Travel, Vacation Planning

Just got back from a fabulous vacation!

A picture of the twilight river boat, docked at LeClaire, Iowa
The beautiful Twilight riverboat calls LeClaire, Iowa home.

I just returned from the most wonderful vacation, and I have to brag about it. I had always wanted to ride a riverboat on the Mississippi River (or better yet, a raft!) ever since I read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn as a kid. So, when I was brainstorming ideas for our summer vacation this year, “Mississippi River Cruise” was at the top of my terms to Google. And I’m glad I did. The trip we took ended up being a magnificent deal, and each one of us came home more than satisfied with the experience. 

Early Saturday, we left home and drove first to Spring Green, WI to see the House on the Rock. It wasn’t much out of our way at all and gave us something to do to break up the monotony of our first day of driving. I had been to the House on the Rock once before, but my youngest was too small at the time to remember it now, and my Signifo had never been.

I always try to explain this attraction to people but can never seem to put the shear magnitude of the place into words. Let’s just say, as we toured the many museums, my older son commented that he had always thought his memories from the House on the Rock were from at least three separate trips, there is just so much to see. The house itself is amazing, and there are two full museum experiences on top of that. Plus, they’ve built an entire new section since the last time we visited.

Japanese garden at House on the Rock
The Japanese garden is possibly my favorite attraction at the House on the Rock in Spring Green, WI.

After a quiet lunch at a picnic table on the House on the Rock grounds, we drove the rest of the way to LeClaire, Iowa where we stayed in a hotel and checked out the town. As it turned out, we just missed the town’s annual Tug Fest, a festival in which teams in both Iowa and Illinois actually play tug-of-war across the Mississippi River. We got to town just as they were finishing up their games, but we did enjoy walking around downtown to check out some of the small shops and activities that were still going on.

Victorian styled interior of the twilight riverboat
The interior of the Twilight is styled much like the classic Victorian steamboat of Mark Twain’s time. This staircase is just a preview of what awaits you aboard the Twilight.

The next morning, we boarded the Twilight Riverboat Cruise and rode the Mississippi River up to Dubuque, Iowa. We stayed the night at the Grand Harbor Resort and played at the water park. The next morning, we went to the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. Then we got back on the Twilight and rode back down to LeClaire where we collected my car and went to spend a night with my sister before heading home.

As I mentioned above, this vacation turned out to be a great deal.  The kids were only $159 and $189 each (based on their ages,) and the trip included far more than just the cruise. All meals, plus snacks in between, were included, as was our hotel room at the Grand Harbor Resort (and indoor water park!) in Dubuque. We also got free admission to the Mississippi River museum, as well as discounts to a variety of other attractions that we didn’t have time to get to.

There’s so much more to say about my vacation, I just can’t get it all into one blog post. If I don’t get too busy this week, I’ll try to come back and tell you more. One final word I will say is that the crew of the Twilight is outstanding and really made our trip for us.  If I was their boss, I would totally give them a raise!

What’s your best vacation experience ever? Please share in the comments below.

~Mandy Webster

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