Galena Country Blog

8 Reasons You’ll Strike Family Vacation Gold in Galena Country

Whether it’s spotting an eagle while hiking trails along the Mississippi River or catching a show performed by master magician PT Murphy, Galena Country offers up activities to put smiles on every face in your family.

Read on to find out why this northwestern Illinois gem should be the next place to visit on your family vacation destination list.

1. Be natural. If the name of your family’s game is nature, there’s no shortage of outdoor spaces to visit. Head to Apple River Canyon State Park, which is an ideal spot for boating, camping, hiking and fishing. There’s also Horseshoe Mound Preserve, where you can hike, bird-watch and picnic while learning about local geology and taking in picturesque views of the area. Or if you’re looking for a place to enjoy a nice bike ride, head to the 9 mile Galena River Trail. If you’re bringing your pets, don’t worry! All of the spots mentioned above are pet-friendly.

2. Pet an alpaca. If anyone in your family is an animal lover, they’ll want to make a trip to Adventure Creek Alpaca & Goldendoodle Farm. The alpacas, which call the farm home, are quiet, regal animals that are friendly to people, making this a great option for families with smaller children. You can meet Quincy the alpaca, who happens to be a TV star or take one of these gentle creatures for a walk. And as the farm’s name implies, there are also goldendoodles (a hybrid breed of dog that’s a blend of golden retriever and poodle) to ensure that you get your puppy love fix, too.

3. Make a little magic. “How did he do that?” Whether you’re 13 or 93, that’s the question you’ll be asking yourself throughout the 65-minute show delivered by Galena’s master magician, P.T. Murphy. Murphy, known for his personal style and mischievous sense of humor, believes in magic, and his goal is to leave you feeling mystified and inspired. The location for the show, an intimate 24-seat theater— located in the heart of historic downtown—only contributes to the fascinating experience. Shows are offered Wednesday through Sunday, and advance purchase of tickets is recommended.

4. Travel back in time. History runs deep in Galena. For example, your kids can get to know Grant—Ulysses S. Grant—that is. Yep, one of Galena’s most famous faces was Grant, whose family moved to town one year before the Civil War. Before the war, the top Union general, and future president, worked at his father’s leather goods store, Grant & Perkins. At the Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site, you can tour Grant’s home, which was given to him by a group of Galena citizens after the war.

Another option for a lesson is in history is to visit Apple River Fort State Historic Site, a Black Hawk War landmark. In 1832, Black Hawk and his warriors attacked the fort. Today, you’ll find a reconstruction of the long-vanished fort (completed in 1997 and modeled after findings from a 1995 archaeological dig), where Black Hawk and the early settlers’ stories are shared. The site is open year-round, Wednesday through Sunday.

5. Spin your wheels. Work smarter, not harder while navigating Galena’s hilly landscape and rent an electric bike from Fever River Outfitters; this a good option and fun activity for people 18 or older. These easy-to-ride bikes allow you to glide down one of the area’s many trails or visit destinations such as the four wineries located in Galena Country. Rentals are available for two-hour increments.

6. Take a hidden hike. Burn a few calories while checking out some of Galena’s lesser-known hikes. For example, there’s the 230-acre Winston Tunnel State Natural Area, where you can find the historic Winston Tunnel, which was completed in 1888 for the Minnesota and Northwestern Railroad. Although the tunnel is closed to the public, the area is a great spot to view a little history in the midst of nature. Or visit Galena’s 4-acre Linmar Gardens, which are situated on natural limestone outcroppings that overlook the town. Here, your family will find water features, a small mine replica and an exquisite sunken garden situated in the ruins of one of the first African-American churches in Illinois. Last but not least, take the family to the West Street Sculpture Park, where they can wander through an outdoor gallery of more than a dozen large steel sculptures created by award-winning local artist John Martinson. You’ll see sculptures including two 40-foot towers and a giant TINKERTOY. The park is open year-round, and there’s also an on-site studio where Martinson is often working.

7. Try the trolley. Give those tired feet a rest and take a Galena Trolley Tour. Choose from a one-hour nonstop tour of Galena’s Historic district or a 2 ½ hour tour of homes, including admission to Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site, Belvedere Mansion and Dowling House.

8. Sleep and swim. No trip is complete without a little swim time. Your kiddos will be beyond content with the pools at hotels, such as Ramada Galena Hotel & Day Spa, which offers a catch and release pond, indoor pool, whirlpool and fitness room;  Stoney Creek Inn, which offers complimentary breakfast, an indoor pool and fitness center; Country Inn & Suites By Carlson in Galena and Stockton, offering complimentary continental-plus breakfast and an indoor waterpark featuring a 72-foot waterslide, whirlpool and wading pool/frog waterslide; and Best Western Designer Inn & Suites, which offers an indoor/outdoor pool and hot tub, in-room fireplaces, and complimentary hot breakfast.

Rediscover Romance With a Getaway to Galena Country

Sipping on a glass of local wine. Feeling the stress of everyday life melt away during a couple’s massage. Snuggling with that special someone in front of a fireplace in your cozy bed-and-breakfast suite. These are just a few of the reasons you’ll fall in love with making Galena Country, the destination for your next romantic rendezvous.

Located in the northwestern corner of Illinois, along the Mississippi River, Galena is a  sweet spot that offers activities to suit couples of all kinds. Below, are eight reasons to start planning your getaway today.

1. Say “ah” at the spa. Nothing says relaxation like a cozy couple’s massage or even a pedicure for two. For example, you and yours can head to the Galena Day Spa for a couple’s massage, which comes complete with complimentary champagne and chocolates. There’s also the Stonedrift Spa at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, which offers a menu of couple’s treatments, including the marine mineral soak in the private couple’s spa suite. But your spa options don’t end there. Indulge Day Spa, Healing Touch of Galena Massage (where the therapist will come to you), Sacred Sole Massage & Bodywork and the soon-to-open Studio One Green Spa and Salon are also stellar options for a little R&R.

2. Tee for two. If taking in nine or 18 holes is a favorite pastime for the two of you, grab the clubs and schedule a tee time at one of Galena’s 10 courses. From the challenging Black Hawk Run Golf Course to the nine-hole Apple Canyon Lake Golf, there’s an option for every skill level. Or try out a different type of golf—foot golf—that is. A cross between soccer and golf, this popular new sport has holes bigger than a typical golf course, so your chances of a hole-in-one just got higher!

3. Taste the grapes. Who needs Tuscany, Italy, when you can wander among the vineyards that call the Galena area home? Only a short drive away in Hanover, Fergedaboudit Vineyard and Winery specializes in dry-red-bold wines. The Rocky Waters Vineyard and Winery (also in Hanover) has an awesome deck where you can enjoy the sunset. Get to know the Lawlor family, who has more than 30 years of winemaking experience at Galena Cellars Vineyard and Winery. And last but not least, visit the Massbach Ridge Winery in Elizabeth, which is nestled in the hills and boasts breathtaking views. And FYI, if you’re in the mood to try something new, consider renting an electric bike from Fever River Outfitters to explore some of the closer wineries. Rentals are available for two-hour increments.

4. Go for a ride. The miles of groomed trails through the wooded hills of Galena Country are the perfect settings for a horseback ride for two. Go on a guided trail ride, or have evening outing with a horse-drawn carriage ride.

5. Wine and dine. Make your meal for two special at one of Galena’s cozy nosh spots. From American tastes to Italian to German, there’s a cuisine for every type of palate. Try the chef’s table at Goldmoor Inn & Dining. Enjoy fine dining with a panoramic view of the mighty Mississippi River and valley at Timmerman’s Supper Club. Savor tastes like a prime steak or fresh scallops at Fried Green Tomatoes. Taste a little bit of Italy at Vinny Vanucchi’s “Little Italy.” Or take in an intimate dinner at Woodlands Restaurant at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa overlooking the picturesque Lake Galena.

6. Shop around. Looking to do a little shopping on your getaway? Make a visit to the Helluva Half Mile, where you’ll find more than 125 shops and restaurants along Main Street. From picking out sweet treats together at boutiques, such as Chocolat’ and the Noty Kity (a family-owned adult boutique filled with items ranging from lingerie to adult novelties), both you and your better half will find treasures to take home. If antiques are your cup of tea, antique furniture, vintage collectibles, old toys, repurposed jewelry, albums, art and potteries are a few of the items you might find at shops such as A Bushel and A Peck and Elizabeth’s Grand Antique Co.

7. Roll on down the river. Take a load off and see all that Galena Country has to offer from a different point of view—floating down the Mississippi River. Choose from a private hour-long ride, lunch/dinner cruises or a daylong adventure that includes themes like murder mysteries.

8. Stay in for the night. Of course, there’s always the option to spend a quiet night in. Snuggle up with your special someone at one of Galena’s luxury B&Bs, such as the Jail Hill Inn, home to suites with gas fireplaces and steam showers or bubble massage tubs. The Inn at Irish Hollow offers luxury cottages on a 500-acre working farm in the Galena countryside. Hawk Valley Retreat & Cottages is located on 10 secluded acres of meadows and gardens, where you can take in the scenic valley and sunset views. Or call the historic DeSoto House Hotel home for your stay in one of its suites overlooking the Galena’s Helluva Half Mile.

 

January is heating up!

It’s cold outside but Galena Country doesn’t sleep in the winter. Here are some exciting ways to kick off the new year!

 

The Galena LitFest

Enjoy a cup of tea with Jane Austen at the Galena LitFest Sat., Jan. 13, brush up on your skills at various writers’ workshops and dine with award-winning indie author Daniel Rosenberg and New York Times bestselling author, Jennifer Chiaverini. The setting for this day of literature is Desoto House Hotel, the oldest operating hotel in Illinois, where President Abraham Lincoln once spoke from its Main Street balcony and Ulysses S. Grant held his presidential campaign. Click here to enter for a chance to win a 1-night stay and LitFest tickets for you and a guest.

 

Magical Masquerade Ball

Masked in mystery and draped in style, arrive for a magical night of fun and fashion at the Magical Masquerade Ball Sat., Jan. 20, to celebrate all genres of art in Galena. This celebration is held at the Galena Cellars Tasting Room with entertainment including, live music by Kristina & Shawn, a magic show by P.T. Murphy Magic, dance by Amanda Kevern, a live art demo by Heather Houzenga and a silent art auction by Galena Center for the Arts. Heavy appetizers, dessert, wine and beer is served.

 

Galena Whiskey Weekend

Cheers to liquid sunshine! A sure way to warm up this winter is to sip on more than 100 whiskeys at Galena Whiskey Weekend Sat., Jan 27. The event will at the historic Turner Hall, a treasured gathering place by the citizens of Galena for more than 125 years, just steps away from the Helluva Half Mile. This historic Main Street offers more than 120 19th Century storefronts of boutiques, art galleries and restaurants, one door after another.
Click here to enter for a chance to win a 1-night stay and Galena Whiskey Weekend tickets for you and a guest.

10 Reasons Winter is actually the best time to visit Galena Country

 

Whether you look at winter as a time for outdoor adventure to embrace the elements or a call to head indoors for cozy relaxation and family downtime, Galena offers the perfect winter escape. From a couple’s retreat to a family vacation, from skiing to sleigh rides, from candlelit hikes to Winter Carnival, from romantic dinners to wine tasting, here are the 10 reasons winter is the best time to visit Galena, Il.

1. Chestnut Mountain Resort 

It doesn’t matter if you’re an avid skier or a novice, you should hit the slopes during the winter at Chestnut Mountain Resort. With 19 runs ranging from beginner to expert, you can move on to the next challenge or stay in your comfort zone. For snowboarders, the Farside, Chestnut Mountain’s own 7-acre terrain park named the top Midwest Snowboard Park by Transworld for 3 consecutive years, has its own triple-chair and surface lift with more than 25 rails and jumps. In fact, it’s the largest terrain park in all the Midwest. Group ski lessons for children are broken into two age groups, 4 to 6 or 7 to 12, with all-day or half-day options and snowboarding available for ages 7 and older. A toddler daycare program is also available. And when hunger hits, no need to leave the area. Mountain Top Cafe is located just off the bunny slope and has everything from pizza to cheese fries and a salad in between.

Many rooms at the resort offer slopeside views and visitors enjoy the indoor pool, sauna, Jacuzzi, game room and two on-site restaurants. Sunset Grille, overlooking the upper Mississippi River Valley, provides a stunning view, with menu offerings from sandwiches to steaks and a wide assortment of seafood. Make plans to come back in summer and eat out on the 1,400 square foot dining deck. The Summit is an upscale sports bar where you and your friends can eat, drink and watch the game together.

 

2. The Nordic Center at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa

For other winter activities, Eagle Ridge Resort’s Nordic Center has a 1.5-mile skating pond for that authentic outdoor ice skating experience. Or maybe a winter wonder sightseeing expedition is more your style? You can explore the snow-covered countryside when you cross-country ski or snowshoe over the Center’s 7 miles of groomed trails.

 

 

And for the kids, there’s nothing more fun than sledding over their golf course at the famous 18th hole. All equipment is available for rent from Fever River Outfitters. And for a truly different winter experience, try skijoring! While standing on skis, you’ll be pulled by a horse, a dog (or dogs) or a motor vehicle. This way, your friends back home will truly be jealous of your adventures.

 

 

Take advantage of the long Presidents Day Weekend and come for Winter Carnival at Eagle Ridge. The Nordic Center activities will be available plus an assortment of carnival fun, including pony rides, wine tasting, ice turkey bowling, snow painting, live music and more.

 

3. Nature Reserves

The Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation works to protect the land near Galena. Casper Bluff is one of the areas under their protection and worth a visit if just for the scenic views of the Mississippi. But the real star here is not the view but, rather, the archaeological finds found on this 85-acre site. Fifty-one burial mounds from the Aiken Mount group, a culture that lived nearly 3,000 years ago, rest on these grounds. Hiking trails provide information kiosks, helping visitors find their way to the mounds and vistas along the way. On select winter dates, they light up the night with a luminary hike via snowshoes or skis 4:30-8:30 p.m. It’s free and complete with bonfire. No reservations needed unless renting equipment.

 

 

Eighteen acres just north of Galena is Buehler Preserve, another JDCF property and a popular place for visitors and their pets for hiking and camping. Comprised of hilly woodlands and flat planes with the Galena River cursing through, you can picnic, fish or enjoy a day of quiet bird watching.

For a peaceful trek through the countryside, visit the Galena River Trail. At just 3.5 miles the trail is perfect for families going cross-country skiing or a snowshoe hike with views of the Galena River and bluffs.

