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. Completing the magic scene is this year’s Wedding in a Window, where a lucky winning couple will marry, for all to see, right on Main Street.

 

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 offers 30 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 Avery Guest House, 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 Escapeand 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. 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!

 

Great River Road named in the “Top 50 Trips 2017”

Wanderlust Magazine out of the UK names the Great River Road as one of the “Top 50 Trips 2017” in their February issue! The seventeen page article highlights stops along the Mississippi River, including “thriving” Galena, IL. Author Phoebe Smith suggests dining at One Eleven Main and Otto’s Place while staying at the historic DeSoto House Hotel on Galena’s Main St. Ms. Smith also points out wine tours of our local vineyards and the rich American history all along the Mississippi River.

Photo: @lyndseylegrand on Instagram

Visitor’s wanting to make the Mississippi River a part of their Galena & Jo Daviess County experience can use these tips when planning their vacation.

Use these helpful websites when planning your road trip:

 

A Getaway for Wine Lovers

Plan your vacation to Galena and Jo Daviess County with these popular wine events in mind. Jo Daviess County’s picturesque landscape is the perfect backdrop to many of these annual festivals, celebrating local and regional wines. Explore the four wineries, the mom-and-pop shops and the fine restaurants featuring their best vintages and hear the stories behind them from the owners themselves. Take a tour, attend a festival and enjoy Galena Country’s finest!

2017 Wine-Lovers’ Events:

Wine Lover’s Weekend – March 24-25

Let your palate savor a weekend of wine, spirit and beer tastings in Galena. The Grand Tasting offer wines from all over the region, presented by the winemakers themselves or knowledgeable representatives. Purchase Grand Tasting tickets here…

Great Galena Balloon Race – June 16-18

Wine Flights, more than 100 wines to sample in the big tent. Enjoy live music and watch the balloons fly and glow.
Tickets are $25 each, sponsored by Family Beer & Liquor. Wine Flights on Saturday night always sell out fast! Learn more…

CorklessGalena_evening

Corkless Galena – June 24

Taste regional wines with Galena as your backdrop, outdoors at Depot Park in Galena. Elegant wines made from American hybrid grapes will be showcased in the afternoon and early evening. Selections of wines represent unique wines produced by family owned Northern Illinois Wineries. In addition to Wine Tastings, there will be an art exhibit, light snacks available, and music. Learn more…

Galena Cellars Fall Harvest & Art Festival – September 23

Purple feet, paint brushes, and lots of fall harvest fun for the whole family! Artists in the vineyard will give live demonstrations and have art for sale, free family activities such as pumpkin painting and horse-drawn wagon rides, our FAMOUS annual grape stomp, and of course, WINE TASTING! Live music, beautiful scenery and amazing food highlight the festivities. Noon – 6pm. Learn more…

Massbach Stomp – September 30

“Jump in FEET first and stomp grapes till you are purple! Celebrate a successful harvest with us in the vineyard.” Live music, food truck, corn hole and views of the picturesque countryside! Learn more…

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Nouveau Wine Festival – November 17-18

Inspired by European traditions, celebrate the release of Galena Cellars’ latest Nouveau by attending one of the special luncheons of the day, then watch as the revelers parade down Main St. in Galena, making deliveries of the new wine. Parties go on into the night at several local businesses and hotels. Learn more…

Local Vineyards:

Jo Daviess County presents the finest local award-winning wineries and vineyards in Illinois. Indulge in one of Galena Country’s four wineries, and enjoy a day of learning about the talent of wine making and specialty wine tastings. Stop in for a tasting and a tour one of Jo Daviess County’s award-winning wineries. Stay a while with a bottle of your favorite wine, cheese and crackers.

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Galena Cellars Vineyard (pictured above)

The Lawlor family, with more than 30 years of winemaking experience, proudly offers tours and tastings of 40 award-winning wines. Tour the vineyard and enjoy the scenery on Ford Rd. and then check out the tasting room on Main St. in Galena. Learn more…

Massbach Ridge Vineyard & Winery

Sample award-winning, estate-grown wine while enjoying the breathtaking Jo Daviess County hills. Open daily, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., year round. You can also taste their wines in their tasting room on Main St. in Galena. Learn more…

Rocky Waters Vineyard

Experience the spectacular view, taste wines from their locally grown grapes, relax on the deck, and enjoy some wine. Open year-round. Learn more…

Fergedaboudit Vineyard

A boutique winery located in a scenic valley in Hanover. Specializing in dry-red-bold wines from their picturesque vineyard. Open seasonally. Learn more…

Buy & Taste:

Shop and stock up on favorites or plan a night out to experience the local flavors, Galena & Jo Daviess County have a lot to offer wine fans.

