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A Guide to the Mississippi River Tributaries

Embarking on a Mississippi River Cruise along its picturesque tributary rivers offers not just a journey through stunning landscapes, but also a chance to delve into the rich history and culture of America. Below are just a few sample excursions to illustrate the array of excursion experiences available each day in the ports of call along the cruise itineraries that explore the Mississippi River’s tributaries including the Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee Rivers.

Ohio River: Sports History in Louisville, Kentucky 

Nestled along the banks of the Ohio River lies Louisville, Kentucky, a city steeped in rich sports history. At the Louisville Slugger Museum, embark on an immersive journey through the heart of American baseball lore. Discover the meticulous craftsmanship and storied legacy of the iconic Louisville Slugger baseball bat. Delight in tales of legendary players who wielded these bats to greatness and shaped baseball history. Nearby is the Churchill Downs horse racetrack and the Kentucky Derby Museum. Explore the history and stories of the “Run for the Roses,” famously dubbed “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.” Immerse yourself in the vibrant tradition of horse racing, where elegance meets exhilaration. 

Cumberland River: Musical Sojourn in Nashville 

Nashville is renowned as the “Music City” and resonates with the vibrations of its rich musical heritage. Explore its melodious history and the careers of country music icons at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Nearby are excellent small museums focusing on the careers of Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline. You will feel the pulse of the city’s musical evolution as live performances echo through its streets, filling restaurants, cafes, and bars with soul-stirring tunes at all hours. A memorable highlight awaits at the illustrious Grand Ole Opry, a hallowed stage that has borne witness to the performances of countless musical legends. Enveloped by its storied ambiance, your toes will tap, and your heart will soar to live country western, bluegrass, and folk performances by emerging talent and music industry icons. 

Tennessee River: Reliving History at Shiloh Battlefield

For history enthusiasts, a visit to the Shiloh National Military Park provides a poignant journey back to the Civil War era. These hallowed grounds echo with the legacy of the turbulent era of the 1862 battle. As you traverse the battlefield, each step unveils layers of courage, sacrifice, and resilience etched into the very soil beneath your feet. Explore the National Park Service Museum, where artifacts and exhibits vividly depict the harrowing events of the past and provide a tangible connection to those who fought and fell. Engage with enthusiastic experts who breathe life into the pages of history, sharing captivating stories that illuminate the significance of this pivotal chapter in American history. Through their knowledge and insights, gain a deeper understanding of the enduring impact of the Battle of Shiloh.

Unexpected Treasures in Paducah, Kentucky 

Paducah, Kentucky is featured on every Mississippi River tributary itinerary and is a splendid example of the many lesser-known treasures you will discover along your cruise. Paducah is centrally located at the Tennessee River’s confluence with the Ohio River and within 50 miles of the Cumberland River and the Mississippi River. The Inland Waterways Museum offers fascinating insights into Paducah's unique position as a hub for river commerce. The city is renowned for its vibrant arts scene of talented performers, chefs, and artists. Paducah offers activities from unique shopping to memorable museum visits. Stroll along stunning murals complemented by informative historical placards. Visit the wonders of the renowned National Quilt Museum or explore attractions like the Paducah Railroad Museum and the Civil War Museum. 

Cruise & Land Combo: Scenic Wonders of the Smoky Mountains 

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park itinerary includes a week-long Tennessee Rivers Cruise in conjunction with a connected four-day land excursion through the Smoky Mountains National Park. Either before or after your cruise, enjoy an escorted journey with all motorcoach travel and lodging included. Marvel at the breathtaking scenery, with mist-covered peaks, lush forests, and diverse wildlife. Enjoy opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing, and scenic drives. 

These time-traveled tributaries of the Mighty Mississippi offer an array of carefully curated excursions to expand your experience of the region’s history, culture, and natural wonders. So, speak with your Cruise Specialist today to discuss your next great journey of discovery and delight.

Remember, there are several cruise itineraries that explore the Mississippi River tributaries:
The Grand Ohio River Cruise allows you to savor 16 days / 15 nights cruising between Pittsburgh, PA and St. Louis, MO along the Mississippi River and the full length of the 981 miles of the Ohio River.

The Music Cities Cruise travels for 9 days / 8 nights between Memphis, TN and Nashville, TN along the Mississippi River, Ohio River, and Cumberland River.

The Tennessee Rivers Cruise journeys for 9 days / 8 nights between Chattanooga, TN and Nashville, TN along the Tennessee River and Cumberland River.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park itinerary travels between Nashville, TN and Knoxville, TN for 12 days / 11 nights and includes a four-day escorted motorcoach adventure through the National Park either before or after an included Tennessee River Cruise.