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!

Christmas in the County 2016

Make your plans now for a Holiday Getaway or Family Celebration in Galena/Jo Daviess County! 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 a vacation rental home 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

Festival of TreesNovember 26, 2016, 11am – 4pm. The 6th Annual Festival of Trees will kick of the holiday season on Saturday, November 26 in the DeSoto House Ballroom in Galena from 11-4PM. 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, purchase raffle tickets here!

Old-Fashioned Christmas in Galena: November 26, 2016. 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 pm, Lighting of Tree: 6:00 pm.

Taste of Christmas Progressive Dinner: SOLD OUT! December 3, 2016, 5-8 pm.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 of your holiday festivities. Reservations required. $50 per person.

Holiday Housewalk: December 3, 2016. Five homeowners invite the public to tour their beautifully decorated private homes during this year’s Galena Territory Holiday Housewalk. Light holiday refreshments will be served at the Owner’s Club, where a raffle will be held for a unique handmade quilt and related items made by the Quilters of the Territory. $12 per person

Luminaria & Living Windows: December 10, 2016. 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. This year it will feature it’s 2nd Wedding in A Window!

Mistletoe Stroll: December 10th and 17th, 2-5pm. 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: November 26, 2016, 9am – 5pm. 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. Find more information on their Facebook Page!

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 a baked items and small home-made gifts sale at the Interpretive Center (311 E. Myrtle St.). Costumed history interpreters will also participate with 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 3, 2016, 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 3, 9am – 3pm, 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 Saturday November 26 and ending January 1, 2016. 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 ‚ 7:30pm. 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 26, 2016, starting at 2pm. 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. 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

sleigh-ride_2015_twitter

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

Capture Peace & Relaxation Midweek

The colors and scenery of Fall in Galena, IL and the communites of Jo Daviess County draws thousands of visitors. Weekends fill up fast so a midweek stay is a great opportunity to find peace and relaxation. Take advantage of the region and it’s attractions during the week  or extend your weekend getaway to avoid the crowds and enjoy the quiet beauty.

Here are a few tips to get your Fall trip-planning started!

LOOK FOR THE DEALS

dsc_0400

Hawk Valley Retreat & Cottages

We are known for our unique, one-of-a-kind lodging properties. Find one that suites your needs and ask if they have Midweek specials/packages. Choose from historic bed and breakfasts, hotels with amenities or resorts for the ultimate getaway. A roadside motel or country inn with incredible views might be just the ticket for your autumn road trip. If you want to bring your friends or reunite up with family try a vacation rental home or condo.

SET YOUR OWN PACE

dsc_0558

Trolley Tours

One of the perks of visiting a small town is not having to deal with traffic, long lines and crowds. But Fall, with all it’s glory, is one of our busiest times of the year and weekends fill up fast. Take advantage of the quiet days during the week.

State historic attractions are closed Monday and Tuesday, but Wednesday and Thursday are great days to explore and tour, avoiding any lines and crowds. The Galena & US Grant Museum, a trolley tour or an evening ghost tour will give you a great glimpse into the history of the area. Call one of the historical societies for an appointment or visit the library for a more personal experience. Even General Grant himself will give you a personal tour of Main St. in Galena, IL!

ENJOY PERSONAL SERVICE

Elle Day Spa_massage_FB

ELLE Day Spa & Salon

Book an appointment at a peaceful spa. Slow it down and make your visit all about relaxation. Many of our lodging properties will help you get the services you want on site too, just ask!
For a great dinner recommendation or tips on great deals in town, book a mani/pedi at one of the local salons.

EXPLORE MORE

apple-river-canyon-sp_web

Apple River Canyon State Park

Hike the trails to take in the views and snap some beautiful fall photos. Use our Outdoor Recreation section to explore all of your options. Whether you’re up for the extreme or a nice, quiet overlook to enjoy the panoramic views & autumn colors, you’ll find an activity that fits your definition of adventure! Chestnut Mountain Resort and Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa offer lots of options for every season and have convenient packages to make trip planning easy. Doesn’t hurt to rest at a vineyard and indulge in a wine tasting while you’re out exploring!

KEEP IT EASY BREEZY

Bella Vintaj - Edited

Bella Vintaj

We have a lot of options for shopping in the county, and some of our small business owners have limited hours. If you run into a closed sign, give them a call and see if you can make an appointment. That’s the beauty of a small town! You can find phone numbers for most businesses on their listings at galena.org. Most businesses will ship your purchases if you decide to make the trip on a motorcycle or in a convertible.

SMALL TOWN CHARM WITH BIG CITY CHOICES

Perry-St_web

Perry Street Brasserie

Try some of the amazing restaurants and bars that fill up fast on the weekends. You’ll also have more time to chat with the staff and get the local scoop! The Beer Cheddar Fondue at One Eleven Main, the flaming saganaki at Log Cabin Steakhouse, and the delicious fried green tomatoes at Fried Green Tomatoes are great ways to start your night out.

When you’re out exploring, maybe following the NW IL Antique Trail, use galena.org to help you find what you need in each community. They have options that fit what you crave. If you’re looking to start the day with a good breakfast, try Charlie’s Place in Hanover and then walk it off at Wapello Land & Water Reserve. Otto’s Place always has something fresh and delicious and the Galena River Trail is just steps away. Try a blooming flower tea and fresh bread at Stella’s Cafe in Stockton or a tasty panini and homemade soup at E-Town in Elizabeth.

Get a flight of beers and chat with the master brewer at Galena Brewing Co. and linger over a cocktail after touring Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. Both are great ways to meet fellow travelers!

BONUS TIPS

Check our Events Calendar for Things to Do every day of the week. Our mobile-friendly website makes it easy for you to find fun while you’re out and about. You can also ask us on our social channels, we’re here to help!
Click the icons on our homepage or search for @enjoygalenactry.

 

 

 

 

A Wine Lover’s Weekend

Do you have a wine tracking app? Do you take notes of your favorite sips and must-try bottles? Add a Wine Lover’s Weekend to Galena, IL and Jo Daviess County to your wine-lovers bucket list! Here are our suggestions for taking it all in…

wine_web

2016 Wine-Lovers’ Events:

Wine Lover’s Weekend – March 18-19

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 17-19

More than 100 wines to sample in the big tent. Enjoy live music and watch the balloons fly and glow.
Tickets are $25 each (SOLD OUT),¬†sponsored by Family Beer & Liquor. Learn more…

CorklessGalena_evening

Corkless Galena – June 25

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 24

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 by Fever River String Band and amazing food highlight the festivities. Noon – 6pm. Learn more…

Stomp_web

Massbach Stomp – October 1 (pictured above)

“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…

galena-cellars

Nouveau Wine Festival – November 18-19

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.

Galena Cellars_web

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…

ETown_wine

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 beginning 12/12/15 through 2/20/15, 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.

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…