Interstate 55 is the main highway connecting St. Louis to Chicago and Memphis. The road loosely follows the western edge of the Mississippi River valley, on a plateau known as Crowley’s Ridge. Following I-55, visitors venture into Bootheel Country, a part of Missouri that more closely resembles the Deep South. Along the way, visitors experience the French settlement of Ste. Genevieve; mighty Cape Girardeau, which played a pivotal role in securing the Mississippi during the Civil War; Sikeston, home to Missouri’s cotton industry; and New Madrid, site of the biggest earthquake in American history.
Travel back to the Ice Age with a visit to Mastodon State Historic Site, in Imperial. The museum displays artifacts, fossils and a replica of a mastodon skeleton. Open for day use, the site offers picnicking and hiking.
1050 Charles J. Becker Drive, Imperial MO 63052, 636-464-2976
Hours: Grounds: 8 a.m.-sunset; Museum hours vary by season
The Jacques Guibourd Historic House was constructed in 1806 in the poteaux-sur-sole style with vertical, hand-hewn log walls and double pitched roof. This important National Register site is the only historic house in Ste. Genevieve where the visitor can view and study 'up close', the Norman truss architecture employed at the time.
The house displays a more refined rendition of the typical French Colonial residence in the era of Lewis and Clark and is finished with elegant French antiques. The museum is owned and operated by the Foundation for Restoration of Ste. Genevieve, Inc. as a memorial to its donor, Jules Felix Vallé.
The Jacques Guibourd House gives discounts to members of organizations who participate in the Time Travelers Program. Admission includes a costumed docent-guided tour. Open daily April through the 1st weekend in December.
One N. Fourth St., Ste. Genevieve MO 63670, 573-883-7544
Hours: Daily, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
This historic site includes three houses: the 1818 Federal-style Felix Valle House; the vertical-log, 1792 Amoureux House; and the 1819 Shaw House. Exhibits interpret the lifestyles and history of early Ste. Genevieve. These are some of the finest examples of French colonial architecture in the nation.
198 Merchant St., Ste. Genevieve MO 63670, 573-883-7102
Hours: April-October: Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun., noon-5 p.m.; November-March: Thur.-Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun., noon-5 p.m.
In historic Ste. Genevieve, walk in the footsteps of the French settlers who first came to Missouri during the Colonial period. Visit historic homes, including The Bolduc House, built around 1792 by Louis Bolduc. The vertical log structure houses a museum with a large collection of 18th century French colonial furnishings and artifacts. The garden is planted with the herbs, fruits and vegetables that would have been planted by Mme. Bolduc. Next door, the LeMeilleur House contains an art gallery.
125 S. Main St., Ste. Genevieve MO 63670, 573-883-3105
Hours: Mon.-Thur., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Fri., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., noon-4 p.m.
This beautiful historic site sits just a few minutes east of Interstate 55 in Perryville. Saint Mary's of the Barrens Historic District was founded in 1818; the church was started in 1827. The Shrine was built in 1929 to honor our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. Visitors are welcome for daily Mass, to walk the beautifully landscaped grounds and visit the outdoor Marian Grotto. Tours are available. Please call or visit the website for details.
1805 W. Saint Joseph St., Perryville MO 63775, 573-768-7000
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cape Girardeau is home to a number of art galleries, antiques stores and specialty shops. The Arts Council of Southeast Missouri Galleries were founded in 1961 to encourage artistic awareness, participation and expression. Three distinct galleries are located within the Arts Council's office and gallery space: Jean A. Chapman Gallery, Gallery 100, and Lorimier Gallery.
32 N. Main St., Cape Girardeau MO 63701, 573-334-9233
Hours: Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
The museum features the Crossroads Gallery, which includes exhibits and interactive kiosks highlighting the history of southeast Missouri, including: The Land and Waters; First Voices; First Peoples; Frontiers and Empires; River and Rail; North and South; Subsistence to Agribusiness; Expressions of Faith; and Change through Education. Exhibitions in the museum's 1,900 square-foot gallery feature works by local, regional, national and international artists. The museum offers educational classes related to the museum’s mission, collections, permanent and changing exhibitions.
518 S. Fountain Street, Cape Girardeau MO 63701, 573-651-2260
Hours: Tue.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
World famous for its famous “throwed rolls.” From the festive atmosphere and mule-ish decor to flying food, this is a unique dining experience.
2305 E. Malone Ave., Sikeston MO 63801, 573-471-4261
Hours: Daily: 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
End your night with a trip to the Lady Luck Casino in Caruthersville, featuring more than 600 slot machines and 23 table games, including eight poker tables. They have an outdoor amphitheater for concerts and special events. RV parking is available.
777 E. 3rd St., Caruthersville MO 63830, 800-679-4945
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 9 a.m.-3 a.m.; Open 24-hours starting at 9 a.m. Fridays through 3 a.m. Mondays