Trip Ideas: Missouri's Great River Road
This fabulous fall drive, which parallels the Mississippi River from Mark Twain's home town to Missouri wine country on to Cape Girardeau and through Missouri's bootheel region, offers many great chances to explore the Show-Me State. Grab the camera and get ready to be wowed by fall color on Missouri's stretch of the Great River Road.
Day One
This is the cave author Mark Twain described in five of his books. The cave was first shown in 1886. It is a registered National Natural Landmark. This is one of a few labyrinth caves in the world, where the passages form crisscross style patterns. Located on Missouri Route 79, two miles from downtown Hannibal.
300 Cave Hollow Road, Hannibal MO 63401, 573-221-1656
Hours: April-May 31, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; June-Aug. 20, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Aug. 21-Oct. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Labor Day weekend, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Nov.-March, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Bankhead Chocolates has been producing hand-dipped candies since 1919. The candies are now, as they have always been, prepared in large copper kettles, poured onto a marble table and cut to perfection.
810 Business Highway 61, Bowling Green MO 63334, 573-324-2312
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
More than 38 miles of hiking, backpacking and equestrian trails wind through this 6,393-acre park. Camping, equestrian camping, a lake for fishing and swimming, picnicking, an organized group camp and a visitor center are features. The park is located three miles east of Troy.
678 State Route 147, Troy MO 63379, 636-528-7247
Hours: Open daily: 6 a.m.-10 p.m.; beach closes at 8 p.m.
End your day by grabbing a bite to eat in the area that was once named the Williamsburg of the West by Southern Living magazine. This Main Street region is Missouri's first and largest nationally registered historic district. Running parallel to the Missouri River, the brick-paved streets are home to one-of-a-kind shops, in restored buildings that date to the 1800s.
230 S. Main St., St. Charles MO 63301, 636-946-7776
Hours: Hours differ by business.
Day Two
Site excavations have established that Paleo-Indians hunted the American mastodon here during the ice age. The site is the home of the Kimmswick Bone Bed, one of the most famous and extensive Pleistocene ice age deposits of fossils, including a number of bones of giant mastodons. The museum displays artifacts, fossils and a replica of a mastodon skeleton, and outlines the story of the Clovis culture, which existed in the area between 10,000 and 14,000 years ago. 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: March 16-Nov.14, Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sun., noon-4:30 p.m.; Nov. 15.-March 15, Mon., Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun., noon-4 p.m.
The Louis Bolduc House, a National Historic Landmark, was built in around 1792, by one of the wealthiest French Americans, in the first town in Missouri, when it was governed by Spain. Visit his vertical log house, gardens, and discover what life in 18th century Ste. Genevieve was like. In addition to the unique architecture, the museum has a large collection of 18th century French colonial furnishings and artifacts. Discover the unique story of the Shawnee and Delaware Indian tribes in Eastern Missouri when you step into the Stone Cottage behind the Bolduc House and don't miss the Eastern Woodland Indian Village with its Three Sisters Garden and in-ground pottery firing pit. Walk through the lovely flower gardens to the smaller home built in 1820 by Rene LeMeilleur and his wife, Agatha Bolduc. One room is furnished as an 1830s living room. The other room is our Hands-On History Room with activities for children and temporary exhibits. Purchase admission tickets across the street at the Linden House, where you can shop, visit the Colonial Dames Parlor, the Salon de The - Chez Emilie, and the Rozier Library and Heritage Room. The spacious Linden House yard is a great place to relax, let the children romp and see the plants in the Lewis and Clark Garden.
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.
Chaumette Winery sits amid magnificent rolling hills. Enjoy the views while sampling our award-winning, handcrafted wines. Visit the restaurant or poolside cafe for lunch and dinner. There is live entertainment outdoors during warmer months.
24345 Route WW, Ste. Genevieve MO 63670, 573-747-1000
Hours: April-Aug.: Thu.-Sat., noon-5 p.m.; Wed. and Sun., noon-6 p.m. ~ Hours vary off season.
Day Three
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 Lambert's Cafe is the home of the "Throwed Rolls," generous portions, and a constant stream of "pass arounds"; You can catch some fun, and rolls, at one of America's most entertaining restaurants. 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.
If you arrive in New Madrid in the late afternoon, visit this mansion, built in 1859. It is typical of pre-Civil War Mississippi River plantations. The Hunter property was said to have been used by Union troops during the Civil War.
312 Dawson Road, New Madrid MO 63869, 573-748-5340
Hours: March-Nov.: Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun., noon-4 p.m. ~ Dec.-Feb.: Tue.-Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
End your day by trying your luck at Lady Luck Casino. Inside you find slots, poker, and table games; there also are dining options, along with entertainment every weekend at The Lone Wolf.
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. Friday through 3 a.m. Monday.