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History is not far away

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I have told you before how much I enjoy time travel. Well, I did it again last weekend with a trip to Galena, Illinois. We stayed in a little apartment in the Crawford building, which was built on Galena’s Main Street in 1874. Out the back windows we could see Ulysses S. Grant’s home perched on a hill above the river. Out the front windows, a street from the late 1800’s curved out of sight in both directions.

The town must have been an architect’s paradise in the mid-19th century.

The styles include Greek Revival, Italianate, Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, Empire and Second Empire. There must have been some visionary city planners in Galena 70 or 80 years ago, because a whole town’s worth of beautiful antique buildings have been preserved.

The red brick and yellow stone structures sweep along the curving Main Street and climb the steep hill above it. It is easy to imagine horses and wagons crowding muddy streets and struggling up the steep side streets. The town is full of old photos of the days when Abraham Lincoln spoke there and Grant ran a campaign from the DeSoto Hotel.

Today, Galena is an appealing mix of ancient buildings and fine dining, with a delightful array of shops sprinkled up and down the Main Street.
Some of my favorites are Poopsie’s, the store for parents and grandparents with a very entertaining selection of books and toys, and Earth Treasures, an odd little place stuffed with the most eclectic collection of goods imaginable. There are fossils and minerals and designer Legos and funky fashions and dinosaurs and great jewelry and model cars. The cheerful shopkeeper knows her stock and can find you anything you can think of.

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There is a tempting jewelry supply store, Rustic River, which makes me want to try everything they display. And a burger joint called Dirty Gert’s where we got the most delicious curried sweet potato and shrimp soup I have ever tasted. There are candy stores and gourmet shops and shoe stores and even a sock store — lots and lots of good restaurants and, thankfully, many benches along the street for weary travelers.

We stayed at the Gallery Guest Suite, owned by Carl and Marilyn Johnson. They know more Galena history than I can ever absorb, but I love to hear their stories. Carl is a fine watercolor artist who displays his work at the Old Stockade, a fascinating building that dates from before 1828.

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Galena has several historical museums that tell the town’s story vividly, and it’s steep and narrow streets are fun to wander through. Originally a lead mining and fur-trading center, it is now tourists like us that allow its charm and grace to live on. Galena is just two hours and 170 years away.

Blog originally posted on Feb. 217, 2016 by Mimi Wuest.  Image credits: VisitGalena.org
Mimi teaches sociology and psychology at Madison Area Technical College in Reedsburg.

A Weekend Getaway to Galena, Illinois

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Weekend getaways are my favorite form of relaxation. Unlike weeklong, hyper-planned trips, there’s not a lot of scheduling, reserving or packing involved. And that in itself is relaxing. I especially like the prospect of a destination near enough to drive to, but far enough away to open a whole other world.
Galena, Illinois totally fits that bill. Just two and half hours outside of Chicago in northwest Illinois, this historic river town has been a popular Midwest retreat for decades and my personal jam for years. So I was thrilled to be invited to the lovely grounds of the Goldmoor Inn for a recent Galena weekend getaway a few months back.
When my husband and I rolled up onto the steep hill where the inn sits, we both exhaled. The building looks like a castle overlooking the Mississippi River. A fountain flows in front and two long cabins and three cottages dot the property’s verdant 21 acres. Located a few miles from downtown Galena, Goldmoor is almost like a small fairytale town by itself, beckoning across the river valley.

Climbing up a double staircase to our suite, we were greeted with a large room appointed with a four-poster bed, two-person whirlpool, kitchenette, fireplace and homemade cookies. Named the “Arthur Suite” (a room fit for a king) we immediately sank into the luxury and debated about whether we would ever leave.

