Five Great Stop-Offs Aboard The Queen Of The Mississippi

22 May 2015

Leonardo da Vinci once said: “When you put your hand in a flowing stream, you touch the last that has gone before and the first of what is still to come.”

The mighty Mississippi River touches you right back with an endless stream of unforgettable history and incredibly fascinating places to stop off and discover between New Orleans and Memphis.

Could there be a better way to discover this part of the world than a river cruise?

 The only way to see the river

A luxury boutique paddlewheeler, the Queen of the Mississippi blends the glory of the Deep South’s idealised past with elegant and modern facilities – that’s a perfect combo if you’re looking for a little luxe as you laze about on a beautiful riverboat and soak up the stories and views of America’s most famous river.

And speaking of soaking up stories, exclusive to APT guests from Australia and New Zealand, you and your travelling buddies have an experienced riverlorian on board to ensure you’re well versed on all the riverlife terminology – yep, you’ll know what monkey rudders, ports and starboards are before you fly home – before stopping off at various points to discover everything from Civil War battlefields and cotton farms steeped in slavery wrongdoings to the home of Elvis, haunted antebellum mansions and swamp tours where ‘gators look you square in the eye deep in the woods.

In Search Of Gators

The saying goes you should never insult an alligator until you’ve crossed the river, so I wasn’t about to tell them how much smaller they were than our old crocodiles back home – especially given I was smack bang in the middle of a bayou on a swamp tour.

 Don't insult them till you've crossed the river

When in New Orleans, the opportunity to venture out to swamp water country is irresistible and Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours only 25 minutes from New Orleans lets you explore Louisiana back country, home to alligators, racoons, wild boars, snakes, turtles and a rich variety of exotic birds.

An informed guide takes you on a two-hour journey through one of Louisiana’s last untouched wetlands. Keep an eye out for a classic cabin on the water with a jetty and outdoor loo.

Everyone gets the opportunity to kiss a croc ... ahem ... ‘gator', too near the end.


Or try it overland. Top 10 Long-Distance Hiking Trails In The USA

From the Civil War to the Wild West. 10 Places To Find The American Wild West


How The Slaves Lived

Be warned, as intriguing as the property is here, the stark reality of the slavery history leaves you feeling a little washed out and sad once you leave.

A modern facility and gin machinery where cotton is still produced, Frogmore Plantation allows you to follow the early Natchez planters and their slaves through an evolution from the wilderness to a thriving 1850s cotton plantation, and then beyond the Civil War to a challenging new way of life called sharecropping.

 An insight into slave conditions

The tour is a terrific experience, though, as mentioned, it’s one with a lingering melancholy spawned by those dark secrets of the past with the slave quarters presented as they were and accompanied by panels of information.

The cotton fields whisper gospel songs, stories and hymns of a race of people who banded together. Yet, of course, they appreciated the things that were important to them.

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Oak Tree Guard Of Honour

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There are no oak tree presentations like the guard of honour offered at the National Historic Landmark in Vacherie, Louisiana, known as “Oak Valley”.

The imposing trees create a tunnel like view to the mansion from the front gate and was used in Interview With A Vampire starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, as well as being the set for any other films and TV shows and commercials.

 The mansion's guard of honour

In a nutshell– and there are plenty of those around given the squirrel population - an unknown settler planted 28 evenly spaced oak trees in two rows leading from his humble cottage to the Mississippi River back in the day.

The home was replaced by a mansion built in 1839 by wealthy Creole sugar cane farmer Jacques Telesphore Roman, who was set on enticing his much-younger socialite bride from New Orleans’ city life.

There is also a Slavery at Oak Alley exhibit, interactive Civil War tent and expert dressed in full garb, restaurant and gift shop.
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Relive The Battle Of Vicksburg

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Speaking of Civil War, history buffs aboard the Queen couldn’t wait to pull into port and set foot on Vicksburg, a destination bursting with war history and the site of a 47-day siege during the American Civil War.

 Vicksburg remembered

The piece de resistance is a tour of Vicksburg National Military Park with a ranger as you bus through a park commemorating the famous campaign, siege and defence of Vicksburg in 1863.

Back at the visitor centre there are exhibits and artifacts on display and before you return to the Queen, check out the incredible riverfront murals on the river flood walls depicting the area’s history.
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Say G'day To The King

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Though Memphis is the birthplace of The  Blues, the first thing most people want to do is visit the home of Elvis, the undisputed King of Pop music.

Graceland is a priority on this APT trip as you set about exploring Elvis’s famous mansion, his extraordinary automobile museum and custom jets.

 In the palace of The King

You’re bussed over to the mansion for an audio tour before wandering outside to check out the stables, meditation garden, and graveyard (which truly is a haunting and emotional experience for many).

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Visit your local Flight Centre or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to The Mississippi.

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Scott Podmore

Scott Podmore is a travel and music writer, photographer, video producer and bestselling author who also owns and runs October Grey Media. When he’s not exploring the world and generating content for magazines and websites throughout the globe, he’s chilling down south (quite literally) in his hometown of Warrandyte in Victoria.