90 miles in length, it is the largest remaining bottomland hardwood forest in the Mississippi River Valley. The visitor center is your portal to this natural treasure.
- Arkansas Post National Memorial – Gillett
The Arkansas Post was a trading post built in 1686 at a Native American village. It was the first semi-permanent settlement on the Mississippi River. It remained an important community throughout Arkansas’ history. Visit the Arkansas Post National Memorial and view a brief film about the memorial. Take a hike through the historic town site and hardwood forest. Check the park schedule for tours and historic weapon demonstrations.
- WWII Japanese American Internment Museum – McGehee
This museum preserves the history and heritage of the 17,000 Japanese Americans who were forcibly evacuated from their homes and interned at camps in Jerome and Rohwer from 1942-45. Visitors learn about life in the camps, which incarcerated Japanese Americans in military-style barracks that were guarded and surrounded by barbed wire. The museum is housed in the renovated south building of the McGehee Railroad Depot.
- Lake Chicot State Park – Lake Village
At 20 miles in length, Lake Chicot is America’s largest natural oxbow remnant. This curving lake was once the main channel of the Mississippi River. Centuries ago, it was cut off from the river and is today a beautiful place to enjoy fishing, boating and birdwatching. The park offers tours for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. The park’s visitor center offers interpretive exhibits about the natural history of the lake.
- Lakeport Plantation – Lake Village
The Lakeport Plantation dates to the 1830s. The vast plantation produced cotton for nearly a century. The plantation house was built in 1859 and today serves as a museum telling the story of the people and cultures that shaped plantation life in the Mississippi River Delta. The collection pays particular attention to the Antebellum, Civil War and Reconstruction periods. The museum is one of the best places in the country to learn about plantation life.
Illinois: See on map
- Mississippi River Visitor Center Lock and Dam – Rock Island
Bird lovers flock to the Mississippi River Visitor Center on the Rock Island Arsenal. Located in Rock Island at Lock & Dam #15, the center provides views of the many bald eagles that travel to the locks and dams of the Mississippi to feed during the winter. In early spring, the river opens to commercial navigation. From April through mid-December, visitors from around the world come to watch boats pass through the locks. The visitor center welcomes more than 60,000 people annually.
- Black Hawk State Historic Site – Rock Island
Explore the Native American history of the region at this wooded, steeply rolling 208-acre park that borders the Rock River, a Mississippi tributary. Prehistoric Indians and 19th century settlers made their homes here, but the area is most closely identified with the Sauk nation and the warrior-leader whose name it bears – Black Hawk. Today the park features picnic shelters, a museum of Native American life, a nature center, playgrounds and a rustic lodge.
- Villa Kathrine – Quincy
Discover a beautiful and unique example of Mediterranean-style architecture on the bluffs above the Mississippi at Quincy. Built as a home in 1900, the building now houses the Tourist Information Center for Quincy. Built for Quincy native and world traveler W. George Metz, the villa has a number of interesting features, including a “harem room” and a courtyard with an overlooking balcony surrounding a marble mosaic reflecting pool. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, Illinois Register of Historic Places and Quincy Local Landmarks.
- Pere Marquette State Park – Grafton
In 1673, Pere (Father) Jacques Marquette, a French Jesuit missionary, paddled into this area looking for a route to the Pacific Ocean. Instead, he found out from local Native Americans that he was on his way to the Gulf of Mexico. Hundreds of years later, local civic groups sought to preserve this beautiful land by the river as a state park. The 8,000-acre park has numerous recreational opportunities and offers spectacular views of the Illinois River and its backwaters from several points atop the bluffs. The Visitor Center features a three-dimensional map of the park and a wealth of other displays and exhibits about the Illinois River, wildlife habitat, local history and geology.
- National Great Rivers Museum – East Alton
Discover the grand history of the Mississippi River at the National Great Rivers Museum at Melvin Price Locks and Dam. Learn about the river’s history, cultural significance, ecological importance and role as a transportation corridor. A museum theater offers interesting and educational films about the river. The museum is self-guided but the museum’s staff provides guided tours of the locks and dam.
- Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site – Collinsville
Explore the remains of the largest and most sophisticated native civilizations north of Mexico at this impressive site. Archaeological research indicates the city of Cahokia was inhabited from about 700 to 1400 A.D.. At its peak, from 1050 to 1200 A.D., the city covered nearly six square miles and was home to between 10,000 to 20,000 people. More than 120 mounds were built on the site. Houses were arranged in rows and around open plazas and were surrounded by vast agricultural fields.Today the interpretive center helps visitors learn about this fascinating place.
- Fort de Chartres State Historic Site – Prairie du Rocher
A French fort first constructed nearly 300 years ago is today a state park that will take you back in history. The park, located four miles west of Prairie du Rocher, marks the location of the last of three successive forts named “de Chartres” built by the French during their 18th century colonial occupation of what is today Illinois. Interpretive signs guide visitors around the site, and on weekends costumed interpreters offer additional information. The museum is open daily.
- Pierre Menard State Historic Site & Fort Kaskaskia – Ellis Grove
Explore the earthen remains of a historic fort, constructed by the French in 1759 to defend the town of Kaskaskia. Kaskaskia was once a principal commercial center and from 1818 to 1820 it served as the first capital of Illinois. The historic site consists of four major sections: the remains of Fort Kaskaskia, Garrison Hill Cemetery, the Mississippi River overlook and picnic area, and a large campground. Visit the former home of a fur trader at the Pierre Menard House. Menard became the first lieutenant governor of Illinois, serving from 1818-22.
- Cairo Custom House Museum – Cairo
This historic building and museum was once a facility that collected tariffs on imports travelling up the Mississippi. Today it’s open to the public and features interesting displays, including the desk General Grant used while in Cairo, an 1865-vintage fire pumper and a replica of the U.S.S. Cairo gunboat. Built in the Italianate style, it’s one of the few surviving U.S. Customs houses.
Iowa: See on map
- Driftless Area Education & Visitor Center – Lansing
Explore this unique region of northeastern Iowa that flanks the Mississippi River. This new center features interpretive and dimensional displays which explain the geology, limnology and archeology of the area, along with information on local wildlife, Native American history and river town economies and industries. The center’s programs offer information on birding, archaeology, commercial fishing, astronomy and more. The center is operated by operated by the Allamakee County Conservation Board.
- Effigy Mounds National Monument – Harpers Ferry
More than 200 earthen mounds are located within the boundaries of Effigy Mounds National Monument. Taking the shapes of a bird, bear, deer, bison, lynx, turtle or panther, these mounds were built 750 to 1,400 years ago for ceremonial purposes. The best way to tour the 2,526-acre park is hiking along the 14 miles of trails that wind their way throughout the landscape. A film at the visitor center provides an excellent introduction.
- Motor Mill Historic Site – Elkader
Nestled amongst the bluffs of Clayton County in Northeast Iowa stands a six-story limestone gristmill built in the late 1860’s. Constructed from local limestone and timber, Motor Mill and four other buildings at the Motor Mill Historic Site harbor a century-and-a-half of secrets and stories captured in stone. The 155-acre park offers primitive camping, hiking, artistic inspiration, historic tours, access to the Turkey River Water Trail, and adjoins the 48-acre Retz Woods State Preserve.
- Iowa DNR – Guttenberg Fish Hatchery – Guttenberg
In the heart of the charming riverside town of Guttenberg, you’ll find the Guttenberg Fish Hatchery, run by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The facility produces northern pike fry from fish taken from local Mississippi River backwaters. Take a tour of the hatchery and learn about fisheries management. See aquariums on site featuring a number of different local fish species.
- National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium & National Rivers Hall of Fame – Dubuque
This fascinating museum is famous for its massive aquarium that features the broad array of wildlife found in the Mississippi River. Animals include ducks, frogs, turtles, catfish, shovelnose sturgeon and dozens of other species. There is also a saltwater tank highlighting species that live at the Mississippi River’s mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. Other exhibits include Rivers to the Sea, RiverWorks and a large-format, 3D/4D theater.
- E.B. Lyons Interpretive Center / Mines of Spain Recreation Area – Dubuque
The Mines of Spain Recreation Area spans 1,380 acres of forests and prairies on a bluff above the Mississippi River. The recreation area has been named a National Historic Landmark and is home to the Julien Dubuque Monument overlooking the confluence of the Catfish and Mississippi rivers. The Horseshoe Bluff Interpretive Trail provides views of the property’s many different natural habitats.
