Mississippi River - Best Tours & Trips 2019

27 Mississippi River tours from 17 tour companies. 1 reviews. 5.0/5 avg rating.
America’s most storied river, the Mississippi flows more than 2,300 miles through America’s heartland, bordering ten states from northern Minnesota to Louisiana, before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi connects cities as varied as New Orleans, Natchez, Vicksburg, Memphis, St. Louis and Minneapolis.
All Mississippi River cruises, tours, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages.
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Travel Style Travel Style Relaxed A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers.
Full on For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included.
Mixed You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included.

Itinerary Focus

Trip Type Trip Type Group Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Tour Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ship Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Guided Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Self Guided / Independent Tour A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ship Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.

Lodging Level Lodging Level Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.

Price From*

$ 899 $ 10,000+

Price Per Day

Trip Length

Countries

Physical Level Physical Level Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.

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Rivers & Seas

Cities & Attractions

Activities

Solo Friendly Solo Friendly Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.

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Memphis to St. Louis

8 days
$ 287 / day
$ 2,299
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • The family recipes of acclaimed Southern chef Regina Charboneau
  • The only steamboat with multiple specialty dining options, all at no additional charge
  • Daily lectures by the Riverlorian, our onboard historian
  • Professional showboat-style entertainment and dancing nightly
  • Our own dedicated fleet of Steamcoaches
  • The most all-inclusive American river voyage
  • The only authentic steam-powered overnight paddlewheel riverboat in America
  • The greatest vacation value in America
Visits:
Memphis, St. Louis, United States
View Trip

Signature City Memphis: Magic on the Mississippi

Road Scholar
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
6 days
$ 230 / day
$ 1,379
From : $ 1,862
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : N/A
Physical Level : N/A
  • N/A
  • Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Learn the story of Memphis blues and delve into the lives of legends from the “Father of the Blues” W
    • C
    • Handy to “The King” Elvis Presley
    • Study the mighty Mississippi River’s environmental influence
    • Visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel to trace events of the movement and Dr
    • King's assassination
    Visits:
    Memphis
    View Trip

    New Orleans-New Orleans

    8 days
    $ 568 / day
    $ 4,540
    Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
    Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
    Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Visit their popular gift shop which is known for their world-famous pralines.
    • Enjoying the shade of the leafy canopy greet us on arrival and are our guides for the day.
    • Visits to its gardens, historic homes, and museums
    • See why this show is called "Becoming Jelly Roll."
    • Enjoy the local flavors, like chicory coffee, sweet beignets, and famous New Orleans jazz music.
    View Trip

    Celebrate Christmas in Historic Natchez on the Mi ...

    Road Scholar
    Premier
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    6 days
    $ 167 / day
    $ 999
    From : $ 1,349
    The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
    Travel Style : N/A
    Physical Level : N/A
  • N/A
  • Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Revel in a Natchez Christmas evening filled with gorgeous music, decorations, food and fun
    • Enjoy field trips to lavishly bedecked 19th-century mansions
    • Attend “Chopin and Champagne,” a classical piano concert with complimentary champagne in the historic Joseph Stone House, and the uplifting annual Christmas concert in majestic St
    • Mary Basilica by the award-winning Alcorn State University Concert Choir
    View Trip

    Steamboat Adventure: Voyage the Length of the Mis ...

    Road Scholar
    Premier
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    24 days
    $ 417 / day
    $ 9,999
    From : $ 13,493
    The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
    Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
    Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
    Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Experience authentic America along the river, from jazz in New Orleans to the boyhood home of Mark Twain in Hannibal, Missouri
    • Learn from top instructors during Road Scholar exclusive lectures on topics including southern culture, the Civil War and steamboat history
    • Explore the site of St
    • Louis's original settlement, Leclede's Landing, with a local expert before visiting the Cathedral Basilica's world-class collection of mosaics
    Visits:
    Chester, Madrid, Memphis, New Orleans, St. Louis, United States
    View Trip

