Ports of Call

Discover America’s Hidden Treasures Sophisticated, Charming and Surprising Ports of Call


Homeports

Chattanooga, TN | Tarry in lively Chattanooga, graced by nature with remarkable vistas including a view of seven states from atop towering Lookout Mountain, home to the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, and stroll to the world-class Hunter Museum of American Art across the wrought-iron Walnut Street Bridge, the world’s longest pedestrian bridge.

Memphis, TN | Take in the sounds of Memphis, where a stroll on soulful Beale Street, a tour of Graceland, or a visit to the Stax Museum of Soul Music and the Rock 'n' Soul Museum will have you feeling the beat.

Nashville, TN | Rejoice music lovers for you are in heaven, also known as "Music City, U.S.A.", home to the iconic Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Gaze in awe at the majestic Parthenon in Centennial Park, next to venerable Vanderbilt University.

New Orleans, LA | Amble along the festive streets of the "Big Easy", where the scent of Creole dishes and the strains of jazz mingle within stately French Quarter homes, and hop on a streetcar to further uncover this most European of American cities.

St. Louis, MO | Wonder at the St. Louis Arch, an unequaled architectural statement that defines this storied town, then continue your architectural tour at the imposing Cathedral of St. Louis. Indulge a less lofty American pastime at the Anheuser-Busch brewery, an American classic.

St. Paul, MN | Admire the Cathedral of St. Paul, a beaux-arts wonder that emulates St. Peter's in Rome, and soak in the arts at the city's world-class museums, including the Walker Art Center. Detour to Minnehaha Falls, best known for Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha.

Deep South


Alexandria, LA | Reflect on the tumultuous history of the region here in the exact geographical center of Louisiana by visiting Kent Plantation House, a classic example of French Colonial architecture featuring enlightening tours of both house and grounds.

Baton Rouge, LA | Tour the exceptional and fascinating Rural Life Museum, with its extensive collection of 19th and early 20th century artifacts and buildings, before heading into the proud and lively Louisiana state capital. Take time at the new and old State Capitols, both handsome and striking edifices in their own right.

Chester, IL | Get tickled by the Popeye Museum and the beloved sailor's statue, found here in the hometown of his creator, E. C. Segar. Journey to Ste. Genevieve and admire the preserved French Colonial architecture.

Greenville, MS | Delve into the shrouded past at Winterville Mounds, an archaeological site that offers a rare look into the lives of early American peoples. Grasp how the Mississippi Delta played a key role for natives centuries before Europeans stumbled upon it.

Helena, AR | You're sure to agree with Mark Twain's assessment that Helena "occupies one of the prettiest situations on the Mississippi," but there's more than just looks to this hub of blues music, which features the lovingly reconstructed Civil War-era Fort Curtis.

Houmas House, LA | Be enchanted by this prosperous antebellum plantation estate and its inviting gardens, a wildly popular site for dream weddings, and also the setting for the riveting Olivia de Havilland and Bette Davis movie Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

Natchez, MS | Get lost among over 500 gallant antebellum buildings in this magnificent town, one of America's most historically significant national treasures. Chat up the friendly locals in the thriving entertainment district Natchez-Under-the-Hill, which Mark Twain once described as having a "desperate reputation, morally."

Natchitoches, LA | Relish the European and Creole flavors of the oldest settlement in Louisiana, where a vast array of landmarks await, which include the Kaffie-Frederick Mercantile Store, the oldest general store in Louisiana, and the Steel Magnolia movie filming sites.

New Madrid, MO | Imagine this sleepy village flattened in 1811 by North America's strongest recorded earthquake, and later further shaken up by 1862's Battle of Island Number Ten. Artifacts are on view at the quaint Historical Museum and the Hunter-Dawson State Historic Site.

Oak Alley, LA | Linger at one of the most photogenic sites in America, majestic Oak Alley Plantation, and stroll its allée, lined by 28 massive oaks more than 300 years old. Tour the Big House and investigate the buildings dotting the lovely grounds.

Pine Bluff, AR | Delight in the rare vintage steam engines found at the Arkansas Railroad Museum here in amiable Pine Bluff, then browse the Civil War and WWII artifacts at the Jefferson County Historical Museum or experience the bounty of the Arkansas River at the Delta Rivers Nature Center.

