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Your Next Family Vacation Spot: The Mississippi River

By Edited Feb 8, 2016 0 0

Searching For a Different Vacation Spot?

If you are searching for a fun family vacation spot but want to do something different this year, consider spending your vacation on the mighty Mississippi.  Life on the river is a lot of fun and you can have the time of your life here.

The Mississippi is a great vacation hotspot but not many people know about it.  In fact, most people only know that the river is there when they cruise by on a huge bridge in one of the many cities and river towns that are located along it’s more than 2,000 miles of flowage.

The Mississippi is a special river in America, and you might be surprised at all the things you can do when you get off the bridge and down on or nearby the river.  Here are some of the best ways to spend your vacation on the Mississippi.

Beach Bum

The most classic thing to do on the river is to bring your boat or rent a cruising boat or houseboat along the river and spend the day cruising.  You will be amazed at the number of “river people” you meet down on the water.  Everything from serious catchers of fish to families on a cruise to weekend partygoers will be there.

Houseboat Rentals on the Mississippi River
So what do you do in a big boat?  First you cruise.  Bring food and drinks and just cruise slowly along to watch the scenery.  See the huge barges go by and don’t forget to wave to the other boaters along the way.

When it’s time to relax just anchor on any one of the thousands of sand bars located along the river.  You can find a private one or, if you’re more social, stop at a big sand bar and mingle with the other boaters who will surely be there.  The kids will have a blast playing in the clean sand and you can get a little rest and relaxation while you’re there.

Trophy Fish

If you want a little sport while you’re on the river you are in luck.  The Mississippi is a great body of water to fish in.  In fact, from southern Minnesota all the way to the Gulf the river looks more like a series of lakes than it does a river.  That means that there is a main channel but there are also countless backwater areas that are essentially fresh water lakes.

The reason for all of this water is that this is one big river.  In fact, the watershed area stretches from New York to Montana and from southern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.  That’s a lot of water and despite the fact that the river is a serious commercial route as you will easily notice when you are on the river, the water holds a lot of fish.

You can catch all sorts of fish on the Mississippi and you can spend a week exploring the various backwaters and shorelines that you will find.  Popular fish include walleye, largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, bluegill, northern, crappie, or even sturgeon and suckers.  There are many, many more so pick up a fish identification guide along the shore if you want to be sure you can identify them all.  You will find many more fish here than on a typical inland lake.

Sight Seeing

Depending on where you are along the great Mississippi river you might want to spend some time on the shore seeing one of the sights along the way.

Gateway Arch on your Family Vacation
The Mississippi passes by several key sites in the United States and lots of quaint river towns every several miles.  There is something different about river towns.  If you don’t know what I mean, you’ll just have to spend some time in one to see.

Along the river you could catch a major league baseball game in Minneapolis or St. Louis.  You could head up into the Gateway Arch in St. Louis or check out Graceland, the home of Elvis, in Memphis.  New Orleans is always a great place to visit any time of year, but it can get hot in the summer.

In addition you will find the river towns along the Mississippi to be full of historical sites, old brick buildings, fun restaurants, and there are plenty of antique stores so if finding great antiques is something you enjoy you will find lots to do here.

Strike It Rich

The Mississippi river was once covered in great riverboats taking people to and fro.  Today there are still riverboats that you can find to take a fun ride up and down the river, but another thing you will find is riverboat casinos. 

This is not a place for the kids but if your family is grown you may want to check out the nearest casino along the river.  Some boats may even take a short cruise, but most stay along the shoreline all day long.  Who knows, you may even pay for your vacation.  But don’t count on it.  Just go for the fun and you’ll be fine.

Water Sports

If the houseboat and the fishing boat are not your style, perhaps you want to speed it up a bit.  Rent a speedboat and spend the day out on the river skiing or tubing.  This is a great family activity that everyone can get involved with.

Even the smaller kids can tube and skiing in the river is a blast.  Just be mindful of the fact that you are on a river.  Unlike a lake, the river may contain driftwood at any place so you need a spotter looking for it to keep everyone safe.  Also, stay away from the barges.  Follow those two rules and you will have lots of fun on the river.

Cruise or Bike

Mississippi River Great River Road
If you don’t want to really touch the water but want to experience the river the best way you can by staying on land, check out the Great River Road.  This is a collection of highways that stretch from Minnesota and Wisconsin all the way to Louisiana.  Whether you are in a car, on your motorcycle, or on a bike you will find the Great River Road to be a very unique experience.

The shores of the Mississippi are lined with great bluffs and the Great River Road is very often crammed between these bluffs and the water.  It gets you up close and personal with the river and will take you to all of those neat river towns along the way.

Time to Meet the Old Man

Now that you have a few ideas of how to enjoy your vacation on the mighty Mississippi River (known as the "Old Man") it’s time to make plans to spend some time on this historical and beautiful river.  Have fun!

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