Attractions along the Great River Road
in the Middle Mississippi River Valley
The Middle Mississippi River Valley region along the Great River Road offers its visitors a wealth of attractions and places of interest. Whether you are looking for historical sites, small town museums, unusual places of interest, arts and culture, or want to experience nature the Middle Mississippi River Valley has something you’re sure to be interested in.
The Tri-State Region
The Tri-State Region includes Lee County in southwest Iowa, the northwestern Missouri counties of Lewis and Clark, and the western Illinois counties of Hancock, Adams, and Pike. The region’s include a wide variety of museums, historical sites, natural areas, and art interests in the communities like Quincy, Keokuk, Fort Madison and Nauvoo. History can be explored at the Abe Lincoln’s Talking Houses Tour in Pittsfield and small museums like Dr. Richard Eells House in Quincy and Miller House Museum in Keokuk. The Keokuk Observation Deck provides a great view of the Mississippi River and overlooks Lock & Dam No. 19. Other Locks and Dams that can be visited can be found in Canton and Quincy. Quincy offers visitors a number of unique attractions including the Villa Kathrine, the Quincy Museum, and Indian Mounds Park. Nauvoo is noted for its historical recreations as well as the Nauvoo Temple. Nature can be explored at state parks like Nauvoo State Park, Wakonda State Park, and Siloam Springs State Park. Learn about frontier history at Old Fort Madison, a recreated early 19th century military outpost. Those interested in the Arts can visit the Quincy Art Center and the Fort Madison Area Arts Association Gallery Depot.
Missouri’s Lincoln Hills
The attractions in the Missouri’s Lincoln Hills include a wide variety of museums, natural areas, and art interests. Hannibal is the hometown of Mark Twain and offers a wide variety of museums, homes, and tours. Pike County is home to one of America's newer Scenic Byways - the Little Dixie Highway of the Great River Road. Visitors to Pike County will find spectacular river views, the river cities of Clarksville and Louisiana, a wide variety of places to interact with nature, and a number of historical sites. The area is considered one of the prime bald eagle watching spots in the Midwest. Lincoln County is home to Cuivre River State Park, one of Missouri's largest and rugged state parks.
The Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway
The Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway area coverage includes the Illinois counties of Jersey, Calhoun, and Madison. A wide range of places to see and things to do awaits visitors to the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway region. If you’re interested in history the area’s Lewis & Clark and Cahokia Mounds State Historic Sites are just a few sites that can be found. The same can be said for nature lovers who will find plants, animals and landscapes at Pere Marquette State Park, Horseshoe State Park, the Audubon Center at the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary and a large number of other natural areas. Bikers, joggers, and walkers can travel on the Sam Vadalabene Bike Trail that winds it way right along the Mississippi River. Get a taste of arts and culture at the Jacoby Arts Center in Alton.These are just a few of the attractions that can be found in the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway.
Meeting the Missouri River
Visitors to St. Charles County, Missouri will find a wide variety of attractions to check out. The historic downtown district of St. Charles harkens back to the 19th century. Most of the district’s shops and restaurants along Main Street are in refurbished historic buildings. The state of Missouri maintains the First Capitol building and adjacent to the downtown district along the banks of the Missouri River is the Lewis & Clark Boat House and Nature Center. The Katy Trail State Park biking and hiking trail begins at Frontier Park in downtown St. Charles and travels along the Missouri River through the small town of Augusta before heading off west. Augusta has become the center of one of Missouri’s most popular wine regions. There are plenty of green spaces in St. Charles County. The nearly 7,000 acre August A. Busch Conservation Area contains forests, prairie, and wetlands and features 72 fishable lakes and ponds and 7 hiking trails. The Audubon Center and Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary along the Mississippi River is noted for bald eagles in the winter and migratory birds such as the American Pelican. Art and culture can be found throughout St. Charles County. The Foundry Art Centre in St. Charles is housed in an old 1940-era factory building overlooking the Missouri River and offers visitors multiple galleries with high quality exhibitions, working art studios, and performing art presentations. St. Charles is full of exciting things to do and see and is conveniently located just northwest of St. Louis
Metropolitan Saint Louis
Metropolitan Saint Louis has a lot to offer its visitors. The area's most prominent attraction is the Gateway Arch. Saint Louis has a number of outstanding public institutions that are free to visit including the Zoo, Art Museum, History Museum, and the Science Center. The Saint Louis region has a number of green spaces for nature and outdoor enthusiasts. Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States. Faust County Park, in Saint Louis County, is home to many historical and cultural attractions including the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House, a historical village, and the Saint Louis Carousel. The county is also home to Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park, Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, the Powder Valley Conservation Area.
French Colonial Country
The region along the Mississippi River south of St. Louis is French Colonial Country. The area was first colonized by the French in 1699 and includes the Missouri Counties of Sainte Genevieve and Jefferson and the Illinois Counties of Saint Clair, Monroe, and Randolph. Ste. Genevieve has more than 150 pre-1825 structures and many are open to the public giving it the largest concentration of French Colonial architecture in the North America and its Historic District has been designated a National Landmark. Across the Mississippi River the restored Fort de Chartres is the Mississippi Valley’s premier site for French Colonial reenactments. Arts and culture can be found in Sainte Genevieve’s artist community and the collection of renown Southern Illinois sketch artist Roscoe Misselhorn in Sparta. Visitors can get back to nature at Pickle Springs Natural Area and Randolph County Conservation Area.
Meeting the Ohio River
After the Mississippi River passes St. Louis it begins to change character. When the Mississippi River meets the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois it is halfway on its journey to the sea. It is here that the brown muddy water of the Mississippi begins to mingle with the clearer water of the Ohio. Without the locks and dams the Mississippi begins to wind and curve so much so that the distance by water from Cape Girardeau to the Gulf of Mexico is twice the distance as a crow flies. The region where the Mississippi River meets the Ohio River is an area of transition in several respects both in terms of the flora and fauna but the culture begins to take on that of the Deep South. The Meeting the Ohio region of the Middle Mississippi River Valley offers it visitors a wide variety of options of activities to do and sites to see. Whether you’re looking for historical or cultural sites or a place to enjoy nature you’ll find it in this part of the country.
The Upper Delta Region
The Upper Delta Region of the Middle Mississippi River Valley consists of the Bootheel region of southeastern Missouri, northeastern Arkansas, and western Tennessee. The Mississippi River begins to take on the qualities that define its southern character. Visitors will find small town museums, natural beauty in numerous state parks, historic sites, and arts and culture in this vibrant area.