The Belle of Louisville on the riverfront in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Belle of Louisville on the riverfront in Louisville, Kentucky.

Paddlewheel Steamboat Tours and River Boat Cruises

Paddlewheel steamboats are beloved parts of the history and culture of the South. These elegant floating palaces traveled rivers and creeks of all sizes to provide a commercial and transportation web that spread through the region long before the interstate highway and rail systems of today.

The historic boats were powered by steam engines and propelled by stern or side wheels. They almost all were of shallow draft so they could navigate the often treacherous waters of streams, rivers and bayous. Their lifetimes were usually short due to shifting sandbars, snags and explosions. Very few originals survive although their skeletal wrecks have long been landmarks on the rivers of the South.

The list below will introduce you to paddlewheel boats that you can visit and in many cases ride. Most are reproductions but a few are surviving originals. From showboats and dinner cruises to scenic rides and even overnight journeys, what better way could there possibly be to relax and enjoy the stunning scenery of America’s most famous rivers!

Alabama   

Montgomery

The Harriott II cruises the Alabama River at Montgomery, Alabama. (Courtesy Harriott II)

The Harriott II cruises the Alabama River at Montgomery, Alabama. (Courtesy Harriott II)

HARRIOTT II
255 Commerce St.
Montgomery, AL 36104
This 19th Century riverboat cruises the Alabama River on select dates from the Riverwalk Amphitheater in Montgomery.
More information: www.funinmontgomery.com/parks-items/harriott-ii-riverboat

U.S. SNAGBOAT MONTGOMERY (Stern Wheel Steamboat)
Boat adjacent to the Tom Bevill Visitor Center
1382 Lock & Dam Rd
Pickensville, AL 35447
The Montgomery is an original paddlewheel boat that once kept the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers clear of snags and dangerous debris. She no longer operates but is now a permanent exhibit at the Tom Bevill Visitor Center in Pickensville.
9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; open year-round
Tom Bevill Visitor Center 205-373-8705
More Information: http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/montgomeryboat.html

 

Arkansas  

Hot Springs

The Belle of Hot Springs is a much loved Arkansas attraction. (Courtesy Belle of Hot Springs)

The Belle of Hot Springs is a much loved Arkansas attraction. (Courtesy Belle of Hot Springs)

BELLE OF HOT SPRINGS
5200 Central Avenue, Hwy. 7 South
Hot Springs, AR 71913
Memorial Day thru Labor Day
Labor Day thru December
Scenic narrated tours on beautiful Lake Hamilton including a Sightseeing Cruise, a Luncheon Cruise, as well as a Sunset Dinner and Dance Cruise. Enjoy sites of the Ouachita Mountains, million dollar mansions and natural islands on the Belle of Hot Springs.
Additional cruises in specific seasons & this schedule is subject to change.
More Information: http://www.belleriverboat.com/

 

Florida  

Apalachicola

The Jean Mary (Coming Soon!)
Apalachicola Maritime Museum
103 Water Street
Apalachicola, FL 32320
This beautifully restored paddlewheel boat will offer both sightseeing and overnight cruises. Once owned by beloved actress Debbie Reynolds, the Jean Mary is expected to arrive in Apalachicola later this year (2017).
www.ammfl.org

Fort Lauderdale

The River Queen steams along. (Courtesy the River Queen)

The River Queen steams along. (Courtesy the River Queen)

JUNGLE QUEEN and RIVER QUEEN
Bahia Mar Yachting Center
801 Seabreeze Blvd
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
Jungle Queen
Sightseeing, dinner and show cruises down Fort Lauderdale’s New River sightseeing nature, spectacular homes and impressive yachts. Show cruises stop at a “tropical isle” where dinner and show are presented.
River Queen
Cruises down the “Venice of America” or Fort Lauderdale’s new river.
More Information: http://www.junglequeen.com/

Orlando

MARK TWAIN Riverboat (Currently closed for improvements)
Approximately 14-minute cruise on the 19th-century-inspired Mark Twain riverboat at Disneyland.
More Information: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/ca/disneyland/mark-twain-riverboat/

Panama City

THE BETSEY ANN Riverboat
Location: St. Andrews Marina
3151 W. 10th St.
Panama City, FL. 32401
This sternwheel paddleboat cruises St. Andrews Bay where beautiful scenery and spectacular wildlife abide in abundance.
More Information: http://betsyannriverboat.net/

