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Photo Credit: National Eagle Center (Wabasha, MN)

Small Towns on the Great River Road

The Great River Road is ready to offer scenic views, but check out the small town gems along the way! Here is a list of towns with less than 10,000 residents but plenty of great experiences.

  ~Minnesota~

Wabasha, MN pop. 2,481

Wabasha is the home of the National Eagle Center, so bird enthusiasts are welcomed! If you want to shop, check out the boutiques in historic downtown.

Lake City, MN  pop. 5,109 

Lake City is bustling with activity for families and couples! While on the Great River Road, stop by their downtown art scene or take a scenic hike.

 ~Wisconsin~

Stockholm, WI pop. 66

Stockholm prides itself to be “artfully authentic”. The town, or village because it’s so small, thrives on its local creative mavens to establish unique restaurants, lodgings, and shops.

Alma, WI pop. 779

Alma is great at celebrating the past! The town is on the National Registry of Historic Places with over 200 buildings and 346 acres recognized for cultural and historic preservation.

~Iowa~

Le Claire, IA pop. 3,969

Within a two block radius, Le Claire’s drinking scene comprises of a brewery, distillery, and winery on Librations Lane! The town is also a great spot for Great River Road snackers who love popcorn, chocolate, and ice cream.

Lansing, IA pop. 941

Lansing’s period architecture and fishing displays make the town a must-visit for Great River Road travelers. Visit 200 acres of woods and prairie at the Riverland Conservancy.

~Illinois~

Galena, IL pop. 3,225

Galena is for outdoor enthusiasts and girlfriend getaways with their numerous outdoor and indoor attractions. Hit a few golf balls, skii down slopes, or eat a variety of cuisines in the downtown area.

Nauvoo, IL pop. 1,077

If you and your family are traveling the Great River Road, then Nauvoo is a stop for everyone. With kid pioneer activities and museums, the kids can enjoy their time. For adults, vineyard tours and late-night performances make great date activities.

 ~Missouri~

Ste. Geneviève, MO pop. 4,440

Travelers get to experience Mississippi’s first settlement along the Great River Road! Get a glimpse of french colonial culture and history through unique stores and restaurants.

Kimmswick, MO pop. 152

Kimmswick claims to be “the perfect day trip” town with 160 years of history and culture. Most of the businesses reside in the original period buildings of 1859—the town’s founding date.

~Kentucky~

Fulton, KY pop. 2,207

Visit the home of the world’s largest banana pudding! If Great River Road travelers are visiting in the fall, keep an eye out for Fulton’s Banana Festival.

Hickman, KY pop. 2,180

History buffs will enjoy the stop in Hickman.  Their County Museum houses over 3,000 items on display.  Kentucky’s Civil War Heritage Trail and the Trail of Tears Benge Route Historic Site are both nearby.

~Tennessee~

Henning, TN pop. 942

Henning is the home of Alex Haley’s grandparents—who inspired Haley’s characters in his 1976 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Roots: The Saga of an American Family”. Step into the past and experience Henning’s deep connection with African-American heritage and industrial innovations as a railroad town!

Tiptonville, TN pop. 4,325

Visit the nature of northwest Tennessee! Tiptonville offers plenty of nature walks and parks for travelers who need to get outdoors.

~ARKANSAS~

Lake Village, AR pop. 2,328

Lake Village has a legend that Hernando de Soto, a Spanish explorer, made contact with a friendly indegenious tribe near present-day Lake Village. Because of this, the town has a rich history with the river. Visitors can experience their own adventure by boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, and more.

Stuttgart, AR pop. 8,773

Make your way to rice country! Stuttgart’s rice fields bring wildlife like ducks and geese during migration. Enjoy the rich prairie land and its pioneer heritage!

~Mississippi~

Tunica, MS pop. 926

Tunica is the place to be if you have a gaming side! The town holds multiple casinos if visitors feel lucky.

Port Gibson, MS pop. 1,365

Explore a town with a deep history of the American Civil War. Port Gibson was heavily influenced by Ulysses S. Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign. The town’s architecture survived the war due to Grant’s belief that Port Gibson was “too beautiful to burn”.

~Louisiana~

St. Francisville, LA pop. 1,627

Visit Louisiana plantations in the small, hospitable town of St.Francisville! The town also provides a range of B&Bs for tired travelers.

New Roads, LA pop. 4,634

While in Louisiana, take a trip through the Creole town New Roads. The town name is inspired by the Spanish building a “new road” between the Mississippi River and the False River in 1776.