Day 1: Hotel Stay - Minneapolis, MN
Enjoy your complimentary stay at the pre-cruise hotel. The evening is yours to become acquainted with the city. Our Hospitality Desk will be located in the hotel, and our friendly staff can assist with everything from general questions about your upcoming voyage to reserving premium experiences. Both American Queen Steamboat Company and local representatives will be readily available to provide you with dining, entertainment and sightseeing options to maximize your time here.
Day 2: Red Wing, MN
Red Wing was included on National Geographic Traveler’s list of the world’s most historic places. The city offers endless opportunities to travel back in time and learn about settlers and pioneers who occupied the land before today, or admire the craftsmanship and creativity of local artisans of both the present and the past. A walk through the city streets showcases an array of elegant hanging flower baskets from which shades of red, purple, orange and pink drape. Also home to the famous Red Wing Shoes, this is a place you’re going to love to explore.
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 3: La Crosse, WI
This river town has a long-standing romance with the steamboat era, and as our paddlewheeler kisses its port, guests are welcomed by its eye-catching vistas and expansive waterfront park. Within its depths, La Crosse harbors a vibrant community; the cultural exchange among it and its six sister cities showcases a deep appreciation for enrichment through diversity. Influences from far-off destinations such as Bantry, Ireland, and Bavaria, Germany, woven into the history and charm of this scenic port, will certainly stir a traveler’s soul.
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 4: Dubuque, IA
Explore Dubuque, the roots from which Iowa sprouted. It’s brimming with opportunity for river travelers to experience an All-America City. Check off your outdoor bucket list in the perfect nature getaway for any adventure, and explore historic districts peppered with preserved history. From the architectural delight of Tiffany-designed windows in St. Luke’s United Methodist Church to the exhibits of the Dubuque Museum of Art, this city captures artistry. Victorian meets bohemian in this ever-growing Mississippi River gem that’s sure to leave dazzling memories.
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 5: Bettendorf, IA
Bettendorf is but the beginning of this quest to the Quad Cities. Our deluxe motorcoaches bridge the gap between the distinctively different urban areas that, without friction, blend into the melting pot that the region celebrates. Whimsical architecture in Rock Island complements the eccentric gardens of the Quad City Botanical Center. The varied heritages and customs of the area come to life through the multiform dexterity of local artisans. A collection of riverfront vistas and metropolitan communities meet Midwestern neighborliness at the mighty Mississippi in this multifaceted port.
Included Shore Excursions:
Isabel Bloom Studio
Isabel Rose Scherer was raised in the city of Davenport and began her artistic lifestyle early. In the early 1930s Isabel attended Grant Wood’s Stone City Art Colony where she learned how to carve limestone sculptures flawlessly. Her legacy lives on in the city of Davenport as her art pieces and influences are seen throughout the city, as well as her protégé, Donna Young, who works to help preserve Bloom’s legacy. During the one-hour-and-fifteen-minute guided tour, enjoy behind-the-scenes access to every step in the making of each Isabel Bloom sculpture. During the tour, discover how this company maintains the legacy of artist Isabel Bloom. Get a glimpse of some of her original art and photos and learn how her innovations still influence what we do today. As a remembrance of the tour, shop the gift shop where you can purchase exclusive sculptures available only to tour guests.
Figge Art Museum
This gigantic glass building on the banks of the Mississippi, designed by British architect David Chipperfield, is home to one of the Midwest’s finest art collections, and hosts world-class traveling exhibitions. Its studios, auditorium and spacious lobby are alive with art classes, lectures and special events that attract visitors of all ages. Tour the facility touching in nearly every style of art, spanning across the world, from classical to modern.
River Music Experience
Founded in 2004, the River Music Experience began primarily as a museum celebrating the roots of music and the Quad-Cities’ musical heritage. The program was so successful that the museum now hosts more live music and offers more opportunities for local musicians to perform. Explore the history of music in the Quad Cities and then stop in the Redstone Room to listen to live music as you snack on a delicious treat offered from the restaurant and bar inside. (Located half a block down West 2nd Street from the Figge Art Museum, then make a right onto Main Street). (Shows will run every hour beginning at 9:30 AM, will the exclusion of 12:30 PM, where no show will be running)
German-American Heritage Center
Founded on August 1, 1994 as a private, not-for-profit organization, the German American Heritage Center (GAHC) seeks to preserve the heritage of German speaking ancestors for present and future generations and to enrich the knowledge of the German immigrant experience. Today, the heritage center has evolved into a museum that includes a large permanent exhibit and two rotating special exhibits. Within the permanent exhibit, visitors enjoy an orientation theater, six education stations, and two restored hotel rooms. Guests enjoy an interactive experience as they learn about immigrants’ journey by sea, train and foot, to their final destination at the German American Heritage Center building, which was originally a very busy hotel for thousands of immigrants in the 1860s.
Quad City Botanicals Center
Explore this award-winning Sun Garden with blooms of exotic tropical flowers, a 14-foot waterfall, and reflecting pools. Outdoor gardens feature magnificent conifer collections, thousands of spring bulbs, colorful and rare perennials. This stunning botanical center hosts extravagent festivals, parties, and events. Be certain to explore the gift shop before you depart.
Day 6: Burlington, IA
Charm indwells this city. Swaggering trails showcase flourishing vegetation, neighborhood hangouts offer upscale dining options and steepled churches rich in architecture abound. Pleasure awaits each visitor in this city of contrasts. Quiet strolls through courtly streets in historic districts are juxtaposed by boisterous thespian artistry inside Capitol Theater; the drumming heart of the city is soothed by the scenic backdrop of the Mississippi River. Lover of all seasons, connoisseur of culture, friend to foodies: Welcome to Burlington.
