Discover the ultimate American Roadtrip

Great River <strong>Road</strong>

Great River Road

Minnesota - Louisiana

The fabulous Mississippi River flows north to south, right through the heart of America. We’ve designed this sensational USA road trip to follow the course of the world’s fourth longest river from Lake Itasca in Minnesota to New Orleans, Louisiana; experiencing the best of the history, culture and character of the people and places along the way.

Great River Road

Stop 1: Lake Itasca 1/14

Lake Itasca

The perfect place to begin a journey down the Mississippi is Itasca State Park in Minnesota - the source of the great river. It’s a vast, beautiful area containing more than 100 lakes and thousands of acres of forests. Wander through towering pines, camp under the stars, go boating and visit historic Indian sites. And best of all, see Lake Itasca, where the Mississippi begins its 2350-mile journey to the sea.

36750 Main Park Drive, Park Rapids, MN 56470

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/itasca/index.html

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Great River Road

Stop 2: Forest History Center 2/14

Forest History Center

Discover how logging was once a major industry along the upper reaches of the Mississippi. Help cut wood or work the blacksmith’s forge at this cleverly restored 1900s era logging camp. Climb on board the moored river ‘wanigan,’ a floating cook house, visit a 1930s Forest Service patrolman's cabin, climb a fire tower that’s a hundred feet high or explore self-guided forest trails. (Image credit: Laupeck)

2609 Co Rd 76, Grand Rapids, MN 55744

http://sites.mnhs.org/historic-sites/forest-history-center

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Great River Road

Stop 3: Mall of America 3/14

Mall of America

America’s largest shopping mall stands next to the Mississippi, continuing the river’s great tradition as a lifeline for trade throughout its course. Of course, the Mall has become much bigger than any ancient fur-trading outpost, with more than 500 stores, its own indoor theme park and aquarium. The Nickelodeon Universe has nearly 30 rides and attractions, while the Sea Life aquarium is home to more than 4,500 creatures including sharks and stingrays. The fact that there are 12,000 parking spaces should give you some idea of the scale. (Image credit: James Patterson)

60 E Broadway, Bloomington, MN 55425

https://www.mallofamerica.com/

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Great River Road

Stop 4: Alexander Ramsey House 4/14

Alexander Ramsey House

Minnesota governor Alexander Ramsey built this grand, ornate family mansion in 1872 and today it’s one of the best-preserved houses of that era in America. Inside you’ll find wonderfully carved walnut woodwork, original furniture, and innovative gas-lights. The residents were very proud of its hot and cold running water. Period costumed actors and guides make it easy to imagine the lifestyle of the wealthy few in Victorian Minneapolis. (Image credit: McGhiever)

265 Exchange St S, St Paul, MN 55102

http://sites.mnhs.org/historic-sites/alexander-ramsey-house

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Great River Road

Stop 5: Ice Castles 5/14

Ice Castles

From late December to March a shimmering ice castle is built in Stillwater’s Lowell Park next to the St Croix River, a tributary of the Mississippi. Get lost in its ice maze, sit on an ice throne and race on side-by-side ice slides. The giant ice area creates a winter wonderland that includes tunnels, pathways and solid waterfalls all romantically lit with coloured lights.

17970 E Miller Pkwy, Eden Prairie, MN 55347

http://icecastles.com

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Great River Road

Stop 6: Grandad Bluff 6/14

Grandad Bluff

Enjoy views across America's Dairyland to the Mississippi River from the spectacular rocky hill above the town of La Crosse. There’s a lookout area with public telescopes at the 600ft summit (above land), and scenic hiking trails around the hill-top parkland. An old stone shelter at the top dates back to 1938 and makes a perfect place for a picnic with a view to die for. (Image credit: Alan Froegel)

Grandad Bluff, La Crosse, WI 54601

http://www.explorelacrosse.com/project/grandad-bluff-la-crosse/

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Great River Road

Stop 7: Czipar’s Orchard 7/14

Czipar’s Orchard

Discover the farmland of Iowa by making a stop at this third-generation family-owned apple orchard near the pretty Mississippi riverside town of Dubuque. See the town’s grand Victorian mansions in the wooded slopes above the river, then explore Czipar’s Orchard a few miles to the south. Try home-made products in the family shop and see a tri-state view of Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin from the hilly site.