- Hurstville Interpretive Center – Maquoketa
The Hurstville Interpretive Center is an excellent place to view wildlife. The property offers prairies and wetlands. It is a particularly good location for birdwatching. You’ll find walking trails as well as blinds for wildlife viewing. Inside the center, you’ll find a live beehive, dioramas, a model-train layout of historic Hurstville, a video about local lime kilns and exhibits about mussels, rocks, endangered species and birds.
- The Sawmill Museum – Clinton
Discover Clinton’s lumber heritage in this fascinating museum. Kids – and adults who are young at heart – can visit a recreated 1888 lumberjack camp and play the part of a lumberjack. See a restored 1920s sawmill in action, take a ride on the Midwest Lumber Train and meet Clinton’s lumber barons.
- Mississippi River Eco Tourism Center – Camanche
The centerpiece of this eco center is an 8,000-gallon aquarium featuring fish species from local rivers. Visitor can also rent canoes and kayaks for exploring Mississippi River backwaters. River cruises guided by naturalists are also available. Hear about the birds, mammals and other wildlife that live in the vicinity. You’ll also learn about boating, fishing, hunting, barge traffic and industry along the river.
- Buffalo Bill Museum & River Pilots Pier – LeClaire
Discover the exciting life of one of America’s most famous Western heroes. The Buffalo Bill Museum not only tells of the life of William F. Cody, it also illuminates the history of the area, including Native American culture. The lives of a number of local heroes are highlighted in exhibits spanning more than two centuries. A wooden-hulled, Western Rivers-fashion stern-wheeler boat is also on display, the only surviving example of such a boat.
- Putnam Museum of History & Natural Science – Davenport
The Putnam Museum of History & Natural Science is an attraction that will appeal to all ages. The museum includes a number of permanent exhibits, including the Asian Gallery; Black Earth, Big River; Hall of Mammals; Ocean Experience; River, Prairie & People; ViewSpace; Unearthing Ancient Egypt; the Spark Learning Lab; and Uwe Warumi, an exhibit geared toward children ages 4-10. A giant screen plays exciting educational films.
- Nahant Marsh Education Center – Davenport
This 265-acre nature preserve is a complex of wetlands surrounded by the city of Davenport. Once badly damaged by environmental pollution, the wetlands are now one of the area’s most important natural areas, supporting native plants and wildlife. Trails run throughout the property, allowing visitors to see the different types of habitat. More than 150 species of birds and 400 types of plants called the nature preserve home.
- Pine Creek Grist Mill – Muscatine
Located in Wild Cat Den State Park, the Pine Creek Grist Mill stands as a reminder of a time when water helped to power rural economies. The mill was built in the mid-1800s and was used to grind wheat into a course flour that was shipped down the Mississippi River. The mill became the cornerstone of a thriving farm community. The picturesque mill is a great location for taking photographs.
- Muscatine History & Industry Center – Muscatine
Learn how Muscatine, Iowa, became the “Pearl Button Capital of the World.” Through detailed exhibits and extensive photographs, you’ll hear the story of a community that has depended on the river for its livelihood for centuries. Learn about “clamming” and the factories that converted the mussel shells into buttons sold the world over. You’ll learn about the processes as well as the people. It’s a real gem of a museum.
- Toolesboro Indian Mounds & Museum – Wapello
Built between 200 B.C. and 300 A.D, the mounds at this site near the Mississippi River are all that remains of an ancient civilization. These earthen works were built by the Hopewell people who flourished in this area for more than 500 years and had an exchange system that stretched all across the Midwest and the Great Lakes region. The site includes a small museum, outdoor interpretive panels, a restroom and a picnic area.
- Heritage Center Museum – Burlington
Discover the natural and cultural heritage of the region in this new interpretive center. Museum goers can learn about native prairie plants, thousands of years of Native American history, early American and European settlements and the role of the railroad and the river in the making of Des Moines County. The museum is also home to “Catfish Corners,” a children’s area where kids can experience what it was like to live in Burlington during the 1830s, complete with a mock steamship, log cabin and general store.
