Day 1: Vancouver, WA
Departure 6:00 PM. Board the American Empress in beautiful Vancouver, WA and settle in for your magnificent journey through the great Pacific Northwest.
Day 2: Astoria, OR
Astoria is known to be the oldest American Settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. For thousands of years, Clatsop Indians inhabited the lands that are now known as Astoria. In 1805, Lewis and Clark led their expedition through the town and spent the winter at Fort Clatsop. In 1813, a British warship sailed into the Columbia River, gaining possession of the city and holding control until 1818, when they finally agreed to a joint occupation of the land. The British did not fully leave Astoria until 1846. There is no doubting the rich history has deep roots grounded in this Columbia River town. When the history combines with the scenery, the harmony will surely bring you back for more!
Included Hop-on Hop-off Tour:
• Riverwalk - A four-mile paved walkway overlooking the beautiful Columbia River. In addition to the remarkable views, guests can explore the statues, shops, cafes, docks and historic canneries dotting the path. Guest who wish to can choose to board the riverfront trolley that runs along the banks for an extra fee. The Astoria Riverwalk, also known as the Astoria River Trail, stretches the entire length of the city's waterfront, connecting restaurants and breweries, museums, and dozens of other attractions. It passes under the Astoria-Megler Bridge, the largest truss bridge in the world, arcing out across the Columbia River toward the hazy hillsides of Washington State. The trail follows the route of the Astoria and Columbia River Railroad that was completed in 1898.
• Flavel House and Carriage House Museum - The Flavel House stands proudly as a monument of national significance. As a perfectly preserved example of Queen Anne architecture, this historic abode was once the home of Captain George Flavel, one of Astoria’s most influential citizens in the late 1800s. Guests can tour this 11,000 square foot elegant mansion as well as the detached Carriage House Museum and Visitor’s Center. This home was owned by Captain George Flavel, a noted pilot on the Columbia River and a prominent businessman, in the late 1800’s. It was built in a Queen Anne style by German architect Carl W. Leick in 1886. The home remained in the family for 7 years until George and Mary’s granddaughter, Patricia gave the property to the city as a memorial to her family in 1934. From 1937 through WWII, the Public Welfare Commission, the Red Cross, and the local Welfare commission all had their offices in the home. Inside the 11,600 square foot home, there are two and a half stories. There are six unique fireplaces throughout and the ceilings reach 14 feet on the first floor. On the second floor, the ceilings are embellished with plaster medallions and crown molding.
• Astoria Column - Sits 600 feet above sea level and boasts an incredible 365-degree view. Guests who are up to the challenge can climb the 164-step spiral staircase to the top of this spire for a majestic observation point, or remain on the ground to examine the ornate murals depicting 14 significant events from Oregon’s history. This magnificent monument stands 600 feet above sea level and gives the perfect view to Young’s Bay, the Coast Range, the Columbia River, and in the distance, even the Pacific Ocean. Ralph Budd initiated the project to celebrate Astoria’s early settlers. He hired Italian immigrant and artist, Atillio Pusterla who donated the piece to Astoria in July of 1926. It was modeled after the columns in Rome and features hand-painted spiral frieze work that would stretch over 500 feet if it were to be unwound.
• Heritage Museum - Learn the history and culture of Oregon through their permanent and alternating exhibit galleries that beautifully capsulate the exciting history and culture of Oregon and the Columbia River. Located within Astoria’s Old City Hall building, this neoclassical structure pays tribute to the hunters, loggers and fishermen that forged this new territory and depicts the history of this frontier town. This neoclassical structure was designed by Portland architect, Emil Schacht in 1904, originally intended to be Astoria’s City Hall building. Now it hosts both the Historical Society’s Archive and the Local History Museum. Inside, displays include a 1,000 year old hunting implement, fine 19th century Chinook and Clatsop Indian baskets, and a sea otter pelt and beaver hat. These artifacts, among many others, are used to help depict the history of this intensely interesting city.
• Columbia River Maritime Museum - The museum was founded in 1962 when Rolf Klep returned to his birthplace after retiring from his art career on the East Coast. Klep was a long-time collector of maritime artifacts and he began to recruit his colleagues and friends to help establish a museum to present these collections. The museum was the first in Oregon to meet national accreditation standards and is designated the official maritime museum of Oregon. After a $6 million expansion, the museum now holds six galleries, the Great Hall, and the Lightship Columbia. Enjoy over 30,000 artifacts and 20,000 photos as you travel through this expansive maritime museum! (Admission additional)
Day 3: Columbia Gorge/Scenic River Cruising
Enjoy a day of scenic river cruising through the pristine Pacific Northwest. Picturesque canyon walls and crevasses will keep you guessing as to what lies around the next bend. Behold the natural beauty of bison, elk, gray wolves or bighorn sheep grazing freely as you wind through majestic mountains, vertical canyons and fertile fields.