 

4. Night of the Luminary & Living Windows 

December 10, Galena comes alive with more than 5,000 candle-lit luminaries throughout the town, marking the annual Night of the Luminaria. Adding to the excitement is Galena’s own Living Windows, where anyone from Santa to full choruses, to elves hard at work might be seen living the moment, right in a storefront window.

 

5. Horse Drawn Sleigh Rides

Travel the scenic trails of The Galena Territory in style when you reserve a horse-drawn sleigh at Shenandoah Riding Center. Rides are approximately 1 hour, complete with bonfire and hot cocoa, and provide the perfect treat for families, friends or even a special group event. Reservations required.

 

6. Helluva Half-Mile 

Shop Main Street with more than 101 unique mom ‘n pop shops offering everything from crafts to vintage clothing to fine chocolates. The purchase you make for yourself or a loved at one of these specialty shops will be something you’ll find nowhere else.

 

7. Dining on Main Street

Whether you’re looking for farm-to-table or gluten-free fare, or just a really good sandwich, Galena Country offers amazing dining establishments with a full range of culinary choices. There’s breakfast with atmosphere in the four-story atrium found in The Courtyard Restaurant at DeSoto House Hotel, great ethnic options, such as Campeche Restaurant, or romantic dinners for two at Fried Green Tomatoes or Log Cabin Steakhouse, two iconic Galena restaurants. From fine dining to intimate cafes and coffeehouses, personal service, fine food and good wine, including locally-produced Galena wines, reign in Galena.

 

8. Wine, Beer and Spirits 

Galena’s award-winning wineries are open year-round. Named Best Winery in the State of Illinois in 2016 by Yahoo Travel, Galena Cellars offers more than 40 varieties of wine. Stop by their main street tasting room, located in a historic 1840s granary building, or take an easy ride to their vineyard, just 6 miles out of town, for a tour and tasting. November tours are Friday through Sunday and, from December-March, tours are available Saturdays only.

 

 

Massbach Ridge Winery also offers visitors the ease and accessibility of a tasting room right in downtown Galena, as well as their beautiful vineyard where they specialize in growing grapes hardy enough to withstand temperatures of -30F or more. Ask to sample their St. Pepin, displaying “a whiff of citrus and cuts with a spray of green apple.” Hop in the car for a pretty drive out to Hanover and check out Rocky Waters Winery and Fergedaboudit Winery. With stunning scenery and delicious flavors, these two vineyards are a must-visit.

 

For beer lovers, Galena Brewing Co. offers a full microbrewery experience from tours to tastings to dining and live entertainment and Pecatonica Beer Tap House is hoppin’ (pun intended) with seasonal brews and great company. But if a martini or shot of whiskey is more to your liking, visit Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. for daily tours and tastings of the premium spirit of your choice – whiskey, vodka, gin and more – produced right in downtown Galena.

 

9. Cozy B&Bs

Named the B&B Capital of the Midwest, Galena is proud to offer a variety of warm and intimate places to stay. Check into an historic 1800s bed & breakfast right in town, such as Abe’s Spring Street Guesthouse, and you’ll be just steps away from Main Street. Here you’ll get all the conveniences of home, complete with breakfast in the morning, dessert and coffee at night and your own key to the house. Other B&Bs, such as The Felt Manor Guest House, are situated in the hills, offering a beautiful view of Galena from above. And all of these private residences and inns offer their own style of historic charm, breakfast and personalized service, along with great suggestions of where to go and what to do in the area.

 

10. Nightlife and Festivals

When night comes and you want to know where to go, enjoy live music venues, such as The CornerstoneMiss Kitty’s Grape Escape and Frank O’Dowd’s Irish Pub & Grill. For family fun, make it a night out at P.T. Murphy Magic Theatre, an intimate 24-seat theatre where the magician dazzles his audience with optical illusion tricks and a mischievous sense of humor. There’s no need to head down to New Orleans to partake in the Mardi Gras festivities.

 

 

Meet and greet New York Times Best Selling Authors during LitFest. Visit Historic Turner Hall during Whiskey Weekend and sip more samples from more than 100 Whiskeys. The city hosts its own Galena Mardis Gras where the entire Helluva Half-Mile shuts down for the celebration. Bring your best masks and necklace beads and join the restaurants and bars that open their doors for the event. Other annual events to look forward to are St. Patty’s Day (town comes alive with a 5K run, parade and pub crawls) and Wine Lovers Weekend, the largest indoor wine tasting event where you can sample from more than 300 vendors.

Naughty gifts for the naughty list

Shopping for someone who’s been put on the naughty list? Check out this list of Galena Country favorites that are sure to carry what you’re looking for.

Head to Noty Kity and shop sexy lip balms, body lotion, lingerie, massage oils, accessories and more! If you want it, Noty Kity can get it! The staff is focused on providing the best and largest variety of products and the highest level of customer service and satisfactions.

