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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.

Warren

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.

Elizabeth

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!

 


Forever Original Galena Country

Posted on July 10, 2020 by Fallon Oldenburg

Galena Country is an area with a rich and storied past and just like the area it represents, it is full of great stories and colorful characters. While it's many years in the making, our story only gets better with time!  Image Credit: @EnjoyIllinois

We have a history of seeing things others don't. And when you're here, you'll see and do things you won't see anywhere else. We call it being original. Explore the 11 unique locations that makeup #GalenaCountry with this adventure-filled, 4-day itinerary!

Day 1

Plan to have lunch in Stockton. With fun features for the whole family, this is the perfect spot to get out and stretch your legs. Fill up on a juicy burger at JJ & Freddies, shop at Savvy Scavengers and bag-your-own candy at Sweet Alice's. Stroll the town to find memory-making opportunities with the artistic murals and the Kidstown wooden playground! Everyone loves a good story. And here, one story always leads to another. Learn something new at the Stockton Heritage Museum, featuring N-scale model trains and Kraft Foods’ history (Fun fact: Kraft started in Stockton, Illinois).

Take in magnificent views while heading to Apple River for an outdoor adventure! Fuel up at Thriving Thistle Market and stock up on organic goodies and fresh-made smoothies for a picnic lunch. One is sure to find plenty of delectable items to enjoy now and later! Journey along to Apple River Canyon State Park with a picnic lunch and camera! Unplug and enjoy each other!

After exploring, cruise historic Stagecoach Trail and head towards Scales Mound. Stop into Pat's Country House Grocery for last-minute essentials, snacks, and yummy treats! Follow the route to Galena and check into your lodging to rest up or drop off suitcases and explore Main Street for live music performed by local musicians in one of the many entertaining pubs. In Galena Country, we've never been like anywhere else and we're proud of it.

Day 2

Elizabeth: Arrive early, come hungry and ready to shop! Be sure to stop by the Scenic Overlook on the way! Start the morning off with a breakfast sandwich and coffee from E-town, followed by treasure hunting at Common Cents Resale, Elizabeth Grand Antique Co., Three Sisters Sweet Shoppe and Jane Marie Boutique. Make time to check out the Apple River Fort State Historic Site and Chicago Great Western Railway Depot Museum to experience a bit of history. To us, history isn't about endings, it's where stories begin. And one good story always leads to another.

Take a break to indulge in a tasty lunch at Cajun Jack's and delicious local brews at the Highway 20 Brewing Company before heading to Hanover. In Galena Country, you'll find us running, cycling or hiking up hills, gliding through trees or paddling on the water! Enjoy a scenic hike at the beautiful Wapello Land & Water Reserve, nestled along the Apple River. For the drive back to Galena, consider following Blackjack Road for a scenic pit-stop at Chestnut Mountain Resort, an all-seasons resort, with zip-lining, alpine slide, mini-golf, segway tours, boat rides, and winter sports!

East Dubuque is calling! Delight in dinner at Timmerman's Supper Club, nestled among the bluffs of the Mississippi River, the food and views offer a memorable experience for the family or romantic dinner for two. Millennium Bar & Marina and Frentress Lake Marina are great spots to watch beautiful sunsets! Head back to Galena for an epic magic show with P.T. Murphy! We've always been known to have a good time. Times may change, but that never will.

Day 3

Breakfast in Galena: some local favorites include Otto's Place, Dillon's, Paradise Grill and Victory Cafe. Hit up Galena's Main Street for an incredible shopping experience with more than 125 independently owned stores. Get your history fix with a tour of Grant's Home, the Elihu B. Washburne House, and The Old Blacksmith Shop. Sight-see the streets of Galena via trolley to further discover the beautiful homes and views that are often raved about. The best thing about being where time forgot, is that you lose all track of it.

Enjoy lunch at Green Street Tavern in the Historical DeSoto House Hotel before continuing to Warren for a beer tasting at Pecatonica Beer Company and Tap House. To further extend the scenic adventure, swing back onto Stagecoach Trail and make way towards Nora. A small community with a hoppin' bar! Kick back and enjoy a refreshing beverage and appetizer before journeying on to the next stop! Venture back onto the beautiful Stagecoach Trail, pass through Galena and connect onto Hwy 20 towards Menominee, to another 'small town with a hoppin' bar.' JM's Tap makes the must-visit list, offering local craft brews and incredibly delicious pizza.

