Even if you’ve never heard of Hannibal, Missouri, you’re surely acquainted with its most famous resident: Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain. Twain spent his boyhood in Hannibal on the banks of the Mississippi River and the town served as inspiration for both The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Today, the town is a veritable shrine to “the father of American literature,” providing book lovers and families with plenty of Twain-related amusements.
Start with a tour of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum ($8), a complex of eight buildings including Twain’s one-time home, five other historic properties, and an interpretive center and museum. The museum houses original Norman Rockwell paintings used to illustrate 1940 editions of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Next, head to the Mark Twain Cave, a limestone labyrinth Twain explored as a child. Guides lead hour-long tours of the cave’s chambers for $15. Top off a day of sightseeing with a dinner cruise on the Mark Twain, a Mississippi riverboat. Fares ($35 per adults, $20 for kids) include the cruise, a buffet dinner, and live Dixieland, jazz, and blues performances.
Hannibal also has some non-Twain-related attractions worth checking out. Visit the Molly Brown House Museum ($7), a historic home formerly owned by the “Unsinkable Molly Brown” of Titanic-fame, and the Rockcliffe Mansion ($12), a turn-of-the-century “American castle” perched on a promontory above the river.
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