    Rockies, Yellowstone & Mt Rushmore

    Intrepid Travel
    Premier
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    11 days
    $ 135 / day
    $ 1,485
    From : $ 2,079
    The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
    Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
    Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
    Lodging Level : You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping. Basic - 2 star
    Highlights
    • Spanning three National Parks, two National Monuments, and a collection of State and County Parks, this is a must for nature lovers
    • Spend an evening on the banks of the Mississippi, in true Huckleberry Finn style, and rent a canoe to paddle along the famous river
    • See an icon that blends nature and history at Mt Rushmore
    • Spend two nights in Yellowstone and keep your eyes open for bison, bears, even rare grey wolves
    • Take a scenic drive through the spectacular snow-capped mountains, valleys, lakes and rivers of Grand Teton National Park, one of America's natural treasures
    • End the trip in the bustling, lakefront city of Chicago. It's one of America's most attractive cities
    • Witness some of America's roadside kitsch at places such as Wall Drug, Corn Palace and the Spam Museum
    Visits:
    Chicago, Yellowstone National Park, United States
    View Trip

    Upper Mississippi River Cruise

    9 days
    $ 444 / day
    $ 3,995
    Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
    Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
    Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
    Highlights
    • Visit the Museum of Westward Expansion
    • Enjoy St. Louis’ many world-class attractions, including the Art Museum, Science Center, Anheuser-Busch Brewery, and the Missouri History Museum.
    • See the historic stables built in 1885 and the world-famous Clydesdale horses.
    • Visit the Interpretive Center, home to 15 original Normal Rockwell paintings, the Becky Hatcher House, the Huck Finn Home
    • Visit the national Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.
    Visits:
    United States
    View Trip

    Grand Heartland Cruise

    15 days
    $ 590 / day
    $ 8,850
    Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
    Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
    Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Enjoy a show at the historic Sheldon Performing Arts Theatre or observe the beauty of nature at one of Red Wing’s 38 parks.
    • Enjoy beautiful gardens, an outdoor performance center, and inspiring sculptures.
    • Visit the national Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.
    • Visit the Interpretive Center, home to 15 original Normal Rockwell paintings, the Becky Hatcher House, the Huck Finn Home
    • See the historic stables built in 1885 and the world-famous Clydesdale horses.
    • Visit America’s third-largest inland port, famous for blues, barbeque, and Elvis Presley's Graceland.
    Visits:
    United States
    View Trip

    Ohio River Cruise

    11 days
    $ 505 / day
    $ 5,560
    Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
    Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
    Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
    Highlights
    • Enjoy the Art Museum, Science Center, Anheuser-Busch Brewery, and the Missouri History Museum.
    • Enjoy shore excursions to Cape River Heritage Museum and the Red House Interpretive Center.
    • Visit the studios and galleries of Paducah’s resident artists.
    • Enjoy the gentle sounds of the paddlewheel as it churns through the placid waters of the Ohio River. 
    • Visit the Kentucky Derby Museum to see actual Derby footage dating as far back as 1918.
    • Visit the William Howard Taft National Historic Museum, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Betts House.
    Visits:
    St. Louis, United States
    View Trip

    Mississippi River Gateway Cruise

    11 days
    $ 505 / day
    $ 5,560
    Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
    Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
    Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Enjoy a grand tour of one of the most historic and unforgettable cities in the South. 
    • Visit Graceland, and then tour the W.C. Handy Museum; Shelby Farms, the largest urban park in the country
    • Visit iconic sites such as the National Civil Rights Museum, St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital
    • Visit the Museum of Westward Expansion
    • See the historic stables built in 1885 and the world-famous Clydesdale horses.
    Visits:
    New Orleans, United States
    View Trip

    New Orleans & Mississippi River Plantation Co ...

    Tauck
    By Tauck
    Preferred
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    8 days
    $ 486 / day
    $ 3,890
    Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
    Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
    Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
    Highlights
    • Exclusive filmed on-tour Stories by Ken Burns vignettes
    • culinary experience at New Orleans School of Cooking
    • jazz reception and dinner at Arnaud's
    • exclusive streetcar tour
    • flightseeing
    • private jazz experience at Preservation Hall
    • visit to National WWII Museum with brunch & USO-style show
    • visits to pre-Civil War Mississippi River plantations
    • private presentation by environmental expert Nellie Watson
    • dinner at legendary Antoine's
    • private mint julep reception & mansion house dinner at Nottoway Plantation
    • alligator bayou boat tour
    • visits to LSU's Rural Life Museum
    • the New Orleans Jazz Museum and Baton Rouge's Old State Capitol
    View Trip

