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Visit historic St. Louis

St. Louis to Louisville

Example 9 Day Cruise aboard American Queen
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Board the American Queen riverboat and cruise through the heart of the American Midwest on this 9-day journey from St. Louis to Louisville on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Experience the laid-back, small-town hospitality of Kentucky ports such as Owensboro, where classic folk music and distilleries producing Kentucky's characteristic bourbon can be found, or Henderson, where visitors can learn about the region's role in the Civil War. Visit the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky, and walk in the footsteps of historical figures such as Mark Twain and the Lewis and Clark expedition at Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Your adventure concludes in St. Louis, Missouri, which is home to an abundance of museums, gourmet hotspots, and, of course, the world-famous arch that marks the western frontier.
Try classic Kentucky bourbonAmerican queen2Visit historic St. Louis
Highlights
  • Sip classic cocktails made with locally-distilled Kentucky bourbon.
  • Explore the vibrant art scene and foodie hot spots of St. Louis.
  • Enjoy lively folk music in the community of Owensboro.
  • Admire historic handicrafts at the National Quilt Museum.
Activity Level: Relaxed
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Hotel Stay in St. Louis

Enjoy your complimentary stay at the pre-cruise hotel. The evening is yours to become acquainted with the city. 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. Both American Queen Steamboat Company and local representatives will be readily available to provide you with dining, entertainment and sightseeing options to maximize your time here.

Day 2: St. Louis | Embark

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Dinner
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 amphitheater. Also worth visiting is the Missouri Botanical Garden, a National Historic Landmark and one of the oldest botanical gardens in the United States. “Botan,” as it’s called by locals, features 79 breathtaking acres of horticultural display from around the world. City Museum, designed by internationally acclaimed sculptor Bob Cassilly, is a 600,000 square-foot interactive museum that appeals to all ages. 

Day 3: Chester, IL

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Samuel Smith is considered the town’s “official” founder because he built the first home here, started a ferry system, and began construction of a mill in 1829. The town was named after Chester, the city in England where his wife Jane Smith was from. The first business in Chester was a general store that opened in 1830 along with a castor oil press established by R. B. Servant. The H.C. Cole Milling Company was founded by Nathan Cole in 1839. It started out as a small sawmill with a corn-grinding attachment which encouraged the townspeople to plant grains, and in a short time, the first Cole flour mill was built. In 1916, four investors developed the International Shoe Company in the center of town. At its peak, it had more than 1000 employees and was producing thousands of children’s shoes. In 1925, the Prim Hosiery Mill began operations with 50 employees and grew to employ more than 275 people with an annual payroll exceeding $700,000. The mill closed in the late 1960s. Elzie C. Segar might as well be Chester’s “unofficial” founder. The Chester native is the brains behind the Popeye the Sailor Man cartoon. Today, Chester is known as the “Home of Popeye” and a 6-foot, 900-pound bronze statue of Popeye stands in a park that bears Segar’s name. Chester not only groomed Segar’s creative talent, but also acted as a muse, providing character inspiration in the form of its own residents. So, enjoy the origin of this childhood classic. 

Day 4: Cape Girardeau, Missouri

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Nestled along the western banks of the mighty Mississippi River, you’ll find Cape Girardeau, Missouri – a community rich in history and heritage. For more than 250 years, people have been drawn to Cape Girardeau and the river on which it lies. As you stroll along the riverfront, pause for a moment... you’ll feel the passion that led Mark Twain to write so eloquently about Cape Girardeau in Life on the Mississippi, the inspiration that Gen. Ulysses S. Grant used to lead with firm conviction as he took command of the Union Army in the historic downtown and the warmth and hospitality that community founder Louis Lorimier extended to Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, while on the journey of a lifetime as they set forth to explore the Louisiana Purchase on their Corps of Discovery. Cape Girardeau, which has shown hospitality to the likes of Twain, Lewis and Clark, and General Grant, greets today’s guests in the same vein. Whether pedaling along the bike lanes that strip along the city streets, hiking through a state park, walking across one of many covered bridges, shopping for antiques, visiting area wineries, viewing murals that stretch the entire length of the downtown area, or stepping back in time at any number of historic sites, the Show Me State does not disappoint. Peeking through the long-standing architecture and handsome panoramas are moments that will mature into golden memories. Take time to embrace legends, discover a simpler time and relive the wonders of the past. 

Day 5: Paducah, KY

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Paducah’s significant American heritage can be traced to the city’s strategic location at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee rivers. Paducah, originally known as Pekin, was settled around 1815 in McCracken County. The community was inhabited by a mix of Native Americans and Europeans who lived harmoniously, trading goods and services. In 1827, William Clark, of Lewis and Clark fame, arrived in Pekin with a title deed to the land he now owned. The town was platted out and named in honor of the largest nation of Native Americans that ever roamed North America, the Padouca Indians. Lewis and Clark had made acquaintance with many of them on their trek west. Discover how Paducah played a pivotal role in American history from rivers to railroad transportation, the Civil War to civil rights. Museums and riverfront “Wall to Wall” murals by the Dafford Murals Team weave the story of Paducah’s past and guide viewers to experiences and landmarks throughout the town, where historical markers detail the significance and cultural heritage. In the hands of artists, modern Paducah was thrown into form. Fingertips muddied with passion and eased by the vision of river water glided along the surface to pull up the community and create the National Quilt Museum. Residents backstitch past into the present, then bind appreciation for culture – ensuring that the seams of history will not soon come undone. The people of Paducah have taken great care to orchestrate every crevice of its community into a symphony of craft and color. 

Day 6: Henderson, KY

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Greetings from Henderson, Kentucky – a walkable community wrapped in warmth. Since 1797, this port on the banks of the beautiful Ohio River has inspired commerce and influenced two world-renowned artists who turned life into beauty, art, commerce, and success. Ornithologist John James Audubon and famous blues musician W.C. Handy both once called Henderson home. Audubon spent time here in the 1800s studying and painting the birds that travel through this area on their migratory routes. His namesake museum offers a permanent collection of artwork and exhibits, as well as a downstairs gallery of rotating exhibits, including wildlife photography and paintings by local and regional artists. At the end of the 19th century, Henderson held a unique place in history due to the export of dark tobacco. Worldwide shipping from Henderson’s port resulted in Henderson becoming the richest community per capita in the United States during tobacco’s heyday. This led to the construction of many of the stately homes and buildings still standing in the vibrant downtown district. Wide streets welcome American Queen Voyages guests and showcase historic preservation that inspires storefronts and homes. Discover nature fingerprinted with humanity in the many parks and trails that showcase artistry throughout the town. With a great selection of galleries and annual art events, there are many types of art to view. Enjoy the many public sculptures located downtown created by Louisville sculptor Raymond Graf or step in the OVAL Gallery at Bank Trust to see the rotating art exhibits on display. 

Day 7: Owensboro, KY

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The exuberance that pervades the sounds of folk music flows through the community of Owensboro in Daviess County, Kentucky. Each of its spaces is a lovely ballad that tugs at the heartstrings of visitors – from the notes of bourbon distilleries to bumbling butterflies in the botanical garden. The tawny banks of this river jewel extend a warm welcome and invite you to experience the beauty in bluegrass. Owensboro’s first settler was William Smeathers, popularly known as Bill Smothers, who in 1797 built a cabin on the south bank of the Ohio River. Original settlers arrived in flatboats coming from the northeast, the flatboats naturally drifting to the south side of the riverbank with the swift river currents. The original site was called “Yellow Banks” in reference to the color of the soil along the banks. In 1817 the Kentucky General Assembly provided for the planned town and specified that it should be called Owensborough in memory of Col. Abraham Owen (changed to Owensboro in 1893). In 1860, county agricultural records show 11,000 sheep compared to 6,750 beef cattle. Consequently, barbecued mutton (sheep) and burgoo (a stew made from mutton, other meats and vegetables) are the two foods that distinguish Daviess County barbecue from other areas. Although pork, chicken, and beef are prepared, the preference of locals is mutton and burgoo. The region has developed a unique style of pit barbecue featuring vinegar-based sauces mopped over the meat during its lengthy smoking process. The result of this process is delicious, tangy, and very tender meat. 

Day 8: Brandenburg, KY

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner

Brandenburg highlights everything that’s great about rural living, but with all the benefits and amenities offered by larger urban settings. Here you can find history, entertainment, scenery and culture. From Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area’s walking trails, fly fishing for trout and to scenic views of the Ohio River, from hiking a woodland trail to a bluegrass concert at Riverfront Park, from a morning of antique shopping to an afternoon on a perfectly groomed golf course, from an old-fashioned country fair to a classic car show. The essence of Kentucky radiates, from its bourbon traditions to a tableau of rolling farmland. Mysteries of the Civil War enlist lifelong learners on the battlefield while sprawling parks and trails make way for recreation.  For over ten thousand years, Native Americans were drawn to Brandenburg and Meade County because of the river, abundant game, fish nuts, berries, and ground for planting corn, and especially, a high-quality flint. The fact that they lived here at different periods is evidenced by the artifacts, burial grounds, and shell mounds found along the riverfront. Although many artifacts have been sold to domestic and international collectors, a movement has begun to honor this heritage with a museum. It is a subject of debate as to who the early settlers were, however, it is recognized that the Native Americans here were closely related to the Cherokee and Shawnee tribes. Given the large number of years (10,000 to 12,000), it is likely that the tribes were mixed across the centuries. 