Jamie’s Wine Studio of Galena

Intimate wine and martini bar and fine wine shop. Unique selection of wines, spirits, and gift items. Saturday wine tastings. Learn more…

Miss Kitty’s The Grape Escape

Wine/martini lounge, craft beers. Live music Friday, Saturday, and Quiz Show Sunday. Bloody Mary bar. Gourmet apps until last call. Learn more…

Fried Green Tomatoes

Prime steaks, fresh scallops and homemade lasagna paired with a Wine Spectator award-winning wine menu. Outstanding service and atmosphere. Half price bottles of wine every Friday! Learn more…

Goldmoor Inn & Dining

Simple elegance describes this dining experience. Unmatched Old World decor, diverse wine cellar, premier service complements our chef’s creative cuisine. Learn more…

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E-Town Coffee (pictured above)

Great atmosphere with hearty, homemade bites for breakfast & lunch. Check ahead for wine tastings and stop in to shop! Learn more…

Unique Wine Adventures

Hike the Vines

Every Saturday this winter (weather permitting), from Noon & 2 pm, snowshoe the vineyard and enjoy the sparkling new snow! Then, warm up next to the fireplace and enjoy a glass of wine in the vineyard tasting room. Book through Fever River Outfitters.

Scooter to the Vineyard

Scooter to Galena Cellars Vineyard‚ imagine scootering on gorgeous remote country roads to the Galena Cellars Vineyard. Ride with our small group, take a vineyard tour, taste some wine, and kick back on the wicker furnished veranda. After you’ve indulged in the essence of the lush green countryside we’ll drive you back to town. $75 person includes scooter rental, wine tasting, and shuttle transportation back to Galena. Advanced reservations are required. Weekday trips are $75 per person, for groups under 8 persons and require a reservation made a minimum of 48 hours in advance. Book through Fever River Outfitters.

Countryside Tours

Visit three of the areas very best vineyards. Enjoy local wines and beautiful views. All while traveling Galena’s rural Countryside. Tastings are included! Learn more…

Ring in the New Year

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There are so many ways to ring in the New Year in Galena & Jo Daviess County! Cozy up in a quiet B&B, choose an inclusive package at a resort or hotel or gather up your family or friends in a vacation rental home. All of these choices will provide the perfect setting for a festive New Year!

Here are some of our ideas, let us know on Facebook or Twitter if we can help you customize your visit or answer any questions.

Breakfast at Jail Hill Inn (@halcraftem)

Breakfast at Jail Hill Inn (@halcraftem)

The luxurious Jail Hill Inn, just steps from Galena’s Main St. Dine at a European-style bistro, Fritz and Frites Bistro, and then jump into the live music & festivities at The Grape Escape, Gobbie’s or The Cornerstone. When you wake up you can enjoy a bubble bath in spa-like bathrooms of the Jail Hill Inn and a gourmet breakfast. Galena has excellent choices for cuisine and nightlife, including a special NYE event at Galena Brewing Co.!

Goldmoor Inn & Dining

Goldmoor Inn & Dining

The Goldmoor Inn & Dining offers a New Year’s Eve package that includes a gourmet meal, dancing and bubbly. Wake up to fantastic views of the Mississippi River, breakfast in the dining room or delivered to your suite, then treat yourself to spa services. A quiet retreat to get away from the busy city, but close enough to enjoy the charm of Galena and the surrounding communities and Chestnut Mountain Resort is just down the road.

The Nordic Center at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa

The Nordic Center at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa

Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa in the Galena Territory has options galore for families, couples and a group of your friends. A family party at the Inn, the Nordic Center for winter fun and the indoor pool will make a festive family getaway. Guests over 21 can enjoy dinner and dancing in the ballroom at the Inn or maybe a prime rib buffet at The Woodstone is more your speed! There is something for everyone, with lots of amenities, including Stonedrift Spa and lake views with the potential for eagle sightings. Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa offers rooms at the Inn, condos & villas and vacation rental homes with up to 5 bedrooms.

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Ski at Chestnut Mountain Resort

Ski under the lights at Chestnut Mountain Resort and then fuel up with three different dining options on the property. Relax in the pool after a day on the slopes and enjoy the sunset over the Mississippi River while enjoying a cocktail from the bar. Don’t miss the fireworks at midnight on New Year’s Eve!

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Stockton Bowling Lanes

Stay at Country Inn & Suites – Stockton for it’s prime antiquing location in Jo Daviess County. Trips to Warren, Elizabeth and Hanover are easy from Stockton, with a lot to see and do along the way. Dinner and a monster skillet cookie sundae in a log cabin at JJ & Freddie’s will be just what you need after a day of “hunting!” There’s also a well-maintained bowling alley from the 1940’s that will really be a treat!

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A traditional Irish snug at Frank O’Dowd’s Pub

Toast in the new year in a traditional Irish snug at Frank O’Dowd’s Pub. Dinner, live music, Irish dancers and a festive crowd make this a great spot to celebrate. Head upstairs to your room in the Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel after enjoying some pints!


Take a Cab! Call A to B Cab Company to drive you to and from celebration destination from your lodging property. Do you have a group staying at a vacation rental home in the Galena Territory? Log Cabin Steakhouse and Fried Green Tomatoes will pick you up, just make sure to call ahead for availability. Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa also has a shuttle to Chestnut Mountain Resort and downtown Galena, again, call ahead for availability.

This is just a sampling of what’s available! Check our Events Calendar and explore galena.org for more options. Enjoy Galena Country on your next getaway and best wishes to you in 2017!


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