Pack your car and meander along the longest river on the continent, the majestic Mississippi. The Great River Road—actually a series of connected highways and routes—travels through 10 states, all the way from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. So join the lumber barges and steamboats plying the muddy waters, and see the variety of landscapes, wildlife, and cities sustained by this mighty river.
Total Length: 2,069 miles
States Included: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana
To plan your road trip, use our search along the route tool to find hotels on the Great River Road—just enter your starting and ending points to get started.
Want suggestions for things to do and see on the way? Here are some of the most popular points of interest:
Nestled near the headwaters of the Mississippi, the Twin Cities are culturally complementary metropolises that are both worth a visit. For outdoorsy families, Minneapolis offers a variety of pleasant lake activities. The city also hosts three major sports teams, as well as the largest shopping mall in America. St. Paul has a more small-town feel, but boasts the State Capitol as well as the region’s NHL stadium.
World-famous for its soaring Arch, St. Louis and its surrounding region have plenty to offer. The city itself is filled with distinctive neighborhoods, as well as ample parks and museums. Cahokia Mounds State Park, the largest pre-Columbian city north of Mexico, is just minutes away across the river in Illinois, and Mark Twain’s birthplace of Hannibal is only a short drive north.
Originally a pre-Colombian Indian path, the Natchez Trace Parkway is a cozy 444-mile long National Park that encompasses ancient burial mounds, hiking trails, Civil War battlefields, and much more. The parkway ends (or begins, depending on your direction) in Natchez, MS, a once grand town now brimming with gorgeous antebellum mansions and southern charm.
Home to some of the 20th century’s greatest blues, country and rock ‘n roll singers, Memphis has a rich musical heritage worthy of exploration. The city is also famous for its distinctive brand of barbecue, and hosts the world’s largest pork BBQ contest. But beyond its distinctive southern culture, Memphis also boasts several popular art museums and galleries—not to mention Graceland, Elvis Presley’s popular estate.
Though the Big Easy is known worldwide for its party life, it offers plenty of fun for families, too. Situated between a lake and a river, New Orleans is ideal for both steamboat tours and swamp excursions. The city is also home to some of the South’s most gorgeous Gothic homes in its famous Garden District. Its location near the Gulf also means seafood is plentiful, with shrimp po boys, gumbo and crayfish being popular local meals.
Complete your road trip with a rental car from Avis, Budget or Hertz. You will enjoy discounts of up to 35% and double, triple or quadruple bonus points towards your next Reward Night stay.