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Shedd Aquarium
Sunrise with boat on a river

Quad Cities River Adventure

From Local Experts

3 Days 80 Miles


Coal Valley, Rock Island, Moline

from the local experts at Visit Quad Cities

In the Quad Cities, you are the captain of your boat.

Over three fun-filled days, you’ll experience the world-renowned Mississippi River and area waterways, discovering the history of this family of communities. Find out why the river bends to run directly east to west here; what plants and animals are native to the QC; and how this area grew up along the river. Take a break from exploring to enjoy QC favorites that are sure to satisfy.

Day 1:

Moline & Rock Island

  • Cruise boat on the river
  • Exterior of a store at night with neon lights
  • A garden with a pond, chair and some flowers

Get a great introduction to the Mississippi River with a ride on the Celebration Belle riverboat. The riverboat’s captain narrates the cruise and shares some of the rich history of the area. You’ll view the largest roller dam in the world at Lock and Dam #15. Get a treat at Lagomarcino's, a century-old soda fountain that will transport you back to the days of the Model T. Spend the afternoon at the gardens of the Quad City Botanical Center learning about beautiful native plants and some tropical ones too. Stay at the ornate Axis Hotel, which includes elements of the original 1920s building and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Day 2:

Moline & Rock Island

  • Two people walking in forest along a large rock
  • A boat carrying lots of people driving along the river
  • Big tanks inside

Follow the river on the Channel Cat Water Taxi where you can hop on and off at four different stops. Timeless trails at the Black Hawk State Historic Site lead you into one of the least-disturbed forests in Illinois. Six miles of hiking trails are now in the area once settled by the Sauk Native American nation. Take in views of the Rock River, reclaimed prairie, and pioneer cemetery. Start the QC Ale Trail at Bent River Brewing Company, a local microbrewery.

Other attractions:

Day 3:

Coal Valley, Rock Island & Illinois City

  • A red train
  • A lake with a sign
  • Interior of an ice cream store behind the counter

Now it’s time to direct your own boat. Lake George at the Loud Thunder Forest Preserve has a variety of boats to rent. Try jon boats (small two-person pontoon boats), kayaks, canoes, and regular pontoon boats. Spend the rest of the day at Niabi Zoo's outdoor exhibits with over 600 animals representing 200 different species. See species native to the Midwest and from around the world. End your QC River Adventure watching the sun set on the river at Schwiebert Riverfront Park enjoying a sweet treat from Whitey’s Ice Cream.

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