IF YOU GO
Rooms at the Hotel Julien, 200 Main St., start at $109. Call 1-800-798-7098 or see www.hotel
juliendubuque.com. For information or appointments at the Potosa Spa, call 1-563-588-5570.
The region was held by the Mesquakie (Fox) Indians when fur trader Julien Dubuque arrived in 1785. Situated on the Mississippi, the area first attracted immigrants for mining and fur trading, and later for heavy industry. It was chartered in 1837.
Dubuque is about 300 miles from the Twin Cities. One route is Interstate 35 south to Hwy. 20 east.
The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium recently opened a new addition, the National River Center, with a wealth of interesting information on the United States' great rivers. (Did you know Illinois reversed the flow of the Chicago River more than 100 years ago so the river would dump Chicago's sewage into the Mississippi instead of Lake Michigan? Nice.) The facility also contains four saltwater aquariums; RiverWorks, a kids' hands-on area; and a 3D/4D immersion theater showing two flicks. The original museum, housed in a building adjacent to the River Center, entices visitors with six aquariums showcasing, for instance, river snakes, long-nosed paddlefish and freakishly large blue catfish. You can also operate a barge simulator or step into a re-created steamboat pilothouse to take a turn spinning its wheel. (350 E. 3rd St.; www.rivermuseum.com; 1-800-226-3369).
A few blocks from the Hotel Julien is the Fenelon Place Elevator, an incline elevator or funicular that whisks riders up the steep bluff via cable car. The funicular was created in 1882 by businessman J.K. Graves so he could get home each noon in time to eat and take a 30-minute nap before returning to work. Today the elevator is open to the public; rides are $1 each way. Hop on and head up the bluff for prime views of the Mississippi, downtown Dubuque and neighboring Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. (512 Fenelon Place; www.dbq.com/fenplco; 1-563-582-6496).
The Mines of Spain State Recreation Area is just a 10-minute drive from downtown Dubuque. The 1,380-acre park hugging the shores of the Mississippi got its name because Spain owned the land at one time. The park features hiking and cross-country ski trails through wooded blufflands, wetlands, prairie and meadows; scenic vistas; hunting and trapping. (www.iowadnr.gov/parks/; 1-563-556-0620).
The Chamber of Commerce offers information at www.traveldubuque.com or 1-800-798-8844.