When we visited Charles Mound and Crystal Lake Cave recently, we couldn’t turn our attention away from doing something on water. With the mighty Mississippi River right there, a lunch cruise fit the bill of a relaxing outdoors weekend.
The American Lady Lunch cruise is a great way to take in the sights and sounds of the river over a two-hour cruise both North and South of Dubuque. From the decks (or inside if the weather is inclement), the guided history tour unfolds as the boat cruises along at a leisurely pace.
Julien Dubuque was the first white settler in what would become the state of Iowa. From the river, one can see much of riverfront Dubuque. Much of this is now protected by a barrier which prevents flooding that was common in the past.
See an old brewery to newer attractions such as the National Mississippi River Museum + Aquarium and a convention center. One of the few remaining shot towers (where ammunition was manufactured) is in this area as well.
Up on the hill you might spy the Fenelon Elevator, a funicular style way to ascend the hill (make sure you bring cash, or you won’t get to ride, a mistake I made).
Further South, the Julien Dubuque Monument was built in 1897 above the Mississippi River and denotes both his tomb and the location of the Mines of Spain, now a state recreation area.
The Lunch Cruise includes unlimited soda, lemonade and iced tea (though, oddly enough, they were unfamiliar with my favorite, the Arnold Palmer). If you want something more adult to drink, a cash bar featuring wine, liquor, and beer is available as well.
The buffet lunch consisted of all you could eat fried chicken, roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, coleslaw, rolls and butter. I thought the fried chicken was quite good and ate so much I never did try the roast beef.
The staff was very friendly and went out of their way to make things pleasant – they even learned to mix an Arnold Palmer! The Captain (who was also our guide) let the kids take the helm, but he never left his seat, so we had to stay the course, haha.
Overall, this was a great way to spend a few hours seeing not only Dubuque, but the Mississippi River as well. I venture we’d do this again if we were in the Dubuque area.