She’s super, she’s a mom, she’s SuperMom!

We asked VisitGalena fans to nominate their favorite mom for a weekend trip to Galena. Husbands, daughters and friends have entered their favorite mom in hopes of winning her a trip she’ll never forget. We’ve sifted through many entries that explained why their mom deserves to win and what they would do during a visit to the Helluva Half Mile. The time has come to announce our winner of the Get To Galena SuperMom giveaway. Congratulations Diane Sugars, nominated by her daughter, Abby. Abby’s heartfelt entry and her mom’s love for Galena grabbed our attention. Diane is an avid fan of our little town and she has a big heart for those in her life, postponing her first trip to Galena in order to take care of her family and work duties. Diane is a one-of-a-kind mom and definitely deserving of the SuperMom title. Read Abby’s entry below…
Galena Main Street

Diane Sugars is my Super Mom. She can do many things at one time. Her life has not been her own for many years. My brother was born first, then I arrived 5 years later. From that time until now, she has committed her life to her family, friends and job.

My mom and dad were married on September 19, 1992. She began her own family at this point. My mom made sure my dad’s life was full of all good things. She could make yummy meals from nothing and decorate their home with simple things that looked like a magazine. Six years later my brother came, and their world changed. Taking care of her firstborn became her mission. She catered to his every need. When he started preschool, my mom started her school duties. In a short month, later I popped into the family.

She became the original soccer mom. She kept house, fed us, did all the things my dad needed, plus entertained us. Once we were both in school, she became the super school mom. Every year for both of us, she has been a room mother, field trip chaperone, and homework queen. While becoming the school mom, she worked at the optical center at Shopko. Then in August of 2014, she started working at the Montrose Health Center. She was now on another journey gaining another family. At the center, mom was filled with love and compassion for the residents. Her love of family spilled over into her job. Now she was not only super school mom, but caring for those who needed an advocate to watch over them.

Mom became known to the residents as the cook that cares. She asks them their favorite food or is there something special they would like to eat. So now, mom is not only cooking the family favorites but the Center’s residents favorites also. While doing all of this she is still a super mom and wife. After working in the health center for a couple of years, she was promoted to the Dietary Supervisor at the Montrose Health Center. This required more of her time but she continues to be the best mom and wife ever.


Helluva Half Mile


This brings us to her love of Galena. Mom had always wanted to go to Galena, but something always got in the way. Then in 2014, my dad took her to Galena on their anniversary. Mom got to do everything she had dreamed about doing. She instantly fell in love with Galena. When she came home, she couldn’t stop talking about Galena. My mom loves history so much and Galena is a treasure trove of great historic value. After being home for a couple of days, immediately she began reading all she could Galena and its history. My mom started making a list of all the things she wanted to see that she hadn’t already seen.


DeSoto House Hotel


Since my mom and I are very close she wanted to share Galena with me, so we started planning a trip together. When June came around we were off on our Galena adventure. We stayed on the most haunted floor of the Desoto House. Legend has it that The Lady in Black still roams around the hallways. Mom and I stayed up all night but sadly we didn’t see any ghosts. The next morning my mom and I had a fabulous breakfast at the Courtyard Restaurant in the hotel. It was such a treat for her to have breakfast made for her, that rarely happens. After that, we started our exploration of Galena. My mom was so excited to share her favorite prior experiences of Galena with me.




Our first stop was U. S. Grant’s house, she told me all about it ahead of time and I was so excited. Once we walked in I saw everything that my mom had told me about come to life. She loves Grant’s history and his house. Because my mom loves to dream, we decided to drive around and look at all the houses that were for sale. We decided we would rather come to visit than live there because with every new visit to Galena there was always had a surprise inside.


Victory Café


Next, it was time for lunch. My mom is a foodie and Galena is a Mecca for her. So many restaurants, so little time. Our trip to Galena was such a fabulous and exciting weekend for a mom and her daughter. After getting home, my mom announced, “When will we go again?”


