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Galena Your Way

Posted on October 23, 2020 by Lisa Lubin for

Galena is a small town that packs a big punch. Whether you’re a foodie, a couple looking for a romantic escape, an art enthusiast or even a ghost hunter, there’s no time like the present to follow your passions in Galena.

Time to Eat

Come hungry (and thirsty!) because you’ll be spoiled for choice thanks to all the restaurants in Galena. Its proximity to local Midwest farms and its downhome yet cosmopolitan vibe make it the perfect place for foodies.For that small-town welcome, stop into Small Towne Saloon in Elizabeth. The cozy, wood-paneled restaurant offers one of the best burgers in the state, a farm-to-table menu and a fully stocked bar.

You’ll feel like you’ve turned back the clock on Galena’s charming Main Street, which is full of dining options for every palate. Situated in a historic building, Fried Green Tomatoes steakhouse originally housed a leather shop where Galena’s famous son, Ulysses S. Grant, worked. Down the block, Klein’s Market Bakery offers up fresh bread, cookies and cinnamon rolls. Who could resist?

Any true foodie can’t leave town without popping into some of Main Street’s gourmet food shops like Galena Garlic, Pasta Perfetta and the Great American Popcorn Co. Bring home some tasty delicacies (if you can resist snacking in the car!) so you can keep enjoying a taste of Galena long after you’re gone. After all that delicious food, treat yourself to some homemade goodies! Candy, chocolate, cupcakes, oh my! Sweet Alice’s, in Stockton, has everything to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Time for Romance

Any time is the right time for an enchanting weekend with your sweetheart. Galena is the perfect place for that romantic rendezvous - just for the two of you. For a dreamy stay, hide away at the super-romantic Inn at Irish Hollow, a country resort with luxury cottages on a 500-acre working farm in the Galena countryside. Take advantage of the full gourmet breakfast, enjoy massage treatments and, at the end of the day, sink into your cloud-like organic bed.

What’s a romantic getaway without some pampering? Take time for yourselves at one of the many spas (Galena Day Spa, Indulge Day Spa and Stone Drift Spa at Eagle Ridge, to name a few) for full-service,deluxe body treatments. Plus, many accommodations will help you arrange spa services right in your room. There’s no better way to take a piece of Galena Country home with you than in a bottle of wine. While the budding wine region has many options to choose from, the views from Fergedaboudit Vineyard will leave you with memories that will last for years to come.

Time for the Arts

For years, artists have been inspired by Galena’s beauty. Wander through the many art galleries and discover one-of-a-kind pieces created by local artists and artisans. Start your arts tour at the Galena Center for the Arts. The Center has galleries highlighting regional artists, rental studios, regular music and theatrical performances, plus historical photos of Galena and Jo Daviess County. Galena’s Main Street is chock-a-block with independent boutiques and galleries. At Pinder Pottery you can pick out a piece of hand-thrown stoneware crafted right here in Galena.

Ride over to Elizabeth and visit acclaimed Eshelman Pottery, which offers contemporary stoneware. Featured in art shows across America, each piece—from cups to plates to serving dishes—is inspired by the vision of bringing everyone together around the table. Hightail it to Stockton to see its unexpected, colorful murals. Located along U.S. Route 20 in eastern Jo Daviess County, Stockton has one of the most beautiful main streets, with some buildings now lovingly adorned with large-scale paintings. The Welcome to Stockton mural makes that picture-perfect selfie photo op.

A great way to take in all the arts is to do the self guided 113-mile Scenic Art Loop. Meet various photographers,painters, jewelry designers, musicians and wood carvers in their studios while also making time to visit nearby wineries, craft breweries and restaurants.Real shutterbugs can join a bespoke photography workshop with Joint Photography Adventures. From beginner to expert, any photographer is welcome and will come away with incredible images and new skills.

