Treating your family to a great getaway doesn't have to be expensive. You don't have to shell out for airline flights to visit outside your backyard. Stick an imaginary pin in your hometown on a map, then expand outward in a circle, like ripples on a pond. Depending on how far you are willing to drive, you will be amazed at the number of attractions and sights to see within the radius you just defined.
When I did this, I found some great places for exciting family getaways within driving distance!
The one that intrigues me the most is Hannibal, Missouri - home of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain, since the age of four when his family moved to Hannibal from Florida, Missouri, about thirty miles to the southwest.
Hannibal fascinates me not only for the history but for the attractions it offers to everyone of any age. Children and grandparents alike will find something to do in Hannibal. And it is small enough to maintain that small town America feeling of warmth and hospitality.
|Mark Twain's boyhood home|
|Becky Thatcher House|
|Mark Twain Museum Gallery|
From Tom Sawyer, visitors can "whitewash" the fence, see Tom's schoolhouse, meet Injun Joe, and get lost in the cave as Tom and Becky's candle goes out.
From The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, visitors can step onto a raft tied at the river bank and watch a film clip of Huck and Jim on the raft.
From Roughing It, visitors can climb into a stagecoach and share the mining experiences of Sam Clemens and the characters, both human and animal, that he brings to life.
From A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, visitors travel back in time as the Yankee saves himself from burning at the stake by predicting a solar eclipse, test the "modern" inventions that he brings to the Knights of the Round Table, and view the social injustices and political inequities of the time through original pen and ink illustrations by Dan Beard, founder of the Boy Scouts.
Sam Clemens was a riverboat pilot from 1857 to 1861. Celebrating this portion of his life, there's a replica of a steamboat pilot house where visitors can view the great river that had such an influence on Clemens and his later writings, grasp the pilot wheel and tug the steamboat whistle or engine room bells. You can almost hear the call Mark Twain!
The Norman Rockwell Gallery is a special treat for visitors. In 1935, Norman Rockwell was commissioned by Heritage Press to illustrate special editions of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Rockwell donated the 15 original paintings to the museum and they are on permanent display here. The special editions of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn illustrated by Norman Rockwell are only available for purchase in the museum gift shops.
The Museum regularly hosts writers', young authors', and teachers' workshops, as well as art exhibits.
Want to catch some theater? There are several in Hannibal, each with a distinct flavor for discriminating palates. Tour Hannibal's Historic District aboard the Mark Twain Clopper, a horse-drawn carriage perfect for relaxed sightseeing. Or try the Hannibal Trolley for a different sightseeing experience.
Then there's the Big River Train Town Museum, the Tom Sawyer Diorama, the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse, and so much more.
Hannibal, Missouri offers a great family getaway in America's Heartland that is accessible by car within a day's drive of just about anyone. When thinking about your next family getaway, at least put Hannibal on your list of possibilities. There is tons of information online, plus you can request an information packet through the mail.
Have you found any family getaway spots within driving distance that you'd like to share? I'd love to hear about them!
[I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Alamo blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.]