The Headwaters of the Mississippi
To the Gateway Arch
9 Days | Spring | Summer | Fall
Starting At $Flexible Pricing
Let us guide your group to NW Minnesota and the birthplace of the mighty Mississippi River. Stand next to a large pine log carved with yellow letters that marks the beginning of the great river’s 2,552-mile route across America, from Minnesota’s north woods to the Gulf of Mexico. This itinerary will take you from the Headwaters, past the confluence with the Missouri and into St Louis and the Gateway Arch.
U S Tours Flexible Pricing:
- Customizable Comps
- Net Rates
- Luxury or First Class Hotels & Meals
- Motorcoach Transportation & Professional Tour Managers are available
Whatever you want, U S Tours will be happy to structure tour prices to match your needs. Just let us know!
Day 1 – Minneapolis, MN – Mall of America
Arrive today in Minneapolis, MN where you enjoy an overnight stay at an area hotel. Enjoy a free evening at the Mall of America. The famous mall, home to more than 520 stores, 50 restaurants, a theme park and an aquarium, continues to add trendy shops, exciting entertainment and restaurant options. Choose from several restaurants at the mall for lunch on your own. Three big brands recently opened up shop on the mall’s north side: a two-story Zara, a flagship Anthropologie store and Minnesota’s first Toms location, offering shoes, eyewear, apparel and other accessories. Other newcomers include the Crochet Store, a new H&M, Canada Goose, Morphe Cosmetics and SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker.
Day 2 – Mississippi Headwaters at Itasca State Park – Lake Itasca Boat Tours – Baxter, MN
Today, you head North to the Mississippi Headwaters at Itasca State Park (217 miles). Itasca is Minnesota’s oldest State Park. In this 32,000 acre sanctuary, the mighty Mississippi River begins its 2,552 mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. According to legend, those who step across the Mississippi at its source will live a long and happy life, and great riches will come to whoever finds the mythical Cities of Gold along its banks.
Visit the Mary Gibbs Visitor Center, adjacent to the headwaters, which features exhibits on the river’s history and cultural importance. Then see the large pine log carved with yellow letters that marks the beginning of this great river. Enjoy lunch on own in the Cafe.
This afternoon, enjoy a Lake Itasca Boat Tour. Follow the route Ozawindib & Schoolcraft did in 1832 when they recorded the Headwaters of the Mississippi River. Listen to wildlife interpretation of Bald Eagles, Common Loons, Indian & Logging history. End the day in Baxter, MN for an overnight stay. Dinner is included this evening at a local restaurant. (B,D)
Day 3 – Minneapolis, MN – Mississippi River Exhibit at Science Museum of Minnesota – Mill City Museum – Chanhassen Dinner Theatre
Return to Minneapolis, MN this morning, and start with a visit to the Science Museum of Minnesota for the Mississippi River Exhibit. Explore the river’s little beginnings, ancient origins, and Minnesota’s changing environments and weather patterns in the Mississippi River Gallery. Within this gallery, you’ll be able to alter Minnesota’s weather in hands-on experiments, try your hand at navigating a barge, see a real towboat outside on a balcony, be a part of natural history by trading objects at the Collectors’ Corner, and examine the waterway ecosystems we all share.
Next, enjoy lunch on own and free time at the Midtown Global Market. This internationally-themed public marketplace offering fresh and prepared foods, restaurants, and unique gifts. It is a dynamic community gathering place that highlights the talent, ambition, and cultural assets that characterize its neighborhood.
The afternoon includes a tour of the Mill City Museum. Built into the ruins of what was once the world’s largest flour mill, Mill City Museum is located on the historic Mississippi Riverfront. Here, visitors of all ages learn about the intertwined histories of the flour industry, the river, and the city of Minneapolis.
Explore the rich history and participate in the storytelling of Minneapolis. Witness baking demonstrations, sample fresh bread, observe a model mill explosion, get an amazing view of St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge, experience the Flour Tower, and while you’re there be sure to watch “Minneapolis in 19 Minutes Flat!”
