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Mighty Mississippi: Bridging America

Program Number: 20726RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/5/2015 - 9/13/2015;
Duration: 8 nights
Location: Minnesota/Wisconsin/Iowa/Missouri
Price starting at: $4,799.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; River Boats Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 22; 8 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 7 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Discover the Upper Mississippi River aboard the magnificent American Queen, an authentic paddlewheel steamboat that recalls the romance and adventure of the past. Absorb the river’s natural beauty, learn about America’s expansion across the continent and hear the stories of characters like Mark Twain and Zebulon Pike. Throughout your adventure, enjoy insights from Mississippi River steamboat historian Jerry Sutphin.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to one mile per day.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

St. Paul, Minn., 1 night; aboard American Queen, 7 nights.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.

Days 1-2: Arrival St. Paul, Minn. / embark American Queen:

Discover Minnesota’s capital on an expert-led excursion before boarding the steamboat to begin your Mississippi River voyage. Lodging: Comfortable hotel with lovely courtyard.

Day 3: Red Wing:

In this small manufacturing city, visit a maker of handcrafted harps and the pottery district. Continue to Wabasha, the oldest city on the Upper Mississippi, to encounter bald eagles at the National Eagle Center.

Day 4: La Crosse, Wis.:

Enjoy a field trip to the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse Library, housing the largest collection of steamboat photographs in the world.

Day 5: Dubuque, Iowa:

Visit the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, an affiliate of the Smithsonian. Exhibits include a towboat pilothouse simulator, the National Rivers Hall of Fame, the steamboat invention theater and reproductions of various river environments.

Day 6: Davenport:

Learn about the river history of Davenport, the largest of the Quad Cities. The first railroad bridge across the Mississippi was built here; soon after, a steamboat captain who viewed railroads as a threat to his business deliberately crashed his ship into the bridge.

Day 7: Burlington:

In 1805, explorer Zebulon Pike’s Mississippi River expedition landed at Burlington and raised the American flag for the first time on Iowa soil. Discover this historic town and sail under the Great River Bridge.

Day 8: Hannibal, Mo.:

At the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, find out how the life of Samuel Clemens inspired the classics he penned as Mark Twain. Board the Twainland Express to view other important sites from the author’s youth.

Day 9: St. Louis / disembark / departure

American Queen

The largest steamboat ever built, the American Queen is a recreation of a classic Mississippi riverboat featuring a steam-powered paddlewheel, lacy filigree and, inside, glistening woodwork and antiques. Public areas include the Mark Twain Gallery library, the Grand Saloon and a lounge. Wine and beer are complimentary with dinner.

Meals and Lodgings
   Embassy Suites Bloomington
  Saint Paul, MN 1 night
   American Queen
  On the Mississippi River aboard the American Queen 7 nights
 Embassy Suites Bloomington
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: Enjoy an authentic French bistro atmosphere at Chez Daniel, or grab a coffee at City Blend A complimentary Bloomington hotel shuttle will take you to MSP Airport, Mall of America and more.
  Ship Information: N/A
  Contact info: 2800 American Boulevard West
Bloomington, MN 55431 USA
phone: 952-884-4811
  Room amenities: Air Conditioning Black-Out Curtains Clock Radio w/ MP3 Connection Ergonomic Desk Chair Feather Pillows Non Allergenic HD Channels In-Room Movie Channel Non-Smoking Double Locking Doors Electronic Locks Electronic Smoke Detector Thumb Dead Bolt Microwave Mini Refrigerator Iron/Ironing Board
  Facility amenities: Automated Teller (ATM) Beverage Area, Complimentary Breakfast Area, Complimentary Coin Laundry Gift Shop Laundry/Valet Service Lounge On-Site Convenience Store Room Service Safety Deposit Box Fitness Room Pool
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Subject to availability Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services at 800-241-1404 or via email at
  Check in time: 4:00 PM