Shreveport, LA | Marvel at mankind's ingenuity at the Barksdale Global Power Museum, home to an impressive collection of military aircraft, and the Shreveport Water Works Museum, showcasing a century of water extraction through innovative engineering. Don't overlook the lively casino scene.

Vicksburg, MS | Hear the distant echoes of Ulysses S. Grant's call to arms as he lay a 47-day siege to the city, now immortalized at the essential Vicksburg National Military Park, which houses the ironclad USS Cairo, victim of the first torpedo.

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Mississippi Headwaters


Beardstown, IL | Step into living history at the Beardstown Courthouse, where a young lawyer named Abraham Lincoln once practiced law and which was the site of a famed Lincoln-Douglas debate in 1858, then ponder the town’s importance during the Black Hawk War of 1832.

Davenport, IA | Appreciate the exploding cultural scene at this city founded on the site of the 1832 Black Hawk purchase, as well as surrounding attractions such as the excellent Figge Art Museum, the Rock Island Arsenal, the John Deere Historic Site and the beauty of numerous buildings registered as National Historic Landmarks.

Dubuque, IA/Galena, IL | Build up your knowledge of Dubuque's early river commerce at the intriguing Smithsonian-affiliated Mississippi River Museum, and take a journey to the Ulysses S. Grant home and Blaum Bros. Distillery in Galena.

Grafton, IL | Check out the charming Grafton Historic District, one of several areas and buildings on the national Register of Historic Places, shop for handcrafted gifts or tour a local winery. Keep a sharp lookout and you just might see one of the area’s bald eagles soar through the sky.

Hannibal, MO | Pay tribute to Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, at his Boyhood Home and Museum in this welcoming town. Reenact Tom and Huck's exploits if you're feeling mischievous, as Hannibal provided the setting for their quintessentially American adventures.

Havana, IL | Grab your binoculars and go bird-watching at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge, discover Native American culture at the nearby Dickson Mounds State Museum, or head a bit farther down the road to Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

La Crosse, WI | Survey three states atop towering Grandad Bluff, then discover the creative talents of the locals at the Pump House Regional Arts Center. And no visit is complete without a snapshot of the World's Largest Six Pack.

Ottawa, IL | Located at the spot where the Fox River meets the last navigable portion of the Illinois River, this town sits just 90 miles from Chicago. Understand the struggles of slaves with a tour of the John Hossack House, a critical station on the Underground Railroad that ushered tens of thousands of souls to freedom.

Peoria, IL | Visit the remarkable Peoria Riverfront Museum just a few steps from the Louisiane, check out the enormous and sophisticated equipment at the exceptional Caterpillar Visitor Center, and inhale the sweet fragrance of the Luthy Botanical Garden’s colorful blooms.

Peru, IL | Stroll the quaint streets of this town which was once an important steamboat hub and also a center for the manufacture of alarm clocks for nearly a century. Take a hike along one of the trails in Baker Lake Park and listen for a summer band concert in Centennial Park.

Prairie du Chien, WI | Contemplate 10,000 years of Native American history at this once bustling fur-trading center, now host to five National Historic Landmarks, including the Victorian stunner Villa Louis. Locals insist you stop by Valley Fish and Cheese for their mouthwatering victuals.

Red Wing, MN | Find out why the National Trust for Historic Preservation noted picturesque Red Wing as a distinctive destination for its "impressive architecture and enviable natural environment." And don't leave town without a pair of its eponymous shoes.

Winona, MN | Be awed by lofty Sugar Loaf, one of the most recognizable topographical landmarks along Minnesota's bluff country. Find further inspiration at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, which features one of the two original versions of Leutze's Washington Crossing the Delaware.

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River Crossroads


Cape Girardeau, MO | Engage with history at this battle site where Union and Confederate soldiers clashed in a fierce barrage of artillery. Study the illuminating murals peppering the town, and visit the lovingly restored Glenn House, a reminder of a more genteel time.

Cave-In-Rock, IL | You're sure to find this sleepy little village's 19th century swashbuckling past rather intriguing. From their base in a natural cave along the river, armed river pirates used to hide where they could easily row out and rob passing steamboats.