Included Shore Excursions:
Des Moines County Heritage Center
The Museum opened in 2009 in the former Burlington Public Library, which was built in 1898. There are nine galleries on three levels in the Museum, each one addressing a different aspect of county history. The 19th Century Gallery illustrates the growth of the small frontier territory into a lively and bustling city of the gaslight era. The 20th Century Gallery on the upper level displays changing exhibits that address the events and social changes of the 1900s. Military, agriculture, and music are all also showcased throughout the museum, as they are all very influential and important aspects of the county’s history.
Garrett-Phelps House Museum
William Garrett, an early Burlington merchant, built a home at the top of the hill overlooking downtown Burlington and the river in 1851. As his family grew and his business became successful, Mr. Garrett enlarged and remodeled the house in 1870. Three generations of his family lived in this home through many tragedies and triumphs. The interior showcases the furnishings and belongings of the Garrett and Phelps families who lived here for more than 100 years. The ballroom on the third floor features Medical Memories, which highlights the years this home served as the first Protestant Hospital. Walk around this exclusive gallery to view the unique medical instruments, uniforms, and photos of that time.
Burlington Capitol Theatre
A grand and beautiful asset to the city. Burlington, Iowa’s 1937 movie theater was once the center of activity in a bustling downtown. The Capitol Theater shut its doors in 1977 and faced the wrecking ball within the next decade. Luckily, it was spared and fully restored to its opulent form. Today, films and live performances are still being offered here, and visitors can admire the beauty of this historical piece of Burlington.
Port of Burlington Welcome Center
The Port of Burlington Welcome Center has vast amounts of information on this area as well as the rest of the state. A scenic plaza area on the east side of the Port showcases the Mississippi riverfront. An outdoor stage located at the south end of the building is the site of Burlington Steamboat Days American Music Festival, which attracts crowds in excess of thousands of visitors every third week in June. Explore the unique gift shop, The Iowa Store, to pick out the perfect souvenir of Burlington. The store offers a wide selection of one-of-a-kind trinkets, jewelry, and art pieces handcrafted by local artists!
This famous winding street received its name from Ripleys’ Believe It or Not in 1940 when Robert L. Ripley saw the limestone and blue clay street in person. The Alley, constructed in 1894 with intensions to link the downtown district to the shopping area on North Sixth Street, consists of five half curves and two-quarter curves with a 58 foot drop over a distance of 275 feet. If you’re feeling brave, take a walk down the “crookedest street in the world” and our motorcoaches will pick you up at the bottom of the alley to continue your tour.
Day 7: Hannibal, MO
Hannibal could be described as ordinary, but the father of American literature would beg to differ. The town, with style and dignity, comes to life in the writings of Mark Twain. People, entities and livelihoods of Hannibal’s past endure within the pages of masterpieces such as “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Life on the Mississippi,” and the town’s preservation efforts allow our quests to step right onto the page where Twain left off. Today, the river stretches north toward country that’s almost as wild and beautiful as it must have been then, and, still enlivened by the coming and going of rivercraft, this exuberant port marks the start of adventure for all who visit.
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 8: Alton, IL
This adventurist’s oasis is always welcoming to our guests – as dewdrops of watercraft greet them from the shorelines. Founded in 1837, Alton has preserved its small-town aesthetic, but mated it with the modern industry and art that birthed its contemporary ambiance. Cafés overlook limestone bluffs draped in greenery as breezes and birds alike whistle through the trees. Enjoy both the indoor and outdoor treasures that showcase the enchantment that this river town has to offer.
Included Shore Excursions:
Audubon Center at Riverlands
Guest can view an ever-changing variety of songbirds and waterfowl at The Audubon Center at Riverlands. This unique attraction connects people to the beauty and significance of the Mississippi River. View bald eagles and herons as you experience the magnificent views of the quiet waters of Ellis Bay.
Alton Visitor Center
Stop at the Visitor’s Center and Mercantile Shop to learn more about the area and pick up a unique souvenir. Uncover the history of this American city and gather information on the best places to visit during your stay. Guests can then cross the street and explore the boutiques and shops with their eclectic collections!.
The Piasa Bird is a local legend in the Alton area. Its founding’s go back to 1673 when Father Jacques Marquette, in recording his famous journey down the Mississippi River with Louis Joliet, described the “Piasa” as a birdlike monster painted high on the bluffs along the Mississippi River, where the city of Alton, Illinois now stands. View the Piasa Bird and learn the tail of this Native American Mystical creature that is painted along the cliffs of Alton.
Jacoby Arts Center
The Jacoby Arts Center is a beacon in downtown Alton, attracting community interest and art lovers from across the country. Housed in the renovated 1899 Jacoby furniture store on Broadway this three-story, 40,000-squarefoot brick building was donated to the Madison County Arts Council by C. J. Jacoby and Co., Inc. and opened as an art center in 2004. In this new facility you will find a sparkling art gallery, a dynamic educational facility, and an array of exquisite artisans’ crafts.
Hop-off at this Central Alton stop, where you will find an array of activities to explore at your leisure. Choose to spend your afternoon shopping at the unique boutiques, treat yourself to a delicious lunch at one of the local eateries, or stroll along the street and admire the historic buildings and the stories they have to tell. As you make your way through town, discover why Alton is often referred to as one of the Most Haunted Towns in America.
Day 9: St. Louis, MO
St. Louis, famously referred to as the Gateway City, is known for its diverse neighborhoods and the different cultural traditions each one brings forth. The city is typically associated with its 630-foot stainless steel monument, the Gateway Arch, which stands on the banks of the Mississippi River to symbolize the westward expansion of the United States.