The Mississippi river is one of the most famous in the world and stretches for a mammoth 2,300 miles across North America, from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. As it weaves its way from north to south, it passes through many different towns and cities; making this a great route for people looking to explore the area on a river cruise.
But what can you expect to find when opting for a trip on this iconic stretch of water? As well as the chance to travel in an authentic American paddle steamboat, here are a few highlights you will experience on both our upper and lower Mississippi river cruises.
Depending on which direction you take your river cruise in, St Louis will either be the starting or finishing point of your trip. The city was founded by two Frenchmen in 1764 who duly named it in honour of king Louis IX, but after the Americans purchased a large portion of land, known back then as Louisiana, it is now an American Independent City.
You can get your trip off to a great start by exploring what St Louis has to offer; including a look out at the city from the striking Gateway Arch which sores above the skyline. You can also get close to nature at the zoo, the botanical gardens or the Forest Park, and explore some of the many different museums, such as that which depicts Missouri’s history
If you haven’t already bought them at this point, the historic Cable Car Square in downtown Dubuque is the perfect place to purchase souvenirs and gifts for your loved ones back home. There is a delightful, eclectic mix of shops here offering everything from food to jewellery, and you will have plenty of time to explore the area. The square takes its name from the nearby cable car which is the shortest, steepest scenic railway in the world.
Dubuque is also home to the Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, the Shot Tower which produced the majority of the ammunition that was used during the American Civil War, and one of Al Capone’s favourite spots to lay low when he was in town – Hotel Julien.
If you are the type of person who likes to enjoy beautiful views and stunning nature on their travels, then you will love Memorial Park in the city of Red Wing. From the top of Sorin’s Bluff (a steep bank usually formed by a river or the sea) you will be able to see fantastic views of Red Wing, the rest of Minnesota, and even the neighbouring state of Wisconsin. There are also many different walking and hiking trials to explore if you have the time.
Red Wing is an industrial city and so there will also be plenty of opportunities to sample some of the locally produced pottery, shoes and oil.
A step onto this former working sugar plantation is like a step back in time. The beautiful estate has been expertly brought into the twenty-first century but without compromising its heritage and the important story that it has to tell. Oak Alley refers to the line of three hundred year old oak trees that stand proudly on either side of the track that leads up to the stunning ‘Big House’.
Experience a tour of the 25 acre grounds as you learn all about Oak Alley’s story. This is a tale which takes you from the time of slavery all the way up to the present day where this magnificent estate has been used for a variety of different film and TV productions. These include the 1994 film ‘An Interview with a Vampire’ and Beyoncé’s ‘De-ja Vu’ music video.
The city of Helena is home to many places you will recognise if you have ever watched the Johnny Cash biopic, ‘Walk the Line’. As you explore this area, taking in the beautiful surroundings and sampling some of the excellent southern food on offer as you go, you will be able to explore The Malco Theater, The Delta Gypsy Caravan and the Cotton and Kudzu Mall, which are all seen in the film.
Your city tour will also take you to the almost full-size replica of the Union’s Civil War Fort, Curtis, for a look into this settlement’s history.
Be sure to add at least a day or two to the end (or start) of your Lower Mississippi river cruise in order to take in the sights and sounds or Elvis’s hometown– Memphis. Once here, you can either immerse yourself in Elvis related activities, such as visiting Graceland or looking around the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, or you can take a stroll along Beale Street (voted America’s most iconic street by USA Today readers) where there is always something happening.
This lively road even has its own version of the Hollywood walk of fame on which the pavement is adorned with brass music notes dedicated to various people that have helped to put Memphis music and Beale Street on the map.
If you are interested in embarking on a lower or upper Mississippi river cruise, we have plenty of options here at Fred.\. Sail with the American Queen Steamboat Company and explore this beautiful, historical and culturally important part of America.
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