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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.

Two lanes of color in Galena Country

Posted on September 16, 2020 by Kirsten Bell

The air is cool, with just a little chill to let us know a new season is at hand. The leaves are tinged with red, brown and gold as they slowly desert their branches to create an attractive mosaic of color below. What better way to watch this transformation of nature called fall, than to take a drive through Galena Country.  

Before you get started... take a stroll amongst historic cannons and monuments in Grant Park. This will definitely set the tone for the rest of your trip. With the heart of Galena as your backdrop, watch leaves dance their way to the carpeted ground and listen to the crunchy footsteps that you take. Cross the pedestrian bridge to downtown Galena and don’t forget to look back at the beauty left behind. Ready to hit the road? Let’s go…

Galena's Historic Main Street

Head north down the historic Main Street of Galena. This main attraction is lined with more than 125 shops and restaurants, one after the next. There are no chain stores here. It’s all about the unique, local independent shops and beautifully preserved red brick buildings that date back to Galena’s days as a booming 1800’s lead mining town. Steeped in history, 85% of the town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Stagecoach Trail

At the end of Main Street, continue on to the historic Stagecoach Trail via Field St. This road follows the original Galena-Chicago stagecoach route, passing scenic farms and near the highest point of Illinois. This pleasant, winding drive will take you through valleys dotted with small farms and dairy cows. The road, framed by a kaleidoscope of reds, oranges and yellows passes the Galena Cellars Winery & Vineyard, a great stopping point. Turn left onto Ford Road and follow the signs. Here you can relax on the comfortable wrap-around deck of the charming farmhouse turned tasting room, and soak in the gorgeous fall colors of the vineyards.

Council Hill Station

Leaving Galena Cellars, turn left onto N. Ford Road and continue as the road veers to the right onto N. Hill Road, leading you to Council Hill Station on the right. This is a unique and historic 1850’s general store and railway station which has been transformed into a watering hole and music venue. Ruins of a woolen mill, barn and silo also sit on the property.

Apple River

From Council Hill Station, journey onto W. Council Road. This road will lead back to Stagecoach Trail and the Town of Apple River. This town was established by the Illinois Central Railroad in 1854. Surrounded by dairy farms and corn fields, a must stop is the Thriving Thistle Market. This little gem offers freshly baked bread, pizza, burgers, smoothies and more! Most ingredients are grown in their own backyard.


Continue traveling east on Stagecoach Trail until you reach the town of Warren, named after Warren Burnett, the son of Alexander Burnett who was the founder. Pop into Dusty’s Closet Antiques, a small- town antique shop featuring antique furniture, vintage collectibles and a small gift selection. Craft beer enthusiasts will love visiting the Pecatonica Beer Company. Enjoy a selection of cold brews and experience the regional flavors of Pecatonica Valley.

Apple River Canyon State Park

From Warren, take Route 78 south and turn right onto E. Canyon Road. This road leads you to the Apple River Canyon State Park, featuring limestone bluffs, deep ravines, springs, streams and plenty wildlife. Brace yourself for a feast of fall colors. Step out, gather a heap of leaves and throw them in the air for the perfect Instagram shot.


Exit the park on Scout Camp Road traveling south. When you reach Highway 20, travel west towards Elizabeth and Galena. You will travel through beautiful country scenery as the road swirls and winds its way to Elizabeth. Sit back, relax and enjoy the view of the multi-color magic that surrounds you. Speaking of views… a perfect way to experience the wonders of fall is to overnight at The View Motel in Elizabeth. Soak up the beautiful countryside scenery that this motel overlooks. While you are here, visit the Black Hawk War landmark called Apple River Fort State Historic Site for an intriguing history lesson. If you are into antiques, don’t miss the Elizabeth’s Grand Antique Co., a 28.000 sq. ft., antique mall that is sure to have what you are looking for. From here, your drive back to Galena is only a 15-minute drive, so make the most of the last bit of golden hues, vivid pinks, red and crispy earthen browns - a tapestry of fall.

Bonus - Blackjack Road

Just in case you didn’t get enough color under your belt, here is a bonus drive for you… From Galena, take Route 20 eastwards and turn right onto Blackjack Road. This rural road twists and turns, offering breathtaking views, many of which are of the beautiful Mississippi River Valley. This is a perfect road for a motorcycle ride. There are many pull off spots for picture taking along the way. You will find Chestnut Mountain Resort nestled amongst the hills. This resort boasts an array of amenities, accommodation and activities, but the views are what are so impressive. Sit on their outdoor deck perched high on a bluff overlooking the Upper Mississippi River Valley – here you will find all of the fall color that your heart desires.

Explore what there is to do and see in Galena Country by browsing the latest Visitors Guide and choose from great lodging options or your overnight stay!