    Cumberland River Cruise

    8 days
    $ 499 / day
    $ 3,995
    Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
    Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
    Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
    Highlights
    • Enjoy a warm welcome at the visitor’s center by tour guides who are eager to share their knowledge.
    • Visiting one the many fine museums, to participating in a hands-on creative workshop at a local art gallery.
    • Visit the studios and galleries of Paducah’s resident artists.
    • See the Sailor Man's likeness in the town's own six-foot-tall bronze metal statue.
    • Visit the Museum of Westward Expansion and discover the lives of the explorers, cowboys and Native Americans who helped forge our nation.
    Visits:
    Nashville, St. Louis, United States
    View Trip

    Memphis - St. Louis Cruise

    8 days
    $ 568 / day
    $ 4,540
    Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
    Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
    Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
    Highlights
    • Stroll through the quaint town of New Madrid, filled with Old South traditions and historical attractions.
    • Discover Paducah’s colorful history during a guided tour through the town’s historic district.
    • Participate in hands-on creative workshops and hear artists’ stories of how they relocated to Paducah.
    • Hear stories of the people and events that helped shape life along the Ohio River during a guided tour of the River Heritage Museum.
    • Join a local guide on a narrated tour through Cape Girardeau’s beautiful Old St. Vincent’s Church.
    • Enjoy the historical appeal of Chester during a guided walking tour
    • Explore America's great cities.
    • Take a tram ride to the top of this 630 foot arch!
    Visits:
    Memphis, St. Louis, United States
    View Trip

    Complete Mississippi River Cruise

    22 days
    $ 547 / day
    $ 12,030
    Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
    Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
    Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
    Highlights
    • Visit the picturesque Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, one of the premier sculpture installations in the United States. 
    • Enjoy a grand tour of one of the most historic cities in the South.
    • Enjoy a relaxing trip through the historic sites of the largest city in Mississippi including Cotton Row, the Mount Holly Plantation and the Weatherbee House.
    • Visit iconic sites such as the National Civil Rights Museum
    • Exploring this historic site,
    • Visit the antebellum-style museum.
    • Enjoy shore excursions to Cape River Heritage Museum and the Red House Interpretive Center.
    • See the Sailor Man's likeness in the town's own six-foot-tall bronze metal statue.
    Visits:
    New Orleans, St. Louis, United States
    View Trip

    Florida Christmas New Orleans New Year

    9 days
    $ 234 / day
    $ 2,109
    Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
    Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
    Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Wake up to Christmas Day in the beautiful Florida Keys
    • Ring in the New Year partying in New Orleans' French Quarter
    • Spot exotic wildlife on an Everglades swamp airboat ride
    • Unique overnight stay in a chickee cabin in the Everglades
    • Drive the famous Route 1 Overseas Highway to the Florida Keys
    • Enjoy beach time at Destin on the Gulf of Mexico
    • Hear live music & enjoy legendary nightlife on Bourbon Street
    Visits:
    Everglades, Miami, New Orleans, United States
    View Trip
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    Top Mississippi River Experiences and Attractions

    Top Mississippi River Experiences

    Cruising down the Mississippi in an old-fashioned paddle wheeler, reliving the days of Mark Twain.

    Reveling in the musical history and watching live performances in Memphis, Tennessee.

    Savoring the seafood and architecture of the French Quarter in New Orleans.

    Riding to the top of the Gateway Arch for a bird’s eye view of St. Louis and the Mississippi River.

    Visiting former cotton plantations in Mississippi and Louisiana and gaining a new understanding of the true horrors of slavery.

    Getting a sense of the American heartland as you cruise past farms and small towns of Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

    Enjoying the modern metropolis of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, the typical embarkation or disembarkation point for upper Mississippi cruises.

    view more

    Mississippi River Trip Reviews

    1 Mississippi River Tour Reviews - Summary 100% Recommend

    5.0 out of 5
    Excellent 1
    Great 0
    Average 0
    Disappointing 0
    Terrible 0
    Value
    5.0
    Guide
    5.0
    Activities
    5.0
    Lodging
    5.0
    Transportation
    5.0
    Meals
    5.0

    Tour Reviews Write a Review

    What a holiday!