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But I was anxious to explore the extensive grounds, so while my hubby gobbled cookies and lounged, I took a walk. Starting at the top of the hill, I gazed at the rolling hills below. An equestrian center is situated right below Goldmoor and horses trotted around the fields. A gazebo and small patio takes up one side of the estate and I strolled past them and the two cottages. A blanket of grass and wild flowers covered the rest of the landscape and I sat in an Adirondack chair, soaking up the sun. There’s a serene feel to the area and I felt like I was walking through a private, lush forest.
Back inside, we decided to head to town for shopping and lunch. Downtown Galena is filled with cute shops and restaurants as well as historic sites. The cobblestone streets of downtown Galena are edged with 19th century architecture and loads of charm. The town is known for antiques but I prefer the crystal shops that sell quartz crystals that reflect Galena’s mining days. I scooped up Amethyst, Tiger’s Eye and Lapis Lazuli at Earths Treasures.
My husband loves to stop by Root Beer Revelry and buy old-fashioned root beer and cream soda in unusual flavors like butterscotch and black cherry and we both enjoy browsing Beyond The Horizon for Asian scrolls, dream catchers and folk art.

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After lunch at Durty Gurts Hamburger Joynt, which features toilet stools in the doorway and the town’s best burgers and alcohol-shake concoctions, a stop by the Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site is essential. Presidents Grant and Lincoln both frequented Galena and the Italianate house was presented to Grant in 1865. He visited the house occasionally after his election in 1868. All the furnishings are original and the guided tour gives interesting details about the life of the Civil War hero and president.
Back at the inn, we sat by the fireplace and made dinner plans. The Goldmoor Inn restaurant offers fine dining open to the general public so we opted to stay at the inn and not to go back down the hill to town. The restaurant overlooks the Mississippi and serves up classic dishes like beef Wellington and grilled salmon. We were still slightly full from lunch so we shared pasta pomodoro with sun-dried tomatoes and watched the sun set over the river.

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In the morning, we nibbled on the breakfast included with the room, featuring fruit, yogurt, eggs, sausage and English muffins. The horses were galloping around their fields as we drove off and the sun glistened off their shiny manes. It was hard to leave the beauty and relaxation but we always make one last stop before leaving Galena.
On Main Street, in downtown Galena, the candy-striped awnings of the Great American Popcorn Company screamed out to me. The family-owned shop supplies handcrafted, gourmet popcorn in 300 flavors and a free bag for every three bags you buy. I roamed through the aisles and selected cherry cheesecake, Memphis BBQ and spicy hellfire and damnation for the ride home.

 

Original blog post and photos by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates – Dec. 25, 2015 

Amazing Bed & Breakfast

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Abe’s is a former city brewery in Galena. Located 10 minutes away from the Mississippi River. The “Albert” is the site of the former ice house for the brewery and the bathroom is a kind of cavern or grotto that extends into the limestone hillside that was part of the original icehouse.

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The owner-artist created tiles of different dog breeds around the fireplace. They can be purchased at the gallery next door.

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The bed in the Albert is a work of art!

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The suite is spacious, warm and inviting filled with exceptional details everywhere I look. Their Saint Bernard “Albert” stands guard over the entrance to the shower. Black painted twin heads.

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Cute kitchen for storing leftovers from the nearby Fried Green Tomatoes restaurant. In the freezer there were fresh coffee beans from a local coffee shop. There was even a grinder on the counter.

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Sandy served a fabulous breakfast that’s “to-die-for!” French toast, sausage from Piggly Wiggly, fresh fruit, coffee and orange juice. Great conversations. We felt so welcomed into her home.

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Now here’s a little poem I wrote:

Grinded up some coffee beans this morning

fresh from the freezer

poured a fresh cup

listening to the Beatles

In the background

It’s a new dawn

It’s a new day

It’s a new life for me

feeling good

Smiles drip from the face

sitting by the fireplace

potbelly stove

black iron

Ceramic tiles of dog faces

on the wall

metallic leaves dangle from the ceiling

master bed has a firm mattress four feet above the ground

It’s a work of art

naked statues surround it

let’s come together right now

wanna go for a walk?