- Old Fort Madison – Fort Madison
Visit the Midwest’s oldest American military garrison on the upper Mississippi River. You’ll learn about life at a trading post in the frontier of the Missouri Territory. Exhibits include information about the War of 1812. Historical interpreters in authentic period garb will demonstrate the duties necessary to run a fort on the wild frontier. You’ll learn about handling a musket, making candles and more.
- George M. Verity Riverboat Museum – Keokuk
The George M. Verity was a stern-wheel riverboat that began services in 1927. The steamboat pushed barges up and down the Mississippi and Ohio rivers until it was retired in 1960. Today, the boat serves as a river museum. Docked in Victory Park, the boat houses a collection that includes information about the history of the upper Mississippi River. Don’t miss this unique museum.
Kentucky: See on map
- Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site – Wickliffe
From 1100 to 1350A.D., a Native American village occupied the site at Wickliffe Mounds. The settlement included earthen mounds and homes overlooking the Mississippi River. Today, the area is an archeological site. A museum includes exhibits displaying Mississippian-era pottery, stone tools, artifacts and artwork. Climb atop the Ceremonial Mound for great views of the area.
- Columbus-Belmont State Park – Columbus
Columbus-Belmont State Park is located on the banks of the Mississippi River. The park is home to an interesting Civil War Museum housed in a farmhouse that was once a Confederate hospital. During the Civil War, a fort was built at Columbus and armed with 143 canons. The park includes a snack bar, gift shop, mini golf, a picnic area and campground.
Louisiana: See on map
- Poverty Point World Heritage Site – Pioneer
Explore the remnants of a complex array of earthen works that predates the Mayan pyramids. The mounds and ridges form a C-shape with a diameter of nearly three-quarters of a mile. Much of their purpose remains a mystery, although many believe the ridges were used as sites for homes. The site dates to as early as 1700 B.C. and encompasses more than 400 acres. Tram tours of this archeological treasure are offered daily.
- Port Hudson State Historic Site – Jackson
Visit the site of one of the most important battles of the Civil War. The 1893 siege of Port Hudson led to some of the bloodiest battles of the war. It became the longest siege in American military history. Port Hudson is also the site of the landmark use of African American Native Guard troops against the Confederacy. Today, the historic site stands as a reminder to the important battles. Costumed re-enactments take place here several times a year.
- West Feliciana Historical Society Museum – St. Francisville
This museum should be your first stop when exploring the St. Francisville area. Learn about the history of the West Feliciana Parish at the West Feliciana Historical Society Museum. Located in St. Francisville and housed in a former hardware store, the museum focuses on the area’s history, people and architecture. The museum’s location on Main Street makes it an important visitor information center. From time to time, the museum hosts special exhibitions.
- LSU Rural Life Museum & Windrush Gardens – Baton Rouge
Take a step into the past at the LSU Rural Life Museum. A set of seven buildings shows the different architectural styles used by early Louisiana settlers. The working plantation demonstrates what the typical 19th-century plantation would have looked like. The Barn is home to hundreds of piece of art, tools and other artifacts revealing the multifaceted cultural history of Louisiana. Guided tours are available for groups of 10 or more.
- Plaquemine Lock State Historic Site – Plaquemine
Learn about the lock and waterway that helped bring trade and prosperity to much of Louisiana. In 1909, the Plaquemine Lock was once considered a feat of engineering, lifting boats and barges 51 feet. Today, the lock structure and lockhouse are on the National Register of Historic Places. The lockhouse serves as a museum and visitor center. Visitors to the site will have a chance to see the lockmaster’s house as well as watercraft that would have once used the lock.
- The Louisiana Great River Road Interpretive Center and Museum – Darrow
Located on the grounds of the historic Houmas House estate and gardens, the Great River Road Interpretive Center and Museum educates visitors about the history and influence the lower Mississippi River had on transportation, commerce, music and the folklore of river live. Designed to appear like a Mississippi River steamboat, the 35,000-square-foot museum features educational exhibits and artifacts that tell the story of the lower Mississippi River. Don’t miss the Mississippi River overlook, which can be reached via a pedestrian bridge over the Great River Road.
