Getting to Know Beers and Garth Woodside Mansion B&B: Hannibal, Missouri

garth woodside mansion hannibal mo

best travel destinations hannibal missouriOne of my favorite types of extended weekend trips are road trips to random places. We usually stay within a 5-hour drive from home, map out a few microbreweries to stop at along the way, throw the top down on the convertible and head out.

We do very little planning about what we’re going to do or see while we’re there. Oftentimes, we let happenstance dictate our itinerary. You never know when a local is going to say, “Oh! You have to check out the world’s largest ball of twine!” Not having too many plans means we don’t miss out on these cool things.

It also gives us incentive to talk to locals, when we arrive. Get their insider suggestions, plus meet some super-nice people along the way!


Our trip to Hannibal, Missouri was one of these standard extended weekend road trips. The only things we had planned were a couple of microbrews along the way and our lodging when we arrived. Hey — beer and a place to sleep – what more do you really need?

Our first stop for lunch was – Iron Spike Brewing Company, in Galesburg, Illinois.

best travel destination microbrew

Located in the historic Central Fire Station, Iron Spike is a 10-barrel microbrewery. In addition to the assortment of amazing beers (as you can see my very happy husband below!), we also enjoyed some of the best Reuben sandwiches we’ve ever had… EVER!

iron spike brewery galesburg illinois

travelling along the mississippi riverAfter our delicious lunch, we continued on our trek toward Hannibal. We drove along the smaller roadways instead of major highways. It takes a little longer to do it this way…

… but the scenery is SO much nicer!

Plus, you get to check out little towns most people don’t even know exist. You never know what you’re going to find, when you take the less traveled path!

lost duck brewing fort madison iowa best travel destinationWe followed the Mississippi River toward our destination, stopping at our second planned microbrewery stop for dinner — Lost Duck Brewery, in Madison, Iowa. I was pretty surprised to find out we were in Iowa.

For some reason, I’m always surprised to find out I’m in Iowa. It seems if you’re going to travel from Illinois to any other state, by car, you have to go through Iowa first. I’m pretty much convinced Iowa moves around, specifically to ensure it’s on my road trip itinerary. :-)

Lost Duck Brewery gets its name from the effects of a local natural phenomenon. Fort Madison is the only place where the Mississippi River actually runs east-to-west, instead of north-to-south. It’s a geographical anomaly! Because of this, migrating birds, who use the river along with their own inner GPS to navigate, often are seen circling the area. Their inner GPS is telling them south is one way, but they also know the river runs south, and those two facts, in this one location, are at odds — leading to some lost ducks! But, also, some great beer!


A short drive later, we finally ended up in Hannibal, at the absolutely GORGEOUS Garth Woodside Mansion. If you’re in the area, you HAVE to stay at this amazing, Victorian bed and breakfast! Tucked into 36 acres of privacy, Mark Twain himself stayed here! I want to go back to Hannibal just to be able to stay here again!


interior garth woodside mansion0809140928aThe mansion is restored in all of its 1870s Victorian glory! Some of the furniture pieces are even original to the Garths. Walking in is like walking back in time.

There are eight, gorgeously-appointed guest rooms in the mansion. Each has a unique color palette, but all are elegantly decorated, to fit the mansion they reside in. Some rooms feature gas fireplaces, and all have their own private bath.

In addition to the mansion guest rooms, there are also three free standing cottages.

The Woodside Trail and Woodside View cottages are located just beyond the alpaca paddock – a short walk from the mansion. Backing up to the woods, both of these one-bedroom cottages feature private patios with personal hot tubs on the deck. woodside trail & view cottages

If you’re looking for a little more luxury, you need to stay at the Dowager House. This spacious cottage also comes with its own private hot tub, as well as an 11-spray head shower (yes, 11!), huge 4-post king bed, and more! You’ll want to move in, after staying here!

dowager exteriorOf course, no bed and breakfast is complete without breakfast! The gorgeous sun room is where breakfast is served each morning, by your hosts – John and Julie Rolsen.

garth woodside sun room

breakfast at garthThe breakfasts are SUMPTUOUS! Each morning, they were a perfect blend of savory and sweet courses — all elegantly presented. I’m normally not a big breakfast person, but the food at Garth Woodside was so delicious, I found myself hurrying to dress in the morning, just to see what morning treats we were going to get!

Julie also owns a kitchen gadget shop in downtown Hannibal, called — Main Street Kitchen. You must stop by and marvel at the sheer volume of gadgets she has. Plus, pick up a bottle (or two) of local wine to take back to your room. :-)

Of course, then there’s the adorable alpacas. With some oak leaves in your hand, they’ll become your best friends! These furry friends are just one more reason, I’d love to go back and visit Garth Woodside Mansion.

alpacas at garth woodside


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