Tuesday, November 28, 2023


5 charming Midwest Mississippi River towns you should definitely visit

When it comes to picturesque landscapes, historic charm, and a slice of quintessential Americana, the Midwest offers an abundance of hidden gems. You’ll find many wonderful river towns nestled along the central portion of the country’s winding waterways, but here are five Midwest Mississippi River towns you should definitely visit.

Red Wing, Minnesota

Downtown Red Wing. Photo credit: Michael Hicks, Wikimedia Commons

Location: Red Wing is nestled on the western banks of the Mississippi River in southeastern Minnesota.
Highlights: This town is famous for its Red Wing Shoes and beautiful pottery. Outdoor enthusiasts will love hiking in the Barn Bluff area for panoramic river views, and the historic Sheldon Theatre offers cultural performances. Check for more information here.

La Crosse, Wisconsin

Photo credit: www.cityoflacrosse.org

Location: Located in western Wisconsin, La Crosse sits on the Mississippi River’s eastern shore.
Highlights: This town offers stunning river views and plenty of outdoor activities, including hiking in the nearby bluffs. The Riverside International Friendship Gardens is a serene spot for a leisurely stroll. You can find out more here.

Galena, Illinois

Photo credit: www.visitgalena.org

Location: Galena is tucked away in the northwest corner of Illinois, near the borders of Wisconsin and Iowa.
Highlights: Galena’s Main Street is a picturesque throwback to the 19th century, with well-preserved storefronts and charming boutiques. Ulysses S. Grant’s home is also a popular attraction for history aficionados. Discover more about this river town on its website.

Dubuque, Iowa

Location: Dubuque is perched on the eastern banks of the Mississippi River in northeastern Iowa.
Highlights: This town is known for its Victorian architecture, including the historic Shot Tower and Fenelon Place Elevator. The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium is a must-visit for history buffs and nature enthusiasts. Find out more here.

Hannibal, Missouri

Location: Hannibal is situated in the northeastern part of Missouri, along the western banks of the Mississippi River.
Highlights: Known as the hometown of Mark Twain, Hannibal is a literary pilgrimage site. Visitors can explore the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, take a riverboat cruise, and walk along the charming streets that inspired Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Learn more here.

As you plan your next Midwest adventure, consider exploring these five charming towns along the Mississippi River. Whether you’re drawn to history, natural beauty, or simply a relaxed pace of life, each of these destinations has something special to offer. Take the time to immerse yourself in the heartland’s unique culture and experience the beauty of the Mississippi River as it winds its way through these delightful Midwest towns.

More Midwest travel articles here.

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Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


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Tim Combs (@guest_254652)
2 months ago

Dubuque Iowa is on the western bank of the Mississippi. East Dubuque is on the eastern bank but is in Illinois.

Kelly R (@guest_254578)
2 months ago

We followed the Mississippi River one year, from Illinois to Louisiana. We pulled off at every lock and dam and watched the river barges load and unload and go thru the locks. It is amazing how that river feeds our nation.

Dan A (@guest_254574)
2 months ago

Another midwest Mississippi river town, little known on Iowa’s eastern border is actually the only island town in Iowa. Sabula. You missed it! By the way, I’ve been to all the rest.

Judy (@guest_254530)
2 months ago

Stopped in all of these but Galena (which we have seen before) on a riverboat cruise to New Orleans. Great way to travel!

Ron T (@guest_254488)
2 months ago

We’ve been to all those listed and many more. We pass through Dubuque and Hannibal every time we visit my home town in MO.

Neal Davis (@guest_254482)
2 months ago

Thank you, Gail! Safe travels!

Thomas D (@guest_254456)
2 months ago

Great article
Follow the Great River Road. Well marked with white signs with green lettering. So many more you didn’t mention. You could spend the whole summer doing just river towns.

Jim Johnson (@guest_254386)
2 months ago

Wabasha, Minnesota and the National Eagle Center. While the town is quaint the National Eagle Center rehabs injured bald eagles and tells their stories – and you can stand on the river banks and watch many eagles that nest just across the channel on a Mississippi island.

Mikal H (@guest_254442)
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Johnson

Yep…you beat me to it. The National Eagle Center is worthy of a visit.

billinois (@guest_254375)
2 months ago

Galena, Illinois is a wonderful town to visit. Some great history, lots of good restaurants and very scenic. While not actually ON the Mississippi, it is a short drive and well worth the trip. Check out the DeSoto House Hotel, built in the mid 1800’s. Nice bar too.

Russ Moritz (@guest_254370)
2 months ago

In your article 5 Midwest Mississippi River Towns you list Galens, IL which is not on the big muddy but about 15 minutes inland. We have visited it and all the other places listed, which are all great to see, but in the “real” world that is not true. 😉

Elliot (@guest_254537)
2 months ago
Reply to  Russ Moritz

Well in the REAL world it is spelled GALENA! LOL!

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