Follows the course of the Mississippi River for 3,000 miles from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. The scenic route passes through 10 states and hundreds of river towns. It is arguably the longest and most important scenic byway in America. Need some road trip ideas in midwest? Check out this itinerary!
This lakeshore has been “improved” from its naturally marshy state, the surrounding old-growth pine forest—the most extensive stand of virgin timber left in the state—and outdoorsy amenities such as paved bike trails, boat launches, and a café.
Location:36750 Main Park Drive, Park Rapids, MN 56470, United States
Minnesota to Wisconsin via Car
Small towns, populations numbering only in the hundreds, cling to the margin, competing for the distinction of having the longest Main Street in the nation, if not the world; for some of these long hamlets the GRR is nearly the only street.
Location:Wisconsin, United States
Maiden Rock to Trempealeau via Car
A sole survivor of an 1888 downtown fire—maybe that’s why the whole joint is smoke-free. The hotel dining room offers a surprisingly eclectic menu, from steak and seafood to burgers and vegetarian dishes.
Location:Main Street Whitehall, WI 54773-0067
Wisconsin to Iowa via Car
Preserves 2,500 ac (1,012 ha) of natural riverside ecosystems plus more than 200 distinct burial mounds, many shaped like animals, for example, the Great Bear Mound.
Location:151 IA-76, Harpers Ferry, IA 52146, United States
It is one of the highest points anywhere along the Mississippi River and has been protected at the center of spacious green Pike’s Peak State Park (563/873-2341), with hiking trails, scenic viewpoints, and a campground.
Location:Iowa, United States
Pike’s Peak to Guttenberg via Car
Another postcard-pretty old river town that has a downtown that lines the Mississippi. In fact, it’s one of the few riverfronts where the river itself has not hidden away behind leaves.
Iowa to St. Louis via Car
Eero Saarinen’s stunning 630-ft (192-m) stainless-steel monument, officially called the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, rises up from the riverfront.
Location:11 N 4th St #1810, St. Louis, MO 63102, USA
1,300 beautifully landscaped acres (526 ha), museums of fine art, history, and science fill buildings that date back to the 1904 World’s Fair, St. Louis’s world-class swan song.
Location:5595 Grand Dr, St. Louis, MO 63112, USA
St. Louis to Memphis via Car
Has been Memphis’s honky-tonk central ever since native son W. C. Handy set up shop in the early 1900s with the blues he’d learned in Mississippi.
Location:Memphis, TN, USA
Where Elvis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and many others recorded their historic tracks in the 1950s, is a short walk northeast.
Location:706 Union Ave., USA
An excellent museum documenting the soulful impact of Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Al Green, and other greats during the 1960s.
Location:926 E. McLemore Ave
Where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. Aided by extensive multimedia and life-size dioramas, museum exhibits let you step as far as you like into the powerful struggle of the Civil Rights Movement.
Location:450 Mulberry St
A small peninsula in the middle of the Mississippi River, connected to downtown by a pedestrian bridge and a monorail. This 50-ac (20.2-ha) “island” holds a five-block-long mock-up of the Mississippi River.
Location:Mud Island Park, Memphis, United States
Memphis to Mississippi via Car
The parkway follows the route of the old Natchez Trace, a pre-Columbian path that grew into the major overland route between the Gulf Coast and the upper Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys in the years before steamboats provided a faster alternative.
The Natchez to Port Gibson via Car
Decades of economic doldrums have spared the town from the Walmart sprawl that at times seems to have enveloped the rest of the South. Fine homes still grace the pleasantly shaded main drag, but most eye-catching is the giant Monty Python prop.
Location:Port Gibson, Mississippi, USA
Once the state’s most lavish Greek Revival mansion and a landmark to river pilots, it was reduced by an 1890 fire to its bare Corinthian ribs.
Location:Rodney Rd, Port Gibson, MS 39150, USA
Emerald Mound (daily), a prehistoric platform over 400 ft (122 m) wide and 35 ft (10.1 m) tall. The second-largest mound in North America, it was built around AD 1250 and was still in use as a ceremonial center when the first Europeans arrived.
Location:Emerald Mound Rd, Natchez, MS 39120, USA
Mississippi to New Orleans via Car
Holds excellent collections tracing the history of two New Orleans institutions: jazz and Mardi Gras
Live music aplenty in all styles and modes with redolent ambience and the live traditional Dixieland jazz, still going strong after 50 years!
Location:St. Peter St., New Orleans, USA
Built following the War of 1812 to help protect the river from invasion, Fort Jackson was flooded and badly damaged by the Hurricane Katrina storm surge.
Location:Fort Jackson, New Orleans, USA
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