Have a Ghostly Time

When it comes to ghosts, Galena is notorious for tales of spirits who haunt old buildings and roam the countryside looking for that eternal rest. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, join the fun with some of these spooky tours. Every Saturday, bootlegger” Ted Williams takes you into three allegedly haunted Galena establishments during the Spirits and Spirits Tour with the Haunted Galena Tour Company. Learn about the ghosts who haunt these buildings and a bit about the area’s dark history while enjoying some real happy hour “spirits.”

On Matthew’s Haunted Pub Crawl, one of Galena’s best storytellers guides you to different haunted pubs in and around Galena. He might even let you use his special “ghost equipment” to interact with spirits. Hop on a bus for the Ghost Tour with Amelia. Learn about the “Lady in Black” who roams the basement of the DeSoto House Hotel and the spirits who dwell at Galena Cellars One Eleven Main, a funeral home-turned-tasting-room. For those who want to balance history with the hereafter, All About A Ghost Tour may be more up your alley.

For more frightful fun, you can explore haunted Galena on your own. If dead bodies don’t scare you, wander through Greenwood Cemetery. It’s the final resting place of many Civil War veterans along with some staff from President Grant’s administration. When the witching hour comes, join a psychic evening with Chris McBrien. McBrien gets in touch with those on the “other side” at his Victorian parlor on Main St.

Written by Lisa Lubin for Galena Country Tourism

Galena Country transports people to another time and place to enjoy one-of-a-kind experiences and adventures. Some historic, some timeless and some brand-new, but always original. Start planning a trip today by browsing the latest Galena Country Visitors Guide and be sure to book your accommodation early!

Sparkle & Shine in Galena Country

Posted on October 16, 2020 by Jamie Bartosch for Galena Country Tourism

Experience the elegant side of Galena Country 

As the sky turns orange and the sun sets behind the Mississippi River, a hot air balloon slowly rises into the air over Galena Country. Expansive views of the hilly landscape come into focus, with church steeples popping out above the tree line and scenic rivers and lakes appearing in the distance. In fall, it all glistens in the stunning bright gold and red light. When the balloon floats back down to the ground,the pilot from Galena on the Fly pours everyone a glass of champagne and offers a toast. “May you fly so high and so well that God joins you in laughter and sets you gently back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.” Everyone clinks their glasses and takes a sip. Balloon rides are one of the most popular activities in this small, western Illinois town, best known for its 19th-century vibe and historic Main Street shopping.

Visitors from across the Midwest come to peruse more than 100 locally owned craft, candy, antique and jewelry boutiques in a long stretch of 150-year old orange and red brick buildings. Yet Galena has evolved into much more than just shopping. It’s also now a popular destination for an elegant getaway and for couples seeking a romantic spark. That clearly exists here—the town of roughly 3,400 hosts more than 400 weddings a year as well as countless marriage proposals and anniversary celebrations. A nice way to begin an upscale visit to Galena is at Stonedrift Spa at Eagle Ridge Resort. The 6,000-square-foot spa, made up of quiet, private rooms, pampers guests with comfy robes and luxurious treatments such as an exfoliating body scrub with a Vichy shower (a row of showerheads placed over a massage table). Playing 18 holes on one of the resort’s championship golf courses, horseback riding through the Galena Country or taking a dip in the indoor pool can be part of the day as well.

The best way to feel Galena’s sparkling sunshine is to slowly paddle down the Galena River. Fever River Outfitters rents canoes and kayaks, with or without a guide, for peaceful floats past pretty trees and foliage. Call ahead to have a gourmet snack or meal waiting, post-paddle, in an ice-packed basket from Galena River Wine & Cheese. The adorable and fun-to-unpack baskets are filled with foods of your choice. That could be high-end charcuterie using locally made meats, fresh cheese curds or toffee, a glass jar filled with spiced pecans or a selection. of little Italian cookies. Drinks are tucked in there too, like single-serving martini or sangria cans, a nice bottle of wine or even a $100 bottle of champagne. For a special touch, ask the friendly husband-and-wife owners, Julie and Bryon Taylor,to tuck a little note in the basket for your sweetheart to discover. On a budget? Their shop’s “cheap-date wine bin” is an old-fashioned copper sink filled with good bottles of wine under $10.

