A narrow band of land in the river, Mud Island  is home to the Mississippi River Museum (125 N. Front St., 901/576-7241, www.mudisland.com , adults $8, seniors $6, children $5), which has exhibits about early uses of the river, steam and paddle boats, floods, and much more. The museum and accompanying Mud Island Park are open daily from mid-April to the end of October. Hours in April, May, September, and October are 10 a.m.–5 p.m., and in June, July, and August 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
The museum begins with a refresher course on European exploration of this region—DeSoto, LaSalle, and Marquette and Joliet—followed by information about early settlement. The highlight is being able to explore a replica of a 1870s steamboat. In the Riverfolk Gallery there are wax depictions of Mark Twain, riverboat gambler George Devol, and steamship entertainers. The museum also remembers the numerous river disasters that have taken place along the Mississippi.
Admission to the Mississippi River Museum includes the River Walk at the Mud Island River Park, a five-block scale model of the entire Mississippi River—from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. Walk along the model to see scale representations of cities along the river’s path, and read placards about the river’s history. On a hot day, wear your bathing suit so you can swim in the pool at the end.
The river park is also home to an outdoor amphitheater, which in summer hosts big-name concerts. You can rent canoes and pedal boats to use in the still waters around the Mud Island harbor.
Admission to the river park is free. You cay pay $4 round-trip to ride the monorail to Mud Island , or you can walk across the monorail bridge for free. The monorail station is on Front Street at Adams Avenue.