 American Queen
Type: Riverboat
  Description: •The only authentic overnight paddlewheel steamboat in America. •The acclaimed cuisine of famed American chef Regina Charboneau. •The only steamboat with multiple, specialty dining options, all at no additional charge. •Complimentary bottled water and soft drinks throughout your voyage. •Complimentary wines and beers at dinner. •All staterooms feature gourmet coffee brewers and Starbucks coffee. •Gracious, friendly service from a professionally trained all-American staff. •The warm and inviting ambiance of an antebellum mansion. •Public rooms and accommodations are decorated with Victorian charm and carefully selected antiques. •Elegant-casual attire throughout your voyage — no formal wear required. •Daily lectures by the Riverlorian, our onboard river historian. •Professional showboat-style entertainment nightly. •Nightly dancing to swing and big band music. •Enthralling calliope concerts and a chance for guests to play!
  Ship Information: Length: 418 feet long Capacity: 436 passengers
  Contact info: One Commerce Square
40 South Main Street, 21st Floor
Memphis, TN 38103 USA
phone: 190-165-4260 x0
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
St. Paul, Minnesota.. 5:30PM at the hotel. You will be staying at Embassy Suites Bloomington that night.
  End of Program:
St. Louis, Missouri The ship docks at 8:00AM. You will be staying at American Queen the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Due to US Coast Guard requirements, "The Guest Information Form" towards the back of your packet must be completed as soon as possible and emailed or faxed to the cruise line at or 901-654-2639. Your reservation number will be printed on the important information page of this packet as your Booking ID. If you’ve received your information packet electronically please email for your reservation number. Failure to return this form 30 days prior to your program may jeopardize your ability to board the American Queen. Your cruise documents and boarding pass will be handed out at the program orientation.
  Parking availability:
A group transfer will be included for those who have booked their air through Road Scholar. Details will be included in your 2nd mailing which you will receive approximately 5 weeks prior to your program start date.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Saint Paul, MN
  Nearest city or town:  Saint Paul
  Nearest highway: US 35W, US 94
  Nearest airport:  Minneapolis/Saint Paul International Airport (MSP)
  From End of Program
  Location:  On the Mississippi River aboard the American Queen
Travel Details

St. Louis


To Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Road Scholar Transfer


Travel Time:


30 minutes 




20 miles


Road Scholar will provide a free transfer for those who book flights through Road Scholar Travel Services. More information will be included in your final information packet.


Minneapolis St. Paul Airport


From Airport




Hotel Shuttle
phone: 952-884-4811
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


Approximately 15-20 minutes from the airport 




8 miles


The Embassy Suites runs a complimentary shuttle from the airport to the hotel.


Minneapolis St. Paul Airport


From Airport






Per Person/One Way:


Approximately $30 per taxi
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


Approximately 10 minutes from the airport 




8 miles


Lambert St. Louis Airport


To Airport






Per Person/One Way:


