Find your way along the 50 Miles of Art Corridor, take in all the historic homes, and visit with artisans on this amazing driving tour. Plan your trip around the numerous festivals. See eagles and refuel at a plethora of fantastic restaurants. This is one trip that will make memories that last a lifetime.

The Great River Road Scenic Byway captures a bit of Americana right in your own backyard. Running 2,069 miles between Minnesota and Louisiana—hugging the Mississippi River all the way—the road is almost as mythical as its east-to-west cousin, Route 66.

This route offers a sampling of the road with a 43-mile adventure from Hannibal to Clarksville. Running along the eastern edge of Missouri’s Little Dixie region—so named by the area’s settlers who came from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia—this portion of Route 79 is known as the Little Dixie Highway of the Great River Road. The Missouri Department of Conservation notes the area’s outstanding locale for nature tourism in the state. Local residents call the road from Hannibal to Clarksville the 50 Miles of Art Corridor in recognition of the fine artists, craftspeople, and artisans who call the area home. Look for studios and galleries along the road.

Historic homes, great family restaurants, a riverboat cruise, museums, and more make Hannibal a good place to spend the night before or after your ride. Visit the third weekend in October for the Folklife Festival.

Hannibal is best known as the boyhood home of Mark Twain and the inspiration behind such literary creations as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The city celebrates its favorite son in July with National Tom Sawyer Days.

About 10 miles south of Hannibal, near the dam at Saverton, look to the skies for the bald eagles that migrate to the high bluffs. Nearby Pike County to the south is one of the largest winter migration areas for bald eagles.

Continue south to Louisiana, Missouri, home to what the Department of Natural Resources has called the most intact Victorian streetscape in the state. Downtown Louisiana is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Georgia Street Historical District, noteworthy for its antebellum homes. A walking tour is available at Enjoy the outdoor art around town—Louisiana boasts more than 20 murals depicting life along the Mississippi.

Stop near Clarksville at Lookout Point and Sky Lift Hill at Lock and Dam No. 24. This is one of the highest points along the river and offers an unmatched view of the Mississippi River and the river valley.


1. Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, Hannibal
2. Haunted Hannibal Ghost Tours
3. Mark Twain Cave Complex, Hannibal
4. Lock and Dam No. 22, Saverton
5. Louisiana’s Antebellum Homes
6. Route 79 Mural City, Louisiana
7. Lock and Dam No. 24, Clarksville

Article originally published in Missouri Life’s Scenic Rides and Drive Guide 2023.