Sanford

THE BARBARA LEE Sternwheeler
St. Johns Rivership Co.
433 N. Palmetto Avenue
Sanford, FL  32771
Cruise along Lake Monroe and the St. Johns River and you just might “get carried away,” see the real Florida and be entertained on this authentic sternwheeler.
Lunch cruises Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday
Dinner Cruises Saturday evenings
*Port Fee of $5 not included in the rates
More Information: http://www.stjohnsrivershipco.com/

 

Georgia

Savannah

GEORGIA QUEEN and SAVANNAH RIVER QUEEN Steamboats
Dinner Cruise: See Savannah is a whole new light as you cruise down the Savannah River and enjoy a buffet dinner. Sunday- Friday
Lunch Cruise: Saturdays in March; Mon- Sat from April-October. Tour of Savannah’s history and Buffet.
Sunday Brunch Cruise; Take a tour on the Georgia Queen or The Savanna River Queen while enjoying a Savannah style brunch March through October.
Sunset Cruise; Watch the sun any day from April to October while listening to tunes from the 50’s. Harbor Cruise: Learn about Savannah’s Modern Port, see Historic Fort Jackson and enjoy the breeze. Reservations must be made in advance for all cruises except the harbor cruise.
More Information: http://savannahriverboat.com/

 

Kentucky   

Covington

USS NIGHTMARE (Formally the WILLIAM S. MITCHELL steamboat)
101 Riverboat Row
Newport, KY 41071
Thursdays and Fridays late September through early November
More Information: www.ussnightmare.com

Harrodsburg

DIXIE BELLE Riverboat
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill
3501 Lexington Road
Harrodsburg KY 40330
Memories are made aboard the Dixie Belle as it cruises on the lovely Kentucky River.
Cruise Dates: Late April – October, Tuesday – Sunday
Cruise Times: 2 PM and 4 PM
More Information: https://shakervillageky.org/the-river/

Louisville

Belle of Louisville Steamboat
401 W River Rd
Louisville, KY 40202
On select days the Belle of Louisville carries the public on day and night, stargazing, historical, and musical cruises along the Ohio River.
More Information: http://belleoflouisville.org/

SPIRIT OF JEFFERSON Steamboat
401 W River Rd,
Louisville, KY 40202
This steamboat takes the public for memorable excursions on the Ohio River in Kentuky.
More Information: http://belleoflouisville.org/spirit-of-jefferson/

Newport

BELLE OF CINCINNATI
101 Riverboat Row
Newport, Kentucky 41071
Seasonal, Dining, Kids, and Evening and cruises on the Ohio River.
The River Queen Riverboat
One of a kind cruises on the Ohio River. (See website for more info)
101 Riverboat Row
Newport, Kentucky 41071
More Information: http://www.bbriverboats.com/

 

Louisiana  

New Orleans

The Creole Queen steams past the the skyline of New Orleans. (Courtesy Creole Queen)

The Creole Queen steams past the the skyline of New Orleans. (Courtesy Creole Queen)

CREOLE QUEEN
1 Poydras St
New Orleans, LA 70130
Historical River Cruise and Mississippi River Dinner Jazz Cruise are both approximately 3 hours down the Mississippi river and are trips you will not soon forget.
More Information: http://www.creolequeen.com/chalmette-battlefield-river-cruise

Steamboat NATCHEZ
Location: Toulouse Street Wharf behind Jax Brewery
400 N. Peters St., Suite 203
New Orleans, LA 70130
Choose your cruise and Harbor Jazz Cruise (daytime), Dinner Jazz Cruise, Sunday Jazz Brunch Cruise
More Information: www.SteamboatNatchez.com

Also see American Cruise Lines for a variety of overnight Mississippi River cruises.

 

Mississippi

American Cruise Lines offers a variety of overnight Mississippi River cruises that depart from New Orleans and Memphis but explore the historic Mississippi section of the great river. Click here for more information: www.americancruiselines.com.

