One of the things it seemed like we had to do at some point was a steamboat trip on the Mississippi and we saved it to go on the Natchez in New Orleans. The wisdom of this decision could be further discussed, but we mostly had a good time.
Unfortunately as with so many American tourist experiences it starts with being lined up and shuffled through a photo opportunity so they can then spend ages trying to persuade you to part with $20-30 for you souvenir photograph later. This was particularly stressful as an experience due to them setting the jaunty mood by playing the steam calliope aboard the boat. It would be hard to overestimate the shrill noise that produces!!
Just in case you get the impression this was a well lit, instagramable sort of experience, here are some photos of the scenery we saw which will dispel that myth.
Watching the paddle was fun, and touring the engine room was interesting, just because you got to see the machinery moving.