Mark Twain's Mississippi (American Countess, Alton/St. Louis to Red Wing/Minneapolis)
8 days with American Queen Steamboat Rating: Deluxe
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River Cruise Itinerary
Day 1: Alton, IL (St. Louis, MO)
Departure 5:00 PM
Explore St. Louis at your leisure or consider a Pre-Cruise Premium Shore Excursion with afternoon transfer to the American Countess.
Day 2: Hannibal, MO
Hannibal, Missouri, has a rich history, diverse industrial economy and truly remarkable arts. The city was founded in 1819 by Moses D. Bates and became a popular stop along the river for many steamboats traveling up the Mississippi River. Hannibal offers more parks per citizens than most towns in the Midwest and was included in the famous “50 Miles of Art.” Today, the most popular draw of this quirky town is Hannibal’s very own Samuel Langhorne Clemens, recognized world-wide as Mark Twain. Many of the popular characters featured in Twain’s novels were based on people Clemens had known while growing up in Hannibal. Many of the characters and influences of this American icon are weaved into the streets, shops, restaurants, and museums of Hannibal waiting to be uncovered.
Included Shore Excursions:
Big River Train Town
This Hannibal gem is packed with more toy trains than you have probably ever seen. Enjoy authentic replicas as they move swiftly along the tracks or learn the history of the models and the trains they are made after. As you walk around, relive your childhood and learn the stories of the railways’ past as you view some authentic memorabilia.
The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum
This included tour visits seven buildings, five of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and two that are highly interactive museums showcasing fifteen original Norman Rockwell paintings! Learn about the Hannibal of Samuel Clemens’s childhood and explore the stories created through the powerful imagination of American icon, Mark Twain. Building 1: Interpretive Center – Here, explore interactive exhibits highlighting the stories and life of Samuel Clemens. Building 2: Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home & Garden – See the home where Clemens was raised, and where the adventures of Tom Sawyer took place, along with the home’s lovely gardens. Building 3: Boyhood Home Gift Shop – The original museum, which was built in 1937, now houses a gift shop offering Twain’s books. Building 4: Huckleberry Finn House – The childhood home of Tom Blankenship, the model for Huck Finn. Building 5: Becky Thatcher House – The home of Laura Hawkins, the inspiration for Becky. Building 6: J.M. Clemens Justice of the Peace Office – The location where Sam’s father held court. Building 7: Mark Twain Museum Gallery – This lovely two-story building features interactive exhibits, the Norman Rockwell Gallery, and treasured Clemens family artifacts. Live performances occur throughout the day at specific times. Tom & Huck Statue – Located at the foot of Cardiff Hill and offering a perfect location for a photo!
Trinity Episcopal Church
For more than 150 years, the Sanctuary of Trinity Episcopal Church, designed by architect Joseph A. Miller, has stood the test of time. With an interior consisting of a deeply arched heavy wooden beamed ceiling, beautiful bronze lanterns and side wall lamps, an impressive pipe organ and 18 illustriously conceived stained glass windows, Trinity Church is truly a historic marvel. As you step into the church, you are immediately transported back into time and enveloped by Hannibal’s past. Early church members commissioned well-known artists to design the Sanctuary’s beautiful stained glass windows. With signature designs by Charles Booth, Emil Frei, Jr. and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Glass Company, these windows are truly remarkable in their diverse artistic style, thematic construction and conceptual execution.
Cave Hollow West Winery
A fun place to meet other people and relax while enjoying local wine, beer and light snacks such as cheese and crackers!
Karlocks Kars and Pop Culture Museum
Take a self-guided tour through Hannibal’s newest attraction! There is over 10,000 Square feet of artifacts which allow you to relive historic, pop culture moments. This museum also features over a dozen vintage cars, arcade games, 100’s of signs & posters, movie props jukeboxes and so much more!
Hannibal History Museum
Through interactive exhibits, artifacts and historic photos, the Hannibal History Museum tells the story of Hannibal’s remarkable past with exhibits including the founding of Hannibal which showcases how the New Madrid Earthquake and the failed settlement of Marion City affected the fledgling river town of Hannibal. Other exhibits include Antebellum Hannibal, Hannibal’s Civil War, the Lumber Barons, The 20th Century Industry, The Art of Architecture, the Prominent Hannibalians and so much more!
