Explore the Marvels of Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home: A Guide to Hannibal, Missouri Best Western Experience | Travel Zone by Best Western

Explore the Marvels of Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home: A Guide to Hannibal, Missouri

By Virginia Brown

On nearly every corner, historic Hannibal, Missouri, pays homage to its most celebrated resident: Mark Twain. Though born in Florida, Missouri, about 40 miles southwest of Hannibal, famed American author Samuel L. Clemens, who used the pen name Mark Twain, grew up in Hannibal. Explore a cave Twain frequented, walk in the fascinating footsteps of Hannibal’s favorite son, and discover other surprising stops in this lively river town. 

Visit Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home 

Along a cobblestone row on the banks of the Mississippi River, you’ll find not only Mark Twain’s boyhood home, now a National Historic Landmark, but a whole slew of compelling sites dedicated to the writer and his lasting creative legacy. Inside the boyhood home, see what Twain’s family’s small home looked like, including the author’s bedroom. Outside, you can even paint the famous whitewashed fence from “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” Other sites on the property, and included in the ticket price, are Becky Thatcher’s House, the Huckleberry Finn House, J.M. Clemens Justice of the Peace Office, Grant’s Drugstore, and interpretive center, and more. 

Book your stay at Best Western Teal Lake Inn. 

Learn More at the Mark Twain Museum 

In close walking distance to the boyhood home complex, the Mark Twain Museum takes visitors on a journey through some of the sites in the many stories Mark Twain made famous, including exploring a cave with characters Tom and Becky, plus a robust collection of the writer’s personal effects, including two of his inventions, a bicycle he rode, and ephemera from his storied days as a steamboat pilot. The museum also is home to a collection of Norman Rockwell paintings and illustrations used to bring the Twain works to life. 

Climb the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse 

Ascend the 244 steps atop Cardiff Hill, a favorite play area of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and catch panoramic views of the Mississippi River and town of Hannibal at the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse. The structure was built in 1935, in honor of the writer, on what would have been his 100th birthday. 

Explore the Mark Twain Cave 

On the outskirts of town, stop in for a tour of the Mark Twain Cave, an exciting labyrinth that was dear to the writer and inspired many scenes in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” This complex is now privately owned and offers easy-to-walk and well-lit guided tours to key parts of the cave. Some stops include the place where researchers discovered the name “Samuel Clemens” painted on the wall, along with other famed cave visitors, like outlaw Jesse James. On the premises, be sure to stop by the Cave Hollow Winery for live music and a sampling of local Missouri wines.  

Grab a bite to eat  

A nod to one of Twain’s most iconic characters, Finn’s Food & Spirits offers starters, salads, heavier entrees, and cocktails downtown. Locals love the fried catfish sandwich, but burgers, a shrimp po’ boy, and the reuben sandwich are all popular, too. Just a few blocks north of Main Street, LaBinnah Bistro is a favorite of locals and travelers alike. Located in a historic home, with its quaint and charming interior that’s packed with art and antiques, this little bistro serves up dishes from all around the world, including French-style lamb chops, Turkish-spiced shrimp, Alaskan salmon topped with mango, and Bayou barbecue.  

For an upscale option, head to Cole’s Hearth Room, just outside of Hannibal. Cole’s is housed in a historic building that dates to 1846, and chef Coltin Cole serves up signature dishes like salmon finished with a garlic bourbon glaze and fried mustard greens. 

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