    5.0
    • Value 5.0
    • Guide 5.0
    • Activities 5.0
    • Lodging 5.0
    • Transportation 5.0
    • Meals 5.0

    I was lucky enough to have 7 wonderful nights on the American Queen ... Along with 17 of my friends and family... From Memphis to New Orleans..Wow !! ... Cannot speak highly enough of the staff and anyone involved with this Majestic Queen of the River... Many thanks to Captain Brent for taking such great care of us rowdy lot !!..
    It is my hope we get to take another trip on this fine Lady again .... We are from Australia ...... Such a great time...
    So many positives to speak of....
    What a holiday !...

    Read more
    Operator American Queen Steamboat Company

    Mississippi River Tours and Travel Guide

    Mississippi River Attractions & Landmarks Guide

    The Mississippi flows more than 2,300 miles through America’s heartland, and passes through ten states from northern Minnesota to Louisiana, before it finally empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi connects cities as varied as New Orleans, Natchez, Vicksburg, Memphis, St. Louis and Minneapolis, and has served as the economic lifeline for all of them.

    Mississippi River cruises offer a chance to explore the mighty waterway in a relaxing environment – perhaps even on an authentic paddle-wheeler. The most popular segment is on the southern Mississippi, between New Orleans and Memphis.

    While the 2,350-mile-long Mississippi is “just” the third longest river in North America, it ranks as America’s most iconic waterway -- celebrated by author Mark Twain in the mid-19th century, continuing to play a crucial role in American commerce, and effectively dividing the United States into two regions. 

    “East of the Mississippi” generally denotes older America, with a long history dating back to Revolutionary War days, while “West of the Mississippi” connotes a younger, more frontier-minded America. 

    Of course, these are broad generalizations, but just about every American is familiar with the terms. The Mississippi is one of the touchstones of American geography, and to explore it is to explore the heart of America itself. Once you take a voyage on the “Big Muddy,” you’ll never think of the Mississippi region as just “flyover country” again. 

    From New Orleans to Memphis – the Lower Mississippi

    The lower Mississippi offers a wealth of regional music, cuisine, history, and architecture. It’s a fascinating region that is coming to terms with its past and looking to the future. You’ll encounter impressive sights and activities in Memphis, Tennessee; Natchez, Mississippi; Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana; and some small towns along the way as well. (The lower Mississippi technically starts somewhat farther north than Memphis, in Cairo, Illinois).

    In pre-Civil war days, when cotton was king, two-thirds of all American millionaires lived between New Orleans and Natchez. That all ended abruptly with the war and the abolition of slavery -- the scourge that had enabled the wealthy plantations to thrive.

    French-accented New Orleans, with its iconic French Quarter and party-central Bourbon Street, is the place to down donut-like beignets for breakfast, eat fried oysters in a modest seafood “shack,” dine royally on the finest cuisine in one of the city’s world-famous restaurants, or, of course, have a drink or two, perhaps at a local jazz club such as Preservation Hall.

    Memphis is another musical mecca. You can tour Graceland, where Elvis Presley lived; Sun Studio, where Elvis made his name; the Stax Museum, which tells the history of one of the great rhythm and blues studios; and of course  Beale Street, with its parade of blues clubs. Begin your perfect evening with some ribs at The Rendezvous or drinks atop the Madison Hotel, complete with panoramic views.

    From St. Louis to Minneapolis – the Upper Mississippi

    Cruising the upper Mississippi is a very different experience – the land of cotton gives way to the land of corn, and blues and jazz make way for the traditions of descendants of German immigrants in Iowa and Wisconsin.

    Embarkations for upper Mississippi cruises usually begin in St. Louis, Missouri, one of the river’s major cities and home to one of the country’s best zoos. 

    The swooping 530-foot-tall Gateway Arch, which sits on the west bank of the Mississippi and has become the symbol of St Louis, offers incredible views of the Mississippi and the entire area. You can ride to the top via tram or elevator, as some one million visitors do annually. Museums dedicated to westward expansion are at the foot of the steel arch.