Blog originally posted by Christophernoe on January 29, 2016. All photos of the bed & breakfast taken by Denielle Noe.

Romantic Getaway in Galena

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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.

Win a Galena winter getaway for 2!

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Think Galena is great? Tell everyone why they should Get To Galena and you could win a winter getaway for 2!

This giveaway includes:

To participate

  1. Follow us on Instagram @VisitGalenaOrg.
  2. Upload an Instagram photo that shows why you should Get To Galena. Enter as often as you like. Each photo equals 1 entry.
  3. Tag it @VisitGalenaOrg #GetToGalena #MLGreatestTown.

Winner announced- Congratulations Beth Kelley – @bmllmn99 !

Participants who post their photograph(s) in accordance with these Terms and Conditions will be eligible to win one (1) grand prize consisting of accommodation for 2 at Aldrich Guest House between Nov. 15, 2015-March 15, 2016 (based on availability), dinner for 2 at Perry Street Brasserie and 2 ski lift tickets good for 1 day at Chestnut Mountain Resort.
Eligibilty: Participant must follow @VisitGalenaOrg on Instagram and photo entry must include both hashtags (#). A random winner will be chosen and notified by noon on Mon., Dec. 28. Entrants must post a picture in the theme of “Why should you Get To Galena” and upload it to Instagram between Nov. 15-Dec. 15. Caption and tag accordingly- #GetToGalena”, #MLGreatestTown” and @VisitGalenaOrg. Participants are not allowed to upload the same picture. Incomplete or duplicate entries or entries received outside of the promotion period, might be discarded without notice. Entries might not be acknowledged.  Winner must, within 7 days of the announcement, contact VisitGalena by e-mail at admin@visitgalena.org to identify him/herself and provide his/her e-mail and mailing address. Participants entering this giveaway grant VisitGalena the exclusive right to use uploaded entry for future promotional and marketing purposes in any manner whatsoever.

Tis the season! 4 pre-holiday happenings you don’t want to miss

With Thanksgiving only a few days away and Christmas around the corner, we thought we’d share a list of delightful holiday inspired activities happening in Galena. Don’t forget our winter package deals! Plan your pre-holiday adventure for only $199 for two!

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Old Fashioned Christmas in Galena

Enjoy a fun-filled weekend and start your holiday season celebration off with the big man himself…Santa Claus!
Enjoy gift bags, hot cocoa, popcorn balls and the sweet sound of Christmas music being sung by carolers.
Start of Santa’s Arrival: 5:30 p.m., lighting of Tree: 6 p.m.

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Mistletoe Stroll Holiday House Tour

Bed and breakfast innkeepers of Galena invite the public to tour historic inns lavishly decorated for Christmas. Purchase tickets at any of the participating Best of Galena Inns. Maps will be provided. Tickets – $10

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Galena’s Winter Market

Local vendors take over the Galena Center for the Arts this winter. Find winter vegetables, herbs, crafts and more just in time for Christmas! Shop handmade and local this holiday season!

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Night of the Luminaria & Living Windows

Don’t miss one of the most beautiful and romantic visions of the year. Stroll down Main Street and watch more than a dozen windows come alive with holiday inspired animation. This year a real wedding will take place in one of the Living Windows! All of Galena will be glowing on this magical night, when you see over 5,000 candle-lit luminaries on streets, steps and sidewalks.

Visit our Things to Do page for a detailed list of wintertime festivities.

 

5 Ways to Experience Galena’s Fall Colors

It’s the most wonderful time of the season, the trees are changing colors and the town is bustling with Fall festivities. We’ve crafted a list of places to take in the colorful scenery on your next visit. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter for more Galena experiences.

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Stroll through Grant Park. Home to the Galena Country Fair, this park offers walking paths under a canopies of trees and views of historic homes from across the Galena River.

