By guest blogger, Christopher Nelson, A Glimpse of Nature
A recent visit to Galena, IL. took me by many beautiful Civil War era homes and Mansions. Galena was the residence of Ulysses S. Grant and eight other Civil War generals, as well as several entertainers and politicians. Once one of the most important cities in the state, Galena was a hub on the Mississippi River between St. Louis and St. Paul. It is rich in history and architecture not to mention a multitude of shops and dining choices. Below is a shot of Galena’s Main street where most of the shops and restaurants can be found.
The Belvedere Mansion and Gardens
This house is truly a walk into the history of this great nation during the time leading up to, during and after the Civil War. Ambassador J. Russell Jones served this country from shopkeeper to United States Marshall to Congress and throughout the Civil War as a champion of Ulysses S. Grant from the General’s humble residence in Galena to the seat of power in the White House. Jones remained a true friend to Eliuh Washburne, himself an honored General of the War and later Secretary of State throughout his life. Their communications are well documented and their seeds of friendship began in this very house. Lincoln called upon J. Russell Jones when he wished to know of Grant’s progress; and, the fortunes of war as far away as Paris and Brussels, as well as when Lincoln suspected that Grant might eventually take his place in the White House. From a young man, Jones tenacity for business rewarded him with the finest luxuries that life can afford (including this Victorian mansion) as well as with tragedy. (Taken from the Belvedere’s website)
A Weekend Away…At Home
As the Director of Marketing for VisitGalena.org, I am always telling everyone what a great place Galena, IL is. And most of you have probably read my Facebook posts or tweets about all of the fun things there are to do here. While I have experienced many things in Galena, I rarely get to do so. For example, I’ve been in most of the hotels and B&Bs, but really never get to spend the night. I spend my time in Galena up in my office, watching people on vacation through my window. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great view, but I find myself many times, going to work and going home. You know…getting caught up in the day to day. Work, kids, gym, eat, sleep. So when one of my girlfriends e-mailed me (and a group of my other girlfriends from high school) about a night away in Galena, I was thinking, “Awesome!” One friend asked, “Are you sure it’s ok with you to go to a place that you spend every day at anyway?” I told her that this would be great and I was excited to be a “visitor” for once!
As a group, we chipped in and rented a house at Eagle Ridge. It was gorgeous and truthfully, had much more room than we needed! We spent the day strolling Main Street. We did some wine tasting and decided to visit awhile at Massbach Winery in their lounge area. We also stopped by the Cornerstone for a pre-dinner drink. Then, it was to 111 Main for dinner. At the end of the day, we went back to the house and played games, had drinks, laughed, reminisced and just relaxed! It was such a great night. And it was an excellent reminder of two things…1.) I have the best friends in the world. 2.) My job is awesome. I get to tell everyone about this destination every day.
Enjoy the photos from our night out below.
Friends, Steph & Liz
Screened in porch AND outdoor deck
Friends, Marcie & Nicolette in the awesome kitchen
Dawn, yours truly, and Jess
At Massbach Ridge Tasting Room
Massbach Ridge Tasting Room
Rachael at Max Mitchell – Fun store!
Marcie & Nic on Main St.
At the Cornerstone
Dinner at 111 Main
Me, Nicole & Rach at 111 Main
At the house after our fun day
Charming Old Galena
While taking the long way home after a college visit with my son recently, we stopped for several hours to explore the town of Galena, Illinois. Over 85% of the buildings in Galena are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, which is recognized by the National Park Service:
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources.
As you walk through the character-filled streets, and climb the steep flights of stairs to the overlook by the old high school, you can imagine life in the 19th-century, as Galena appears to be frozen in time in many respects. The preservation of the architecture is amazing, and the city full of charm. We picked up a walking map and self-guided architectural history tour booklet from the Visitor Center in the old train depot, so I could learn more about some of the history-filled buildings we passed as my son geocached throughout the historic district.
Enjoy the gallery below, our brief visit merely scratched the surface of this lovely river town.
Ciao! ~ Kat B, Travel. Garden. Eat.
A Much Needed Getaway
After having my husband, TJ, gone for work for 2 months, being home with 4 kids 6 and under, and starting a full-time job, I was ready to get away!! Luckily for me, TJ knows me very well and planned a long weekend trip to Galena, IL - without kids!
Now, usually I am the one planning where we are going, staying, and what we will be doing. But TJ had it all figured out! We had such a fabulous time (I really didn’t want it to end), I wanted to share it with you all.
TJ booked our stay at the Best Western Designer Inn and Suites. At first I thought, “Best Western? We can stay at one of those anywhere.”. But I couldn’t have been more wrong! We stayed in 2 of their Fantasy Suites – The Roman Palace and Heart’s Delight.
I hadn’t seen the photos of the rooms, so I couldn’t wait to see what they looked like! We walked past the indoor/outdoor pool – you know, one of those that you swim under the glass to get to the outside – to where we were spending the first 2 of our 3 nights – The Roman Palace.
