Summer Road Trips: Hannibal

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Edutainment: How to get the kids to learn something on your vacation without realizing it

We understand. The last bell of the school year rings, and suddenly it seems like half of what your children learned is magically sucked from their brains. Endless hours of video games, sports and free time stretch out before them, while you desperately search for a way to slip at least some knowledge into their heads.

Consider these three family-friendly vacation ideas in Hannibal that offer a little education and a whole lot of fun.

Cave Exploring

Kids love caves. Tell your kids (or grandkids) they are going to a cave, and you just might experience shrieks the whole neighborhood can hear. But here’s where it gets sneaky – Mark Twain Cave is where the famous author played as a child, and the one-hour guided tour is chock full of tales about Twain and information about how caves are formed. Don’t be surprised if the kids come out of the tour wanting to read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or find out more about bats and geology.

Gemstone Sluicing

Once the kids emerge from the cave they’ll likely spot the sluice and be instantly intrigued – after all, searching for hidden treasure is near and dear to every kid’s heart. Help them match the stones they find to those shown on the stone glossary, and you’ll quickly have some gemstone experts in the making.

Riverboat Rambling

A sightseeing cruise on the  Mark Twain Riverboat is a great summer activity for kids of all ages. The one-hour trip offers a lively narrative about the Mississippi River and Twain’s time as a riverboat pilot. It also provides a great overview of the many activities you can enjoy while in Hannibal.

Other educational opportunities abound in this quaint river town. Discover more about the Father of American Literature at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, use your smartphone to search geocaches and explore Rockcliffe Mansion to learn about the Gilded Age while taking in breathtaking Tiffany windows and extravagant surroundings.

No matter how much education you squeeze into your Hannibal getaway, the kids will remember the lessons they learned as well as the fun they had.

Written by Megan Rapp from the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau.