Show Me "Mo"
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The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum.
Hannibal is a place where fact and fiction meet, firmly linked to homegrown author Mark Twain as well as the precocious characters he brought to life. Where else but in this town-that-time-forgot could you enjoy the Twain on Main festival, National Tom Sawyer Days and (oddly) the Mark Twain All Corvette Car Show? Inspired by the memory of Twain and other well-known sons and daughters, Hannibal has become a haven for artisans and, of course, their admirers.
You can’t miss historic downtown Hannibal, where you can retrace the adventures of young Samuel Clemens (pre-pseudonym) at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, learn about the life and times of “Unsinkable” Molly Brown in her restored home and explore the city’s remarkable past at the Hannibal History Museum.
The Mark Twain riverboat regularly embarks on sightseeing tours that include commentary on local history and legends. You’ll see Jackson’s Island, Lover’s Leap and the Mark Twain Lighthouse on Cardiff Hill. On your return, enjoy fine shopping and dining along Hannibal’s picturesque Main Street.
Tie up at Hannibal Boat Harbor, located one block from downtown and operated by Hannibal Parks & Recreation. It’s off the channel, behind a breakwater a half-mile downstream of the highway bridge. New gas docks opened in 2009, carrying 89-octane gas and diesel, and other amenities include electric, water, restrooms, transient dockage and a boat ramp.
Mark your calendars for the Twain on Main Festival, a free arts and crafts fair that kicks off with a Memorial Lantern Float, remembering those who have been loved and lost. This year’s theme is “The Prince and the Pauper,” where you can join the fun on May 25 and 26.
National Tom Sawyer Days, taking place from July 3 to 7 this year, will get kids in the spirit of its namesake patron with a parade, carnival, frog-jumping contest, raft races, fence-painting contest, fireworks over the river and much more. This is also probably the only festival where Tom and Becky regularly stroll the streets.
Visit nearby Sawyer’s Creek Fun Park, one mile south of Hannibal on scenic Highway 79. It features entertainment, dining and shopping in a low-key atmosphere. Among the amusements are miniature golf, bumper boats, water catapults, an arcade and a kiddy train.
Sawyer’s Creek is across from the Mark Twain Cave, another great family activity, with guided tours along the level underground walkways. The cave grounds also offer camping, a visitor’s center with gift shop and the Cave Hollow West Winery.