Getaway Guide: One Tank Trip to Hannibal, MO

July 7, 2012 6:00 AM

The sleepy river town of Hannibal, lies just two hours up the scenic River Road from St. Louis but a world apart from the bustling city. Hannibal offers city slickers a chance to relish the past, not just the rich literary past of Mark Twain, Missouri’s most famous curmudgeon, or even the fictional histories of his characters. Hannibal also invites visitors to remember a time when the family vacation was a long drive in the family car to a quiet town, and this little trip includes historic homes, caves and riverboats.

Getting There

There are two popular routes from St. Louis to Hannibal. Driving Route 61 north takes just more than two hours. Using Route 79 adds about 20 minutes to the trip, but is the more popular path for its scenic stints on the Great River Road, offering views of the river, magnificent bluffs and lush forests.

If you take the River Road, you’ll find yourself in Clarksville about 90 minutes into the drive. This sweet little river town offers antiques and art shops in the only downtown business district in Missouri that faces the Mississippi. You’ll be happy to stop in Clarksville to stretch your legs and enjoy the historic ambience.

Leaving Clarksville to continue along Route 79, enjoy the Clarksville wildlife refuge and another hour of bluff views before you reach Hannibal.

mark twain cave Getaway Guide: One Tank Trip to Hannibal, MO

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Mark Twain Cave & Cameron Cave
300 Cave Hollow Road
Hannibal, MO 63401
(573) 221-1656

These caverns lack the cathedral-like open rooms and colorful features of some of the other caves in the region, but their appeal lies in their history. These are the caves Mark Twain explored as a boy and used as ominous settings in his books. The tour involves some tight passages and isn’t accessible to wheelchairs or strollers, but the walking isn’t strenuous. Mark Twain Cave is a 55-minute tour; Cameron Cave is an hour and 20 minutes. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a jacket for either tour.

Related: Best Scenic Drives Within 60 Miles of St. Louis

boat riverboat cruise Getaway Guide: One Tank Trip to Hannibal, MO

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Mark Twain Riverboat
Center Street Landing
Hannibal, MO 63401
(573) 221-3222

Price: $15 adults one-hour sight-seeing cruise/$11 children/$39.95 adults two-hour dinner cruise/$21.95 children

It would be difficult to have a full Mark Twain experience without spending a little time on the river. The Mark Twain Riverboat offers either a one-hour narrated sightseeing cruise or a two-hour dinner cruise with live music and dancing. The dinner cruise includes a buffet, drinks and requires reservations in advance. With more than 30 years of experience cruising the mighty Mississippi, these tours promise the perfect portrait of all this river has offered throughout the years.

la binnah bistro Getaway Guide: One Tank Trip to Hannibal, MO

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LaBinnah Bistro
207 N. 5th St.
Hannibal, MO 63401
(573) 221-7800

LaBinnah Bistro is a sweet little surprise, offering world cuisine in a lovely historic home. The home also houses a bed and breakfast, so don’t be afraid to fall in love and stay a while. The menu, with prices ranging from $9 to $25, offers African peri-peri, shrimp Istanbul and local Missouri steaks. Inspiration for the cuisine at LaBinnah comes from all over the globe, but the focus is Mediterranean/Turkish.

Related: The Unsinkable Molly Brown’s Home in Hannibal

reagans Getaway Guide: One Tank Trip to Hannibal, MO

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Reagan’s Queen Anne Bed & Breakfast
313 N. 5th St.
Hannibal, MO 63401
(888) 221-1251

Price: rooms from $109/suites from $149

The Queen Anne is a magnificent Victorian home featuring spacious rooms lavishly detailed with antiques and vintage treasures in every corner. The warm hospitality offered by hosts Judy and Norm are part of the appeal of this bed & breakfast. There are rooms suitable for a romantic retreat and suites large enough to hold a small family or gang of friends. The Queen Anne has earned rave reviews in regional and national magazines, including Roadrunner, Country, and Midwest Living.

haunted hannibal ghost tours Getaway Guide: One Tank Trip to Hannibal, MO

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Haunted Hannibal Tours
323 N. Main St.
Hannibal, MO 63401
(314) 494-2918

Price: $15 adults/$7.50 ages 10 and younger

Give yourself a goose bump or two with a Haunted Hannibal Tour that will take you through graveyards and haunted houses, where you’ll hear stories of the hauntings and spooky happenings of Hannibal. This tour is well known among local ghost lovers as a comprehensive tour of the city’s seedier side.. The organizers, Lisa and Ken Marks, are also the authors of the book Haunted Hannibal. They have a reputation for being well-organized, knowledgeable and thoroughly entertaining.

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Lauren Haas is a writer who specializes in finding the fun! Lauren was the publisher of the St. Louis Area Family Gazette for eight years, and now writes freelance articles on St. Louis events and attractions, budget travel, arts and entertainment and fitness topics. Her work can be found at

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