Running through the heart of the United States, the banks of the Mississippi River offer a rich and diverse selection of plant and animal life. Birdwatchers will even have the opportunity to spot bald eagles flying over them as they relax on the cruise ship, particularly in the Upper Mississippi area. Much of the land around the Mississippi is covered by dense woodland that provides a habitat for a wide range of animals; a large amount of this land belongs to protected national parks. Travelling through this area by boat is a great way to explore parts of the United States that are not easily reached by road.
As many early pioneers settled in this part of the United States, there are plenty of historical attractions to discover during day excursions when cruising the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River Museum in Tunica, Mississippi explores the history of the river and the people that have lived around it. There are also a number of museums and historical sites that are dedicated to educating visitors about events that took place during the American Civil War, including a number battlefields and burial sites in the Lower Mississippi region.
New Orleans, in the state of Louisiana, is a major attraction for visitors and features prominently in the itineraries of many cruises on the Mississippi. The city is home to many beautiful colonial buildings and a variety of restaurants and bars that give visitors the chance to sample some of the local cuisine, not to mention the infamous Bourbon Street. There are also a number of cultural attractions in New Orleans including an Arts Centre and over 40 museums. New Orleans is also home to the largest Mardi Gras celebration in the United States.
Dubuque, which is the oldest city in Iowa, is also a popular destination for day excursions when cruising the Mississippi. A stroll around Dubuque’s city centre will allow visitors to view the city’s interesting architecture, much of which is inspired by the German and Irish people who first settled here. Visitors looking to learn more about the city’s history will enjoy a visit to Dubuque’s National River Museum, while outdoor attractions in this area include a limestone cavern known as the Crystal Lake Cave and the city’s beautiful botanical gardens.
Another city that can be visited when cruising the Mississippi is St Louis, Missouri. St Louis is home to an excellent selection of museums and art galleries, including the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum St Louis, and the St Louis City Museum. Major landmarks to visit in St Louis include the spectacular Gateway Arch; the tallest monument in the United States at just over 192 metres tall, the Gateway Arch was built in honour of the role that St Louis played in expanding the United States westwards during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson.