A Riverboat Connection
To give your travelers a more immersive riverboat experience, you can book a trip with Twilight River Cruises. A three-deck replica of the Victorian steamboats of the 19th century, this boat is based in LeClaire, a town 20 minutes north of the Quad Cities. The boat offers daylong cruises up the river to Dubuque. Groups can either spend the night in Dubuque and then board the boat again for the return journey or just take one leg of the trip before continuing on the River Road.
“I have a lot of groups that board the Twilight in Davenport and travel up to Dubuque and send the bus deadhead to meet them on the other end,” Koelker said. “The gamut is totally open to what fits their itinerary. By motorcoach, the trip is only an hour and a half, but by boat it’s an entirely different experience.”
Groups that opt to make the trip by boat will sail past communities such as Clinton and Maquoketa. Those that take the River Road instead have the option to visit attractions in those areas, including the River Arts Center in Clinton and the Maquoketa Caves State Park.
However your group arrives in Dubuque, you’ll find a number of ways to learn about the Mississippi River and its impact on the city. Most groups visit the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, which tells the story of the entire river from Minnesota to Louisiana through interactive displays, live animal exhibits and theaters.
For more experiences on the water, a number of boat companies in the city offer various kinds of sightseeing cruises.
“We have Iowa’s only authentic paddle wheeler: the Spirit of Dubuque,” said Julie Kronlage, director of sales at the Dubuque Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They do lunch and dinner cruises, as well as afternoon sightseeing. We also have the American Lady Yacht. A lot of my bank clubs lately have been doing their afternoon cruises that feature appetizers and free drinks.”
Visitors can also take in the sights of the river from dry land along Dubuque’s Mississippi Riverwalk. Redeveloped over the course of the past 10 years, the Riverwalk and urban riverfront feature eateries and boutiques, as well as historic Victorian homes on limestone bluffs overlooking the river.
Artistic expression flows into the riverfront scene with Art on the River.
“It’s a walking art exhibit right on the banks of the Mississippi,” Kronlage said. “It changes every year. We have artists from across the country that submit applications to display their work here.”