1St. Louis, MO
Enjoy your complimentary stay at the pre-cruise hotel. The evening is yours to become acquainted with the city. For your convenience, our Hospitality Desk will be located in the hotel, and our friendly staff can assist with everything from general questions about your upcoming voyage to reserving premium experiences. Representatives from American Queen Voyages and our local port/city partner will be available to provide you with dining, entertainment and sightseeing options to maximize your time here.
2St. Louis, MO
No city wants to be known as a “fly-over” city. St. Louis, nestled about 300 miles from its more popular cousin, Chicago, has long had that unfortunate designation. But there’s the case to be made for “St. Louie,” as it’s affectionately called, as America’s most hidden gem. The city is typically associated with the Gateway Arch, which stands on the banks of the Mississippi River. At 630 feet, “The Arch” is an architectural marvel that is more than twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty. The stainless-steel-faced landmark pays homage to Thomas Jefferson and St. Louis’ position as the gateway to the West. The city is a vibrant destination that also boasts a wide array of museums, music and theatre venues, and is known for its diverse neighborhoods and the different cultural traditions each one brings forth. Forest Park – almost 50 percent bigger than Central Park – is the crown jewel of St. Louis. offering nearly 1,293 acres of land for biking, walking, golf, tennis, and other sports activities. The park is home to: the St. Louis Art Museum, the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Science Center, the Missouri History Museum, and the Muny amphitheatre.
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.
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.
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.
Native American and French influence remained until about 1812, when much of the village was burned by U.S. troops and its French residents were transferred to other locations, notably Alton. The following year Fort Clark was built and named for George Rogers Clark, a general in the American Revolution. Settlement began in 1819, and in 1825 it became the county seat. There, on October 16, 1854, in an event preceding the famed Lincoln-Douglas debates, Republican challenger Abraham Lincoln denounced slavery in rebuttal to a speech by Democratic senator Stephen A. Douglas.
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.
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.