Day 4

Enjoy locally roasted coffee and a delicious breakfast sandwich at Big Bill's in downtown Galena before a little shopping and wine/spirits tasting. Begin the leisurely trip home with lunch at Small Town Saloon in Elizabeth. (Vegan's...get excited about the Impossible Burger!) Might as well stock up on apple cider donuts at Dittmar Farms Orchard station while in town.

Last stop to complete the tour of Galena Country - Woodbine. Search for specialty gifts at Nature's Treasure's and stop for a round of golf at Woodbine Bend, at the very least, indulge in their delicious fish fry! (Did you know that Galena Country is home to 10 golf courses?)

There it is... 11 wonderful Galena Country locations included in one itinerary. Switch it up and try new things each visit, with so much to do, it's always an adventure! 

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!


Drive the historic Stagecoach Trail in Galena Country

Posted on February 19, 2020 by Kirsten Bell

Tired of the highway? Hop off Highway 20 and take the Historic Stagecoach Trail Road through Galena Country instead! This gently curving and hilly two-lane road, originally established in the mid-1830s, flows across the scenic country landscape and is steeped in history.

What's the story behind it?

This road follows the original stagecoach route between Galena and Chicago. The stagecoach became the predominant mode of overland public transport for passengers and mail in the mid-1800s. The vehicles were called stagecoaches because they completed their scheduled routes in stages, traveling from stop to stop where tired horses could be exchanged for fresh ones and passengers could sometimes eat, rest or sleep overnight. It lasted only a few decades, but this period in the mid-1800s had a significant impact on the region, as settlements were linked, mail was managed and the groundwork was laid for future transportation systems.

As you drive along this historic path, think of the first travelers and what it must have been like. You will be traveling at a much a higher comfort level no doubt. Take in the beautiful countryside dotted with cows, enjoy the architecture and see what you can find in the local stores as you stop to stretch your legs along the way. Snap some pics and be sure to tag them with #GalenaCountry.

Nora

Take the W. Galena Road/Stagecoach Rd. exit off Highway 20, drive through Lena, Waddams Grove and continue to Nora… where Galena Country begins. Nora, once a bustling railroad community (after the Stagecoach era) is now a small village with a population of 112. A popular local hangout in this village is the Nora Bar.

Warren

This town was named after Warren Burnett, the son of Alexander Burnett who was the founder in 1843. The town of Warren began to flourish when the Old Stone Hotel was built in 1851. It served as a stopover along the crossing of two major stagecoach routes and hosted prominent visitors such as Ulysses S. Grant. Today, the former hotel serves as the Warren Community Building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A great annual Christmas event that takes place in this building is the Festival of Trees.

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 the Pecatonica Valley. The town of Warren hosts the oldest County Fair in Illinois, dating back to 1860, held in late July/August every year and the Annual Warren Pumpkin Festival in September.

Apple River Canyon State Park

As you head towards the town of Apple River, there is a 6.5-mile detour, that’s worth it… turn left onto N. Canyon Park Rd. which will lead you to the Apple River Canyon State Park. Discover incredible limestone bluffs carved by the Apple River, deep ravines, springs, streams and plenty of wildlife. This park is ideal for outdoor activities and camping in the summer. In the fall, this park puts on an impressive show of color bursts. A little history to this area… Millville (1838) is a village that was established in Apple River Canyon but no longer exists. It became an important rural service stop along the Stagecoach Trail since Millville had a blacksmith. In 1853–54, the Illinois Central Railroad bypassed Millville, relegating it to backwater town status.

Apple River

Head on back to Stagecoach Trail where you will turn left to continue to the town of Apple River. This town was established by the Illinois Central Railroad in 1854. Surrounded by dairy farms and cornfields, a must-stop is the Thriving Thistle Market! This is a gourmet gas station! It supplies zero-ethanol fuel for your vehicle and delicious fuel for your belly! Enjoy freshly baked bread, pizza, burgers, smoothies and more! Coming soon is a brand-new Wellness Center and Bistro that will be attached to the market.