Nothing says naughty like a “whiskey made me do it” t-shirt from Blaum Bros Distilling Co. Visit the Blaum Bros gift shop and pick up a comfy tee and some tasty spirits for that special devil in your life. While there, check out the guided tour. This is not a standard 5-minute talk but, rather, a full sensory experience. Touch, taste and feel the ingredients that make Blaum Bros. spirits unique!

Chocolat‘s candies taste so good it’s bad. With more than 200 flavors of Swiss, German, French Belgian and Venezuelan chocolates their selection is so decadent they consider it “The eighth deadly sin.” As if that wasn’t enough, Chocolat’ also carries a fine selection of imported wines. Chocolat’ and wine? Yes, please!

Looking for the perfect stocking stuffer? Pick up a few gift certificates from Miss Kitty’s Grape Escape. Throw in a bottle of Kouzabel wine as a delicious bonus. Enjoy a savory martini while you shop and don’t miss the outstanding appetizer selection and sinful desserts.

Does your special someone prefer money over presents? Give them some cash to double at Nancy’s Slots! This Gaming Cafe provides a relaxing and comfortable place to play slots free from noise and distractions of a crowded bar or busy restaurant. Who doesn’t like walking away with more cash?

5 winter activities that don’t require snow

No snow? No problem! So what is there to do if skiing and ice skating aren’t in the cards? Sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t act according to the plan but no worries, we’ve compiled a list of winter activities to take your mind off those no-snow winter blues.

Winter Hikes – If you are itching to get outdoors how about a winter hike? Galena has plenty of nature preserves that are well worth visiting. The winter months are a great time to explore trails and admire wildlife, you may even see a bald eagle or two. A winter walk in the woods will reconnect you with nature.

Magic Show – Take time to book a reservation with Galena’s master magician PT Murphy. With his slight of hand and mischievous sense of humor PT will will mystify you to believe! Located in the heart of downtown Galena, this intimate magic show will have you forgetting about the snow in no time.

Wine & Spirit Tastings – Blizzard or mild temps, wine and spirits are always a good idea. Massbach Ridge Winery and Galena Cellars both have tasting rooms located on the Helluva Half Mile and are open all year. But, with no icy roads to worry about you might want to plan a drive out to Fergedaboudit Vineyard and Winery and Rocky Waters Vineyard to experience the amazing views of Galena Country and, of course, great wine. Don’t forget about Blaum Bros. Distillery located off Hwy 20, take a tour of their distillation area and barrel room or stop in for a bottle or a cocktail! For all the Beer lovers out there. You’ll be happy to know Galena Country is home to 2 craft breweries, Galena Brewing Co. and Pecatonica Beer Co. Tap House.

Geocaching – Have you tried it? Geocaching is a fun outdoors activity that the whole family will enjoy, even in the winter. Grab your coat and GPS and start exploring the many geocaches hidden amongst Galena’s historic downtown. It’s a great way to view the city from a different angle, as you search for hidden treasures in surprising places.

President Ulysses S. Grant’s home is open year-round. It was opened to the public in 1904 and a majority of the furnishings are original. Tour this home Wed.-Sun., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Thrift in the Driftless

The vintage hues of fall conjure thoughts of the good old days. Steeped in history, Galena Country is the perfect setting for antique treasure hunting. Admire ornately carved legs of an antique coffee table or, perhaps, a funky lamp with a hand-molded base. Though many items have lost their luster, they stand with glory and pride intact.

Red’s Iron Yard & Wholesale Barn offers a unique thrifting experience in Galena. The Barn stores hundreds of metal items waiting to be customized into a piece of art. The Yard, located downtown, showcases cast iron, yard décor, weather vanes and even whiskey barrels.

There’s also The Galena Antique Mall, located on Highway 20, just two miles east of downtown Galena. This mall includes more than 55 dealers selling antiques, collectibles, jewelry, furniture and vintage toys.

Galena’s historic Main Street, also known as the Helluva Half Mile, is home to Grammy’s Attic and Gustafson & Grey Ltd. These stores feature antiques, fine jewelry and unique finds.

Bookworms enjoy sifting through 30,000 quality used books at Peace of the Past! These books are surrounded by other interesting finds, including vintage advertising memorabilia and retro furniture. Speaking of retro, Tin Pan Alley carries pieces that span centuries, including art deco, mid-century modern and primitives.

Explore Elizabeth for exciting antique gems! Located just a few miles outside of Galena, Elizabeth is known for antiquing. Check out Common Cents Resale. They pride themselves in keeping the shop fresh by treasure hunting for product throughout the country. Here, you will find a large amount of furniture as well as art pieces, ornaments, crockery you name it!

While perusing new, used and antique furnishings at A Bushel and a Peck, stock up on local, and uber tasty, homemade and homegrown products. The Shop on the Hill’s antique selection fills the entire first floor of a Victorian home.