$38 for one or two people
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


24 minutes 




17 miles

Elevation Note: Flat terrain.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival, orientation, welcome dinner.
(Saturday, September 5)
 Afternoon: Arrivals in St Paul. Look for Charlene in the lobby at the Hospitality desk between 12 and 5 p.m. Welcome Reception at 5:30 pm in the hotel lobby.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner and orientation at the hotel.
Accommodations: Embassy Suites Bloomington
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: St. Paul, MN
(Sunday, September 6)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: After breakfast we will enjoy a field trip of St Paul. Learn about how the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers helped shaped this city's history and its rise to prominence as the capital of Minnesota.
 Lunch: Lunch in a local restaurant
 Afternoon: Transfer to the American Queen for boarding.
 Dinner: Onboard the American Queen.
 Evening: The American Queen is scheduled to depart St. Paul at 7:30 p.m. The skyline of the Twin Cities at its most striking when seen from the vantage of the river itself.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Red Wing, Minnesota
(Monday, September 7)
 Breakfast: Onboard the American Queen.
 Morning: Red Wing is home to a variety of shops, including arts, antiques, pottery and one-of-a kind boutiques. Red Wing ranks as one of Minnesota's leading manufacturing cities. Historically it is known as home to products including its famous shoes, pottery and linseed oil. Start your exploration of Red Wing at the Visitor Center and Art for some vital information about the city. Discover Minnesota’s favorite destination for things such as antiques and pottery at the Pottery Place District. Then visit the Stoney Ends Harps, who have made handcrafted folk lever harps for 25 years. At the Historic West End, you will find the Native American, Military and Sheldon Performing Arts Theatre. Don’t miss the spectacular view of bluffs of Minnesota and Wisconsin that await you at Memorial Park.
 Lunch: Onboard the American Queen.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, we travel to Wabasha, Minnesota, the oldest city on the Upper Mississippi River. At the home of the National Eagle Center, eagles are in abundance during the winter months, and they nest here year-round. The Center in downtown Wabasha houses bald eagles and a golden eagle and is open for programs and special groups. Visitors from all over the world have been to Wabasha to have a "nose to beak" experience with America's national symbol of freedom - the American bald eagle.
 Dinner: Onboard the American Queen.
 Evening: Enjoy an evening show onboard the American Queen.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: La Crosse, Wisconsin
(Tuesday, September 8)
 Breakfast: Onboard the American Queen.
 Morning: Enjoy a relaxed morning onboard before we dock in La Crosse, WI, a gem of Victorian and Art Deco architecture.
 Lunch: Onboard the American Queen.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, we will visit the University of Wisconsin Library, housing the largest collection of steamboat photographs in the world.
 Dinner: Onboard the American Queen.
 Evening: Enjoy an evening show onboard the American Queen.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Dubuque, Iowa
(Wednesday, September 9)
 Breakfast: Onboard the American Queen.
 Morning: Visit the Mississippi River Museum, a satellite of the Smithsonian. The National Rivers Hall of Fame captures the drama of river people from all across America. Explore our nation's rivers in the keelboat audio exhibit. Enjoy the steamboat invention theater, then steer barges in a modern-day towboat pilothouse simulator. The Hall of Fame inductees are the pioneers, the explorers and the artists who are no longer living.
 Lunch: Onboard the American Queen.
 Afternoon: Free time to explore Dubuque on your own. You might want to join the American Queen's Hop-On, Hop-Off coach and explore the Grand Opera House.
 Dinner: Onboard the American Queen.
 Evening: Enjoy an evening show onboard the American Queen.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Davenport, Iowa
(Thursday, September 10)
 Breakfast: Onboard the American Queen.
 Morning: Located approximately half way between Chicago and Des Moines, Davenport is the largest of the Quad Cities. Learn about the history of this important rail and riverboat transit center on the Upper Mississippi River.
 Lunch: Onboard the American Queen.
 Afternoon: Free time to explore Davenport on your own. You might want to join the American Queen's Hop-On, Hop-Off coach.
 Dinner: Onboard the American Queen
 Evening: Enjoy an evening show onboard the American Queen.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Burlington, Iowa
(Friday, September 11)
 Breakfast: Onboard the American Queen.
 Morning: Located on bluffs above the Mississippi, the city of Burlington was the first capital of the Iowa Territory.
 Lunch: Onboard the American Queen.
 Afternoon: Burlington
 Dinner: Onboard the American Queen.
 Evening: Enjoy an evening show onboard the American Queen.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Hannibal, Missouri
(Saturday, September 12)
 Breakfast: Onboard.
 Morning: This morning we arrive in Mark Twain’s boyhood hometown, Hannibal, MO to board the Twainland Express for a journey enlivened by the spirit of Samuel Clemens, who authored American classics under the pen name of Mark Twain. Begin your journey into the town that inspired the author’s imagination at the Mark Twain Boyhood House & Museum. See the Justice of Peace, the courtroom setting used for trial in Tom Sawyer’s story. Visit the Becky Thatcher House, home of Tom Sawyer’s first sweetheart. Delight your palate. Then, take a journey to a time where the golden age of railroading and toy trains were part of most everyone’s life at the Big River Train Town Museum. Last but not least, enjoy visiting local Trinity Church or perhaps taste some wine at the Mark Twain Winery.
 Lunch: Onboard the American Queen.
 Afternoon: This afternoon we will gather for a lecture by Jerry Sutphin which will focus on the navigation on the Upper Mississippi River tributaries and the logging industry. He will discuss the history of steamboats and navigation on the St. Croix River, Wisconsin-Fox Rivers, Missouri River, and Illinois River and their impact on the upper Mississippi River.
 Evening: Enjoy an evening show onboard the American Queen.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 9: St. Louis, Missouri
(Sunday, September 13)
 Breakfast: Onboard
 Morning: Disembark in St. Louis. Transfer to the airport for flights back home.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Saint Paul, MN Common Good Books
Garrison Keillor is the proprietor of this gem of a bookstore located at 38 South Snelling Avenue near Grand in St. Paul. The bookstore holds many special events. The motto is, “live local, read large.” Call 651 -225- 8989 or visit For additional information, visit
  Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
The Como Park Zoo & Conservatory is operated by the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department. The zoo features a seal island, a large cat exhibit, a variety of aquatic life, primates, birds, African hoofed animals and a world class polar bear exhibit.

