Conjuring up evocative images of stately paddlewheelers, the Mississippi River is America's most iconic waterway. The Mississippi twists 2,340 miles from northern Minnesota to New Orleans through the heartland, growing wider the farther south you go.
Mississippi River cruise itineraries are culturally intriguing and crammed with history. In a single day, you might see someone being baptized in the river, learn about the worst floods in U.S. history and tour a Civil War battlefield.
Back onboard, you might attend a lecture from a knowledgeable "riverlorian," then relax on your balcony or the sun deck and watch the world go by before watching an after-dinner song-and-dance show in the theater.
Mississippi River cruises allow you to discover some of the most iconic cities in the US from the comfort of your ship. You can take a deep dive into America's past, with visits to a variety of important landmarks, battlefields and river towns in a matter of days. Here is our list of the seven best ports of call when cruising the Mississippi river, all of which offer plenty of charm and activities to all types of cruisers.
Thick with atmosphere, New Orleans is world-famous for its annual Mardi Gras celebration, beautiful French Quarter neighborhood, great Southern and Creole cooking and some of the world's best jazz music.
The site of a famous Civil War battlefield, Vicksburg also offers a glimpse into its Southern heritage with antebellum plantations, old churches and restored train depots. A popular attraction is National Military Park, where visitors can learn about the siege and defense of the city.
The park includes more than 1,370 monuments and markers, a restored Union gunboat and a national cemetery. Boat-lovers might like the Old Depot Museum, which features the world's largest collection of ship models, as well as a collection of riverboat models and U.S. Navy ships with Mississippi names.
Baton Rouge is an intriguing mixture of African-American and Caribbean cultures and a hot spot for Creole and Cajun cuisine. Visit Louisiana's Old State Capitol or new state capitol building -- or head to the LSU Rural Life Museum for a showcase of what life was like on a typical 19th century plantation. Visit the kitchen, former slave cabins and grist mill before touring a replica of the town.
The king of rock 'n' roll called Memphis home, and Elvis' home is the city's biggest tourist attraction. But Memphis is more than just Graceland. The National Civil Rights Museum is a must-visit, as is Shelby Farms Park, one of the country's largest urban parks. No matter where you go in Memphis, live music can always be heard nearby.
Known as the Gateway to the West, the iconic Gateway Arch offers great views of St. Louis, as well as the mighty Mississippi. Other attractions include the Anheuser-Busch Brewery and Missouri Botanical Garden.
Rediscover the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in Hannibal as you visit the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum. Other Mark Twain sites include the Huckleberry Finn and Becky Thatcher houses.
One of the Twin Cities, St. Paul offers several historic homes open to the public, as well as museums, art galleries and Indian Mounds Regional Park, with its scenic overlook. A unique attraction is the Wabasha Street Caves, a cave-turned-event hall that was once the haunt of Prohibition-era gangsters and offers guided tours.