Scales Mound

Upon reaching the area of Scales Mound, the road becomes West Stagecoach Trail Road. Turn left onto N. Elizabeth Scales Mound Road for a detour to the town of Scales Mound, where 90% of the town buildings are on the National Historic Register. Just north of here is Charles Mound. At 1,235-feet, it is the highest point in the entire state of Illinois. (Note: it is on private land and not open to the public). Scales Mound has a fitting motto… “At the Top of Illinois.” If you prefer to skip the town of Scales Mound, continue on Stagecoach Trail Road until you get to W. Council Hill Rd. on your right, where you can take a detour to an interesting place called Council Hill Station.

Travel on W. Council Hill Road to North Hill Road where you will take a left. This is a unique and historic 1850s general store and railway station which has been transformed into a watering hole and music venue. Ruins of a woolen mill, barn, and silo can also be found on the property. From here, as you continue on North Ford Road to get back to Stagecoach Trail Road, you will pass the Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery. This is a great stopping point! Here you can relax on the comfortable wrap-around deck of the charming farmhouse turned tasting room, and soak in the gorgeous views of the vineyards. If you don't have enough time on your hands, you could wait until you reach Galena, where they have a tasting room downtown. How convenient!

Galena 

Arriving at the southeast corner of Galena marks the end of the Stagecoach Trail Road. The trail ends near the 1854 John Westwick Foundry. Ironically, 1854 is the same year that the railroad came through and the old stagecoach line began fading away. As the Stagecoach Trail Road enters Galena, it rapidly transitions into Field, Claude and Meeker Streets. Just after the bend in Meeker Street, turn left onto N. Main Street.

This historic Main Street is a major attraction in the area and has been dubbed the “Helluva Half-Mile.” It’s lined with more than 125 independently owned stores housed in beautifully preserved buildings that date back to Galena’s days as a booming 1800s lead-mining town. Steeped in history, 79% of the town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Grab a bite to eat at one of Galena’s renowned restaurants before you check in to your accommodation.

Check out the official visitors guide for ideas on things to do and sites to see, such as historic sites, outdoor activities, tours, art galleries/studios, and more!


Rediscover Romance in Galena Country

Posted on January 17, 2020 by Rose Noble

©Orange Anchor Photography

Sipping on a glass of local wine. Feeling the stress of everyday life melt away during a couple’s massage. Snuggling with that special someone in front of a fireplace in your cozy bed-and-breakfast suite. These are just a few of the reasons you’ll fall in love with making Galena Country, the destination for your next romantic rendezvous.

Nestled in the corner of Northwestern Illinois, along the Mississippi River, Galena is a hidden gem that offers activities to suit couples of all kinds. Below, are eight reasons to start planning a getaway today.

1. Spa-aaaah

Nothing says relaxation like a cozy couple’s massage or even a pedicure for two. For example, you and yours can head to the Galena Day Spa for a couple’s massage, which comes complete with complimentary champagne and chocolates. There’s also the Stonedrift Spa at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, which offers a menu of couple’s treatments, including the marine mineral soak in the private couple’s spa suite. But your spa options don’t end there. Indulge Day Spa, Healing Touch of Galena Massage (where the therapist will come to you), Sacred Sole Massage & Bodywork and the soon-to-open Studio One Green Spa and Salon are also stellar options for a little R&R.

2. Tee for two

If taking in 9 or 18 holes is a favorite pastime for the two of you, grab the clubs and schedule a tee time at one of Galena’s 10 courses. From taking on The General Golf Course to professional lessons at Lacoma Golf Club there’s an option for every skill level. Or try out a fun-filled round of mini-golf at the Lil' General, next to the Palace Campground.

