We'd been in La Crosse for barely an hour, and everyone we'd met was a certified character. In Riverside Park, Frank and Faith Rimmert and Jonathan and Barb Rimmert were decked out in top hats, waistcoats and crinolines to meet the Mississippi Queen paddlewheeler, portraying the 19th-century locals who would have assembled. "If your relatives were coming for a visit, you'd come to greet them," said Faith Rimmert, a volunteer for the La Crosse County Historical Society. "People picked up things being shipped in, or maybe you'd be looking for a servant — you'd say, 'I want that person for a servant in my house.'"Read story and trip tips
For much of its existence, Dubuque, Iowa, has been a little short on charisma. It started out well, with a lead-mining boom and eight breweries and Victorian mansions filled with millionaires. But it faded into obscurity. For years, its last brewery sat empty next to the 1856 Shot Tower, where laborers once turned molten lead into bullets and cannonballs by dropping it through screens into cool river water.Read story and trip tips
Tucked into the tip of northeast Iowa, Lansing has been overlooked for a long time. Lansing was the county seat until 1867, when a posse from Waukon stole the county records. And it was a boom town in the 1870s and '80s, when farmers beat a path to its grain elevator and levee.Read story and trip tips
Over the years, the byways around McGregor, Iowa, have seen an extraordinary procession of people. Between 650 and 1300, Woodland Indians built animal-shaped burial mounds, 29 of which are preserved nearby at Effigy Mounds National Monument. In 1673, Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet arrived via the Wisconsin River, claiming the land for France and paving the way for the fur trade, whose center was just across the river in Prairie du Chien.Read story and trip tips
For centuries, blufftop views of the Mississippi have inspired superlatives. Jonathan Carver called the view from Barn Bluff "the most beautiful prospect that imagination can form.'' Stephen Long said, "The sublime and beautiful (are) here blended in the most enchanting manner.'' Those early explorers embellished their speech to impress folks back home. Nowadays, most people who take in the scenery just say "Wow.''Read story and trip tips
For many years, Red Wing has been Twin Citians’ favorite day-trip destination. It’s adorable, with its brick storefronts, flowering planters hung from lampposts and rows of stately Victorian houses in three historic districts. Sitting on a sharp elbow of the Mississippi, it’s a small town that still looks the part — it has a bakery, a barber shop, a homespun café — and it was the first Minnesota town on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of Distinctive Destinations.Read story and trip tips
For a river town that has everything going for it, Winona is a little hard for a tourist to get to know. Those who venture off U.S. 61 find a downtown that's long, spread out and a little forlorn on weekends. To find its Mississippi riverfront, they have to cut across train tracks and around a concrete levee wall.Read story and trip tips
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