Pretty awesome right? It had the coolest round bed with the Roman columns and jacuzzi/hot tub.
I truly felt like Aphrodite! But we didn’t make the trip to Galena just to feel like a goddess. Okay, maybe I did, but we still wanted to see the town! So after checking out our amazing room, we headed out to grab a bite to eat. Downtown Galena was just beautiful; but our tummies were growling and it was getting dark and pretty cold so we stopped at one of the first places we saw: Green Street Tavern.
And even though we chose Green Street Tavern because of it’s proximity to where we parked, we were not disappointed. We got a free appetizer from our coupon book from the Galena Welcome Center and enjoyed some wine and delicious food. Being pretty wiped from our busy week before we decided to head back to our room.
We woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to go! And TJ just had to start saying the word shopping and I was grabbing his hand and pulling him out the door! Downtown Galena was so beautiful. All of the shops and restaurants were still decorated for the holidays and there was just the right amount of snow.
I’m fortunate to have a husband who doesn’t mind doing some shopping and we had so much fun checking out all of the unique shops.
After a morning of some serious shopping we were famished and stopped at Benjamin’s for a bite to eat.
We were told that we had to try some burgers from Benjamin’s. I got a regular bacon cheeseburger but TJ decided to try their Schizoburger at the recommendation of our server. He said that Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives heard about it, came to Galena and said that it is one of the best burgers ever. It has cheese, bacon and pull-pork on top. I took a bite of TJ’s and oh. my. gosh. It was the best burger I have ever had and I was so disappointed that I didn’t order it myself….and TJ wasn’t sharing!
Of course we had to enjoy some wine tasting and buy a couple of bottles. TJ usually is a beer guy, but now he feels like a wine connoisseur!
TJ went to college in Dubuque, Iowa (just across the river) and we decided to drive there to feel nostalgic and to check out the casino for a bit! I was the big winner! We headed back to the hotel to relax for a bit and then we decided to walk to next door to Frank O’Dowd’s Irish Pub & Grill in The Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel.
This place had the coolest feel to it. On one hand it felt like we stepped into another world, in another time, but yet somehow felt modern and hip. The food and drinks were delicious and we just had to walk next door to get “home”.
After two nights of the Roman Palace we were moved to the Heart’s Delight suite. It was great; we woke up and went out for the day and when we came back the staff had moved everything so we didn’t have to worry about a thing!
This time we had a heart shaped bed and jacuzzi tub.
Both suites had a fireplace and a private balcony that overlooked the woods. We saw a family of deer one night. It was so beautiful.
There is so much to do in Galena and it seems like we barely hit the tip of the iceberg!
There are so many beautiful buildings and tours you can take; we didn’t do any spa services and there is skiing and other activities available. We decided that this HAS to be a yearly trip- drop the kids off at the grandparent’s house and enjoy a romantic weekend getaway. It seems like there will be something new for us to enjoy each trip and when can still visit our favorites. I am so thankful that TJ decided to take me to Galena! It was the most perfect gift ever! Can’t wait to go back!
Sarah is a working mom to four kids (6, 2, and 11 month twins) and writes about family, recipes, crafts, giveaways and more on Mommy and 4 Peas in a Pod.
Family Day Trip
Originally posted by Emily Chhouy at Sugar for Breakfast
Nothing better than a day trip with the family!
This trip included my older sister, Ann, younger brother, Levi, our mom, Jill, and myself.
So what is so special about this day trip?
Well, it is only the first time that we have ever been on a full day trip (3 hours in the car each way and the time spent in Galena
) with all of us kids and our mom. Yes, seriously.
My family is kind of dysfunctional. I mean, what family isn’t, right? But ours is a wee more than most. So yes, for my 27th birthday celebration we decided to head out of town for a bit together.
So why Galena, IL?
It was just a 3 hour car ride each way for us.
The town is FULL of history.
It is haunted.
The shopping is awesome!
The food is wonderful.
It is a beautiful, little town.
Fall in Galena
is definitely a popular time. I mean, the town is haunted, so going to do a ghost hunt is a must for any ghost hunter!
The shopping is fun. There are great antique shops
that carry so much awesome stuff! I found cigar boxes for $5 (great for projects) old books (can we say “vintage cookbooks”), a brown tutu for my daughter (yes, brown – it’s her favorite color and she’s into wearing a tutu everyday). We ate great Italian food at Vinny Vanucchi’s
Vinny’s is a little hard to get into, it was like a maze over 3 stories, but we finally got in and had thee best garlic bread ever…and it is unlimited!
The day was fun. We had some awesome laughs, to the point our stomachs hurt and our cheeks ached from the smiles. We drove around the town and creeped through the old neighborhoods to take photos of all the houses.
My brother decided he should be mayor of Galena and enforce every house go back to the olden days. So “Vote Levi” for mayor. He’s wanting to take Galena back to it’s roots!
The views of the city are incredible.
P.S. In case you wondering…we made it all day without a fight, until 10 miles outside of home. Haha! We still are a tad bit dysfunctional!