Elizabeth Grand Antique Co. promises to keep one occupied for hours on end with its 28,000-sq. ft. antique mall. Touch a piece of history at every turn and imagine the life lived at the time of its creation.

Need a bit more of a thrift fix? Check out Sullivan’s Antiques in Hanover, which offers antique and vintage furniture as well as a little bit of rock-n-roll! Antiques Etc. is a 100-year-old farmhouse in Stockton, showcasing ever-changing collections. Dusty’s Closet Antiques in Warren, welcomes shoppers to explore their 1856 brick house full of beautiful antique furniture, vintage collectibles and small gifts. Treasures await!

Winter Holidays in Galena Country

Make your plans now for a Holiday Getaway or Family Celebration in Galena Country! Nothing puts you in the spirit faster than a genuine country Christmas with Galena’s garland-lined Main St. Whether you choose a romantic Bed & Breakfast, a resort with all the amenities or book a rental home or vacation rental to bring the family together, you can enjoy these “Christmas in the County” events and activities during your stay!

  • Elizabeth

  • Warren

  • Galena

  • Stockton

  • East Dubuque

Galena

Nouveau Weekend: November 17-18, 2017. Calling all wine lovers–epicureans of all levels! Join us as we celebrate the French-inspired tradition of Nouveau previewing a sampling of the vintage from the fall harvest.

Miracle on 34th Street Radio Play: November 9-12, 2017, 7-9 p.m. (Sunday show at 2 p.m) In this lively performance, the audience becomes the studio audience for the radio station “WGCA” in scenic Galena. “Miracle on 34th Street” is a heartwarming holiday story, entertaining for the whole family. Tickets available at the Desoto House Hotel, at the Center for the Arts, online at www.GalenaCenterForTheArts, or at the door. Best to get tickets in advance, as this show sometimes sells out.

Festival of TreesNovember 25, 2017, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. The 6th Annual Festival of Trees will kick off the holiday season on Saturday, November 25 in the DeSoto House Ballroom in Galena from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. The Festival of Trees is a public display of spectacular one-of-a-kind designed holiday trees, wreaths, and other holiday items sponsored and created by local artists, organizations, and businesses. Admission is free.

Old-Fashioned Christmas in Galena: November 25, 2017. Enjoy the garland-draped shops along Galena’s Main St. and watch as Santa is escorted to the Old Market House by carolers and festive floats! Start of Santa’s Arrival: 5:30 p.m., Lighting of Tree: 6 .pm.

Holiday Fire in the Sky: December 2, 2017. Enjoy the evening sky as it comes alive with fireworks to kick off the holiday season in downtown Galena. Live carolers, hot cocoa, bonfire and more!

Taste of Christmas Progressive DinnerDecember 2, 2017, 5-8 p.m.Join the members of Best of Galena as they open their Bed and Breakfasts for this annual event. Your evening will include appetizers, main course, and desserts, which will all be served at a different location. A wonderful opportunity to visit three different locations, meet new friends and start off your holiday festivities. Reservations required. To reserve tickets and for more information, contact Lorraine via email at info@belleairemansion.com.

Night of the Luminaria & Living Windows: December 9, 2017. The streets, steps, and sidewalks of Galena will be lined with nearly 5,000 candle-lit luminaries. Living Windows is when the storefronts come alive with holiday vignettes, sure to bring a smile to any Grinch. Stay tuned to learn how to vote for your favorite Living Window with a chance to win a free overnight in Galena!

Want to take a tour? 
Tri-State Trolley will be offering 45 min. Night of the Luminaria tours at 5, 6, 7 and 8 p.m. for $15.
– Enjoy a romantic, Night of the Luminaria heated shuttle bus tour with Amelia’s and a candlelit tour of the historic Ryan Mansion for $18. Shuttle Departs right behind the Desoto House Hotel. Tours run on the hour beginning at 5 p.m. and finish with a guided candlelit tour of one Galena’s most famous homes, the Ryan Mansion.

Mistletoe Stroll Holiday House Tour: Saturday, December 9th and 16th, 2-4 p.m. Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers of Galena invite you to tour historic inns all lavishly decorated for Christmas. From traditions of the past to current day decor, each inn is unique and the experience should not be missed. Sample each inn’s favorite holiday cookie. See website for a list and map of participating houses. No reservations required, you may begin your tour and purchase tickets at any of the houses listed on the website. Tickets are $10 per person, children under 12 are free.

Tip: Plan a romantic dinner for just the two of you, try Perry St. Brasserie or Fritz & Frites for an intimate setting with a European flair.

Elizabeth

Christmas in Elizabeth: Decemner 2, 2017, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Celebrate an old-fashioned Christmas with the Village of Elizabeth. Tour the 1876 Banwarth House & Museum decorated for the season, check out the caboose and ten operating model trains at the Chicago Great Western Railway Depot Museum, and visit Santa. While you are there, partake in the living history demonstration at the Apple River Fort and more. There will be a Christmas concert, craft show, soup & bake sale, Christmas Tree decorating contest, Santa Dash – 1-mile fun run and many stores open late with Christmas bargains and discounts.