 

Missouri  

Branson

The sun sets over the Showboat Branson Belle in Branson, Missouri. (Courtesy Showboat Branson Belle)

The sun sets over the Showboat Branson Belle in Branson, Missouri. (Courtesy Showboat Branson Belle)

SHOWBOAT BRANSON BELLE
4800 Highway 165
Branson, MO 65616
Dinner and a show; pricing varies
More Information: http://www.silverdollarcity.com/showboat-branson/Tickets

LAKE QUEEN Riverboat
9 South Boardwalk, Branson, MO 65616
Sightseeing Cruises on lake Tanycomo 11:45AM and 4:45PM (late March -Early December)
Lunch optional on the 11:45AM Cruise
More Information: http://www.mainstreetlakecruises.com/

 

South Carolina

Charleston

Charleston Harbor Tours
THE CAROLINA BELLE Riverboat
THE CAROLINA QUEEN (Check availability on website below.)
Location: Charleston Maritime Center
10 Wharfside Street
Charleston, SC 29401
Daily tours on the Carolina Belle riverboat bring guests within view of Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie and Fort Johnson, USS Yorktown, St. Michael’s Church, beautiful homes, Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and occasionally dolphins.
More Information: https://www.charlestonharbortours.com/main/daily-tours-charleston-harbor-tour#.WGWCLRsrLIU

North Myrtle Beach

The Barefoot Princess docks in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. (Courtesy Steve Sauter)

The Barefoot Princess docks in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. (Courtesy Steve Sauter)

The BAREFOOT PRINCESS Riverboat
Location: Barefoot Landing Marina
North Myrtle Beach, SC  29582
Take a spectacular ride in the Barefoot Princess on the Atlantic Ocean seeing the skyline of the city, wildlife and so much more. See website for dates and times of tours.
More Information: http://www.mbriverboat.com/

 

Tennessee

Chattanooga

SOUTHERN BELLE Riverboat
201 Riverfront Pkwy
Chattanooga, TN 37402
See Chattanooga’s skyline, Lookout Mountain and many historic sites from the Tennessee River complete with commentary and stories on the Daily Sightseeing Cruise on The Southern Belle.
On the Daily Sunset Cruise participants can spot wild life and enjoy the view of scenes along the Tennessee River from the top deck.
More Information: http://chattanoogariverboat.com/reg-scheduled-cruises/

Knoxville

THE STAR OF KNOXVILLE Riverboat
300 Neyland Dr, Knoxville, TN 37902
Unforgettable Dinner Cruises and Specialty Cruises along the Tennessee River.
More Information: http://tnriverboat.com/

Memphis

THE ISLAND QUEEN Riverboat
251 Riverside Drive
Memphis, TN  38103
Very popular Sightseeing Cruises along the Mississippi River with corresponding commentary about Tennessee history.
Note: Boards from the cobblestones at 45 South Riverside Drive (Wolf River Harbor) when the paddlewheel cruise boat the American Queen is in town.
More Information: http://memphisriverboats.net/

MEMPHIS QUEEN II (Under renovation 2017)
MEMPHIS QUEEN III Dinner Cruises on the Mississippi River
251 Riverside Drive
Memphis, TN  38103
Note: Boards from the cobblestones at 45 South Riverside Drive (Wolf River Harbor) when the paddlewheel cruise boat the American Queen is in town.
Sightseeing cruses for every age.
More Information: http://memphisriverboats.net/

Nashville

GENERAL JACKSON SHOWBOAT
2812 Opryland Drive
Nashville, TN 37214
Dock Side Tours Mon – Fri 11am & 1pm
Cruises along the Cumberland River on special dates with live entertainment on this beautiful and rather large boat.
More Information: http://generaljackson.com/

Also see American Cruise Lines for a variety of overnight riverboat cruises that depart from cities in Tennessee.

 

Texas  

COLONEL Paddlewheel Boat
Moody Gardens
1 Hope Blvd
Galveston, TX 77554
Enjoy the Offatts Bayou
More Information: http://www.moodygardens.com/attractions/colonel_paddlewheel_boat/

(Retired) GRACEFUL GHOST Paddlewheel Steamboat (Retired)
756 Pine Island Road
Karnack, Texas 75661

SOUTHERN EMPRESS Paddlewheeler
7037 Kingston Cove Ln
Willis, TX 77318
This 131-foot paddlewheeler built in 1983 offers Lunch, Dinner, and Cocktail Cruises on Lake Conroe. The boat is equipped with two decks and a dance floor. There are numerous locations nearby that are prefect for picnicking, sunbathing and swimming.
More Information: http://www.southernempress.com/about-us