Day 4: The Dalles, OR
Known as the end of the Oregon Trail, The Dalles has long been a destination point for pioneers and adventurers alike. Located on the south bank of the Columbia River between Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams, the city's rich history dates back thousands of years to the Native American trading which took place right on the banks of the river. Explore the history that weaves through the town at every stop, discover the art that lines each of the streets, and taste the culinary expertise at some of the town’s most popular cuisine restaurants!
Included Hop-On Hop-Off Tour:
• Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum: A winner of the American Institute of Architects Honor Award for its beautiful design, the Columbia Gorge Discover Center offers a multimedia, interactive museum that will inspire a broad appreciation of natural and cultural treasures of the Gorge and beyond. Collections include hundreds of American Indian baskets, photo archives and breathtaking views of the surrounding flora and fauna of the surrounding landscape. Enjoy the beautiful, paved walking trails, a pond, and scenic overlooks. The Discovery Center is located in a beautiful and unique ecosystem native to the area. The multimedia, interactive museum inspires appreciation and stewardship of the natural and cultural treasures of the Gorge and Wasco County. Exhibits focus on the volcanic upheaval and raging floods that created the Gorge, the unique flora and fauna of the region, and eleven thousand years of cultural history. In addition to touring the many fascinating exhibits, visitors can spend time viewing films in the theater located on site as well as exploring the museum’s incredible Raptor Interpretive Program, where live raptor shows where live birds of prey are showcased daily.
• Original Courthouse Museum - This historic building was built in 1859 and is known as the first courthouse of the Rocky Mountains. Here guests can experience exhibits showcasing the history and culture of the local region and explore the courthouse. In 1854 The Dalles was designated by the Territorial Legislature as the county seat of one of the largest counties ever formed in the United States. Wasco County extended from the crest of the Cascade Mountains to the Great Divide in the Rockies and encompassed 130,000 square miles. Construction begun in 1958, under the supervision of Judge Orlando Humason, who was the first county judge and also the chairman of the Board of Commissioners. This small courthouse was used as a public meeting place, church services, as well as the seat of law for the county.
• The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce - Discover the history of this historic and beautiful city. Use this opportunity to learn about the many attractions and buildings, and get a listing of the best places to grab a bite to eat, get a fine glass of wine, or do the most unique shopping. The friendly hosts will assist you in any way possible while informing you about their hometown with different exhibits and models.
• Fort Dalles Museum and Interpretive Center - An original military base built in the 1800’s. Guest can experience unique collections of military and pioneer artifacts as well as the historic wagons that brought early settlers to the Oregon Trail’s last stop. Located in a former Dalles’ Surgeon’s Quarters and is one of Oregon’s oldest history museums, it first opened its doors in 1905. Take a tour of the unique collection of pioneer and military artifacts and antique wagons at one of the old west’s most pivotal places in history. Enjoy the views of the exhibits and walking on the grounds of this military fort. Fort Dalles Museum houses a historic collection of wagons and antique vehicles. The collection holds over 30 wheeled vehicles, including a stage coach, buses, road-building equipment, a covered wagon, two horse-drawn hearses, and two surreys, one of which was owned by Oregon Governor, Zenas Moody.
• Sunshine Mills Winery –The Sunshine Mill once milled wheat on this property for more than 130 years, and was the first building in The Dalles to have electricity, powered by a Thomas Edison Motor which can still be seen in The Mill. It is also the only designated skyscraper in The Columbia River Gorge. The Sunshine Biscuit Company once owned this property and the wheat milled here was used to make everyone's favorite cracker, the Cheez-It! Today, the abandoned wheat mill is now a state-of-the-art boutique winery and home of Capa Di Vino – a unique invention by entrepreneur and wine enthusiast, James Martin. Stroll across the grounds and discover The Sunshine Mill winery, where owners James and Molli have hand-crafted out of artifacts found here to share with you. Enjoy a tasting or have a glass of wine in the amphitheater.
• Downtown Shopping –The Dalles Commercial Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Spend the day exploring this city’s extraordinary boutiques, exquisite cuisine, and beautiful historic structures. Walk the streets of this peaceful and quirky river-town and admire the intricate murals that line the walls and streets of The Dalles. A total of 15 murals wrap around the city, depicting important moments in their history – 13 of these murals include a “voice box” that allows visitors to hear the history of the city as they soak in the beauty of the artwork.
Day 5: The Dalles/Hood River Bus Tour
Take advantage of included morning and afternoon tours in The Dalles with a scenic bus tour along Hood River.
Today’s tour takes guests back in time. A time when flight was a novelty rather than a daily mode of transportation and when the automobile required a crank and power steering was almost a century away. Embark on an exclusive tour to the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum, also known as the WAAAM. Enjoy a guided tour of this facility offering an extensive collection of over 130 antique cars and hangers full of meticulously restored aeroplanes from as far back as 1917. Available exclusively to American Empress guests, enjoy an included tour of the restoration work shop where these antique modes of transportation are brought back to life. The pilots take these tributes to America’s history to the air as often as they can and proudly maintain them in full working order. Guests can explore the collection of Model T’s, Studebakers, the 1914 Detroit Electric, Harley Davidsons, military vehicles and so much more! Want to test out their capabilities? Guests will be able to ride around the property in an authentic Model T!