- The Historic New Orleans Collection – New Orleans
This museum and research center preserves the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South region. This complex of history French Quarter buildings includes a museum. The museum’s Williams Gallery includes changing exhibitions. The Louisiana History Galleries illuminates the state’s fascinating past. The complex also includes the history Williams Residence museum. The collection’s research library houses 350,000 artifacts.
- Louisiana State Museum – New Orleans
More than 450,000 artifacts can be found in the Louisiana State Museum’s collections. The museum includes seven historic French Quarter buildings, including the Cabildo and Presbytere on Jackson Square. Tour the 1850 house, the former home a Spanish baroness. See the Arsenal, tour the OId U.S. Mint and visit the Jackson House & Creole House. You’ll learn about the French, Spanish and British influences that helped to shape New Orleans and the region.
- Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve – New Orleans
The Jean Lafitte National Historical Park is made up of six different sites, including the 23,000-acre Barataria Preserve wetland and visitor center featuring dioramas and exhibits. See the site of the Battle of New Orlean’s at the Chalmette Battlefield and then visit the Chalmette National Cemetery. The Acadian Cultural Center in Lafayette, the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center in Eunice and the Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center in Thibodaux tell the story of the Cajun people.
Minnesota: See on map
- Itasca State Park–Jacob Brower Visitor Center – Park Rapids
Visit the source of the Mississippi River, located in the oldest park in the state of Minnesota. Walk across the Mississippi River and enjoy the pristine surroundings. The 32,000-acre park includes picturesque woodlands and more than 100 lakes. Historic attractions in the park include the Itasca Indian Cemetery and Wegmann’s Cabin. Follow Wilderness Drive through the 2,000-acre Wilderness Sanctuary. Don’t miss this incredible natural treasure.
- Itasca County Historical Society – Grand Rapids
The Itasca County Historical Society tells the stories of a town, region, and people shaped over time by the Mississippi River. The “River Room” exhibit shares photos, historical artifacts and other displays to educate visitors about the Mississippi River and Grand Rapids’ relationship to the iconic waterway over the centuries. Admission is free, and the facility is located just a block from the Mississippi River and two blocks from the Great River Road.
- Forest History Center – Grand Rapids
Re-visit the past at the Forest History Center. Take a guided tour through a 1900s logging camp and hop aboard the floating cook shack. Climb the fire tower and visit the 1930s Minnesota Forest Service patrolman’s cabin. The center features a number of hands-on exhibits and offers a variety of programs led by naturalists and historians. Nature trails run throughout the property, including a boardwalk through a bog habitat.
- Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site – Little Falls
Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 flight from New York to Paris launched an aviation revolution. Tour his childhood home, explore the visitor center exhibits, including a “Spirit of St. Louis” flight simulator, and walk an interpretive trail along the river. Additional trails are located in the adjacent Charles A. Lindbergh State Park. The Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site is a National Historic Landmark.
- Oliver Kelley Farm, Minnesota Historical Society – Elk River
The Oliver Kelley Farm is recognized as “the birthplace of organized agriculture in America.” Oliver Hudson Kelley and his family began farming the land on the banks of the Mississippi River in 1850. Kelley was the founder of the first successful national farming organization, the Patrons of Husbandry, better known as the Grange. Exhibits and programming tell the broad story of agricultural history, spanning from the 1860s to modern day. The Oliver Kelley Farm is a National Historic Landmark.
- Mill City Museum – Minneapolis
Minneapolis was once the grain-milling center of the world. This fascinating museum takes you back to that era through exhibits and artifacts. The museum is located on the Mississippi River waterfront and weaves together the story of the flour industry, the river and the community. See the breathtaking ruins of a massive flour mill. Visit the Baking Lab. Interact with hands-on exhibits and see short videos about the mill and Minneapolis.
- Historic Fort Snelling – Saint Paul
Fort Snelling is a historic landmark sitting high on the riverbank above the Mississippi. Discover the history of the Twin Cities region from frontier America through World War II. You’ll learn about the Native American residents, the fur trade, the Civil War and the U.S. Dakota War of 1862. View the towers, military quarters and battlements. See re-enactors demonstrating pre-Civil War skills and trades. Don’t miss this glimpse into the early culture of the Upper Midwest.
