Mississippi River Road Trip | 10 Educational Attractions

Image Source: American Rivers

Image Source: American Rivers

The Statue of Liberty. Mount Rushmore. The Golden Gate Bridge. Many landmarks across the nation stand as symbols of the American vision. There may be no greater landmark of the American dream, however, than the Mississippi River. Once a gateway to the west, the Mississippi River and its surrounding cities are so rich in American history. While traveling the entire 3,000 miles along the water may not be possible for many, it is worth anyone’s time to make part of the journey. Whether you’re an adult, seeking culture, art, and fine cuisine, or a teacher, looking to give your students the hands-on learning experience of a lifetime, a Mississippi River Road Trip is sure to engage the mind and senses. 

While there are far too many attractions along the river to list them all, we’ve picked the 10 best educational attractions along the Mississippi to share with you! 


1. Mark Twain's Boyhood Home (Missouri)

Image Source: TripAdvisor

Image Source: TripAdvisor

Often, when one thinks of the Mississippi River, the stories of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn come to mind. Mark Twain, the author of these iconic novels, grew up near the river in a town called Hannibal. At his boyhood home, visitors can see Twain’s famous white jacket, Mark Twain’s typewriter, one of his pipe’s, and many more artifacts, including the white fence that inspired part of Tom Sawyer's story. 

More info here

2. Trail of Tears State Park (Missouri)

Image Source: Daily News Journal

Image Source: Daily News Journal

The Trail of Tears State Park tells the story of one of the saddest times in American history. While a somber memorial, it is also a beautiful park, with picnic sites and gorgeous views of the river. Visitors can walk the same trail that the American Indians followed as they left their homes and marched to Oklahoma.

3. The Gateway Arch (Missouri)

Image Source: GatewayArch.com

Image Source: GatewayArch.com

Often called “The Gateway to the West,” the arch is the main part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Visitors can take a ride to the very top of the arch where they will have a wonderful 30-mile view of the surrounding landscape.

Learn more here

4. Cape Girardeau Nature Conservation Center (Missouri)

Image Source: Missouri Department of Conservation

Image Source: Missouri Department of Conservation

With hands-on exhibits, freshwater aquariums, an indoor beehive, and so many other unique activities, the Cape Girardeau Conservation Center does an excellent job of showcasing Missouri’s natural resources. 

Learn more here

5. WWII Japanese-American Internment Museum (Arkansas)

MS6.jpg

War hysteria and poor political leadership led to the relocation of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II. The museum at the Rohwer Relocation Site allows visitors to reflect on this sad and confusing time in America, with exhibits on life during the era. There are also artifacts from the period remaining, including the guard tower pictured above.

More info here

6. Lakeport Plantation Home (Arkansas)

Image Source: Lakeport Plantation

Image Source: Lakeport Plantation

Lakeport Plantation Home, the only remaining antebellum plantation house on the Mississippi River in Arkansas, was built one year prior to the start of the Civil War. Visitors can explore the home once owned by one of the most prominent families in the South. 

More info here

 

7. Windsor Ruins (Mississippi)

Image Source: Roadside America

Image Source: Roadside America

The Windsor Ruins, made up of 23 columns, are what’s left of the largest antebellum mansion ever built in the state of Mississippi. The mansion was built in 1861 but was unfortunately destroyed in a fire in 1890. Visitors of the ruins can experience the antebellum period in a surreal manner as they walk about the columns.

8. Delta Blues Museum (Mississippi)

Image Source: Delta Blues Museum

Image Source: Delta Blues Museum

The blues have their roots in African-American culture on the Southern plantations of the 19th century. Visitors of the Delta Blues Museum can explore the history of one of America’s most unique and rich musical forms in an engaging way.

Learn more here

 

9. Vicksburg National Military Park (Mississippi)

Image Source: TripAdvisor

Image Source: TripAdvisor

The setting of one of the most infamous battles of the Civil War, Vicksburg National Military Park encourages visitors to reflect on this tumultuous time in the nation’s history. The park contains reconstructed forts and trenches, over 1,000 monuments, and Victorian-style gardens that show what civilian life was like during the war.

More details here

10. Interpretive Museums (All States Along the River)

Image Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Image Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

In every state along the river, roadtrippers will find centers, called Interpretive Museums, that strive to teach visitors how the Mississippi River has shaped their particular state geographically, politically, and culturally. 


Marcel Proust, a French author, once said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Traveling the Mississippi is sure to open anyone’s eyes to the realities of American history and culture and the vast beauty that explorers so long ago sought out. Child or adult, there is so much to learn from this iconic river! 


This is week 2 of our Friday Fall Road Trip series. If you missed week 1, you can find it here!! And as always, be sure to keep up with us on social media! 

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