Day 6: Stevenson, WA
On the banks of the scenic Columbia River, the city of Stevenson is your launch pad to the Washington side of the Gorge. A stroll along the Rock Cove pathway or the Columbia River waterfront is a great way to take in surroundings. Downtown Stevenson is home to unique shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Stevenson is in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Explore the eastern entrance to Mount St. Helens or the spectacular Lewis River Valley.
Included Hop-On Hop-Off Tour:
• Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center - Located in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area, the Interpretive Center brings life to human stories of natural history in our nation’s most compelling landscape. Here, guests can learn the local story of the geography and culture of the region and catch an under-water glimpse of spawning salmon passing through the fish ladders. Exhibits celebrate 15,000 years of history. The mission of the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum is to share the story of Skamania County and the Columbia River Gorge. Make sure to visit “First People,” an exhibit focusing on the history of native people of this area – the cascade chinook. Then stop over at the “Grand Gallery” which is the largest gallery in the museum that showcases how to harvest resources and focuses on the timber industries throughout the gorge. Enjoy the indoor waterfall and the many artifacts on display!
• Bonneville Dam - The Bonneville Dam, completed in 1938, is a hydroelectric generator for the surrounding cities. Guests can enjoy a self-guided tour of this powerhouse as they learn about its progression and improvements over time, the exhausting build project that encountered numerous obstacles due to the unique geology of the area and the unique way the dam assists spawning salmon pass through the dam. Witness the ingenious apparatus that allows the salmon population to thrive in the salmon ladder viewing area and learn about the importance of this invention. The Bonneville Dam is located 40 miles east of Portland, Oregon. It received its name from Captain Benjamin Bonneville – a soldier, trader, and explorer. It consists of two powerhouses, the first one began construction in 1933 and the second in 1974. Combined, the facilities cost about $752.4 million in total, but produce 1,227,000 Kilowatts. The walls of this massive dam rise to 2,000 feet above the lake. Visitors can experience firsthand the operation of two of the Nation’s largest hydroelectric powerhouse and watch migrating fish travel upstream at the underwater viewing rooms next to the fish ladders. These ladders are necessary so that adult fish can continue their journey’s upstream and return to their spawning grounds past the dam. Depending on the season, different fish will be found migrating upstream due to the separation of mating seasons. Bonneville Lock and Dam houses four recreational areas – a fishing area, fish hatchery, trails, and a visitor’s center.
• Downtown Stevenson, Washington - Guests can hop off here and enjoy the various local specialty shops and boutiques lining the streets. Make a stop to Downtown Stevenson, where you can get a slice of what Stevenson is all about. Enjoy the many antique shops, historic buildings with vintage interiors, and beautiful, abundant gardens. Visit the boutiques and shops, restaurants, cafes, and convenience stores to treat yourself to a souvenir or a taste of the fine cuisine before heading to your next stop!
Day 7: Portland, OR
The “City of Roses” is an eclectic blend of art galleries, coffee shops, museums and farm-to-table restaurants with a spirited vibe. Marvel at the beauty of more than 8,000 roses at the International Rose Test Garden.
Explore Portland, Oregon – Sister city to Vancouver, Washington. Embark on a narrated journey through this iconic Pacific Northwest Town dubbed “The Rose City.” Enjoy the scenic views of this beautiful town, lined with expansive decorative murals and flowers. Guests are welcomed by a view of the historic Willamette River which flows through the downtown area before crossing over one of ten bridges and into Old Town.
Today, Portland is known as a bustling commerce center, a Pacific Northwest travel destination and for its innovative culinary scene, but, in its early days, Portland was a center for the fur trade industry and held great military significance. Set peacefully against the backdrop of today’s modern city, Fort Vancouver is nestled on the banks of the river and flanked by towering pointed log fencing. Explore this meticulously reconstructed historical fort including historic buildings and an extensive fur trade outbuilding. Discover Vancouver’s link with the Hudson’s Bay Company and how it aided in the growth and success of Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon.
From the rugged, primitive landscape of Fort Vancouver, continue through Portland for a more refined view of the city. At the International Rose Test Gardens, guests can stroll the meticulously pruned roses in more varieties than one can imagine. Here, in the warmer months, over ten thousand blooms create a colorful frame for a panoramic view of Portland.
We will continue to Downtown Portland where guests will be able to immerse themselves in the serenity of the tranquil Chinese Botanical Garden. This peaceful garden is a treasured site to many Portland visitors. Feel a sense of inspiration as you explore the 2,000-year-old art traditions, architecture, designs, and nature all in absolute harmony. The last leg of the tour passes through Portland State University and the riverfront where you can view life on the busy waterway and take a picturesque drive down Naito Avenue!
Day 8: Vancouver, WA
Arrival 8:00 AM. Disembark the American Empress and make your way home from your authentic Pacific Northwest experience.