Photo Credit: Discover St. Charles (St. Charles, MO)

Winter Activities on the Great River Road

Each state along the Great River Road offers unique winter activities. Visit these riverside communities to see how they have fun when the cold-front moves in.


Frontenac State Park Snowshoeing (Frontenac, MN)

Bring your snowshoes or rent them in Frontenac! Visit 4.7 miles of purposely ungroomed land to explore.

Wells Fargo WinterSkate (Saint Paul, MN)

Kick off winter by gliding on ice–for free! Skate rentals are available, along with free skating lessons if you need to learn.


Photo Credit: Explore La Crosse

Rotary Lights (La Crosse, WI)

During the winter, La Crosse lights up! Immerse yourself and your family in a free light show close to the river. Also, check out Santa’s reindeer while you’re there!

Snowflake Ski Jump Tournament (Westby, WI) 

Featuring competitors from 5 countries on an Olympic-size hill, including the USA’s best ski jumpers. Includes food, live music and fireworks.


The Nutcracker Ballet (Dubuque, IA)

Join a Dubuque tradition! The Nutcracker Ballet is performed by students and is a local favorite.

Symphony of Lights (Clinton, IA)

Want to experience some holiday cheer? The Symphony of Lights displays over 500,000 lights, family walks, and craft fairs to set the holiday mood.


Bald Eagle Days (Rock Island, IL)

During winter, bald eagle watching becomes popular along the Mississippi River. Bald Eagle Days allows families and friends to watch demonstrations, learn about wildlife along the river, and participate in fun eagle activities!

Christmas Wonderland (Alton, IL)

Visit Santa Claus in the Enchanted Forest! With cascading waterfall lights, special walk-throughs, live entertainment and more, Great River Road travelers are guaranteed to have holiday fun.


St. Charles Christmas Traditions® (St. Charles, MO)

Visit a town that is a live action storybook! With a festively decorated town and groups of carolers, experience a Missouri holiday.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (Webster Groves, MO)

Watch the world of Jane Austen in the theater’s adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice”. Pre-order your tickets to watch a classic!


Holiday Carriage Tours (Paducah, KY)

Take a carriage ride through town! Reserve your ride for holiday fun in historic downtown Paducah.

Kenlake State Resort Park (Hardin, KY)

While on the Great River Road, stop by a state park in midwest Kentucky! Kenlake Park hosts holiday-themed events for families and friends.


Graceland: Home of Elvis (Memphis, TN)

Listen to rock ‘n’ roll this winter in the king’s mansion! Besides live on-screen concerts, visitors can go on excursions and tours.

Dickens Christmas Covington Tennessee (Covington, TN)

Visit a mid-19th century English town! Covington transforms their local cuisine and activities to fit a Victorian holiday experience.


Delta Cultural Center (Helena, AR)

The DCC’s mission is to preserve the history of the Arkansas Delta. Tour the center and it’s exhibits this winter!

Lights of the Delta (Blytheville, AR)

Great River Road travelers can visit “the largest Christmas lighting display in the Mid-South region.” Over 60 million lights and numerous major motion displays will surely leave visitors in a holiday cheer!


B’fast, Brunch, Catfish & Pics with Santa (Hernando, MS)

How about something a little different?  Stop by Cedar Hill Farm and enjoy a southern country breakfast or catfish dinner with Santa in their barn. Seating is limited, so make sure to reserve ahead of time. Prices include admission to the petting zoo, train ride, chicken show and more!

Jeweled Christmas at the Towers (Natchez, MS)

Experience the whimsical and elegant holiday display at the Natchez Historic Towers. According to their website, it’s one of the  Top Ten Most Unusual Christmas Displays in the United States. Using vintage costume jewelry everywhere you look.


The Last Wilderness Swamp Tours (Plaquemine, LA)

Instead of trekking snow, glide on Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin! The Last Wilderness aims to educate visitors and protect the local swamp lands. Schedule your tour beforehand!

Louisiana Renaissance Festival (Hammond, LA)

A longer drive off the Great River Road leads to a medieval experience in Hammond! Each weekend has a theme, so check out their website for more information about dress and events.