8610 US-52, Dubuque, IA 52003

http://cziparsorchards.com/

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Great River Road

Stop 8: Freight House Farmers’ Market 8/14

Freight House Farmers’ Market

Here’s a chance to get a real taste of Iowa country life by sampling the best of its local farm produce. The Freight House Farmers’ Market is held on the north bank of the Mississippi in the heart of Davenport. The wide range of goods for sale includes fresh vegetables, fruit, handicrafts and street food. The stalls are set up outdoors in the summer and indoors in the winter, and are open on weekends and every Tuesday. (Image credit: Farragutful)

421 W River Dr, Davenport, IA 52801

http://www.visitquadcities.com/partners/freight-house-farmers-market

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Great River Road

Stop 9: Ballpark Village 9/14

Ballpark Village

What a spot for a sporty food and entertainment district - it’s right next to the St Louis Cardinals baseball ground, Busch Stadium. Experience a taste of homely American sporting fervour amid a lively array of cafes and restaurants with big screens to watch sporting events. And the Village is THE spot in town for a pre-match party if the Cardinals are playing. (Image credit: Paul Sableman)

601 Clark Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63102

http://www.stlballparkvillage.com/

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Great River Road

Stop 10: City Museum 10/14

City Museum

St Louis City Museum isn’t like other museums. This former industrial building is filled with massive disused industrial objects – and an old school bus to boot. Visitors are simply invited inside to play and explore. That means clambering over machinery from aircraft factories, experiencing a five-storey slide and hanging from various rope swings. Look out too for the collection of old pinball machines, a circus school and a Ferris wheel. (Image credit: Chris857)

750 N 16th St, St. Louis, MO 63103

http://www.citymuseum.org/

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Great River Road

Stop 11: Graceland 11/14

Graceland

The number one sight in the Mississippi riverside city of Memphis is Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland. The colonial-style mansion has become a shrine to the rock and roll star, who died and is buried here. It is the second-most visited house in the United States after the White House. Tours of the house are available; don’t miss your chance to see the famous ‘Jungle Room’ with an indoor waterfall and the ‘Trophy Room’ containing a collection of the King’s many spectacular stage costumes.

Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, TN 38116

https://www.graceland.com/

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Great River Road

Stop 12: USS Cairo Museum 12/14

USS Cairo Museum

It was the site of a decisive battle for control of the Mississippi region in the American Civil War, and here today visitors can explore miles of trenches and earthworks, hundreds of battlefield structures and scores of cannons. Pride of place goes to the USS Cairo, a pioneering metal-clad gunboat sunk in the battle. After a lengthy project, the 19th-century warship was raised from the Yazoo River and put on show.

3201 Clay Street, Vicksburg, MS 39183

https://www.nps.gov/vick/u-s-s-cairo-gunboat.htm

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Great River Road

Stop 13: Afton Villa Gardens 13/14

Afton Villa Gardens

Take a patch of rich soil, a mild climate and the unlimited money and workforce of the wealthy elite of the 19th century, and the result is this wonderful picturesque garden. The Villa has long since burned down but 20 acres of gorgeous garden remain. Stroll the paths looking out for the oak avenue, classical statues, formal gardens, pretty stone terraces and colourful daffodil valley.

9047 U.S Hwy 61, St Francisville, LA 70775

http://www.aftonvilla.com/

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Great River Road

Stop 14: Old US Mint 14/14

Old US Mint

End your roadside experience of the legendary Mississippi river with a trip to the Old US Mint – dedicated to two of New Orleans’ most notable claims. Downstairs there’s a chance to see the minting process in action – sadly these presses are no longer in official use – while upstairs there’s a comprehensive history of the city’s jazz scene featuring exhibits and displays dedicated to its most talented contributors.

400 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116

http://louisianastatemuseum.org/museums/the-old-us-mint/

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