Jail Hill Inn


My mom and dad went back for some together time during another anniversary. My dad surprised her by staying at the Jail Hill Inn. My brother and I both thought it was appropriate for our parents to stay in jail for a few days! My mom was so excited she got to revisit some special places and embark on some new experiences. When they got home my mom announced, “we are all going to Galena in February as a family!!!” After the family trip to Galena, we were all hooked on my mom’s favorite getaway place, Galena.


Galena's Main Street


I am writing this to tell you about how the greatest mom ever, deserves this trip to Galena. She spends countless hours in the facility helping the senior citizens feel like they are family. Any special requests are always honored. She always goes the extra mile and gives up herself every day to her job, all the time remembering she has a family of her own. Whether it’s my brother in boy scouts or one of my many projects she is always there to help us. She asks very little of anyone but is appreciative of anything that is done for her. Winning this trip to Galena will show my mom how much I love and care about her. I truly appreciate you taking the time you spent reading this. – Abby Sugars

Bring your mom to Galena, Illinois this Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is around the corner. Does your supermom deserve to win a SuperMom Getaway? That is the question we’ve throw out there and the responses have been pouring in. Husbands, daughters and friends have entered their favorite mom in hopes of winning her a SuperMom Getaway to Galena, Illinois (winner will be announced April 21). We’ve sifted through many entries that explain why their mom deserves to win and what they would do during a visit to the Helluva Half Mile. Below are a few excerpts from entries that are too good not to share. Check back for part 2 of this blog post to read more entries.

Galena's Helluva Half Mile

My wife is a SuperMom who does it all and then some. She holds an advanced position in the insurance industry that involves travel across areas of the Midwest several days each month. This prevents her from always being close to her two young sources of joy, aged 6 and 11. Despite the fact that these trips involve early morning wake-ups, driving herself to the airport, flying and then meeting with multiple clients over several days, she always manages to come home with enough energy to receive an overabundance of hugs and kisses from the kids and a puppy 🙂

She deserves a relaxing visit to Galena where, in the past, we have celebrated our anniversary, done some wine-tasting and enjoyed the Alpine sledding at Chestnut Mountain Lodge. Her ideal trip would involve relaxing in a cozy setting, perhaps in front of a fire with a good book and definitely with a long, soothing bubble bath.

She would definitely enjoy sampling the many great wines that Galena Cellars has to offer and would be very satisfied with consuming the various cheeses available at Galena River Wine & Cheese. An Italian meal consisting of gnocchi at One Eleven Main would definitely be a highlight of the visit as well. Getting some exercise by walking throughout the town and visiting the many unique shops that Galena has to offer as well as traveling throughout the neighborhoods would certainly be appreciated as well.

In order to achieve a proper work-life balance, a trip to nearby Galena would certainly fit the bill. Thank you for your consideration and for showcasing all that Galena has to offer. – Toby from Naperville, Illinois


Why mom deserves to win a trip to Galena, IL

Mother’s Day is around the corner. Does your supermom deserve to win a SuperMom Getaway? That is the question we’ve throw out there and the responses have been pouring in. Husbands, daughters and friends have entered their favorite mom in hopes of winning her a SuperMom Getaway to Galena, Illinois (Winner announced April 21). We’ve sifted through many entries that explain why their mom deserves to win and what they would do during a visit to the Helluva Half Mile. Below are a few excerpts from entries that are too good not to share.

Galena's Helluva Half Mile Main Street

Hello! My name is Kelley and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to tell you about my fantastic mom, Kathleen, the very embodiment of a SuperMom.

Even as a single parent, Mom put herself through school and worked as a medical transcriptionist for a women’s OB-GYN. My mom is hilarious and has an amazing sense of humor. Sometimes when we are together, we can spend more time laughing than we do talking! She is also incredibly selfless – she is always there for her family and friends when they need her.