The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is a half acre indoor and outdoor facility with a number of different wings dedicated to a variety of plant life including bonsai trees, ferns, orchids and seasonal flowers. Information from For additional information call 651-487-8200 or visit their website. For additional information, visit

  Fitzgerald Theater
Fitzgerald Theater is Minnesota Public Radio’s largest broadcast studio, with airwaves reaching millions of people tuned in to “A Prairie Home Companion.” The theater seats 1000 and has artists, authors and radio host programs creating intellectually stimulating programs that delight and enlighten the vast public radio community. The Fitzgerald is St. Paul’s oldest theater and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010. The address is 10 East Exchange Street, St. Paul. Phone 651 -290- 1200 or visit For additional information, visit
  Grand Avenue from Dale to Cleveland
Looking for things to do in the Twin Cities? Look no further than Grand Avenue, St. Paul. Experience a small town feel in the big city, where charming traditions mingle with a modern lifestyle. Home to specialty businesses, many family owned and run. For additional information, visit
  Guthrie Theater
While the Guthrie Theater's mission and artistic excellence have remained constant, much has changed over the past four decades. What began as a summer season of four productions supported by a minimal staff is now a complex organization employing more than 900 people per year. As the Guthrie entered the millennium, plans began to build a new multistage theater center on the banks of the Mississippi River. It opened June 25, 2006, and the complex includes three stages: a classic thrust stage for the grand-scale classics of the centuries, a proscenium stage for the more intimate classics of this century, and a studio theater for developing the classics of tomorrow. Information from For additional information call 612-225-6000 or visit their website. For additional information, visit
  Landmark Center
Landmark Center serves as a cultural center for music, dance, theater, exhibitions, public forums and hosts countless special events. Houses the American Association of Woodturners Gallery, the Schubert Club musical instrument museum and the Ramsey County Historical Society. Call 651-292-3225 or visit For additional information, visit
  Mall of America
As one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world, Mall of America features 520 stores, 50 restaurants and attractions galore, including Nickelodeon Universe, the nation's largest theme park. Plus, there's no sales tax on clothing or shoes in Minnesota! Information from For additional information call 952-883-8800 or visit their website. For additional information, visit
  Minneapolis Institute of Arts
In 1883, twenty-five citizens of Minneapolis founded the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts, committing them to bringing the arts into the life of their community. More than a century later, the museum they created, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, stands as a monument to a remarkable history of civic involvement and cultural achievement. The MIA's permanent collection has grown from eight hundred works of art to around eighty thousand objects. The MIA has seven curatorial areas: Arts of Africa & the Americas; Contemporary Art; Decorative Arts, Textiles & Sculpture; Asian Art; Paintings; Photography and New Media; Prints and Drawings; and Textiles. Information from For additional information call 612-870-3131 or visit their website. For additional information, visit
  Penumbra Theatre
Penumbra Theatre was founded in 1975 by Lou Bellamy to create a forum for African-American voices in the Twin Cities’ well-respected theater community. Through its commitment to provide realistic, inspirational works that redefine the consciousness of its audience, the Penumbra quickly garnered praise and a loyal following. Over the years that followed, Penumbra has achieved national recognition for its quality productions and leadership role in launching the career of many respected playwrights, including two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson. Address is 270 North Kent Street, St. Paul. Call 651-224-3180 or visit For additional information, visit
  Visit Saint Paul Convention & Visitors Bureau
Call for more information, 800.627.6101, or visit them online. For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

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Hannibal Missouri, A Brief History

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Life on the Mississippi

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