More sparkle is found at Rustic River Finds, which sells one-of-a-kind, handmade jewelry. If looking for a new outfit, purse, jewelry, or scarf to wear around town or on a date, Carlotta's Studio, is the place. The boutique offers a unique style they coin “Farmhouse Chic.” Romantic activities are a subjective thing, but for some, it’s sitting in Adirondack chairs and sipping a glass of Galena Cellars wine at the castle-like Goldmoor Inn. Follow that with dinner at the hotel’s swanky dining room, with lovely views and a savory menu of entrées like salmon en croute and beef Wellington.

Galena’s food goes far beyond simple country cookin’. Candlelight adds elegance to meals at General’s Restaurant in the DeSoto House Hotel, where gulf shrimp wrapped in bacon is among the house specialties. Meat lovers can indulge with a chateaubriand or hearty steak at the old-school Log Cabin Steakhouse. For extra wow, order the Greek styled flaming cheese Saganaki appetizer, which is set aflame tableside to shouts of “OPAAAA!” For a European bistro feel, cozy Fritz and Frites serves nicely prepared German and French dishes like escargot and pork schnitzel. Timmerman’s Supper Club provides panoramic sunset views of the Mississippi along with delicious food and drink. Galena’s Main Street is set aglow in December.

The Night of the Luminaria and Living Windows, early in the month each year, lets visitors walk or ride a trolley to see the sidewalks lit up with thousands of luminarias. Peek in store windows to see dozens of animated, holiday-themed window displays. The weekend prior, catch the fireworks at the annual Holiday Fire in the Sky. If the weather’s not cooperating, you can still bedazzled by PT Murphy’s Magic Show. The town teems with romantic bed & breakfasts, unique luxury hotels like the Jail Hill Inn, a renovated jail and full-service resorts like Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa. “We do a lot of custom packages, like a wife who wants to do something special for a husband, or a husband who wants to do something special for a wife or proposals,” said Eagle Ridge resort spokesman Colin Sanderson. “Galena is just awesome that way.”

In Galena Country, the past is alive and the present is just as lively because originals never go out of style. Explore all there is to see and do by browsing the latest visitors guide and be sure to book your accommodation early! 

Written by Jamie Bartosch for

Pop the question in Galena Country

Posted on October 9, 2020 by Fallon Oldenburg

© Orangeanchor Photography

From breathtaking views and romantic eateries to hot air balloon rides and magical winter celebrations, Galena Country has everything you need to pop the question in the setting of your dreams. Consider one of these dreamy locations for an unforgettable marriage proposal.

Say 'Yes' to Fresh

The lush landscape of Galena Country provides a beautiful backdrop for any proposal. A romantic sunset picnic with a bottle of wine at Horseshoe Mound Preserve is sure to get rave reviews. If you're staying in The Galena Territory, the Thunder Bay Falls are a lovely option. Or in Apple River, atop the bluffs or along the river at Apple River Canyon State Park are locations that include a romantic scenic drive! Galena's Grant Park offers many proposal-worthy locations and landmarks, not to mention the breathtaking town perched along the hillside! Take a stroll along Main Street or overlooking the city, atop the Green Street Stairs during golden hour!

A Rehearsed Dinner

Rich in historically amazing eateries, you'll want to indulge in the fine dining of Fried Green Tomatoes, Log Cabin Steakhouse, or Fritz and Frites Bistro. For dinner with a view, check out Highlands & Lounge 289 at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa or Timmerman's Supper Club, The Goldmoor Inn, or Chestnut Mountain Resort - all showcasing priceless views of the Mississippi River.

Enchanting Accommodations

A romantic getaway is a perfect time to further your love story! Galena Country’s award-winning, luxury lodging properties offer an intimate and romantic setting for just the two of you. Consider indulging in Jail Hill Inn, Aldrich Guest House, Lamberson Guest House, Inn at Irish Hollow or Hawk Valley Retreat as your home-away-from-home. Whether you choose to lodge immersed in mother nature, amidst history, or in the heart of downtown Galena, this vacation is one you'll never forget!