Day 3: Leisurely River Cruising
There is always plenty to do between dawn and dusk on the river and today is the perfect day to enjoy the many public spaces and activities that are available to you onboard. Gaze at the beautiful landscapes and small river towns as you mingle with fellow guests and discuss the unique aspects of river life. If you fancy a moment for yourself, retreat to The Library adorned with bookcases stocked with an imaginative selection. Take hold of a literary classic, curl up on a plush chair in a cozy corner and relish every moment of serenity. Our fitness facility, Card Room and Grand Lobby offer a more stimulating day on the river for those who wish to indulge in more energy-infused activity. However you wish to spend your day, make it your own and revel in every moment.
Day 4: Clinton, IA
The city of Clinton has much to offer, all with the beautiful backdrop of the Mississippi River. Situated at the crossroads of the Lincoln Highway and the Great River Road, Clinton is the Eastern-most point in the state of Iowa. At the height of its local economy during the late 19th Century, Clinton was regarded as the lumber capital of the nation; a history that is reflected as visitors pass many old sawmills. Today, agriculture plays a big part in Clinton’s economy, which is visible in the beautiful rolling fields filled with luscious, fresh harvest crops. Explore the history of this fascinating river town and discover a lifestyle that will stand out from today’s norm!
Included Shore Excursions:
Windmill Cultural Center
The Windmill Cultural Center was dedicated in April 2010 and show- cases 23 model windmills and the variety of tasks they are able to perform. The windmills represent mills found in 10 European countries: Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and the Netherlands. Three of the models are motorized, and the windmills vary in size from tabletop to 6’ tall. The different backgrounds of the windmills give each its own design, which demonstrates the evolution of windmills throughout the years. Located inside the Windmill Cultural Center is a charming gift shop where unique gifts, such as Delft pottery, windmill souvenirs, and De Immigrant stone-ground flour may be purchased.
De Immigrant Windmill
This impressive, authentic Dutch windmill stands 90 feet tall on the dike in Fulton, Illinois. The new windmill was built specifically for Fulton in Heiligerlee, the Netherlands. Dutch millwrights built the structure, took it apart, shipped the pieces to the United States, and traveled to Fulton several times to reassemble the structure. It was dedicated at the annual Dutch Days festival in May 2000. The windmill stands proudly along the banks of the Mississippi River to honor the local Dutch heritage. It is fully operational, using the sails to run millstones to grind grain. The windmill employs a set of blue basalt millstones to produce flour from wheat, rye, corn, buckwheat, and flaxseed. Stone-ground flours are produced at the windmill and sold at the Windmill Cultural Center gift shop. Volunteer Millers guide guests through the interior of the windmill where they are able to admire the craftsmanship of this incredible Fulton landmark.
Lumber was an essential resource in the city of Clinton, not only for the construction of buildings and barns, but also for its contribution to the industry that brought with it the railroad, the immigrants, and the entrepreneurs. Hear the buzz of the sawmill as logs are cut into lumber and envision the workings of the Struve Mill where hundreds of pieces of wood became beautiful trims, doors, and flooring. Experience what life was really like in a lumber camp and explore the authentic sawmill equipment throughout the museum. Then, watch in amazement as four famous Clinton lumber barons come back to life to share the story of how they put the city of Clinton on the map as one of the world’s largest producers of lumber!
George M. Curtis Mansion
This restored Victorian home of lumber baron George M. Curtis is a prime example of period architecture with its original Tiffany glass windows, delicately carved banisters, ornate wood trim, and massive fireplaces. Rich in the history of the area, this mansion makes an elegant backdrop for special events. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The tour of the Mansion will end with a sampling of local Wide River Wines on the wrap-around front porch.
Clinton County Historical Museum & Library
Since its establishment in 1964, the Clinton County Historical Society Museum has established a collection of artifacts from Clinton County. The museum has an impressive collection of the work of local artisans. Exhibits and galleries take up two floors of the building and display local art, artifacts and history, antique musical instruments, and much more. After exploring the fascinating and interactive museum floors, gusts can stop into the gift shop, where an assortment of local historical books, prints, and souvenirs can be purchased! Trail Interactive exhibit!
