Learn about Mark Twain
Food and fun
Inspired by reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer to
our children, we packed the van and headed to Hannibal, Mo., the
childhood home of Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain). After spending
two days and one night in Hannibal, we came home knowing we had
discovered something special.
Dubbed America's Hometown, Hannibal is
warm, charming and full of unexpected pleasures. It won't stress
the piggy bank and, located only five hours from Chicago, it's
possible to do an overnight and still see a lot.
These attractions were some of our favorites and fit
comfortably into our time there:
The Interpretive Center at The Mark Twain Boyhood Home
and Museum served as a helpful starting point, giving an
introduction to Twain's life and the real people who appear in his
stories. The Museum Gallery houses paintings by Norman Rockwell and
treasured artifacts that once belonged to Samuel Clemens. It also
offers many unique, interactive exhibits, including an authentic
pilot house with a steam boat whistle.
A bronze statue of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn stands at the base
of Cardiff Hill. We enjoyed the challenge of climbing the 244 steps
that lead up to the
Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse there, and stood in awe of the
panoramic view of Hannibal and the Mississippi River.
The Mark Twain Cave
is a Registered National Natural Landmark. It was in five of
Twain's books and is a treat not to be missed. The local guides are
knowledgeable and friendly, recounting passagesfrom Tom Sawyer and
pointing out particular areas of interest. The well-lit passages
are level and smooth, so walking is easy. Be sure to wear a jacket
because the temperature averages 52 degrees year round.
Afterward we took a 80-minute tour of nearby Cameron Cave.
Since it's lit much like it was when discovered in 1925, several
members of our tour group carried lanterns. Those who don't wish to
venture into such a rustic cave might enjoy panning for
semi-precious stones at the nearby Sticks and Stones.
An hour-long afternoon cruise on the Mark Twain Riverboat
was a nice way to relax after a full morning at the caves. The
triple deck riverboat afforded good views of the town and
surrounding countryside as the guide shared comments about river
history, legends and sights.
The Mark Twain Family
Restaurant has been making homemade root beer on the premises
since 1942. We decided to enjoy a frosty mug along with its
signature Maid Rite sandwiches. The restaurant is family-friendly
with basic diner food served in a homey atmosphere.
See more of Kathy's stories here.
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