Then check into your Minneapolis/St. Paul hotel for the night. Tonight, enjoy the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre. The nation’s largest professional dinner theatre with three (Equity) theatres under one roof.
Founded in 1968, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres boasts an excellent choice of productions including: Broadway musicals, comedy, cabaret and a concert series! Plus, friendly tableside service and delicious entrees. (B,D)
Day 4 – Red Wing Shoe Co. & Museum – National Eagle Center – Buena Vista Park Overlook – La Crosse, WI – Dinner Cruise
Departing Minneapolis, travel along the Mighty Mississippi today. First top is in Red Wing, MN, a quaint river town known for its shoes. Visit the Flagship Red Wing Store, Outlet and Museum, the largest Red Wing Store in America—featuring three exciting levels and over 30,000 pairs of shoes and boots. See the Norman Rockwell original art gallery featuring Red Wing ads from the 1960s. Tour the museum showcasing Red Wing Shoes throughout history.
Next stop is Wabasha, MN enjoy lunch own on in the Historic Downtown before visiting the National Eagle Center. The Center is home to several non-releasable Bald Eagles and a nesting place for hundreds of others who come for the winter. Explore two floors of displays and exhibits, view wild eagles from the observation deck, attend live eagle and other engaging programs as available, and visit the gift stores.
Stop in Alma, WI for one of the best views of the Mississippi River at the Buena Vista Park Overlook. Features the Largest natural balcony overlooking the Mississippi River. See barges traveling up the river and locking through Lock & Dam #4, along with views of the sand islands and backwater areas.
End the day in La Crosse, WI for an overnight stay. This evening, enjoy a dinner cruise on the La Crosse Queen. Sit back and relax while the La Crosse Queen paddles slowly along the main channel of the Mississippi River. Enjoy a buffet-style dinner as live musicians provide entertainment and create a relaxed atmosphere. The ride is smooth and enjoyable, and the views of the river are absolutely unforgettable. (B,D)
Day 5 – Great River Road Interpretive Center – Lunch & Tour at the Potosi Brewery – National Mississippi River Museum – Galena, IL
Stop today in Genoa, WI at the newly opened Great River Road Interpretive Center. Learn about the pearl button industry that flourished along the Mississippi River and the Battle of Bad Axe, the final battle of the Black Hawk War that took place on the shores of the river.
The Genoa National Fish Hatchery, which is also located on the site, provides more than 30 million fish, eggs and mussels for bodies of water and research projects all across the country and on tribal lands thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its many volunteers. See how it’s done while enjoying the beauty of the bluffs and Mississippi River as a backdrop.
Next, head to Potosi, WI for lunch and a tour at the Potosi Brewery Company. Enjoy a brewery tour where you will learn of their history and have a chance to visit a wonderful gift shop. After the tour, enjoy a delicious lunch in the unique atmosphere of the Potosi Brewery.
This afternoon stop in Dubuque, IA to visit the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. The Museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, which engages visitors in exploration of the history, culture, animals and conservation found along the Mighty Mississippi River and rivers of America. Enjoy dynamic aquariums and historical exhibits, a boatyard, the William M. Black dredge boat, and wetland area along the 14-acre campus. Up close and personal experiences with live animals take place daily, including Creature Features and various touch tanks.
End the day in the quaint town of Galena, IL for the night. Galena was a bustling hub for steamboats in the 1800s. Enjoy a free evening on Main Street. With more than 125 shops and restaurants, one door after another, from candy and ice cream shops to spas, wine tasting and amazing dining options. Dinner is on your own this evening. (B,L)
Day 6 – Ulysses S Grant Home – Sawmill Museum – Moline, IL – John Deere Pavilion – Celebration Belle Dinner Cruise
This morning, tour the Ulysses S Grant Home. On Aug. 18, 1865, Galena celebrated the return of its Civil War hero Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. Following a jubilant procession with much flag waving and speeches, a group of Galena citizens presented the General with a handsome furnished house on Bouthillier Street. It was opened to the public in 1904, & the furnishings are original. The house is now managed by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency as the U.S. Grant Home State Historic Site.