Day 5: Dubuque, IA
One of the few large cities in Iowa with hills, Dubuque is an extremely popular tourist destination, featuring unique architecture and desirable river location. From the America’s River Project in the Port of Dubuque that transformed the riverfront, to the revitalization of the historic Main Street, the ongoing evolution of the Historic Millwork District downtown, and the impressive and expansive westward growth, Dubuque remains a remarkable city along the Mississippi. Intelligent Community Forum named Dubuque as one of just five U.S. cities as a “Smart21 Community” in 2015 and the National Civic League has named Dubuque as a top All-American City three times in just six years! Guests will surely enjoy exploring this beautiful and unique city as they uncover the history and advancements held within.
Included Shore Excursions:
St. Luke’s United Methodist Church
This beautiful Romanesque style church is characterized by thick walls, heavy columns and round arches for windows and doors. On foundations 32 inches thick, the walls are built of enduring Bedford limestone from Indiana. Each stone was cut by hand and if one looks carefully, imbedded fossils may be seen. Inside, the original organ from 1897 has been restored and is once again functioning, murals are displayed, and impressive wood-work. The church is most noted for its large collection of Tiffany stained glass windows, which have been called, “one of the five finest Religious Tiffany Collections in the world.” Explore the history and art of the church as an expert guide leads guests through the expansive church explaining some of the most interesting facts.
Dubuque Museum of Art
The Dubuque Museum of Art is the oldest cultural institution in the State of Iowa and was founded over 140 years ago as the Dubuque Art Association. Inside is a permanent collection of over 2,200 works concentrating on 20th-century American art with an emphasis on American Regionalism and artists connected to the Tri-State area. This includes works by Grant Wood, Arthur Geisert, and the complete collection of Edward S. Curtis’ The North American Indian, which is also part of a traveling exhibition program.
Old Courthouse Museum
Now a National Historic Landmark, construction for this colossal courthouse began in 1858 and was completed in just two years in 1860 for $100,000. It survived Union shelling, a direct hit from a tornado in 1953, and is now home to the largest collection of Vicksburg’s history. The Museum is filled with countless artifacts, including confederate flags, portraits, the trophy antlers won by steamboat Robert E. Lee in an 1870 race, an original Teddy Bear given by Theodore Roosevelt, and many more!
The Fenelon Place Elevator
The Fenelon Place Elevator is described as the world’s shortest, steepest scenic railway, 296 feet in length, elevating passengers 189 feet from Fourth Street to Fenelon Place. The railway was constructed in 1882 for the private use by a wealthy local banker and former state senator, J.K. Graves. See a view of the historic Dubuque business district, the river and three states.
Cable Car Square
Cable Car Square offers guests three blocks of boutiques and specialty shops. From the home and garden stores to apparel and accessories to a fair-trade retailer, this district has bit of everything to satisfy shoppers’ needs. Make sure to enjoy the coffee and sweet treats shops, as well as a store where you can sample homemade peanut butter!
Hotel Julien Dubuque
The original structure, four stories high, was called the Waples House and was named after its owner, Peter Waples, a wealthy Dubuque merchant. It was the first building visible to the travelers entering Dubuque from across the Mississippi. The Waples House was furnished extravagantly and was known far and wide for its gourmet cuisine. Now, over 100 years later, after a $33 plus million interior renovation and exterior restoration, Hotel Julien Dubuque has redefined elegance through the blending of its rich history with modern luxury and style.
Grand Opera House
Dubuque’s historic Grand Opera House is the oldest and grandest of more than 16 legitimate theaters that served the community prior to 1900. In 1889, W.L. Bradley, Jr. and other local businessmen invested $100,000 to create this iconic landmark. The architect, Willoughby Edbrooke, selected the Richardsonian Romanesque style and chose red sandstone and Dubuque brick for construction. The 1,100 seat auditorium included 2 balconies, 8 boxes and stalls, and a proscenium large enough to host major theatrical productions. Today, the theater is still used by the community and the productions continue to amaze guests.