In cooperation with the Elizabeth, IL Chamber of Commerce annual event, “Christmas in the Village‚” the Apple River Fort State Historic Site will provide holiday atmosphere with seasonal music and host baked items and small home-made gifts sale at the Interpretive Center (311 E. Myrtle St.). Costumed history interpreters will also participate in interactive impressions and activities.

Tip: Get a latté or bottle of wine at E-Town Coffee and make sure there’s time to stroll through Elizabeth’s Grand Antique Mall.

Stockton

Stockton Christmas Walk: December 1, 2017, Stockton‚ holiday tradition, this year’s theme is “A Candy Cane Christmas.” Start the season with a Christmas tree lighting on Friday evening at 6 p.m. On Saturday, December 2, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., stroll from store to store and shop, visit Santa, ride in a horse-drawn wagon ride and have some delicious nibbles in the downtown shops. Meet the newly crowned Little Jack Frost and Miss Merry Christmas! Find more information on their Facebook Page!

Tip: Stop into Sweet Alice’s for a treat then shop for gifts and holiday decor at Stockton Floral & Gifts. Warm up in Stella’s Cafe & Catering with a blooming tea and fresh bread.

Warren

Warren Christmas Walk: Enjoy the Festival of Trees in the charming & historic Warren Community Building (Old Stone Hotel), starting November and ending January 1, 2018. Stroll through town to see the decorated snowmen contributed by local businesses and holiday decorations. Santa will arrive in a parade on Monday, December 5 from 4:30 ‚ 7:30 p.m. Stroll through town and sample the treats and refreshments provided by participating businesses, don’t forget to register for door prizes!

Tip: Stop in to Bugaboo’s for a great meal in their charming Main St. diner and Pecatonica Beer Co. for a local brew!

East Dubuque

Candlelight Christmas Walk: November 25, 2017, starting at 2 p.m. Join us for an old-fashioned Christmas gathering in downtown. Greet Santa at the fire station, create a Christmas craft and enjoy cookies and milk. Participate in the Candlelight Walk to the Christmas tree lighting and decorating. An optional donation of a canned food item for the Food Pantry, located at the East Dubuque Fire Department, 183 Sinsinawa Ave., East Dubuque, IL.

More Ideas

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Photo credit: Henry Matthiessen III of Stoned Art Studio, East Dubuque Lions Club, Sweet Alice’sShenandoah Riding Center

Fall Guide to Galena, Illinois: Top 7 Things to Do


 

When the summer heat starts to make way for cooler temperatures, you begin to anticipate a few, beloved fall traditions such as football season, scarves and a certain fall-inspired latte. You can also expect a beautiful, colorful backdrop here in Galena Country and plenty of must-do activities to keep you busy.

While it’s hard to choose just one activity or event, here are a few fall favorites in Galena Country:

1. Go Outside

 

Apple Canyon Lake waterfall by @ishanbilolikar

 

It is highly recommended to spend time outside to see the gorgeous variety of fall hues. Hiking one of the five trails in Apple River Canyon State Park is an excellent way to see the changing colors and you can also opt to picnic, camp or fish along the Apple River. Another scenic spot for outdoor enthusiasts is the Galena River Trail. This trail is perfect for taking in the views by bike, foot or kayak. This 8-mile (one-way) route offers plenty to see, including local flora and fauna and some of the best bird-watching in the region. Prefer to be a little more passive in your sightseeing? Try the Mississippi River Cruise, where you can see the native wildlife, historical points of interest and stunning riverscapes that will have you planning a return trip.

Galena River Trail by @thestork670

 

Image by @enjoyillinois

 

2. Ride the Streets

Take your touring full throttle by hitting the Stagecoach Trail on a motorcycle! Retrace the original stagecoach route that ran in the mid-1800s by beginning your adventure in Nora, just 30 miles east of Galena. If cycling is more your speed, venture 10 miles outside city limits to Council Hill Station, an original 1850s general store and a railway station that has delicious food and live music. It’s the perfect place to give your legs a rest, fuel up, so to speak, and head back to Galena. Four-wheel aficionados can also explore the roads in Galena. Ride down to East Dubuque for Cruisin’ Thursdays in August and September to see the hottest rides made in 1985 and earlier, catch a glimpse of the Mississippi River and possibly win a prize at the event.

 

East Dubuque view of the Mississippi River by @headymercury

 

Dittmar Farms pumpkin patch by @lovelyleahruth

 

3. Harvest

Farmers markets can lessen the distance between you, fresh fruits and vegetables but there is no substitute for picking it yourself, and fall is a prime time for the DIY harvesting of seasonal staples. Dittmar Farms in Elizabeth is popular with both locals and visitors. You can pick pumpkins and apples and test your navigation skills in the corn maze. But if your family wants some quality time with farmers, visit Ehrler Ranch. At Ehrler Ranch, you can tour a working farm, have a picnic, play near the creek or enjoy a hayride. However, animal lovers might wish for an entirely different farm experience. Four miles outside of Galena is the Adventure Creek Alpaca and Goldendoodle Farm, where 45 secluded acres and 12 historic log cabins await you. You can even walk the alpacas and Goldendoodles!