One of my favorite things to do with my mom is to shop (I think she would begrudgingly agree!) We love to go to art shows, tiny Main St. shops, and even the mall together. We have discussed visiting Galena for a girls’ weekend over the years, but have always been prohibited from work, finances, or other commitments. I have spent hours “stalking” the Visit Galena website, salivating over the beautiful boutiques and charming stores. Mom visited Galena with my aunt several years back and can’t wait to return.

Surprising her with this wonderful gift – we would finally have our girls’ weekend shopping ‘til we drop in charming, beautiful Galena! Although we would be excited to do everything there during our Helluva Half Mile experience, I would be especially thrilled to check out the boutique stores and art galleries for apparel and home items

If the weather is kind, we both love to hike and would enjoy checking out the number of beautiful parks and preserves in the area – assuming our feet are up to it after all the shopping!

One of my favorite things about Galena, though, is this – that you bring in visitors not by piles of advertising and spamming my inbox, but by hosting giveaways like the SuperMom Getaway and Wedding in a Window to give the lucky recipients a dream come true.

I also feel that my mother, who has spent much of her life doing things for others without expecting anything in return, absolutely deserves a chance to be pampered and indulge for a change and I am so excited to be the person to give that opportunity to her. Thank you very much for this opportunity to tell you a little bit about my mom and for considering my submission to your giveaway. – Kelley from Sun Prairie, WI


How to have a green vacation in Galena

Jail Hill Inn

Book your stay at one of Galena’s green lodging properties.
Eight lodging properties in Galena have taken measures to ensure that they are operating in the green. To be recognized as a green leader, each property must fulfill the required green lodging criteria, as determined by the Galena Area Green Designation Committee. The Committee is one of several entities that aims to develop green initiatives throughout Galena, Illinois, and Jo Daviess County.

Galena’s designated green lodging properties:
Aldrich Guest House
Alice’s Snyder House Bed & Breakfast
Augustus Chetlain Home & Log Cabin Guest House
Belle Aire Mansion Guest House
Country Inn & Suites
Farmers Guest House
Jail Hill Inn
Ramada Galena

Galena River view of downtown

Park your car and pedal around town.
Bike from shop-to-shop on the Helluva Half Mile, pedal across the pedestrian bridge to Ulysses Grant’s home, reconnect with nature on a ride along the Galena River Trail, journey to an award-winning vineyard or cruise through a historic cemetery. Fever River Outfitters makes it easy to explore Galena by bicycle with regular and electric bike rentals- perfect for conquering hills and long distances.

Blaum Bros. Distilling Co

Enjoy a meal and spirits made from local ingredients.
Located on the Helluva Half Mile, One Eleven Main is dedicated to supporting local farmers, artisans and food purveyors. Their mouthwatering menu includes locally-sourced ingredients and specialty items recommended by their food partners. After a delicious meal, get to Blaum Bros. Distillery for some tasty drinks. The two fun-loving brothers at Blaum Bros. source nearly all their grain from Illinois and their tasty spirits are made on-site. What little grain they use beyond Illinois happens to be sourced from the neighboring farms in Wisconsin.

my green galena

Bag up your retail finds in an eco-friendly bag.
Ditch the plastic shopping bags and purchase a My Green Galena reusable bag at the Galena Welcome Center or City Hall. These bad boys are quite large and are perfect for carrying all those Helluva Half Mile gifts and goodies. Plastic bag pollution is environmentally damaging and completely avoidable. Shopping with a reusable bag is the way to go. The best part? My Green Galena bags are recyclable!

Galena solar treatment plant

Extra, extra… Galena is committed to sustainability.
In 2014, the City of Galena was recognized as a leader in sustainability when it received the Governor’s Sustainability Award from the Office of the Governor and the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center of the University of Illinois. The award recognized the city for its demonstrated commitment to the economy, society and environment through outstanding and innovative sustainability practices. In other words, it’s greena in Galena!

Keep the coffee coming.