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Book a ride with Tri-State Trolley. With a tour through the historic area you’ll experience brilliant fall colors paired with winding roads and old brick homes.

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Visit President Grant’s home. After your tour through this historic home stop and enjoy the beautiful landscape and Galena scenery. With views fit for a president, you won’t be disappointed.

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Rent a bike from Fever River Outfitters and ride the the river trail to Buehler Preserve. If biking isn’t your thing you can always hike or rent a kayak or canoe and float down the Galena River!

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Take in breath-taking views of the might Mississippi River from Chestnut Mountain Resort. Ride the alpine slide, soaring eagle or ski lift for amazing views high above the river. You can also take a hike through wooded trails, but definitely bring your camera because the colors here are WOW!

Photo credits: (1. hbachman23, 3. eclectic.erection, 4. andrealeeinthecity)

5 Spooky Must-Dos in Galena this October

We’ve compiled a list of eerily fun experiences to test your courage this October. Make plans now to see just how brave you are.

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All About a Ghost Tour

On this walking tour through downtown you’ll hear stories of Galena Ghosts past. Learn about mysterious events and the frightening experiences that have taken place in unique locations of the city. The tour takes place every Fri., Sat. and Sun. night in October from  8- 9:30 p.m.

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Amelia’s Tours

Allow Amelia to introduce you to the paranormal ‘hot spots’ and tell you the local lore and legends behind these tales. Climb aboard a shuttle bus tour and hear documented history and ghost stories intertwined. Visit a 1800s cemetery, walk through a haunted building and try to communicate with spirits from Galena’s past. Amelia’s Shuttle Bus Ghost Tour departs at 6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. daily.

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Fear Forest

Brave souls beware; for the creatures of the night lie in wait, and they are just dying to meet you! Fear Forest isn’t like any other haunted house because it takes place in a real forest, with all the creepy, natural ambiance to go with it. There aren’t any walls to protect you from the horrors that lurk in the trees and no roof to keep out the howling October winds. Fear Forest is open every Fri. and Sat. in October from 7-11 p.m.

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Galena Halloween Parade

The Annual Halloween Parade held in downtown Galena last year had over 14,000 people attend. Unlike any other parade you’ve been to, we light the streets with fire. Come see amazing floats and be prepared to see plenty of ghosts, goblins and ghouls. The Halloween Parade begins at 6:30 p.m. on October 31.

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Galena Ghost Tales Come Alive

Dine with guests from the past and present. After the Halloween parade come for dinner and a “live” performance. No hocus pocus this year. Just the real documented facts. Time: 7:30 p.m. This event has limited seating so purchase tickets early.

 

Galena Fall Favorites

No matter when you visit you’ll find plenty to do but as Summer fades and the cool air begins to roll in Galena embraces Fall and celebrates with festivals, food and fire! Be sure to check out our Things To Do tab for a full list of seasonal events, attractions and more! Here are just a few of our upcoming Fall Favorites…

 

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This year will mark the 48th Annual Tour of Historic Galena Homes. Join the Galena Historical Society and explore some of the city’s oldest buildings including the Jail Hill Inn (pictured above.) It was originally a jail, built in 1878!

 

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Celebrate grape harvesting season with art, music and wine! There will be a grape stomping competition, pumpkin decorating, horses, live music, food, spa treatments and more. It’s quite a combination, and promises to be a fun fall adventure.

 

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Dittmar Farms has been operating its family owned farm since 1854! Don’t miss the 2015 season opening, celebrate with hayrides, u-pick pumpkin patch, apple orchard and corn maze.

 

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One of Galena’s most popular events! An annual German celebration featuring live music, kids games, wiener dog races and lots of food and beverage. Enjoy a bean bag tournament, raffle drawings with great prizes, polka dancing and lessons, beer stein endurance contest, and the ceremonial tapping of the keg.

