Starting in northern Minnesota, the Mississippi River makes its way south to the Mississippi River Delta, emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. That’s 2,320 miles, making it the world’s fourth-longest river. It borders or passes through 10 states. That’s a lot of riverbank, so naturally, there are a lot of sights to see along the way. Without further ado, let me introduce you to some of the coolest places to visit along the mighty Mississippi!
Sure, it’s a drive, but in northeast Iowa and southwest Wisconsin, there are historical earth mounds. Many of these ancient mounds are shaped like birds and animals and considered sacred by man. Some were apparently burial mounds; others remain a mystery as to their original significance. Twenty American Indian tribes are associated with the Effigy Mounds culture. Pack a picnic, enjoy the scenery, and take in some Native American lore.
Chain of Rocks Bridge
This unique bridge spanned the Mississippi River connecting Madison, Illinois, with St. Louis, Missouri. Named for a 17-mile stretch of multiple rock ledges, the Chain of Rocks is no longer visible except when the river is really low, thanks to a low-water dam that backs up water to cover them. Opened in 1929, the bridge approaches on either end featured beautiful landscaping. Route 66 was rerouted in 1936 to cross the Mississippi on this bridge. One of its unique features is the 22-degree bend mid-river that allows riverboats to successfully pass beneath it. The bridge appeared in the 1980 sci-fi film “Escape from New York.” Today, it’s on the National Historic Register and is no longer open to motor vehicle traffic.
Village of Trempealeau, Wisconsin
If you’re attracted to a place because of an interesting name as I am, this is one you won’t want to miss. This cute little village that overlooks the Mississippi is a great place to stop for a rest as you travel along Old Man River. With around 1,500 people, it lies on a section of State Highway 35 that goes by the nickname of the Great River Road, which is in the top 10 American scenic drives. Seven lakes and a huge marshland surround Trempealeau, contributing to the lush beauty of the area. The town’s main street is on the Register of Historical Places.
The Great River Road—The Blues Highway
More of the Great River Road that was just mentioned is the stretch that runs from Memphis, Tennessee, to Vicksburg, Mississippi, and is 275 miles long. There are too many interesting places to stop and visit along the way. Places like Windsor Ruins, once the largest antebellum mansion in Mississippi. And like Woodville, the childhood home of Jefferson Davis, once president of the Confederate States of America. The Vicksburg National Military Park commemorates the Battle of Vicksburg. In Clarkston, you’ll want to check out the Delta Blues Museum. Another place in Mississippi you can’t pass up is the Shack Up Inn at Clarksdale. Leave the kids at home when you visit this former cotton plantation. No one under 25 is allowed. And then there’s Memphis, at the other end of the Blues Highway. You could spend a month just doing Memphis, beginning, of course, with Graceland.
Nissan of Picayune, Mississippi, will be pleased to put you into a new Nissan that will make your journey along the Mississippi River a memorable one.