New Orleans Holiday & The Spirit of the Antebellum South
Aboard the festive American Queen riverboat. On this elegant river cruise, you’ll discover the traditions of the Cajun and Creole cultures and experience what remains of the grand Antebellum South.
Head down the Mississippi River and back in time on this journey into the Old South. Aboard the stately American Queen riverboat, you’ll visit sprawling former plantations, riverside towns steeped in Southern Hospitality, and New Orleans, the boisterous birthplace of jazz. Become immersed in the rich culture of the American South, and prepare to be swept away by its Antebellum drama.
Highlights and Inclusions
- Rail transportation on Amtrak's City of New Orleans
- Hotel accommodation for 2 nights
- 7-nights aboard the American Queen
- All meals onboard the American Queen
- Complimentary beverages onboard the American Queen
- Chicago hop-on/hop-off pass
- Shore excursions at each port
- Daily lectures by onboard historian
Day 1 - Arrive in Chicago
Welcome to The City of the Big Shoulders! Visit one of the cities many breweries, or spend the day surrounded by masterpieces in The Art Institute of Chicago. Overnight Chicago.
Day 2 - Depart Chicago for New Orleans
Today's hop-on/hop-off tour will bring you to the doorstep of Chicago's most popular landmarks. This evening, make your way to Union Station for your 8:05 pm departure aboard Amtrak's City of New Orleans. Settle into your comfortable onboard accommodations and look forward to warmer temperatures. Overnight train.
Day 3 - Arrive New Orleans
Take in all the sights and sounds of New Orleans today as you explore the city at leisure. Nosh on beignets at the famous Café du Monde, explore the French Quarter or admire the lights decorating City Park. Overnight New Orleans.
Day 4 - Board the American Queen
Make the most of your morning in New Orleans walking along the riverfront or riding the streetcar to some of the city's distinctive neighborhoods. In the afternoon, you'll board the American Queen to begin your voyage. Kick off with a welcome dinner. Overnight vessel. (D)
Day 5 - Oak Alley, LA
Located in the Saint James Parish, Oak Alley is a photogenic plantation—often called the “Grande Dame of the Great River Road”—that combines architectural splendor and the natural wonder of its 300-year-old oak trees. Spend time strolling beneath the canopy of these trees, and learn about the rich history and culture of this Southern estate. You'll feel like you've wandered onto the set of “Gone With the Wind.” During your visit, enjoy a guided tour of the Big House and explore the magnificent grounds while sipping a Mint Julep, a quintessential southern staple. Overnight vessel. (B, L, D)
Day 6 - St. Francisville, LA
St. Francisville is a quaint town located on the bluffs of the Mississippi River. With over 140 buildings on the National Register, beautiful plantation homes nestled in the rolling countryside, and bustling Main Street shops, you'll find plenty to see and do. Hop on our deluxe motor coach, and begin your sightseeing tour at Royal Street. Choose to enjoy the park or shop for holiday gifts in Grandmother's Buttons, a unique southern boutique. Next, we visit the Old Market Hall and explore the art, jewelry, handmade items, and music of the region. When we reach Commerce Street, hop off for lunch at one of the many cafés and restaurants. After that, hop back on the bus to the Spring Creek Shopping Center. Finally, we will visit the West Feliciana Historical Society Museum on Ferdinand Street and the Grace Episcopal Church. Overnight vessel. (B, L, D)
Day 7 - Natchez, MS
Step into the plantation lifestyle of the Antebellum South in Natchez, site of numerous restored mansions. Visit historic Jefferson College, or amble down the Natchez Trace. A narrated tour of the city includes admission to the Antebellum mansions: Magnolia Hall, Stanton Hall, Rosalie Mansion and the William Johnson House. As we head back to the boat, you'll have the opportunity to explore Downtown Natchez as well as a stop for shopping at the Eola Hotel. Admission to the Natchez Museum of African-American History and Culture is also included. Don't miss this illuminating look into the hard lives of the people that built the opulent mansions of Natchez. Overnight vessel. (B, L, D)
