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TAP waterfront destinations

Courtesy Quad Cities CVB

Quad Cities
Iowa and Illinois
Sure, the area is known as the Quad Cities, but it includes five, not four, cities that straddle the Mississippi River and the Iowa-Illinois border: Iowa’s Davenport and Bettendorf, and Illinois’ Rock Island, Moline and East Moline.

Visitors have plenty of options to get on the mighty Mississippi, said Dan Gleason, director of sales for the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau. Celebration River Cruises offers daylong cruises, shorter sightseeing trips and themed tours, such as big-band or fall foliage cruises, on its 770-passenger paddle-wheel riverboat, the Celebration Belle.

The Riverboat Twilight offers two-day cruises from LeClaire to Dubuque, where guests stay overnight at the Grand Harbor Resort before taking the boat back to LeClaire. The company also works with groups to offer one-day trips, Gleason said.

The Channel Cat Water Taxi is another option to get onto the Mississippi River and explore the area. The water taxi is an open-air boat that ferries passengers across the river to various landings in Davenport, Bettendorf and Moline. One $6 ticket is good for the entire day, and passengers can get on and off as they please.

Backwater Gamblers is the Quad Cities’ water-ski show and stunt team that performs free shows on Sundays and Wednesdays during the summer season. The team includes about 140 members who range in age from 1 to 67, according to its website. During the one-hour show on Rock River in Rock Island, members perform jumps, flips and swivels and build elaborate human pyramids.

“It’s really amazing because every age can do it. On the bottom of the pyramid, we have 60-year-old men; then there’s this young girl at the top,” Gleason said. “You get the full gamut of true family fun.”

For a one-of-a-kind Quad Cities experience, visitors may want to plan their trip around the August weekend of Tug Fest, when the cities of LeClaire, Iowa, and Port Byron, Illinois, compete in a cross-river tug-of-war. Barge traffic on the Mississippi is stopped as teams in each town pull a 2,400-foot, 700-pound, 1-inch-diameter rope stretched across the river.