On this charming vacation, enjoy a 7-night cruise along the Mississippi River. Before boarding your cruise, spend time in Illinois, including a sightseeing tour and two nights in Chicago, a visit to the Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum in Pontiac, and a stop in Springfield, Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace, where you will visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. In St. Louis, Missouri, ride to the top of the 630-foot-high Gateway Arch before boarding your paddlewheel steamboat, American Queen, for a cruise along the mighty Mississippi River to St. Paul, Minnesota. Along the way, stop in Hannibal, the boyhood home of Mark Twain; Dubuque, Iowa’s oldest city and the Victorian capital of the United States; La Crosse; and Red Wing. In between towns, relax on board as you cruise. You may take a dip in the pool, enjoy a spa treatment, dance to the music of a Dixieland band, or do nothing at all as you sit in a rocking chair watching the scenery.
Day #1 Arrive In Chicago. Welcome to the “Windy City!” At 6 pm, meet your fellow traveling companions for a welcome drink. Your Tour Director will prepare you for your upcoming adventure.
Day #2 Chicago. This morning, see the sights and sounds of Chicago. See Navy Pier, the shops of Michigan Avenue, Millennium Park, the Chicago River, and more. Time this afternoon to explore on your own or perhaps shop for souvenirs. Later, travel to the top of the JOHN HANCOCK OBSERVATORY, where you’ll sip cocktails and take in breathtaking 360-degree views across Lake Michigan and four states. Dinner will be at a local restaurant. (B,D)
Day #3 Chicago–Pontiac–Springfield–St. Louis. Leave Chicago behind and journey into the heart of Illinois, where you’ll travel on a portion of Route 66—America’s “Mother Road.” Visit the ROUTE 66 HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM and see the nostalgic photos and postcards from its heyday. We’ll also stop in Springfield, the birthplace of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Explore the historic downtown neighborhood followed by a visit to the ABRAHAM LINCOLN PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY, a unique museum dedicated to the life and legacy of Springfield’s greatest citizen. Arrive in St. Louis and enjoy a traditional dinner at one of St. Louis’ legendary BBQ restaurants. (B,D)
Day #4 St. Louis (Embarkation)–Cruise Along the Mississippi River. This morning’s orientation tour of St. Louis includes Laclede’s Landing, the Soulard Historic District, Union Station, and Forest Park, site of the 1904 World’s Fair. Then, visit the famed GATEWAY ARCH and ride to the top of the 630-foot-high iconic structure for panoramic views of the city and river below. Later this afternoon, board the American Queen and begin your voyage on the mighty Mississippi. (B,D)
Day #5 A Day of Scenic Steamboat Cruising. Spend today exploring the ship and getting to know your crew and fellow passengers. On board, you are free to do as much or as little as you want. Enjoy a show in the Grand Saloon, take a tour of the pilot house, savor Afternoon Tea, tap your toes to the music of a Dixieland band, attend a lecture by the Riverlorian, or just sit back and relax on a front porch rocking chair and watch the scenery go by. (B,L,D)
Day #6 Cruising: Hannibal. Founded in 1819, this river town soon flourished as a principal docking port for steamboats traveling the upper Mississippi. It was also the boyhood home of Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. Enjoy the city’s rich past, thriving art community, and historic homes. (B,L,D)
Day #7 A Day of Scenic Steamboat Cruising. Another day to kick back and enjoy the true essence of traveling by steamboat. You may want to take a dip in the pool, play cards with new friends, sip a refreshing cocktail, relax with an optional spa treatment, or take a spin around the dance floor in the evening. The possibilities are endless! (B,L,D)
Day #8 Cruising: Dubuque. Iowa’s oldest city is also the Victorian capital of the United States. Stroll along the Mississippi Riverwalk, tour a 150-year-old jail, browse the quaint shops on Main Street, or explore the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. An AVALON EXCLUSIVE: this morning, enjoy a private visit to nearby Galena. This picturesque and historic town will charm you with its Main Street, eclectic boutiques and antique stores, scenic vistas, and rich history. You’ll be treated to an orientation tour, some free time to explore on your own, and lunch at a local restaurant. (B,L,D)
Day #9 Cruising: La Crosse. Today is dedicated to a town whose name originated when a group of Europeans on a Mississippi River expedition saw Native Americans playing a game with sticks that resembled a bishop’s crozier, or la Crosse in French. Visit the historic downtown, browse the shops, admire the diverse architecture—from Victorian to Art Deco—or sample local fare at one of the award-winning restaurants. (B,L,D)
Day #10 Cruising: Red Wing. Originally settled by immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden, the town is known for its skilled craftsmen and lush wheat fields. Take a trolley ride down historic Main Street, sample local wines, or visit the world-famous Red Wing Pottery or Red Wing Shoes factory. (B,L,D)
Day #11 St. Paul (Disembarkation). The vacation ends this morning after breakfast. Transfers are included to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Please schedule flights after 11 am. (B)