 

Fergedaboudit Winery by @grimes.emily

4. Wineries

The cool, crisp breeze is perfect to pair with a refreshing glass of wine and the Galena area is home to several wineries. Fergedaboudit Vineyard & Winery in Hanover offers live music all throughout autumn and the gorgeous views of fall will have you raising a glass with every glance. You’ll also find Rocky Waters Vineyard & Winery in Hanover. This 25-acre, family-owned winery offers a 1-hour tour and has an amazing deck that offers panoramic views of the lush greenery. Massbach Ridge Winery in Elizabeth is another excellent winery. You can even work off a few of those liquid calories at the Massbach Stomp or dance them off during one of the live concerts. And if you’re looking for all things fall in one place, look no further than the Fall Harvest & Art Festival. Presented by Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery, you’ll enjoy grape stomping, art vendors, pumpkin decorating, plenty of food and, of course, lots of wine.

Image by @perkinscustom

Fall Harvest & Art Festival at Galena Cellars Winery

 

 5. Festivals and Events

Galena Country is filled with family-friendly events that you’ll want to mark your calendar for. Mallardfest is a favorite local tradition that has vino from nearby wineries, a fish fry, a parade, kids’ activities, music, a home football game and fireworks. If brews are your drink of choice, raise your stein and attend Oktoberfest. Besides plenty of beer, Oktoberfest has food, kids’ games, polka lessons, a costume contest and the ceremonial tapping of the keg.

Fairs are another national pastime that you’ll find here. The Galena Country Fair and Autumn Craft Fair attract families from all over. Both fairs provide plenty of activities, food, entertainment, crafts and much more. Antique lovers flock to the 50th Annual Tour of Historic Homes Sept. 23-24. During those 2 days, five private, historic homes are open for tours, along with an 1858 Barrows mansion for a peek into the past. But if your fall revolves around pumpkins, visit downtown Warren for the 45th Annual Warren Pumpkin Festival. This festive day includes an antique tractor pull, a parade, carnival rides, games, food and a special performance by the 144th Army Band.

 

Image by @stoned_art_studio

 

6. Art

Galena Country also offers plenty of sophistication for art lovers. Taking place Oct. 14, the Twenty Dirty Hands Pottery Tour is a self-guided tour, where visitors can visit popular pottery and sculpture studios. Some of the studios offer special events and exhibits that day. If you can’t attend the Twenty Dirty Hands Pottery Tour, try the ARRT Drive, where you can rub shoulders with the region’s top artists while viewing their stunning work inside their creative studios. While you’re exploring the art scene, visit the art galleries on the Helluva Half Mile that will provide you with hours of viewing pleasure.

 

Galena Halloween Parade

 

7. Scary Good Time

It would be remiss not to include one of fall’s biggest holidays – Halloween! If you’re over 21, join the rest of the crowd for the annual Haunted Pub Crawl. During this pub crawl, you tour with Galena’s No. 1 storyteller and visit three haunted pubs while hearing all about the ghostly and ghastly history. But if you’re in the mood for a real scare, Shenandoah’s Fear Forest should be on your list. Set in a real forest rather than a haunted house, the moonlight guides participants on a tractor-pulled hayride complete with creatures of the night and creepy crawlers.

And, of course, thousands of people visit Galena each year for the  Halloween Parade & Festival. This spooky celebration brings a crowd of ghosts and goblins to the enchanting Main Street. During the 2-hour parade, attendees enjoy decorated floats, local marching bands, copious amounts of candy and the occasional fire burst!

Best Midwestern Small Town – Please Vote!

Galena, IL has been nominated in the USA Today 10 Best – Reader’s Choice Awards for the Best Midwestern Small Town! Please help us to the top with your vote. You can vote daily until April 24, 2017. We appreciate your help! 

 

Galena is a 3 hour drive west from Chicago, in the northwest corner of Illinois. The Mississippi River defines it’s western border and is the reason for the boom in the mid 1800’s that Galena attributes to it’s charm. One-of-a-kind shops, restaurants, along with bed and breakfasts, hotels, resorts and vacation rental homes, this midwestern destination is the perfect choice for your next vacation. There is plenty to do for everyone, with 10 golf courses in Jo Daviess County, two resort communities with lakes, horseback riding, hot air ballooning and canopy tours. Kayak the Galena River, race your friends down the mountain on the Alpine Slide at Chestnut and take a Mississippi River cruise. Indulge in the tastes of Jo Daviess County with four vineyards, a distillery and two breweries. Every season holds something special with special events and fun activities.

Plan your trip at galena.org and let us know if we can help!

 

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