- Minnesota History Center – Saint Paul
Explore this museum filled with fascinating interactive exhibits. Learn about the people and events that have shaped Minnesota. Ride a streetcar, have a seat in a Dakota tipi, hop aboard a Soo Line boxcar, learn about the fur trade and climb down into an iron mine. Learn about the ways Minnesotans have adapted to the challenges of Midwestern weather. The museum also features a number of special exhibitions throughout the year. Don’t miss this world-class regional history museum.
- The Science Museum of Minnesota – Saint Paul
Located inside the fun and educational Science Museum of Minnesota, the Mississippi River Gallery showcases the interaction between the Mississippi River and the lives of the people who depend on it for their life and livelihood. Hop aboard the Charles E. Towboat, a Mississippi River towboat. Challenge yourself with the River Pilot Simulator. And, see actual views of the Mississippi River through a wall of windows and a telescope. It’s the ideal place to learn about the river.
- NPS Mississippi River Visitor Center – Saint Paul
This interesting visitor center is located in the Science Museum of Minnesota. It is operated by the National Park Service and features a number of exhibits shedding light on the culture, history and biology of the Mississippi River. If you are thinking of hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hunting, or birdwatching along the river, this is the ideal place to start – the park rangers at the visitor center are excellent sources of information for all of these activities.
- National Eagle Center – Wabasha
There is no better place in America to learn about the majestic bald eagle. Meet the center’s resident bald eagles – formerly injured eagles that have been rescued and rehabilitated. Watch wild bald eagles from a wide bank of windows overlooking a pool on the Mississippi River. Learn about eagles from the center’s staff and see exhibits focusing on the behavior, nesting habits, diet and history of the bald eagle.
- Minnesota Marine Art Museum – Winona
The Minnesota Maritime Art Museum explores the relationship between human beings and water. The museum inspires visitors with a constantly changing menu of exhibits featuring marine or maritime art as well as a wide variety of American and European masters, including Turner, Monet, van Gogh, Cassatt, Gauguin, Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky, O’Keefe, Homer and Wyeth. The museum also boasts a large collection of folk art.
- Winona County History Center – Winona
The Winona County Historical Society is made up of several sites, including the Winona County History Center. The center is located in a former National Guard Armory and tells the story of the lumber barons and laborers who built this area. You’ll learn about the area’s rowdy past and get some entertaining facts about the area. The Bunnell House preserves the home of Willard Bunnell, a fur trader who settled the land in 1849.
Mississippi: See on map
- Tunica RiverPark and Museum – Tunica
Aquariums, dioramas, interactive exhibits, relics and artwork all tell the story of the Mississippi River through time. Follow de Soto and the Spanish conquistadors that explored the area centuries ago. Learn about the Great Flood of 1927. Learn what it was like to live in the Mississippi Delta before European settlement. See aquariums filled with turtles, gars and other Mississippi River inhabitants. Other exhibits include plantations, the Civil War and blues music.
- Delta Blues Museum – Clarksdale
The musical genre known as the blues was born in the Mississippi River Delta. Clarksdale sits at the center of the Delta region, making it the ideal home for the Delta Blues Museum. See the sharecropper home of Muddy Waters. See guitars played by blues greats such as John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Big Mama Thornton, Charlie Musselwhite, Jimmy Burns and Son Thomas. Learn about Stella guitars and see the sign from the juke joint where Robert Johnson played his famous last gig.
- Washington County Welcome Center & Museum of the Delta/River Road Queen Welcome Center – Greenville
The River Road Queen Welcome Center in Greenville takes visitors back to a time when Victorian riverboats steamed their way up and down the Mississippi River. The welcome center is a replica of an 1800s steamboat. The unique structure was originally built for the Mississippi Pavilion at the 1984 New Orleans World’s Fair. The second floor of the boat displays river artifacts.
- Lower Mississippi River Museum – Vicksburg
Explore life on the Mississippi River! Discover how communities, farming families and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have all utilized the river. Choose your own adventure on the river with the Mississippi Trail Interactive exhibit. Hear about the experience of the 1927 flood from a family that lived through the event. See some of the river’s unique fish up close in our 1,515-gallon aquarium.