Chester, IL | Get tickled by the Popeye Museum and the beloved sailor's statue, found here in the hometown of his creator, E. C. Segar. Journey to Ste. Genevieve and admire the preserved French Colonial architecture.

Cincinnati, OH | Be part of enduring tradition as you arrive by river to the town Longfellow dubbed "Queen City of the West", and indulge in sophisticated sightseeing at the art deco Union Terminal, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and much more.

Henderson, KY | Seek inspiration in Henderson, as did both the unequalled naturalist John James Audubon and blues legend W. C. Handy. Visit the John James Audubon Museum, which displays the world's largest collection of Audubon art and artifacts.

Madison, IN | Stroll among the numerous buildings on the National Register of Historic Places nestled in this scenic valley village, and relax in the natural wonders offered up by beautiful Clifty Falls State Park just outside of town.

Marietta, OH | Recall George Washington's musing that he knew "no other country where I should rather fix my habitation" when you visit idyllic Marietta, the site of Ohio's first settlement as memorialized at the history-rich Campus Martius Museum.

Maysville, KY | Absorb the history of picturesque Maysville through the stunning large-scale murals painted against the downtown floodwall, and delight in the meticulously constructed miniature replica dwellings found at the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center.

New Madrid, MO | Imagine this sleepy village flattened in 1811 by North America's strongest recorded earthquake, and later further shaken up by 1862's Battle of Island Number Ten. Artifacts are on view at the quaint Historical Museum and the Hunter-Dawson State Historic Site.

Paducah, KY | Picture 42,000 Union soldiers boarding 185 ships on their way upriver, and you'll get a sense of the rich local history that is captured at the Floodwall Murals. See the Wacinton Sculpture honoring the Chickasaw Indians and tour the enchanting National Quilt Museum.

Wellsburg, WV | Breathe in the fresh air at this peaceful hamlet and its charming Brook Hill Park, or take a quick jaunt to Fort Steuben in nearby Steubenville, OH, a fully-reconstructed 18th century fort overlooking the Ohio River.

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Wilderness Rivers


Cave-In-Rock, IL | You're sure to find this sleepy little village's 19th century swashbuckling past rather intriguing. From their base in a natural cave along the river, armed river pirates used to hide where they could easily row out and rob passing steamboats.

Clarksville, TN | Alight in Tennesse's first incorporated city, named after General George Rogers Clark, brother of William (of Lewis & Clark fame). Step back in time at Fort Defiance Civil War Park and its Interpretive Center, a must- see stop for history buffs.

Decatur, AL | Take flight at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, featuring exhibits and artifacts detailing the dramatic history of America’s space exploration, an extensive collection of rockets deemed “the finest in the world” by legendary astronaut John Glenn, and even g-force simulators for the boldest among you.

Dover, TN | Surrender to the charm of Dover, unlike Confederate officer Nathan Bedford Forrest, who refused to give up his cavalry after a resounding Union victory. Wander through the park honoring Forrest, and revisit his exploits at Fort Donelson National Battlefield.

Florence, AL | Rejoice in the extraordinary tale of Helen Keller at Ivy Green House, where “The Miracle Worker” Anne Sullivan saved the young girl from a life of darkness, and step into a rich musical legacy at FAME recording studios, where luminaries such as Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, and The Osmonds laid down iconic tracks.

New Madrid, MO | Imagine this sleepy village flattened in 1811 by North America's strongest recorded earthquake, and later further shaken up by 1862's Battle of Island Number Ten. Artifacts are on view at the quaint Historical Museum and the Hunter-Dawson State Historic Site.

Paducah, KY | Picture 42,000 Union soldiers boarding 185 ships on their way upriver, and you'll get a sense of the rich local history that is captured at the Floodwall Murals. See the Wacinton Sculpture honoring the Chickasaw Indians and tour the enchanting National Quilt Museum.

Savannah/Shilo, TN | Commemorate one of the most legendary Civil War battles at Shiloh Battlefield, where more than 111,000 Union and Confederate soldiers clashed and casualties reached nearly 24,000, as you view the many evocative statues dotting the battlefield and learn about this momentous struggle at the exhaustive interpretive center.

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