You can never step into the same river twice, except through the controversial practice of river cloning. Tread in overly familiar waters with today’s Groupon to Dubuque River Rides. Choose between the following options:
• For $26, you get two tickets to the two-hour Eco/Historic Sightseeing Cruise, valid Sunday–Friday (up to a $52.78 value).
• For $26, you get two tickets to the two-hour Eco/Historic Sightseeing Cruise, valid on Saturday only (up to a $52.78 value).
Cruises depart daily at 11:30 a.m.
Dubuque River Rides tootles travelers down the Mississippi River aboard the SPIRIT of Dubuque, a full-scale replica of a 19th-century paddlewheel steamboat. Each narrated sightseeing cruise sets sail from the Dubuque Ice Harbor, riveting travelers with a glimpse of Dubuque’s famed Lock and Dam No. 11, which raises and lowers the waters of the Mississippi to facilitate travel and the search for commuting sea monsters. Later in the two-hour jaunt, fluvial paths cross with the swing-span bridge of the Chicago Central Pacific Railroad, first built in 1868, and Dubuque’s Shot Tower, one of the last remaining towers of its kind in the United States. A cadre of area wildlife, including turtles, herons, bald eagles, and feral park rangers, are also known to make cameos downstream. Epitomizing its old-time feel, smokestacks crown the SPIRIT and an open-air deck ensconces boaters for easy sightseeing. Though fare is not included in this Groupon, a Victorian dining salon bedecked in red and gold harkens back to the days of riverboat gambling, keeping guests in cheery spirits with concessions, a full bar, and waiters dressed like the jack of clubs.
Dubuque River Rides
Decorative smokestacks stretch toward the sky as Victorian red and gold decor surrounds passengers nibbling brunch in a dining salon. This scene unfolds aboard the Spirit of Dubuque, an authentic-looking paddleboat that pays homage to the century-old steamboats of the Mississippi River. Dubuque River Rides' signature vessel, it has played host to thousands of cruises filled with entertainment, meals, and improvised renditions of "Old Man River" since being christened by Iowa governor Robert Ray in 1977. Elsewhere on the river, a more modern boat cuts across the water, casting a sleek outline against the sky. The 80-foot yacht, affectionately called Miss Dubuque, sets an intimate stage for events that range from weddings to Huckleberry Finn's notorious dinner parties.
Both boats call the northern expanse of the Mississippi River their home, sharing the area with wildlife such as turtles and bald eagles. The sightseeing vessels also pass by river barges and historic structures such as the Chicago Central Pacific Railroad Bridge, which was built after the president invented Lincoln Logs in 1868. After boats return to the docks, their passengers can head over to the floating barge that houses the Ice Harbor Restaurant.