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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.

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Top Mississippi River Attractions

New Orleans


St. Louis

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Must See Mississippi River Attractions

1. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans Square United States

At the other end of the spectrum is the lively and famous city of New Orleans. An obligatory stop on all Lower Mississippi River cruises, New Orleans is a place like no other. You should definitely plan to stay a few days if possible, either at the start or end of your cruise, because there really is so much to take in.

A few days will give you enough time for history tours, shopping, seeing some live music, and of course eating. Eating in between all the other wonderful activities to be sure you get all the tastes of New Orleans: Creole influenced cuisine, classic southern fare, and French cuisine. Don’t forget about the beignets.

2. Oak Alley Plantation, Louisiana

Oak Alley Plantation Louisiana

The American South is home to some of the country’s most beautiful homes. Though of course the stunning southern plantation houses are tied to an extremely dark period in American history.

The south has tried to address this juxtaposition with comprehensive exhibits and history tours that highlight everyone who lived on the plantations - slaves and masters alike. These tours help keep the original houses from falling into disrepair, and serve as a key moment of education for visitors to the south.

Oak Alley is among the more famous restored plantation house - and a very popular port of call stop on Lower Mississippi River cruises.

3. Hannibal, Missouri

Mark Twain

Travelers on an Upper Mississippi River cruise will have a chance to indulge in a town steeped in Mark Twain goodness. The prolific author was from Hannibal, and his words are as much a part of the Mississippi as the river itself.

The town is a favored stop among cruisers, a highlight being visiting the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum. Hannibal is also notable for having numerous ghost tours, many art galleries, and a buzzing theater scene.

4. St. Louis, Missouri

St Louis Gateway Arch

“Meet Me in St. Louis”. The film by that name brings enthusiastic musical lovers to the vibrant city every year. St. Louis boasts a thriving art and theater scene, and it is the inaugural port of call for most Upper Mississippi River cruises. The famous Gateway Arch welcomes visitors as they arrive. Enjoy anything from a classic midwestern meal to a night of upscale cocktail bars and restaurants.

5. Trail of Tears State Park, Missouri

As you transition out of the Civil War historic battlefields and the creole roots of Louisiana, you begin to enter the wider expanses of the midwest. Here you’ll encounter a very painful moment in America’s past - when thousands of Native Americans were forced to head west along what is today known as The Trail of Tears.

The state park dedicated to this event features a memorial, as well as several hiking paths and campgrounds. It lies right on the bank of the Mississippi, though there is no major dock for the cruise ships. So you will likely be able to learn about the trails history on-board, but you probably won’t be able to stop.

6. Vicksburg, Mississippi

Vicksburg civil war reenactments in Mississippi

Extremely popular among Civil War buffs, the city of Vicksburg is a very common port of call on Lower Mississippi River cruises. Here you can watch Civil War reenactments, encounter famous Civil War ghosts in Cedar Hill Cemetery, and take in many other sites of significance during the American Civil War.

7. Memphis, Tennessee

Graceland in Memphis Tennessee

Elvis fans, get ready. Memphis is a true mecca for music lovers, and sees a steady stream of tourists eager to explore Graceland, the former home of the legendary rock star. Memphis is also a great place for seeing live music, particularly along historic Beale St. Many up and coming musicians make their way here, and bars and small music venues always have something interesting on the bill.

Also in Memphis, you can see the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed in 1968. The motel is rather eerily frozen in time, and there is a National Civil Rights museum inside.

8. Red Wing, Minnesota

Minnesota is a quintessential midwestern state. From the much imitated accent to the landscape to the down to earth people.

Red Wing is a starting or ending port of call on many Upper Mississippi River cruises. The city is actually quite beautiful, with many state parks. It’s a great destination for hiking, bird watching, and wildlife viewing.

Mississippi River Tour Reviews - Summary
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What a holiday! January 2017


Memphis to St. Louis

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 !...
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Operator American Queen Steamboat Company

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