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River Cruises on the Mighty Mississippi

Perhaps no other natural force has influenced the history, culture and landscape of the Heartland as much as the Mississippi River, which forms a border of five states in the region. For groups traveling the Midwest, an up-close encounter with the river is an essential part of the tour experience.

There are plenty of ways for groups to ply the waters of the Mississippi. From historic cruises to entertainment sailings and even multiday river excursions, these Mississippi River cruises make great additions to group travel itineraries in the Heartland.


Gateway Arch Riverboat Cruises

St. Louis

The Gateway Arch welcomes travelers to the southernmost area of the Heartland; the famous monument sits on the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Louis. Many groups that visit the arch also take excursions with Gateway Arch Riverboat Cruises, the only riverboats that operate on the St. Louis waterfront.

Guests cruise on classic paddle-wheel-style boats up and down the river on a variety of sailings. The most popular is the daily, one-hour, narrated sightseeing cruise. The organization also offers skyline dinner cruises, Sunday brunch cruises and a variety of other themed excursions.


Celebration River Cruises

Quad Cities, Illinois and Iowa

The Mississippi splits the group of destinations known collectively as the Quad Cities, with Davenport and Bettendorf on the Iowa side of the river and Rock Island and Moline on the Illinois side. Groups visiting the area can see all four during an excursion with Celebration River Cruises.

Celebration operates the 800-passenger Celebration Belle and features a variety of cruise experiences. Groups can choose from daylong sightseeing cruises, four-hour themed cruises with live music, and special dinner and holiday cruises. The company even offers overnight packages with meals and hotel stays in various cities in the region.


Minneapolis Queen


The Mississippi River begins in Minnesota, so it’s only fitting for groups traveling in the state to spend some time cruising its segment of the river. In the Twin Cities, that means taking an excursion aboard the Minneapolis Queen, an authentic paddle-wheel vessel.

From May through October, the Minneapolis Queen takes passengers on afternoon sightseeing cruises that depart from Bohemian Flats. Groups can add a lunch to the cruise or opt for a happy-hour and pizza cruise. Friday night dinner cruises and Sunday brunch cruises are also available.

Elizabeth Hey

Elizabeth Hey is a member of Midwest Travel Journalists Association and has received numerous awards for her writing and photography. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook @travelbyfork.