Sainte Genevieve Riverboat Now Offering Tours

Paddlewheel tour boat gives sunset cruises and dinner events along Ottawa’s Illinois River

Experience the fall colors along the Illinois River from the comfort of the newly launched Sainte Genevieve Riverboat in Ottawa. Starved Rock Country has long been a popular destination for autumnal sightseeing and recreational boating in north central Illinois, offering beautiful sandstone cliff faces lined with towering trees and calm, wide waters. Now, thanks to this authentic sternwheeler, a fall river sighting-seeing trip is more hospitable and accessible than ever before.

Spearheaded by Gentry Nordstrom, owner of The Chrysalis Group Management and Realty, and Nathan Weiss, owner of Ottawa Millwork Company, this passion project has begun to entertain locals and visitors alike after a summer of meticulous renovation. The Sainte Genevieve, a genuine sternwheeler capable of hosting up to 149 passengers, has taken its maiden sightseeing cruises up and down the Illinois to great initial acclaim.

The Sainte Genevieve’s inaugural tour schedule includes two distinct types of trip, both highlighting the Starved Rock Country river valley’s beautiful autumnal views and the riverboat’s panoramic bay windows and upper deck. The standard sight-seeing cruise, which runs about 90 minutes, will feature light narration and plenty of ambiance on two distinct and uniquely picturesque routes (guests can choose to book an up-river or down-river trip at checkout).

The up-river route will head east out of Ottawa, past the south bluff, where you can see beautiful riverfront homes and travel toward Heritage Harbor. On this trek, you’ll likely spot some wildlife on several of the river’s islands, before reaching your turnaround point ahead of the Marseilles Lock & Dam. The down-river route will head west out of Ottawa under the historic railroad bridge, travel up toward Buffalo Rock, where you can see the breathtaking rock faces that line the river.

The other staple voyage on offer is a sunset cruise featuring an appetizer buffet. Also running about 90 minutes, this excursion will give guests a chance to enjoy the Sainte Genevieve’s sprawling on-board cocktail buffet – featuring hearty appetizer options and curated bites from local restaurants, along with an unmatched view of the Starved Rock Country sunset. Seating for these events is on a first-come basis. Guests are encouraged to mingle on both the upper and lower decks to enjoy the views.

The Sainte Genevieve’s cabin is complete with heaters, allowing for a comfortable viewing experience regardless of the outside temperature. The owners of Sainte Genevieve hope to run the riverboat cruises through the middle of December, so Chris Kringle Market guests can enjoy a convenient winter excursion along the river.

Upcoming events include partnerships with local restaurants, offering themed dining nights, dessert cruises, murder mystery events, brunch cruises and special Halloween activities. The riverboat also will play host to special private events and functions. Bookings for weddings and private sightseeing tours already have begun to roll in.

The Sainte Genevieve tours currently operate Wednesday through Sunday in October, and are taking reservations on the website at The 2022 fares for evening cruises are $20 for children (3-12) and $30 for adults. Weekend sightseeing cruises cost $27 for children (3-12) and $37, respectively. Prices will vary for buffet cruises and special events.

For more information on the Sainte Genevieve, visit

For updated details on fall colors, be sure to follow Starved Rock Country on Facebook and Instagram.