Hannibal: A Lively Spot for a Trip To Northwest Missouri

The Mark Twain Riverboat and the Hannibal skyline. Mark Twain Museum photo.
The Mark Twain Riverboat and the Hannibal skyline. Mark Twain Museum photo.

By Taylor Owens

Hannibal, Missouri was founded in 1819 by Moses D. Bates as a river town. This town soon became a principal docking port for steamboats, flatboats, and packet streamers traveling the upper Mississippi.

The 50 Miles of Art Festival in Hannibal, MO town center.
The 50 Miles of Art Festival in Hannibal, MO town center. Photo from the Municipal.

By 1845, Hannibal achieved city status and by 1860, the population had more than doubled.

This effectively made Hannibal the second largest city and third commercial center in Missouri.

Some of the early industries that have heavily influenced the city’s growth included pork packing, soap and candle making, coopering, milling of lumber, and railroad industries later diminished, and other Hannibal business ventures took their place.

These included shoe manufacturing, button making, and cement production.

Hannibal Today

Hannibal today is now home to more parks per citizen than most other towns in the Midwest, and their trail system is growing yearly.

Hannibal has become a haven for hikers, bikers, and boaters who will find easy access to the Mississippi, as well as a plethora of local lakes.

50 Miles of Art

Hannibal has become a home to several different artisans, and the city has been included in the famous 50 Miles of Art.

The Restaurant School is located inside S.T.D. Central Flea Market.
The Restaurant School is located inside S.T.D. Central Flea Market.

The 50 Miles of Art includes a scenic drive on Highway 79 and focuses on the growing art communities of Hannibal, Louisiana, and Clarksville.

Many skillful artists and craftsmen call Hannibal their home base, and each year there are two studio tours that highlight artists and their studios.

The Restaurant School, Springfield

If you watch the Food Network, you are in for a treat with the “open kitchen” restaurant located near Hannibal, MO.

This “open kitchen” restaurant is currently called The Restaurant School where filming for “Show-Me Chefs,” a local food competition TV show, takes place.

Guests at the restaurant have the opportunity to watch the cook-off while dining in the audience of the restaurant.

The Restaurant School is located inside the Springfield Tool and Die Central Flea Market.

St. Charles Trolley

The Saint Charles trolley parked on Main Street, St. Charles, Missouri.
The Saint Charles trolley parked on Main Street, St. Charles, Missouri. Photo from Mid Rivers Newsmagazine.

Getting around the town of St. Charles, Missouri just got exponentially easier.

The free trolley service in St. Charles operates seven days a week, in which the trolley completes a 30-minute loop with stops at attractions.

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Attractions include the Ameristar Casino, historic Main Street, St. Charles CVB, Foundry Art Centre, Frenchtown and the Mark Twain Village/Bass Pro shopping complex.

This free trolley service runs from March 15th to December 31st, and if you ever find yourself wondering where the trolley is, go check out the app for that!

Download Ride Saint Charles to view updates of the trolley as it moseys its way through the town of St. Charles.

Missouri State Penitentiary Mystery Tour, Jefferson City

In 1831, Missouri Governor John Miller suggested a prison be built in Jefferson City to ensure the city remained the seat of Missouri government.

Today, this penitentiary is home to several different types of tours that are sure to satisfy any guest. If you’re more of a history buff, or if you think paranormal activity is interesting, you will find a tour that interests you at the penitentiary.

Public history tours take place at the Missouri State Penitentiary for anyone 10+ years old. During this tour, guests are guided through Housing Unit 1 and A-Hall – the oldest building still standing on the Missouri State Penitentiary site, dungeon cells, the Upper Yard, Housing Unit 3, and the gas chamber.

Guests on a tour at the Missouri State Penitentiary.
Guests on a tour at the Missouri State Penitentiary. Photo from The News Tribune.

Guests hear the history of the penitentiary including information on infamous inmates, the Riot of 1954, escape attempts, and other interesting occurrences.

The penitentiary also hosts public ghost/paranormal tours, which discuss the history of the site and talks about the strange and unusual happenings behind the walls of the prison.

One 3-hour tour, known as the Ghost Hunt, transpires within the prison walls where guests are given a basic insight into researching strange and unusual events.

Guests are then given time to use their own “activity finding” devices. Equipment for use during ghost hunts is available for checkout at the start of the hunt.

Tipple Hill Winery, Easton

The outside of the Tipple Hill Winery.
The outside of the Tipple Hill Winery. Photo by Tipple Hill Winery.

The Tipple Hill Winery located along Highway 36 is an up-and-coming winery that has become a perfect addition to an itinerary for a northwest Missouri tour.

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The winery is located on Missouri Century Farm, just east of St. Joseph, MO. Tipple Hill is the first and only winery in Buchanan County.

The vineyard is full of Chambourcin, Vignoles, and Concord grapes after being planted in 2010.

The winery’s tasting room is open Thursday – Sunday, and several different events take place at the winery, as well.

The bar in the tasting room at Tipple Hill Winery.
The bar in the tasting room at Tipple Hill Winery. Photo by Tipple Hill Winery.

The winery is known to host painting events, live music, trivia nights, and this just adds to the fun to be had while sampling their assortment of wines.

Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum Properties

The roots of Twain’s genius can be explored during a tour of the eight historic properties and museums associated with the beloved author and humorist.

Mark Twain's famous white suit jacket that is displayed inside the museum.
Mark Twain’s famous white suit jacket that is displayed inside the museum. Photo from the Mark Twain Museum.

The life of a young boy from a small river town is revealed through interactive exhibits for all ages. In the Interpretive Center, see how Twain turned his childhood friends into characters in his most famous novels, ride a raft with Huck and Jim, explore a cave with Tom and Becky, and paint the famous whitewashed fence.

First editions of Twain's famous works are displayed inside the museum.
First editions of Twain’s famous works are displayed inside the museum. Photo by Mark Twain Museum.

The eight historic properties and museums include Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home, a National Historic Landmark, the newly reopened Becky Thatcher House, Huckleberry Finn House, J.M. Clemens Justice of the Peace Office, Museum Gallery, and Interpretive Center for one ticket price.

The properties are open daily from 9 am – 5 pm with a ticket price of $12.00 per person.

Taylor Owens

Taylor Owens is a Tennessee native who is currently calling the Massachusetts Berkshires home. She is passionate about the classics, folk music, and coffee. Taylor spends her days as a ski instructor at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, paddling plenty of rivers, skiing the slopes, sipping coffee, or on the hunt for the best breakfast.