On this enlightening journey on the Upper Mississippi, you will hear stories of pioneers and the Lewis and Clark Expedition; walk in the footsteps of Mark Twain; and learn about the Norwegian migration. Enjoy the view as your ship navigates through the river’s intricate lock system. And experience the region’s many cultural treasures—from ragtime, polka and Norwegian folk music to Wisconsin cheese, craft beer and hearty stews.
Day 1 - St. Paul
Arrive in St. Paul, then transfer to your ship.* After boarding, the afternoon is yours to relax or explore the city on your own. The “Twin Cities” boast distinctive neighborhoods; diverse ethnic, traditional and contemporary eateries; and an acclaimed arts scene—all served up with friendly Midwestern manners. (Dinner)
*Ground transfers are included with Viking Air purchase.
Day 2 - Red Wing
Enjoy the scenic landscape of this portion of the Mississippi as we sail to Red Wing, known for its American-made Red Wing Shoes, which produced footwear for soldiers in both world wars. The city was named after a celebrated Sioux chief whose red-dyed swan wing indicated his rank. The first settlers arrived in the mid-1800s, many from New England. They grew more wheat than any county in the nation. German, Irish and Scandinavian immigrants followed. Today, enjoy a city tour coupled with a visit to the National Eagle Center in nearby Wabasha, where you will learn all about eagle biology, ecology and natural history from one of the center’s resident eagle ambassadors. Optional opportunities include a scenic cruise across Lake Pepin and the “Mighty Mississippi.” (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 3 - La Crosse
After breakfast on board, explore La Crosse and its numerous sites on the National Register of Historic Places, with a panoramic tour of the city. Its important architectural landmarks, along with the array of engaging statues lining the riverfront, make La Crosse feel like a vast open air museum. Or, consider an optional journey to Decorah, Iowa. Nestled among beautiful rolling hills unscathed by the leveling march of the glaciers, Decorah is a blend of small-town charm and urban convenience, and at its heart is Vesterheim, the national Norwegian American museum and heritage center, the largest museum in the United States dedicated to one single immigrant group. While in town, enjoy the friendliest shopping experience you have ever had in Decorah’s many boutiques and have a delicious lunch in one of the several local restaurants. Decorah is also home to the “second-best brewery in the world”—Toppling Goliath. Sign on for a brewery tour and have an amazing craft-brewed pint with your lunch. Other recreational options abound: a tour of the world-renowned Seed Savers Exchange, or on-your-own trout fishing or cycling adventures on the city’s justly famous biking trails. Tonight, dine on board as you continue sailing. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 4 - Dubuque
Arrive in Dubuque, where you will capture the flavor of life along the Mississippi during the great Steamboat Era. As you tour the city known as the “Masterpiece on the Mississippi,” see the Mathias Ham House, which was built by one of Dubuque’s earliest entrepreneurs and exemplifies the opulent Victorian lifestyle of a booming river town before the Civil War. At Cable Car Square, a whimsical area with period-style lampposts in the historic downtown neighborhood, shops in old brownstones offer everything from jewelry to quilting supplies. Down at the river, the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium is filled with five large tank displays, plus interactive exhibits and artifacts that tell the stories of the people who discovered, lived upon and celebrated the waterways of the United States. Or you may choose to shop on Galena’s Main Street, lined with more than 100 interesting antique shops, pubs, wine bars and restaurants housed in historic redbrick and stone buildings that date to the mid-1800s. This Americana haven was recognized as one of America’s greatest Main Streets by Travel + Leisure. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 5 - Quad Cities
Begin your day with a visit to the John Deere Pavilion—created as a celebration of the past, present and future of agribusiness—and the Deere family homes. Then, perhaps take an optional tour of a local family-owned and -operated farm to learn about modern-day farming techniques. You may choose to visit the Quad City Botanical Center to discover the delicious history of chocolate or stroll through the Figge Art Museum. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 6 - Burlington
Continue along the Mississippi this morning. Arrive in Burlington for a guided tour revealing small-town America in its historic downtown. Discover the Des Moines County Heritage Center, Garrett-Phelps House Museum, First Congregational Church, Capitol Theater and many more sites. Enjoy a breathtaking view of the Mississippi from Mosquito Park and take a stroll along Snake Alley, “the crookedest street in the world.” You will have the opportunity to embark on an optional excursion to Nauvoo and Fort Madison. Step back in time at Old Fort Madison and discover military life as it was lived on the rugged frontier of the Louisiana Territory. The fort is an amazingly accurate reconstruction of the first military fort on the Upper Mississippi. Enter the fascinating world of Historic Nauvoo, home of the Illinois Nauvoo Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints since 1839. The restored homes, mercantile establishments and community buildings maintain the charm of what was once a beautiful, industrious city. Today, Nauvoo provides an opportunity to experience the people and times of the past. Back on board, unwind with an afternoon cookout. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 7 - Hannibal
This community is best known as the childhood home of author Mark Twain and the setting of his Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Enjoy the stories and sites of Twain’s days in Hannibal as you hear about Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Becky Thatcher and Injun Joe. You may even see firsthand the fence of whitewashing fame. You will also visit the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, with its extensive collection of Twain memorabilia. This walking portion of the tour includes seven museum properties—all located within a two-block area—including the Museum Gallery, where vivid depictions of the author’s stories are displayed in 15 original Norman Rockwell paintings. Twain’s colorful characters are brought to life during a trip through the Mark Twain Cave. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 8 - St. Louis
After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the airport for your return flight, or extend your journey with additional nights in St. Louis. (Breakfast)
* Ground transfers are included with Viking Air purchase.