Tag Archives: itasca state park

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.


Don’t miss these Minnesota destinations

Monday, March 10, 2014

Itasca State Park

Itasca State Park

Traveling along the Great River Road in Minnesota? Here are four destinations you shouldn’t miss.

  • The headwaters of the Mississippi River. When the Mississippi River starts out – way up in northern Minnesota at Itasca State Park – it’s only about knee deep and not much wider than a city street. Hop across the rocks to get to the other side or just take in the beautiful northwoods scenery along 49 miles of walking trails or 16 miles of paved bike trails. Learn more about Itasca State Park here.
  • Bemidji. Head north (yes, the Mississippi flows north briefly) from Itasca State Park to Bemidji, the first city on the Mississippi. Offering abundant recreation opportunities, family fun and postcard-worthy natural beauty, Bemidji is a great stop along the Great River Road. And, don’t miss the photo opportunity with Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox outside the visitor center! Learn more about Bemidji here.
  • The Twin Cities. Minneapolis and Saint Paul boast and outstanding array of activities for any visitor, whether you’re looking for enlightening arts and culture, award-winning restaurants or the nation’s largest shopping center. Winter, spring, summer or fall – you’ll find four seasons worth of fun in the Twin Cities. Learn more about Minneapolis and Saint Paul here.
  • Red Wing. Heading south from the Twin Cities, you’ll encounter quaint river towns on the banks of the Mississippi River. One destination that should make your list is Red Wing, home to the famous shoemaker of the same name. Explore the shops, restaurants and hotels in the historic downtown and take advantage of some true Midwest hospitality. Red Wing is also a popular eagle-watching destination in the winter. Learn more about Red Wing here.

Want to know more about the Minnesota Great River Road? Find itineraries, attractions and more here.