Day 9: Louisville, KY | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
As the journey concludes, there are other opportunities for you to take in the town. Enjoy the city at your leisure, or consider an airport transfer.

Ship/Hotel

American Queen

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American Queen Relaxation

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$2,599
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Category E
Surrounded by wonderful period details, accompanied by every modern convenience, these cozy havens will make your cares disappear. Ample shelving and storage spaces keep necessities out of the way yet easily accessible. Has 132 sq. ft..
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Category SI
These intimate cabins with ample storage space are slightly scaled down to accommodate the independent traveler, and feature a single bed. Has 80 sq. ft.
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Category D
An expansive bay window overlooking the scenery of America’s heartland is the main draw of this spacious category. Curl up in front of the window with a new novel, and savor a moment that belongs to only you. Has 190 sq. ft. with bay window.
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Category C
Open your French doors, and enjoy the fresh air. Sit on the deck outside your stateroom, and take in the gently changing views of the landscape, or indulge in a leisurely morning in bed with room service Has 140-160 sq. ft. with open veranda.
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Category B
Can you imagine opening French doors to a sweeping river vista and the sweet scent of magnolia trees? Sit on the deck outside your stateroom and greet early-morning strollers, relax in bed with your favorite book or soak in a hot bath. Has 190-205 sq. ft. with open veranda.
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Category A
With a private veranda, these staterooms are so enjoyable that you might decide to extend your journey. Relax in a cozy armchair and enjoy the view as you anticipate the activities of the day. Has 190 sq. ft. with 40-sq.-ft. private veranda.
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Category SD
Greet the day in your cozy stateroom, relaxing before breakfast, or simply enjoy a leisurely morning in bed with room service. Has 140 sq. ft.
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Category JS
Settle into your sitting area, open the French doors to the deck, and greet the day as the banks of the river majestically slip by. Some staterooms in this category offer a view of the paddlewheel, while others provide expansive views of America’s heartland. Has 210 sq. ft. with open veranda.
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Category PS
These spacious retreats offer unmatched views, each with a 6-foot-square viewing window that overlooks the paddlewheel, for a truly authentic steam boating experience. Stateroom 383: 342 sq. ft. Staterooms 385 and 386: 302 sq. ft.
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Category DS
You will feel right at home on the river in our magnificent suites. Indulge in a soothing soak in your tub, then retire to your cozy armchair or sofa, prop your feet up on the ottoman and read through the River Times – our daily program – to discover the delights that await. Has 230 sq. ft. with open veranda.
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Category LS
Our spacious, elegant suites are furnished to provide the warm ambiance of a fine Southern estate. Open your French doors and delight in sweeping river views as you sip a beverage and share conversation in your cozy sitting area. These suites are the ideal choice for family and friends vacationing together. 353-363 sq. ft. with private or open veranda
American Queen
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Category OS
Open French doors and step out onto your veranda to unwind on your amply furnished patio. Adorned with 11- foot vaulted ceilings, overhead lighting and a cozy interior lounging area with a sofa-bed and cocktail tables, these expansive suites can accommodate up to three guests, and epitomize luxurious river cruising. 348 sq. ft. with 690-sq.-ft. exclusive veranda
Included
  • 8 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners
  • 8 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Excursions and activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Beverages
  • Unlimited Free Wifi
  • One Night Pre-Cruise Hotel
  • Open Bars and Lounges
  • All-Day In-Room Dining
  • Bicycles & Hiking Sticks equipment if needed
  • Live, Daily Onboard Entertainment & Enrichment
  • Unlimited Included Expedition Adventures by Zodiac or Kayak (For Expedition Cruises Only)
Excluded
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Arrival & Departure Transfers
  • Port Fees
  • Optional Premium Shore Excursions - highly recommend booking these in advance. If interested, ask us for a detailed list of premium excursions for your cruise as these vary depending on your departure date.
  • Mandatory Gratuities

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