A list of coffee shops located on the Helluva Half Mile.


photo credit: Big Bill’s Sandwich & Coffee Shop

Spring has arrived but just when it looks like warmer weather is here to stay, Mother Nature delivers another drizzling cold front. That’s okay. Our little town is the perfect place to cozy up and April showers bring May flowers. While we wait for warmer Spring weather to arrive, you can find us hanging in a comfy Galena cafe enjoying a hot cup of java. Want to join us? Check out this list of welcoming coffee shops located on the Helluva Half Mile.



photo credit: Kaladis .925

Mean Bean Rosters
Think custom gourmet coffee minus the stuffy coffee house. Mean Bean Roasters believes everyone should enjoy outstanding gourmet coffees and offers all customers the option to custom design a personal coffee blend and label. Choose up to five different mouthwatering flavors to create your own individual and unique blend. Not sure what you like? No problem! Mean Bean’s friendly staff is there to help. If you aren’t up for creating a blend, enjoy one of their pre-made selections. Enjoy a warm cup of freshly brewed java, made locally by fellow coffee lovers.



Kaladis .925

Kaladis .925
Get to Kaladis for an afternoon pick-me-up after a day of sightseeing in Galena. Make yourself comfortable. This family-owned coffee shop has great ambiance and free Wi-Fi. The coffee selection is excellent and they have a wonderful food menu offering a selection of delicious baked goods and sandwiches! It’s what taste buds dream about.



photo credit: Devour Café

Devour Café
If you’re looking for a quality cup of caffeine then this is your place. At Devour, each drink is meticulously prepared with care by an incredibly friendly staff. The atmosphere is welcoming and has some of the best natural light, perfect for those of you who like to snap photos of your coffee before you drink. This café has become a must-visit for returning visitors.



Stam Chocolaterie
Don’t let the name fool you. The owners of Stam Chocolaterie in Galena offer a tasty selection of coffee drinks. Whether it is a traditional black coffee or a large almond milk caramel latte with extra foam, the baristas serve it how you like it! Once you have a drink order figured out, browse their selection of decadent chocolates. As if it couldn’t get any better, they also serve gelato!



photo credit: Big Bill’s Sandwich & Coffee Shop

Big Bill’s Sandwich Shop & Coffee Bar
Big Bill’s Sandwich Shop & Coffee Bar is the place to go for great food, comfortable vibes, excellent service and a cup of Metropolis Coffee. Bill’s has a full-service coffee bar and tasty food menu, including sandwiches, soups, salads and pastries. Enjoy live music on the weekends and one of the best views of the Helluva Half Mile.

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.

casper bluf

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.

PT Murphy

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.

blaum bros

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 Main Street and with no icy roads to worry about you might want to plan a drive out to Galena Cellars country vineyard for a full tour. 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!


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.

Reserve your 2016 New Year’s Eve dinner spot

2016 is almost over! Celebrate the new year with a delicious dinner and Champagne at one of Galena’s finest restaurants. Book your reservations today. These hotspots are selling out fast!

Goldmoor Inn – How about a specially prepared chef’s choice meal at one of Galena’s luxury lodging properties? Book your New Year’s Eve dinner reservations at the Goldmoor Inn and enjoy a prix fixe meal, live music, party favors and Champagne toast.


Fritz and Frites – Enjoy a romantic dinner for 2 with German and French cuisine and an award-winning wine selection. This bistro is the perfect setting to welcome in the new year with the one you love.


Perry Street Brasserie – Dine at one of the top 100 restaurants in the U.S., Perry Street Brasserie. This is the place to go for a unique dinner featuring organic, in-season products and exquisite flavors.


Woodstone Restaurant – The Woodstone Restaurant offers seasonal cuisine using local ingredients and has an extensive wine and craft ale list. Book your intimate New Year’s Eve dinner for 2 before reservations are full!


Fried Green Tomatoes – Ring in the new year with outstanding service in an inviting atmosphere. This iconic restaurant is the place for steak, fresh scallops and homemade lasagna.

One Eleven Main – Enjoy a made-from-scratch meal sourced with local ingredients. One Eleven Main is dedicated to supporting local farmers, artisans and food purveyors and you can taste the passion in their food. Celebrate the new year with a delicious dinner in this delightful restaurant located in the heart of downtown Galena.

