River cruising in the United States is a relaxing and enjoyable way to experience the country's rich history and scenic beauty.
The Mississippi River winds its way from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. On the Upper Mississippi, you can visit Mark Twain's hometown of Hannibal, Missouri, and explore the arts scene in Red Wing, Minnesota. During the fall, see brightly colored autumn foliage. On the lower half of the river, experience Southern hospitality as you tour beautifully restored mansions, like Oak Alley in Louisiana, and dine on world-famous cuisine in New Orleans' French Quarter.
The Ohio River is the largest tributary of the Mississippi and was a major transportation route for Native Americans, European explorers and settlers. Sailings can include Henderson, Kentucky, once home to naturalist and painter John James Audubon; keep an eye out for the 13 bronze bird statues around town. In Paducah, Kentucky -- where the Ohio meets the Tennessee River -- the galleries of the LowerTown Arts District are big draws. Madison is on the Indiana Wine Trail, and Louisville, Kentucky, is known for its horse-racing heritage.
The Cumberland River, which connects to the Ohio River near Paducah, runs past Nashville, Tennessee, home to the Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame. A cruise on the Cumberland will reveal charming towns such as Dover, Tennessee, along with famous Civil War battlefields.
The Tennessee River covers four states, flowing from east of Knoxville, Tennessee, to Paducah, where it converges with the Ohio River. During the Civil War, Union troops strategically used the river to invade Confederate territory, leaving behind a notable list of Civil War sites. Tennessee River itineraries may make time for Shiloh National Military Park south of Savannah, Tennessee, and the W.C. Handy Home & Museum in Florence, Alabama, where the "Father of the Blues" was born in 1873.
Head west to the Columbia and Snake rivers in Oregon and Washington and follow in the footsteps of famed explorers Lewis and Clark. These trips offer opportunities to see Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, the Columbia River Gorge and Hells Canyon. Tour the Bonneville Dam, a National Historic Site whose construction started in 1934, or take in the floral splendor of the International Rose Test Garden in Portland. Typically combined into one trip, these two rivers offer an abundance of history and natural beauty.
The Hudson River flows from the Adirondack Mountains to New York City. A cruise provides the perfect way to experience all the region has to offer, from breathtaking scenery and grand architecture to the art, history and culture of the Big Apple. Famous landmarks include Sleepy Hollow, Franklin D. Roosevelt's Springwood estate in Hyde Park and West Point Military Academy. Fall sailings showcase the region's brilliant foliage.
Spanning 363 miles across New York State, the Erie Canal was built with 35 locks to connect Lake Erie to the Hudson River. Considered an engineering marvel, the canal attracts tourists with its charming waterfront communities, such as Sylvan Beach, New York, for example.
Enjoy a relaxing cruise along the quiet waterways of the St. Johns and Tolomato rivers in northeastern Florida. See restored plantation homes and the subtropical flora of Ravine Gardens State Park in Palatka, stroll the historic district of Amelia Island and uncover the rich past of St. Augustine -- founded in 1565, it's billed as America's oldest surviving European settlement. The St. Johns region is home to more than 200 species of birds, making the destination ideal for birding enthusiasts. Look for alligators and bald eagles in Ocala National Forest.