- Vicksburg National Military Park – Vicksburg
Vicksburg was the site of one of the most important battles of the Civil War. The Vicksburg National Military Park includes the largest burial site for Union soldiers and sailors killed in the Civil War. The visitor center offers a 20-minute orientation film as well as examples of Confederate trenches, a hospital room and a Union officer’s tent. Outside the center, you’ll find a cannon display and a battle fortification exhibit. Historic monuments can be found throughout the park.
- Grand Gulf Military Monument Commission, aka Grand Gulf Park – Port Gibson
This 400-acre park preserves the memory of the Civil War Battle that took place on the site. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and includes Fort Cobun and Fort Wade, the Grand Gulf Cemetery, a museum, campgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, an observation tower and several restored buildings dating back to the community of Grand Gulf’s heyday.
- Natchez Convention and Visitor Bureau – Natchez
For visitors to the historic town of Natchez the first stop should be the Natchez Convention and Visitor Bureau. This visitor center is your source for information about the community’s many pre-Civil War homes and plantations, the charming downtown, outdoor activities and tours. The area also offers several golf courses, two casinos, a variety of shopping and annual events.
- Mississippi Welcome Center/Woodville Hospitality Station – Woodville
The stately appearance of the Woodville Hospitality Station is firmly rooted in Mississippi’s rich antebellum architectural heritage. Pay them a visit to plan your further adventures in Mississippi and get a sample of that famed Southern hospitality.
Missouri: See on map
- Mark Twain Museum Home & Museum – Hannibal
No other author is more tied to the Mississippi River and the region than Mark Twain. The Mississippi River played an enormous part in many of Twain’s works. The Mark Twain Museum and Interpretive Center tells the story of Twain’s boyhood years in the small river town of Hannibal and his rise to literary prominence. See buildings throughout the community that had a role in Twain’s life.
- City of Clarksville Visitor Center – Clarksville
This informative visitor center is located on the Mississippi River. The center has an observation deck overlooking Lock and Dam #24, a great place to view firsthand the working river. You’ll find a wealth of brochures and other information about the area as well as interpretive posters and signs from the Army Corps of Engineers. The center is a good place to views eagles, pelicans and other large birds.
- Howard & Joyce Wood Education & Visitor Center at Columbia Bottom Conservation Area – St. Louis
At the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers lies the Columbia Bottom Conservation area. This 4,318-acre urban conservation area includes more than 15 miles of trails and a 110-acre island. The 4.75-mile Confluence Trail is great for walking or bicycling. The 3-mile River’s Edge Trail is a wonderful place for a scenic walk. An observation deck provides great views of the rivers below.
- Gateway Arch National Park – St. Louis
No trip along the Mississippi River and the Great River Road would be complete without a trip to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. From the top of the arch, you’ll enjoy a breathtaking view St. Louis and the surrounding area. The Museum of Westward Expansion tells the story of America’s growth as a nation during the 1800s. You’ll see a number of one-of-a-kind artifacts, including items from the Lewis and Clark expedition.
- Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center – Ste. Genevieve
Travel back to a time when this small Missouri river town was part of a French colony. Historic French colonial homes (many dating to the late 1700s) and names throughout the community reflect Ste. Genevieve’s French heritage. The welcome center provides an introduction to all the community has to offer, including historic home tours, winery tours, shopping, antiquing and outdoor activities.
- Trail of Tears State Park – Jackson
Trail of Tears State Park tells the story of one of the most tragic events in American history. During the winter of 1838-1839, thousands of Cherokee Indians died during a forced march. The visitor center features exhibits about this sad story. The park also offers recreational trails for hiking and horseback riding. You’ll find breathtaking views of the Mississippi River. Birdwatching in the park can be outstanding, particularly for waterfowl.
- Cape Girardeau Conservation Campus Nature Center – Cape Girardeau
This natural area offers a long list of outdoor activities. Good birdwatching opportunities are available in the natural area. Hiking trails run through the forests adjacent to the nature center. Wildlife viewing is excellent throughout the property. Tours and demonstrations are given regularly by nature center staff.
