Midwest Travel Expert, Marcia Frost, is back with a getaway to Hannibal, Missouri!

Following Mark Twain in Hannibal and Gangsters in Chicago
By Marcia Frost 

Hannibal, Missouri, is celebrating its bicentennial this year and there’s no better time to explore the story and history of Samuel Clemmons, aka Mark Twain. It’s a nearby destination to bring the whole family. 

We stayed at the new Holiday Inn Express. Very modern and comfortable with a huge, complimentary breakfast to get you going for the day. The city has many hotel options and historical bed & breakfasts. 

The story of the city all starts in the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum properties, where you can learn everything about Samuel Clemmons, his family, and his friends, who would all become models for characters in his famous books. 

Within walking distance, you can visit the Interpretive Center, the Becky Thatcher House, the Huckleberry Finn House, and more. The Museum Gallery also has a rare collection of Norman Rockwell paintings which shouldn’t be missed. The city also has a trolley that can take you around to the major attractions. 

LaBinnah Bistro is a must for a delicious dinner. This Parisian-style bistro has an assortment of European favorites. I highly recommend the Mediterranean appetizers, such as the Dolmas and the Queen Victoria pork with blueberry sauce.  You can’t go wrong with any of the salmon dishes. Leave room for dessert as they are all amazing. 

The Mark Twain Dinette has their own homemade root beer, which you must try. As for the alcoholic beer, the Mark Twain Brewery is the place to sample, and enjoy a meal. They are known for their barbecue.

Mark Twain Himself, is an ever-changing one-man production. Richard Garey, in the role of Twain, recites some of the author’s favorite stories and quotes in a production that changes each time. 

The Mark Twain Riverboat offers one hour sightseeing and two hour dinner cruises along the Mississippi River, straddling Illinois and Missouri. During the cruise, which is both accessible and enclosed for all seasons, you’ll learn all about Hannibal, as well as its most famous residents. 

A trip to the Mark Twain Caves is two-fold: You can explore the fascinating caves and then taste some great wine at the adjacent Cave Hollow West Winery. All the wines have a Twain twist. I especially enjoyed An Innocent Broad, a semi-dry white wine. 

After the Riverboat Cruise, take a scenic drive along Mark Twain Lake. Two must-see stops are Lover’s Leap and the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse. 

Other place you’ll want to include on your vacation are the Mark Twain Wax Museum, the Big River Train Museum, Rockcliffe Mansion. and Karlock Kars.

For something different, take the Haunted Hannibal Tour, which includes a combination of history and mystery, ending at the Old Baptist Cemetery.

I have to add that I was traveling with a medical scooter and found the town to be very accessible. 

To find out more about planning a trip to Hannibal, visit their official website.

Chicago Nightly Spirits Tour Starts at Harry Caray’s

New this summer in Chicago is the Haunted Gangster Pub Tour by Nightly Spirits Tours. This tour follows some of Chicago’s infamous gangsters through the bars they frequented, focusing on prohibition, and legends such as Al Capone. 

The tour starts at Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse. It doesn’t make sense to start the journey without arriving early and experiencing this iconic restaurant, in a building that dates back to the 19th century. (Be sure to make reservations for Harry Caray’s, especially for celebrations like Father’s Day.)

You’ll learn all about their famous steaks as soon as you sit down, but don’t worry if you aren’t in the mood for one of their tender steak’s, try the Italian favorites here, such as the ravioli and the spaghetti & meatballs. It doesn’t get any more authentic than here.
Dessert here is an experience you won’t forget if you order the “Breaking Ball.” This treat, which pays homage to Harry Caray’s baseball connection is three-quarters of a pound of Bloomer’s white chocolate that breaks open to divulge a delectable flourless chocolate cake with cappuccino chocolate chip gelato. It’s covered in an espresso crème anglaise.  

The Haunted Gangster Pub Tour begins in the basement of the Steakhouse, which is now known as Nitty’s Speakeasy. It’s named after Capone’s top enforcer, Frank Nitty. 

From there, the tour takes you through lesser known basement dwellings in Chicago, with cocktail stops along the way. You’ll learn about the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, the North Side Gang, and the Chicago Outfit. 

The haunted hallows continue to spots that include The Congress Hotel, where more than a few surprises await. 
This tour is 2-1/2 hours and costs $25 a person. You can book your Haunted Gangster Pub Tour on their website. 

Be sure to Like Midwest Travel with Marcia Frost on Facebook for more information on her trips, and read her stories on her Wine And Spirits Travel blog. You can also follow Marcia @Spiritstraveler on Twitter and Instagram.