Naughty gifts for the naughty list.

Shopping for someone who’s been put on the naughty list? Check out this list of Galena 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.

Jump-start your summer with this 4-day itinerary

Jump-start your summer with a weekend full of adventure during Memorial Day weekend. For many of us, Memorial Day means school is out and summer vacation officially begins. Grab your travel buddies and plan a vacation to Galena to celebrate the season. Here’s a 4-day itinerary missing only one thing… you!


Spend Friday immersed in history and wowed with impressive architecture. Explore the historic Elihu B. Washburne House where President Ulysses S. Grant spent his election night. After a walk through Washburne’s home, a tour of Grant’s home is in order. See his original furnishings and tour his property and other historic buildings. Have your camera ready to snap a picture of the amazing Bernadine’s Stillman Inn located steps away from the Grant home. Now a bed and breakfast, the Inn has exquisitely preserved the French Italianate details, which date back to 1858. Next up is The Belvedere Mansion & Gardens. Inside, visitors will find Victorian furnishings, Liberace’s estate items and the famous green drapes, as well as artwork, from “Gone with the Wind.”


Saturday is for tasting and touring. The Galena Area is home to multiple wineries, including Massbach Ridge Winery & Tasting Room, Fergedaboudit Vineyard & Winery and Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery, all of which offer tours and tastings. Wine isn’t your thing? How about a cold craft beer or fine spirits? Blaum Bros. Distillery offers daily tours, tastings, a gift shop and even a specialty cocktail bar. The Galena Brewing Co. is a microbrewery, featuring brewery tours, tastings, brewpub menu, gift shop and live entertainment.


Celebrate Sunday Funday outdoors in one of Galena’s beautiful parks. The Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation maintains breathtaking nature preserves. Plan a picnic lunch on a preserve and enjoy Mother Nature at her finest. Spend the afternoon hiking, biking or even kayaking your way through the scenic landscape of Northern Illinois. Fever River Outfitters can hook you up with bike and kayak rentals. Chestnut Mountain Resort offers mountain bike rentals and Segway tours through the woods overlooking the Mighty Mississippi River.


Between the historic homes, tasty tours and picturesque parks, the weekend has proven to be one for the books. Don’t let your last day in the Galena Area fizzle out. It’s time to shop ‘til you drop and eat your heart out! Galena’s 1800s Main Street was voted as the nation’s Best Shopping on Main Street experience by ShopOnMain. More than 101 mom ‘n’ pop shops tempt visitors with boutique shopping, incredible antiques and gourmet foods. End your Memorial Day shopping spree with a sit-down meal at one of Galena’s fine restaurants. Enjoy a glass of wine and unwind as you recap your weekend with friends over a delicious dinner, a perfect ending to a perfect weekend.

Looking for more travel ideas? We’d love to help you plan your trip. Give us a call or e-mail us! 815.776.9200 –






Romantic Getaway in Galena

galena illinois dining

This holiday season get away for some rest and relaxation in Galena, Illinois. Treat you and your loved one to some much needed time together and sneak away from the stresses of work and holiday madness.
A getaway for two is one of the most romantic ideas you can have this time of year. Snow-dusted scenery, candlelit dinners, crisp wintry strolls and cuddles in front of a crackling fireplace will transport you far away from everyday life.
Begin planning your getaway by choosing from Galena’s impressive collection of places to stay.

During the day, explore Galena, shop Main Street or, for the more adventurous, test your skills on our downhill ski slopes. Relax and rejuvenate with a spa treatment at one of Galena’s full-service spas. After a decadent day together, request a quiet, romantic table at one of nearly 30 family-owned and operated restaurants, cafes and coffeehouses. Enjoy special winter dishes, warm cocktails and an impressive collection of wines and spirits from around the world. Whether you are a new couple or have been together for many years, celebrate your relationship with a romantic getaway to Galena, Illinois.