Stop today in Clinton, IA at The Sawmill Museum. Located along the Mississippi River at the crossroads of the Great River Road and the Lincoln Highway, come discover when Clinton was at the crossroads of lografts, sawmills, and railroads. The museum tells 19th century story of when the Clinton lumber companies joined with Weyerhaeuser from the Quad Cities and a few others to create a “monopoly.” Known as the Weyerhaeuser syndicate, our area lumbermen ruled the Northwoods and the western lumber trade. Discover a river story, an Iowa story, and a national story at The Sawmill Museum.
Then you will have free time for lunch on own and shopping on the Clinton Downtown Riverfront. There are restaurants, antique shops and boutiques to browse plus the indoor Marketplace which features many different vendors.
Arrive this afternoon in Moline, IL where you visit the John Deere Pavilion which is an area landmark. The pavilion opened in 1997 as part of an urban renewal project. The pavilion serves as the official visitor center for John Deere, who’s world headquarters are located a few blocks away. Then check into your Moline, IL hotel for the night.
Come aboard the Celebration Belle for a Dinner Cruise you will never forget. Enjoy a special night out on the mighty Mississippi River, while traveling in style on the “Celebration Belle”. After dinner, relax or dance to the sounds of the Celebration River Cruises band. Also, be sure to go topside and enjoy the evening air gazing at the stars and stroll our decks. (B,D)
Day 7 – The Villa Kathrine – National Great Rivers Museum – St. Louis, MO
Stop today in Quincy, IL to tour the Villa Kathrine. Modeled after the Villa ben Ahben in Morocco its Mediterranean Style on the Mississippi. This four-acre park houses Quincy’s Tourist Information Center and is located on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. The Villa is a Moorish-style structure built in 1900 by the wealthy and eccentric George Metz.
Next, stop in East Alton, IL for a visit to the National Great Rivers Museum. The 12,000-square foot National Great Rivers Museum is located on the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway at the Melvin Price Locks and Dam #26. Situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, this museum is dedicated to telling the story of the people, nature, and wildlife that have shaped the mighty river throughout history. The museum is packed with 20 highly interactive and computer animated exhibits that illustrate the impact of the Mississippi River on people and the region.
End the day in St. Louis, MO for a two-night stay at a local hotel. Dinner is on your own this evening. (B)
Day 8 – Missouri History Museum – Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour – Gateway Arch – Riverboat Dinner Cruise
This morning, visit the Missouri History Museum. Originally built as the first national monument to Thomas Jefferson, the museum now engages visitors in the exciting history of St. Louis from its founding in 1764 up to the present day, the 1904 World’s Fair, St. Louis Cardinals baseball and more.
Enjoy an Anheuser-Busch Brewery tour and take a closer look at the campus and brewing methods on the Day Fresh Tour! Packed with history and stunning views of the property, you’ll learn all about the life of an Anheuser-Busch beer from seed to sip: from its beginnings as quality ingredients, to its crisp taste as the finished product! After a visit to the Clydesdale Paddock and Stables, the tour route continues through the Beechwood Aging Cellars, the historic Brewhouse, and the Bevo packaging facility. Passengers 21 and older will receive a Day Fresh beer as a keepsake.
The afternoon features a visit to the Museum of Westward Expansion at the Gateway Arch. Trace the story of the Native Americans, explorers, pioneers, and rebels who made America possible. Featuring six themed exhibit areas, this innovative and interactive museum celebrates America’s pioneering spirit. This museum is located at the base of the Gateway Arch, elevation to the top is included.
Tonight, you enjoy a dinner cruise aboard the Gateway Arch Riverboat with prime rib, live jazz music and captivating views of the St. Louis skyline. (B,D)
Day 9 – Depart for Home
After breakfast, depart for home. (B)