Not even the unbreakable cloud-cover nor infrequent rain-showers could nix my excitement for my first time at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. My friends and I had been reading about the museum since I revealed I was going to uproot my life and move to Dubuque.

Growing up near Chicago, we were absolutely spoiled by the fact that The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and Brookfield Zoo were all very close by. It was nothing to pick one and make it a day-trip. But the Mississippi River Museum has a plethora to offer. It's borderline impossible to adequately feature everything the museum has to offer in one piece. So, here's a taste of my first experience at the popular Dubuque attraction.

Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
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Even on a dreary, rainy day such this one, the Port of Dubuque still beams with life and energy. It's such a luxury to be near an area with such easy access to the water. Now I just need to find a friend with a boat to make full use of it.

Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
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On a long, windy boardwalk, adjacent to the Port, you have the opportunity to feed the fish that swim in the water. There's a machine that dispenses some fish food for only 25 cents. My quarter-less friends and I realized that if you just sit and stare at the fish, they take turns sticking their heads out of the water, mouth agape, expecting food. They themselves have grown accustomed to the presence of people. If they could speak, they probably would've called us freeloaders.

Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
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One of my favorite attractions I found is the sturgeon tank, for reasons I'm not sure I can explain. Sturgeons are just cool fish. On top of having a fun name to say, they're almost like otters insofar that they are somewhat acrobatic when they swim. We spent five minutes at that station alone. Apparently, the Mississippi River Museum is home to two of the 27 types of sturgeon in the world: Lake and Shovelnose Sturgeon, respectively.

Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
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The Mississippi River Museum's aquarium is just a treat in general. Dozens of exotic fish in exquisite tanks make up what is ultimately a world inhabited by interesting creatures.

My inner-child came out when I saw the otters. Despite them being almost impossible to photograph due to their agility, they still make for fun, lively creatures. I remember when I was a child trying (unsuccessfully) to convince my mother we could adopt one and have him live in the bathtub. His name was going to be Otto. I had a whole plan and everything.

Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
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In addition to the aquarium, as well as multiple different exhibits involving Iowa and Dubuque's storied history, there's a fun water play-station for kids. I was very tempted to ride the stationary bikes in order to collect rain in a bucket, which would then produce a downpour on a diorama. Alas, I decided to let the kids enjoy their fun.

Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
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There are a plethora of attractions, exhibitions, and interactive models at the Mississippi River Museum. It's far too vast to capture in just one post. As the weather continues to (finally) warm, I plan on making it back on a considerably nicer day to profile even more elements.

Until then, you can find more info on the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, their exhibits, and pricing over on their website. The museum is located at 350 East 3rd Street in Dubuque.

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