    Mark Twain – the pen name for author Samuel Clemens and the most famous chronicler of the Mississippi River -- hailed from Hannibal, Missouri, which lies north of St. Louis along the river. Hannibal is an obligatory stop for any upper Mississippi River cruise. This is where fans of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn can enjoy a literary pilgrimage to the town where Twain found most of the inspiration for his best known fictional characters.

    Farther north, Clinton and Dubuque, Iowa, are paragons of Midwestern America. Clinton, a former lumber town, is now an agricultural capital, while Dubuque, one of the earliest settlements west of the Mississippi, is known for its historic homes. In LaCrosse, Wisconsin, farther north yet, you can sample the local breweries, which replaced the lumber industry as one of the city’s primary economic engines. 

    Upper Mississippi cruises then end in the Minneapolis area, perhaps at the historic town of Red Wing, south of St. Paul. Formerly a center for commercial shipping along the river, Red Wing is now known for its artisans and historic homes. Minneapolis-St. Paul is one of America’s most livable metropolitan areas, with plenty of museums, restaurants, and other amenities.

    The Best Time to Cruise the Mississippi

    One of the first considerations you need to make when planning your Mississippi River cruise is that the Mississippi River is not open year round for cruising. So before you get too far into planning, be sure to check!

    As with all travel destinations there are some peak times and some low times for taking a Mississippi River Cruise, each with pros and cons.  

    The Lower Mississippi has the longest season - open all year except for January and February - while the Upper Mississippi has a short season, between June and October

    If you choose to cruise the Upper Mississippi during the summer, there is a positive note regarding the tourist crowds. As you move further north along the Mississippi, you will be entering into the eastern edge of the American Midwest.

    This region is not usually included on tour itineraries of the United States, and even very few Americans vacation here. So even during the busiest times you probably won’t experience much in the way of tourist crowds, and by extension will actually get quite an authentic feel for small town America.

    If you choose to travel in the summertime, know that tt will also be incredibly hot! If you are not used to hot and humid weather, be prepared for some uncomfortable days. You can help combat the weather by dressing appropriately and drinking a lot of water.

    Cruises along the Upper Mississippi portion of the river are only available between June and October, when the water level is low enough to accommodate cruise vessels.

    The Lower Mississippi is open for several more months than the Upper Mississippi, which is good if you like off-season travel for avoiding crowds. Because the Lower Mississippi visits some of the most popular US cities, for domestic and international tourists alike, you will experience peak tourist crowds during the summertime. These cities include Memphis, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge.

    Top Mississippi River Travel Companies

    Things to Know Before You Go

    River cruises along the Mississippi are usually history focused. The river held tremendous importance to the formation of the United States, from several different cultural and economical factors.

    Mississippi River cruises last anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks. In some cases your Mississippi River cruise will be a portion of a larger trip, rather than the main theme or mode of transport.

    What to wear on a Mississippi River cruise

    Most Mississippi River Cruises have a down home feel, without sacrificing a few luxury amenities, food and drink quality, or customer service. These kinds of river cruises are not the “dress for dinner” kind of experience, but note that the primary age group will be older, and they may take this approach.

    The Weather Along the Mississippi River

    The Mississippi River covers a lot of ground, from the hot and humid southern United States to the dryer northern midwest.

    Light drizzles are common - but are rarely cold. In fact they will be a welcome respite from the heat! It can get windy along the Mississippi, so if you get cold easily be sure to bring layers.

    You may also experience a thunderstorm or two when traveling on a Mississippi River Cruise. These can be spectacular displays, but often happen without a lot of warning.

    Other Ways to See the Mississippi

    Note that not all Mississippi River tours will be an extended cruise along the river itself. Your tour may include a crossing of the river before continuing on to explore more of the Southern and Eastern United States.

    There are also some Mississippi River cruise itineraries that included other rivers. These include the Ohio River - a great choice if you’re looking to experience the vibrant town of Louisville, Kentucky - and the Cumberland River.

    All Mississippi River cruises, tours, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 5.0 for all Mississippi River trips.

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