- Sikeston Depot Museum – Sikeston
Learn about the history and industry of the Mississippi River region at this charming museum and former train depot, located in southeast Missouri. Visitors will find exhibits about the Mississippian Indian tribe, Sikeston’s cotton-growing heritage and local history, as well as works from local artists. Be sure to check out the reconstructed red caboose, a local landmark.
- New Madrid Historical Museum – New Madrid
In 1811 and 1812, two great earthquakes rocked the area surrounding the community of New Madrid. This museum tells the story of those earthquakes as well as the history of the area, from the ancient Mississippian civilization to the 20th century. See artifacts from the pre-Columbian residents of the area. View letters, clothing and weapons carried by soldiers in the Civil War. Find out how local residents lived during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Tennessee: See on map
- Reelfoot Lake State Park – Tiptonville
Reelfoot Lake is an outstanding birdwatching destination, attracting songbirds, shorebirds and waterfowl as they make their way down the Mississippi River Flyway during spring and fall migrations. Bald eagles are a common sight. Three hiking trails along the lakeshore are great for waterfowl viewing. The park’s nature center includes captive raptors and other wildlife from the area.
- Mississippi River Museum at Mud Island River Park – Memphis
The Mississippi River Museum boasts 18 galleries of exhibits showcasing 10,000 years of history. Learn about transportation on the Mississippi River, music of the region and exploration and European settlement of the region. You’ll also find exhibits about the Civil War, river engineering, earthquakes, floods and steamboat disasters. A 4,000-gallon aquarium displays native fishes.
- C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa/T.O. Fuller State Park – Memphis
If you’re interested in archeology, you need to visit the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa. The museum was founded in 1956 to preserve an ancient Mississippian (1000-1500 A.D.) earthen mound complex. The park still protects these mounds and continues to be an important archeological site. The museum features exhibits about ancient Indian cultures as well as the history of the local African-American community.
Wisconsin: See on map
- Great River Road Visitor & Learning Center – Prescott
Perched high above the river valley, this center gives you a snapshot of an entire region. Through hands-on, multimedia exhibits, you’ll learn about the generations of people who have made their living from the river. A life-size eagle nest and bald eagle exhibits give you a sense of the majesty of this mighty bird. Be sure to gaze down and see the place where the blue waters of the St. Croix River meet the brown waters of the Mississippi River.
- Genoa National Fish Hatchery – Genoa
Genoa National Fish Hatchery has played a major role in the conservation of aquatic species since its founding in 1932. The station provides over 26 species of fish, eggs and mussels to meet aquatic species and research objectives all across the country, from New Mexico to Georgia. Visitors can see displays of fish and mussels commonly found in the upper Mississippi River.
- Villa Louis – Prairie du Chien
Take a tour of the 1800s estate of one of Wisconsin’s wealthiest families. Villa Louis was the home of the Dousman family, who made their first fortune in the fur trade and later became one of the most prominent families in the state. Costumed guides conduct tours of the property, which includes gardens, several historic buildings and a mansion, exquisitely restored to its original Victorian splendor.
- Fort Crawford Museum – Prairie du Chien
The Fort Crawford Museum stands at the site of Fort Crawford, a military fort that guarded the America’s western frontier from 1816 to 1856. Today, the museum presents a complete picture of the region’s history. Exhibits tell the story of the Zachary Taylor, Jefferson Davis and the tragedy of the Black Hawk War. A special section of the museum is dedicated to the story of frontier doctor William Beaumont, whose pioneering experiments helped advance the science of medicine.
- Stonefield State Historic Site – Cassville
If you want to understand the history of American agriculture and rural life, you need to visit the Stonefield State Historic Site. You’ll learn about the rise of dairy farming in Wisconsin and see the development of farm implements through the decades. Tractors, reapers and threshers are all on display. The site also includes the home of farmer and Wisconsin’s first governor, Nelson Dewey.
- The Potosi Brewing Company – Potosi
The Potosi Brewing Company is home to two outstanding museums about beer brewing in America. The National Brewery Museum tells the story of brewing through brewery memorabilia and advertising. The Potosi Brewing Company Transportation Museum reveals how the Potosi Brewery used the highway, railway and the river to bring its product to market. There is an active micro-brewery and restaurant on the premises.