Day 8 - Vicksburg, MS
In the “Key to the South,” Southern hospitality is alive, well, and waiting for your arrival. With sweeping views of the Mississippi River, Vicksburg blends its Southern heritage with exciting modern-day attractions. Our tour today begins in Vicksburg's shopping district. Then, we will stop at the Church of Holy Trinity: a place of spiritual refreshment to Vicksburg for over 125 years. The next stop, Anchuca Mansion, named from the Choctaw word meaning “happy home,” is one of the most significant homes in Vicksburg. As we come back into the downtown area, we will continue to the Old Court House Museum, which showcases thousands of artifacts from pre-Columbian times to Civil War implements. There will be a stop at Washington Street for some more shopping as well as an included admission to Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum and the Yesterday's Children Doll and Toy Museum. Afterward, enjoy the Lower Mississippi River Museum, where we can find out how different communities, farming families, and the US Army Corps of Engineers have all utilized the river. Finally, visit the Old Depot Museum, a preservation museum run by the Vicksburg Battlefield Museum, which highlights the Siege of Vicksburg. Overnight vessel. (B, L, D)
Day 9 - Baton Rouge, LA
The capital of Louisiana is one of the South's fastest growing cities. No matter how much it changes, Baton Rouge will always be authentic Louisiana. Our day here will begin with a stop for the military enthusiast at the USS Kidd, a WWII Fletcher-class destroyer, and the adjoining Veterans Memorial Museum. Then, we will stop and visit the Old Governor's Mansion; built in 1930 by Governor Huey P. Long as “Louisiana's White House.” The next stop is the beautiful St. Joseph Cathedral, built in 1853, followed by Main Street Market for lunch and shopping. Next, stroll through the intricate Capitol gardens and tour the Capitol Park Museum. Here, you'll step onto a simulated Mardi Gras float, and discover the difference between the Creole and Cajun cultures. Hop off at Louisiana's State Capitol, the nation's tallest capitol building. Get a birds-eye view of the city and Mighty Mississippi River from the 27th floor observation deck. We will continue through Arsenal Park for a beautiful view of the current Governor's Mansion. Stop by the Old Arsenal Museum, built in 1838 and used by the US military during the Mexican and Civil Wars. Art lovers will enjoy our next stop is the LSU Museum of Art. The last stop on the loop is Louisiana's Old State Capitol. The 160-year-old statehouse has withstood war, fire, scandal, bitter debate, abandonment, and an occasional fistfight. Overnight vessel. (B, L, D)
Day 10 - Nottoway, LA
Enjoy a tour of Nottoway Plantation, the South's largest remaining Antebellum mansion. The pillared house and sprawling grounds, once maintained by an enormous slave workforce, stand today as the embodiment of the opulent plantation lifestyle. Enjoy a guided tour of an American Castle as we explore within the pristine walls of Nottoway followed by a stroll through the lush grounds and gardens. Overnight vessel. (B, L, D)
Day 11 - New Orleans
Your tour comes to an end today as you tie up near historic Jackson Square in New Orleans and bid your steamboat adieu. Depart New Orleans on your own. You may wish to extend your stay for another couple of nights to indulge in all that the Big Easy has to offer.
Extend Your Vacation
Extend your rail vacation with new city packages in Chicago, Toronto, and Vancouver. Optional pre- or post-night packages include hotel accommodations for two nights and popular local sightseeing, and may be added to the beginning or end of qualifying rail vacations.
Look for the Extend Your Vacation icon to identify those vacations which offer new city stay packages. Ask your rail specialist for details about these pre- and post-night extensions.
Train and Hotel Accommodations
This tour features exciting themes for your enjoyment.
February 23, 2018 - Big Band
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(Accommodation options- Amtrak accommodation / American Queen accommodation)