Day 6: La Crosse, WI
Named by explorer Zebulon Pike, who saw a group of people playing a game with sticks that looked like a cross, La Crosse is now a popular tourist stop. Filled with statues, architecture, and an exquisite view of the river, this river city is an artist’s dream. Like much of Wisconsin, La Crosse became heavily involved with the lumber industry in the mid-1800s until the decline of the forests throughout much of Wisconsin took its toll. But in the wake of the vanishing lumber era, La Crosse became a city renowned for its beer making, with around five breweries operating in La Crosse near the turn of the century. Today, make note of lingering pieces of history along the streets of the city, inside local breweries, and within the floorboards of historic homes and businesses.
Included Shore Excursions:
Dahl Auto Museum
The Dahl Auto Museum celebrates the Dahl family’s involvement as automotive dealers spanning over 100 years and five generations. It also features the history of the automobile through the eyes of the Ford Motor Company, an extensive mascot collection and many beautifully restored classic automobiles from the turn of the century to present. Approximately 20 antique and classic cars are on display to highlight each decade from Dahl Automotive’s inception in 1911. To incorporate historic La Crosse, the museum also features a re-creation of the Starlite Drive-in eatre.
Chapels of St. Rose
The shape of this immense and beautiful chapel symbolizes attributes of God. The high ceilings represent a God who transcends the finite world while the shape of the nave, transepts and sanctuary form a cross, acknowledging an immanent God who has been with humankind even through suffering and death. At the entrance of the chapel, just above the door, a relief of Moses before the burning bush is showcased. Admire bronzed statues, symbolic paintings and sculptures, stained glass windows and mosaics.
This beautiful Victorian house is filled with nearly all of the original furnishings, making it stand out from many other historical homes. The construction of the home began in 1858 by lumber baron Gideon Hixon, who featured beautiful woodwork and ornate interior decoration. His wife, Ellen, is responsible for the decoration of the home, who chose the late Victorian/Edwardian style, accenting rooms with “Turkish Nooks.” It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Riverside Museum exhibits chronicle the history of La Crosse, concentrating on the Mississippi River and its importance to the area. Exhibits range from prehistoric artifacts and cave drawings to logging, rafting, and the Pearl Button Process. A large collection of artifacts from the steamboat “War Eagle” are on display and a PBS Video about La Crosse is shown.
Riverside International Friendship Garden
La Crosse enjoys thriving relationships with sister cities, business partners, students and people from around the world. To celebrate the success of these partnerships, and build a tribute to the culture and traditions, the township decided to create a garden filled with the flowers and decorations closely resembling a garden that could be found in each one of these sister cities. In the Chinese Gardens, principles of Feng Shui are showcased as rock, soil, water, architecture, and plants are harmoniously and meticulously to create a free flowing movement, just as they would be arranged in ancient China. In the French Garden, finely trimmed plants, granite statues, and elegant fountains are arranged in a formal and geometric pattern, recreating the sophistication and romance found in France. The German Garden is adorned with colorful hydrangea, roses, and fruit bearing shrubs, which set a vibrant contrast to the Rock Garden and pergola. Inside the Norwegian Garden, many waterfalls trickle past luscious rhubarb, strawberry, and blueberry plants creating an pleasantly aromatic environment. Conclude the day at the casual Russian Garden, with tree-filled groves, an elegant “Basedka” structure centerpiece, and beautiful sculpture focal points. Conclude the day at the casual Russian Garden, with tree-filled groves, an elegant “Basedka” structure centerpiece, and beautiful sculpture focal points.
Day 7: Red Wing, MN
Red Wing, Minnesota was included on National Geographic Traveler’s list of most historic places in the world. Discovered in the early 1850’s, the lands were used mostly for harvesting wheat that would be transported on the river. Later in Red Wing’s history the economy began to flourish with the pottery industry, which became a main source of income between 1877 and 1967. Today, the city offers endless opportunities to travel back in time and learn about settlers and travelers that occupied the land before today, or to admire the craftsmanship and creativity of local artisans of both the present and the past.
Included Shore Excursions:
Aliveo Military Museum
The Aliveo Military Museum has a significant collection of military artifacts such as edged weapons, flags, badges and much more! They have a vast collection that includes artifacts and relics from all major wars from the Revolutionary War to the current Middle-East Wars. They believe in education about our military history through preservation, protention and presentation of the military artifacts themselves.