'Head over Heels' Experiences and Events

Book a private flight and propose on a hot-air balloon, among the vines of a local vineyard, or at one of many epic events. Consider happenings with a more romantic flare such as the Night of the Luminaria and Living Windows, Holiday Fire in the Sky, Corkless in Galena, Great Galena Balloon Race, or Galena Cellars Fall Harvest Festival.

In Galena Country, we know the importance of taking the time for the things that matter most. Whatever the location, make it meaningful, personal, and don't forget to use #GalenaCountry on those snaps! Begin planning the next chapter by booking your stay and checking out the digital visitor's guide.

No Tricks Just Treats in Galena Country

Posted on October 1, 2020 by Kirsten Bell

Trick or treat... Galena Country's got something good for you to eat!

Halloween celebrations look a little different this year! Whichever way you decide to celebrate while following the CDC's Halloween guidelines, we've got frightfully delicious treats for you! 

Fill your baskets with a wide variety of handmade old-fashioned confections, gourmet popcorn, cupcakes, donuts, long-stemmed chocolate-dipped strawberries, imported European chocolates and more!

Watch delicious treats being crafted on the spot including caramel apples dipped in a traditional copper kettle, and homemade fudge spread on a granite slab! While you're at it, enjoy a creamy-smooth ice cream from an 1846 shop featuring original cabinets and an old fashioned fountain!

A candy a day keeps the monsters away... so dig in!

American Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor Galena’s Kandy Kitchen
Candy Carnival Great American Popcorn Company
Chocolat’ 229 Sweet Alic'es
Dittmar Farms Orchard Station Rocky Mountauin Chocolate Factory 
Elle & Becks Gelato Bar Three Sisters Sweet Shoppe

Once you have your bags filled, check out Galena's Halloween Spirit Tour to get your scare on!  

There's a lot of places out there, but there's nowhere like us! Book your accommodation and plan your escape to Galena Country where you will make sweet memories!

Fall Group Getaway in Galena Country

Posted on September 25, 2020 by Fallon Oldenburg

If you want to make the most of your time, go to a place that’s frozen in it! Gather a group of friends and experience fall in Galena Country!

Day 1

First up is lunch with a view at the Sunset Grille located at Chestnut Mountain Resort. Feast your eyes on incredible panoramas of the Mighty Mississippi while enjoying lunch, followed by check-in. Settle into your room before venturing downtown to Galena’s Historic Main Street, where you’ll be immersed in history on a Trolley Tour. After the tour, experience more than 125 boutiques, galleries, attractions and eateries. Finish the day with a savory meal at Galena’s oldest supper club, the Log Cabin Steakhouse. Start the meal with an order of saganaki and finish with a flaming grasshopper!

Day 2

Enjoy breakfast at the resort or off site at Big Bills Sandwich Shop & Coffee Bar on Main Street. Next, head to the Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site to tour the home of the United States 18th President. Take note of the many original furnishings, still on display! Next, journey outside of town to Horseshoe Mound Preserve, where you can take in views of Galena and the rolling hills of the driftless region. Be ready to snap some photos of these unforgettable views! Grab a bite to eat at Green Street Tavern at Desoto House Hotel for lunch, followed by a ‘behind the scenes’ tour at Blaum Bros Distilling Co. Make your way back to the resort to freshen up for fine dining at Timmerman’s Supper Club, a nostalgic restaurant perched along the bluffs of the Mississippi River backwaters.

Day 3

Finish breakfast at the resort with a relaxing chairlift ride overlooking the Mississippi River, then venture to town for shopping and wine tasting. Fuel up at Gobbies’s Sports Pub and Eatery for lunch before heading to Hoof it Goat Treks, where you’ll experience a peaceful hike through the forest while baby goats follow and play along the trails.

Everyone loves a good story, and here, one good story always leads to another. Make plans to experience Galena Country with the best of friends, because we may be old, but never the same old thing. For further information on safety guidelines regarding COVID-19 and travel, please click here.