 

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With more than 150 vendors offering original, handmade arts, crafts and fine arts you’re sure to take home something that you love. If shopping has you overwhelmed then sit back and enjoy seasonal fair food and live entertainment. Bring the whole family, kids can play at the children’s game center.

 

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Galena has an amazing pottery community and every Fall 10 local potters open their personal studios to showcase their work and creative spaces. Follow a self-guided tour along the Galena countryside and explore special exhibits and awesome pottery.

 

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Finish out October with a bang! The Galena Halloween Parade wows thousands of visitor each year with amazing floats and festivities. Unlike any other parade you’ve seen, Galena lights up Main Street with large bursts of fire! You don’t want to miss this event!

 

(photo credits: 1. Jail Hill Inn, 2. mcannon75, 3. Dittmar Farms)

 

A Walk in a Hidden Garden

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Galena is well known for its lead mining history but, believe it or not, there is a beautiful, thriving garden on the top the hill next to Main Street. This garden is Linmar Gardens, a privately owned garden that gives daily tours at 2 p.m. This bit of hilltop horticulture has many colorful features including a four-season’s garden, the ruins of an old church and several waterfalls.

I was a bit confused by the beginning of the tour. The owner of the property simply saunters out of his home and collects the $5 fee promptly at 2 p.m. and gets the tour started. Based on all my other experiences at Galena, I was expecting something a bit more structured but this more relaxed approach took me out of the “tour” mindset and gave me a more laid-back feeling like I was visiting a neighbor’s house.

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The owner started the tour by taking me to the first waterfall and telling me about how this whole property, house, garden and all, was originally a city dump. When he told me that, I literally stopped walking and look around at all of the flowers, bushes, waterfalls and sculptures. I couldn’t detect even a hint of a dump. Everything was beautiful!

Apparently, the garbage in the dump broke down and made the soil richer here so that a garden was possible. He said that they still need to supplement it with other soil because some of it is washed down the hill but the original batch of nutrient-rich soil allowed for a good enough starting point to make the garden possible.

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The waterfall ran next to the next path like a creek until we reached the bottom part of the property where there stood a quaint little gazebo in the middle of an open patch of grass. I thought this gazebo looked perfect for the garden. It seemed old but not decrepit and there was just enough moss covering the roof that it looked intentional, not overgrown.

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The owner started explaining how there have been quite a few weddings in front of the gazebo. Now, being a man, I don’t think about weddings all that much but I have to admit that this little clearing with the quaint gazebo and the beautifully thriving vegetation would be a lovely place to tie the knot. I can certainly see why people would want to be married here.

The next section of the tour took us past the four-season garden, four flowerbeds that contain different plants so that there is always at least one plant thriving at any given time of the year. This was only a side part of the tour but I’d never heard of such a thing and it really interested me.

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Each flowerbed had an arch with a different statue under it too. I think these statues represented the different seasons. I think that the reason I like this most is that, no matter what, there will be at least one plant in the garden all year.

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The next stop was the “old church garden.” This garden was made in the ruins of an old church that was on the property. It was hauntingly beautiful. There was a center portion that was converted into a small pond with lilies growing in it and, all around the edges of the walls, were stone beds that contained different varieties of flowers. It is a beautiful way for the former glory of the church to live on. It became something beautiful instead of something broken.

The final stop was the hosta garden. Now, to someone with a limited degree of knowledge about plant life like myself, this seemed a bit dull. I know that hostas are just boring little plants that are easy to keep alive because they can hold their own through winter. What I didn’t know was that there are hundreds of different varieties of hostas and Linmar Gardens has quite a few of those varieties.

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What I expected to be a bit boring turned into something fun. Instead of looking at a big garden of hostas, I was trying to spot the differences between the species. It was more interesting that I expected and a pleasant surprise.

This garden really is amazing and worth checking out. It didn’t seem like many people have heard of it so, if you like doing interesting things that not many other people have, this is probably the spot for you. Aside from that, it’s just nice to be surrounded by beauty for a while.

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