Red Wing Marine Museum
The Red Wing Marine Museum is in one of the city’s historical venues along the river near boathouse village and depicts one of the oldest manufacturing industries-the boat and motor business. It sits very near the site of the original factory where Red Wing-made boats and motors were made and launched. e museum exhibits include more than 30 restored Red Wing orobred marine engines, outboard motors and a display of fishing tackle, photographs, documents and other river-related items. e significance of the building is such that in 1885, this limestone building was constructed as the Red Wing Waterworks. e plant used steam power to intake water from the Mississippi River, it went through a fourteen-inch cast iron intake pipe, wells and two filters before it was pumped into the street mains and a reservoir atop Sorin’s Bluff (Memorial Park). Seven miles of water mains then distributed water throughout the city. is building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and received an Award of Merit from the Heritage Preservation Committee in 2014 for the work done to preserve this significantly historic asset in the city.
Pottery Museum of Red Wing
Nearly 6000 unique pieces of stoneware, art pottery, and dinnerware await you at the Pottery Museum of Red Wing. Spanning 90 years of production, from 1877-1967, these artifacts tell the dynamic and colorful story of this Mississippi River town. Using nature’s elements of earth, fire, and water, the pottery artisans created a local legacy known throughout the world. Come and view nearly 100 years of history and tradition, beautifully displayed for your enjoyment.
St. James Hotel
This beautiful and historic hotel opened on Thanksgiving Day in 1875, drawing in many businessmen who wished for first-class lodging in the wheat-trading center of the world. The St. James Hotel became an immediate sensation, cementing its name as the hub of activity in Red Wing nearly overnight. Located just a few steps from the Red Wing train depot and steam boating docks, St. James was booked to full capacity each night. Inside, wealthy travelers and businessmen alike marveled at the stunning four-story Italianate structure filled with elegant furnishings, Brussels carpets, English velvet carpets, steam heat, hot and cold running water, gas on every floor, and a state-of-the-art kitchen! Today, the hotel is owned by the Red Wing Shoe Company and continues to flaunt pristine elegance in each and every detail, just as it has for the past 140 years. While visiting, discover the history of Clara Nelson, St. James’ historical waitress hired in 1914. It wasn’t long after she was hired that she learned she had much more talent than even she knew, as she slowly began to gain control of the kitchen, claiming her position within the hotel and shaping its history with features and traditions that are still seen here today.
Day 8: Red Wing, MN (Minneapolis)
Departure 8:00 AM
Thank you for cruising with us! We hope that you had a memorable experience and look forward to welcoming you aboard in the future. Enjoy Red Wing or Minneapolis/St. Paul at your leisure or consider a Post-Cruise Premium Shore Excursion with airport transfer.
All This Included
Many would argue that Samuel Clemens, best known by his pen name Mark Twain, is quite simply one of America's greatest authors. On this magnificent journey along the Upper Mississippi River, you will delve deep into the life and work of Samuel Clemens as you witness his legendary words and wit brought to life onboard by an expert tribute artist who will leave you with the lasting impression that you just had an in-depth conversation with the legendary author himself. Our included Hop-on Hop-off tours allow you to explore Twain's childhood hometown of Hannibal, Missouri; the town from where much of the inspiration for his beloved classics such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is derived. You will not want to miss this opportunity to share the Mississippi River with Mark Twain.
Complimentary Hop-On Hop-Off shore excursions in each port of call
All onboard meals, including both fine dining and casual cuisine
24-Hour Room Service
Complimentary wine and beer with dinner
Complimentary cappuccino, espresso, specialty coffees, tea, bottled water and soft drinks throughout your voyage
Gracious service from a friendly, all-American staff
Acclaimed entertainment worthy of Broadway
Our own dedicated fleet of deluxe motorcoaches
Accommodations on this Tour
Cruising: Inside cabin onboard the American Countess
Cabin upgrades are available.
Single occupancy cabins are available.
Port Taxes of $199 per person are additional and not included in the prices shown above.
Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines. Sorry, we are unable to offer air from countries other than the U.S. However, for those international customers who are able to arrange their own transportation to the trip origination city, we are able to offer the land/cruise portion of the package at the price quoted.