Enjoy your pre-cruise hotel night in Chicago.
Ottawa, situated at the confluence of the Illinois and Fox rivers, is a vibrant tourist destination located 80 miles outside of downtown Chicago. The city is chockfull of historic homes that cater to the curiosity of history buffs and architectural fans alike. American Queen Voyage guests also note its friendly and neighborly, hometown feel. Here, everyone is a special guest, and the area businesses provide personal attention to everyone’s needs and expectations. The residents offer a handshake, a warm greeting and an experience made from the heart. This is a place of progress, trendsetters, and modern movements, from the innovators of the past to the forward thinkers of today.
A diverse culinary scene, large murals and public art displays, mom and pop shops, historic American figures, and adventure activities. There’s a lot packed into this hidden gem of the Midwest as you will see during your visit.In addition to historical landmarks, Ottawa is surrounded by open spaces, rivers, trails, a nature preserve and four state parks, all within 20 minutes of downtown. The city best known as the scenic gateway to Starved Rock State Park, the most popular state park in Illinois, with some 2 million visitors per year. The Park derives its name from a Native American legend. In the 1760s, Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa tribe, was attending a tribal council meeting. At this meeting a great battle started. Fearing death, the Illinois tribe took refuge on the great rock but died of starvation giving this historic park its name – Starved Rock.
The largest city on the Illinois River, Peoria is situated where it widens to form Peoria Lake. With Peoria Heights, West Peoria, Bartonville, Bellevue, East Peoria, Creve Coeur, Marquette Heights, North Pekin, and Pekin, Peoria forms an urbanized industrial complex. Peoria also offers a bustling art and culture scene and offers a robust history. The city is named for the Peoria Indians, one of the five tribes in the Illinois confederacy, who had long inhabited the area creating a network of commerce and trade before European settlement. Peoria is one of the state’s oldest settled locations. The French under René-Robert Cavelier built Fort Crèvecoeur on the river bluffs opposite the present city in 1680, but the fort was plundered and deserted later that same year. A decade later the French military, with the assistance of the Illinois Indians, built a large fortification known as Fort Pimiteoui. Other settlements around Peoria Lake, established by the French, Native Americans, and later colonists, followed.
Not to be confused with the infamous capital and largest city of Cuba, Havana is a small town in West Central Illinois, with a population of 3,300. Locals called their town Havana because they were next to a nearby river island shaped like Cuba: “Cuba Island.” Havana was incorporated as a town in 1848. In 1900 the wetlands were destroyed and drained for farm use. After the last great flood these same areas were reclaimed and returned to the use nature intended. Soon, the area was known as a fishing and hunting center and gained notoriety as the most important inland fishing port in the U.S.
6Scenic River Cruising
Watch small river towns and lush landscapes slowly become lost in the horizon as sunlight plays upon the deck. Take hold of a literary classic, curl up on a plush chair in a cozy corner and relish in the moment of tranquility. Experience the fulfillment that river cruising offers.
Located 100 miles north of St. Louis on the Mississippi River, Hannibal is one of Missouri’s and the region’s best tourism destinations. Hannibal could be described as ordinary, but the father of American literature would beg to differ. The town, with style and dignity, comes to life in the writings of Mark Twain. People, entities, and livelihoods of Hannibal’s past endure within the pages of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Life on the Mississippi,” and the town’s preservation efforts allow visitors to step right onto the page where Twain left off.
Grafton is the oldest city in Jersey County, founded as a river community with an eye on supporting riverboats traveling between Chicago and St. Louis. Boat construction, quarries, and mills were part of the city’s early industrial years. Grafton housed a factory that made boats through the 1960s. The city’s early history is the stuff of legends. Early Grafton was reminiscent of the Wild West. Due to the relatively short distance across the river to Missouri, the city lured outlaws who would hide out in surrounding hollows and caves. Infamous outlaw Jesse James and his gang reportedly spent time at The River House Hotel, or the “Bloody Bucket” as it was later known. Now known as the Great Rivers and Routes region, this is the only place where the Mother Road of Route 66 meets the Great River Road. The convergence of those two iconic roads is also the intersection of fascinating people, places and things that make this region so special.
9St. Louis (Alton), MO
As your American Queen Voyages journey concludes, there are other opportunities for you to take in the town -- whether it's an optional premier post-cruise experience or a quick transfer to the airport for your final trip home -- your AQV team can pre-arrange everything for you.