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THINGS TO DO IN HANNIBAL, MISSOURI : TRAVEL

I have grown up reading the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.The steamboats on the Mississippi, the caves, the fence are such literary memories which are difficult to forget. Its a bonus point that my husband has similar memories from his childhood literature. Our tastes in Music might not match, not our temperature sensitivities, but when it comes to childhood literature, we are clearly on the same page. Hannibal, Missouri, is just about 3 hours away from our home in Kansas City. And we have been planning forever to drive down there for a vacation. Finally we did make the trip this Christmas break, with our toddler in tow. The idea was to introduce her to the world of Mark Twain.

For the uninitiated, Hannibal is the boyhood home of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who wrote under the famous pen name of Mark Twain. The creator of such literary characters as Tom Sawyer and his best Huckleberry Finn. For a lover of Twain, this trip is like a dream come true. Hannibal, is the setting on which Twain has set most of his stories. He spent his childhood there, had his first job as an apprentice in a printing press and then became a river boat pilot on the Mississippi.  

I am sure all of you are aware of the history, let me take you through all that you can do in  a day in Twain Town. We had a toddler with us, so our activities were planned according to what a toddler could manage. Most of the downtown is accessible on foot. There are loads of restaurants and cafes all around. And if you do books from the museum, don't forget to get them stamped there. 


This is one of the properties of the Mar Twain tour. Most of the downtown is explorable on foot. It was a very very cold December day and we had a toddler who did not want to wear her warm hat. 
This was the childhood home of Samuel Clemens. The two storey home has been preserved mostly in its entirety with some furniture reproductions. But the cherry on the pie, is clearly the Fence of Tom Sawyer which borders the property on one side. Who can forget the iconic story of how Tom traded with his friends, to have them complete his chore of whitewashing the fence. I could not resist having a go at white washing. Too good to resist, I tell you. 






MARK TWAIN INTERPRETIVE CENTER: 
This is ideally your first stop at the tour, where you get your tickets. We had got a Group On deal, so make sure you look out for those , before you leave for Hannibal. This interpretive center is full of Twain Memorablia. It takes you on a chronological journey in to writers life, and even has the first editions of his famous work on display. I am not much of a fan of museums, but this town and it museums were a welcome change in how they gripped your imagination and tugged at your nostalgia strings.  





HOME OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN: 
This was the home of tom Blankenship, on whom Twain based the character of Huckelberry Finn. Its a tiny house for sure.  





BECKY THATCHER'S HOME: 
If we are talking of Tom Sawyer, then how can Becky Thatcher be far behind. Yes, the very same Becky, to whom Tom proposed marriage while in school. This was actually the home of Laura Hawkins. the childhood sweetheart of Samuel Clemens. Yes, you are right, Laura Hawkins was the inspiration for the character of Becky Thatcher. 




TOM AND HUCK STATUE: 
Its a beautiful statute at the base of the hill of the lighthouse. A great spot for some memorable photos with the fictional characters of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. 


Once you reach Tom and Huck's statue, you can see steps going up a hill to the lighthouse. You can either take that to the lighthouse,but if you have small kids like we had , you might want to drive up and take fewer steps. Once you are up at the light house, its a magnificent view of the mighty Mississippi. The river had flooded one of its banks, the day we were there. The railroad below and choo choo trains were a great delight for our daughter. The view was just too good, despite how bitterly cold it was. 





MARK TWAIN MUSEUM: 
The last property include din your ticket is this museum downtown. Its about two blocks away from the rest of the building so you might need to drive there, if you have a child with you. Parking is usually not a problem. This is a three storey museum, which takes you on a literary journey into works of Twain. The ground floor has a walk in cave, a raft on an artificial river and scenes play out from the film, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Our daughter spent her time riding the stagecoach which was there. The mezzanine floor has a giant Steam Boat Wheelhouse. You can take a turn, in trying to imagine how it felt like to be a steamboat pilot. The g;ass windows look out into to the Mississippi, which was super mighty. The final floor had the original illustrations for the works of Mark Twain. 


What did Tom tell Becky, when they were in the cave?
No, Not , I love You. 
" We ARE LOST ."
If you have read the books, then you know how important the Caves are to the narrative. There are two caves, the Mark Twain Cave and the Cameron Caves. The latter was closed during our visit. This is a ticketed entry and is not included in your Twain Tour I was earlier talking about. Its one of the oldest caves of the state of Missouri. As the caves feature so highly in his stories, it has been named in honor of Mark Twain. The tour started off with a short film and an orientation. Most caves I have visited, do not allow for flash photography, but the authorities here didn't mention any such restriction. I would recommend reasonable footwear as you are going underground. Its an hour long tour. The cave system is not as complex as something like Mamommth Caves, but the tour guides fill your time with so much literary history anecdotes, that it becomes fun with kids. The temperature in the cave remains at 50 F all year round, and it was a welcome change from the single digit temps outside. 

If you know me, I am a die hard romantic and love stories always get me. Despite the strong winds,and the bitter cold, we made a quick stop at the Lover's Leap. Its basically a ledge on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi river and the town of Hannibal. A must stop for all photography buffs out there. 

Well, this is not exactly a tourist spot dealing with the literary history of Mark Twain. We needed to rst our tired and achy feet and grab a quick bite. We stepped into this quaint Coffee Shop downtown. The decor was quirky and eclectic. A hearty bowl of soup and some hot coffee for us. Milk Shake for our daughter and we could recharged our cells. When we were stepping out, after our well deserved rest,we saw that this was the FIRST COFFEE SHOP west of the Mississippi. 



2 comments

  1. These are just superb photographs from your trip. I also love hanging out with my friends. We usually visit various places and we celebrated this NYE in Florida. We made the reservations for one of the best Florida party venues from a popular site.

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    1. Thank you Beni. Would love to hear about your Florida trip with your friends.

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