3. Quench your thirst

Taste and tour your way through Galena Country and explore four vineyards, two craft breweries and Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. Wine enthusiasts can experience lovely scenic drive to Fergedaboudit Vineyard and Winery, The Rocky Waters Vineyard and Winery, Massbach Ridge Vineyard and Winery, and pet-friendly Galena Cellars Vineyard and Winery, all pairing years of winemaking talent with breath-taking views of the driftless region. Craft beer lovers will enjoy the variety of locally made brews at Pecatonica Beer Company Taphouse and the Galena Brewing Company! 

4. Explore the backroads

Cruise along historic Stagecoach Trail to the Thriving Thistle in Apple River and a picnic at Apple Canyon State Park, or explore the winding corners of Blackjack Road to for a bite to eat and to watch the sunset at Chestnut Mountain Resort. Historic Highway 20 is no stranger to incredible views, head to Elizabeth for jambalaya and live music at Cajun Jacks, or to East Dubuque for dining with a view at Timmerman's Supper Club.

5. Wine and dine

Make your meal for two special at one of Galena Country's culinary fortunes. From American tastes to Italian to German, there’s a cuisine for every type of palate. Partake in an intimate dining experience at the ‘chef’s table’ at Goldmoor Inn & Dining, or for a sample of European-fare, try Fritz and Frites Bistro. Savor tastes like a prime steak and fresh scallops at Fried Green Tomatoes, or be welcomed like family at the Log Cabin Steakhouse, Galena's oldest steakhouse. Taste a little bit of Italy at Vinny Vanucchi’s “Little Italy.” Or take in an intimate dinner at Woodlands Restaurant at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa overlooking the picturesque Lake Galena.

6. Shop around

Looking to do a little shopping on your getaway? Treasure-hunt along Galena's Historic Main Street, where you’ll find more than 125 shops, galleries, eateries and attractions. From curing your sweet tooth at confectionaries, such as Chocolat’ 229 and Galena's Kandy Kitchen, to finding something sexy at the Noty Kity, you're sure to find something for keeping and for gifting. If antiques and home decor are your cup of tea, furniture, collectibles, old toys, repurposed jewelry, albums, art and potteries are a few of the items you might find at shops such as A Bushel and A Peck and Elizabeth’s Grand Antique Co., and Anchors and Arrows.

7. Reconnect with nature

Explore via kayak, canoe, or paddle-board along the Galena River, discover new scenic views on Galena Country's 20 parks and trails, or cruise the Galena River Trail. Thrill seekers may enjoy speeding along a zip line at Long Hollow Canopy Tours or cruising down the Alpine Slide at Chestnut Mountain Resort. 

8. A romantic night in

Draw a bath and pop open that bottle of locally made wine! Galena Country's award-winning B&B's and Inns offer the perfect opportunity to snuggle up for the night. For something luxurious, check out the Jail Hill Inn, home to suites with gas fireplaces and steam showers or bubble massage tubs. The Inn at Irish Hollow offers luxury cottages on a 500-acre working farm in the Galena countryside. From resorts and hotels to B&B’s and vacation rentals, choose to lodge immersed in mother nature, amidst history, or in the heart of downtown Galena.

What are you waiting for? Book your stay and let the planning begin with a browse through the visitors guide.   


Vacationing with your dog in Galena Country

Posted on October 31, 2019 by Kirsten Bell

Are you looking to plan a pet-centric holiday in Galena Country? Don’t know where to start?… no worries, we’ve sniffed out pet-friendly spots for you. Fur’real! 

Accommodation

First… you need to find a place to rest Fido’s furry head. Here’s a list of pet-friendly bed and breakfasts, hotels and vacation homes where he’ll feel like the top dog.

A Great Escape Grant Hills Motel
Augustus Chetlain Home and Log Cabins Le Fevre Inn & Resort
Belle Aire Mansion Guest House Marcotte's Family Motel
Cat House Suites  Peaceful Pines
Cloran Mansion & Antonio's Cottage The Nook on Third 
Country Inn & Suites, Stockton  Quality Inn East Dubuque
Galena Escapes Rosebud Rentals
Galena Reservations Stoney Creek Inn
Goldmoor Inn  

Outdoor Fun

With its scenic surroundings and spectacular views, many pet-parents flock to Galena Country with their four-legged sidekicks for a much-needed getaway to nature! If your pooch likes to ruff it, he’ll love the nature preserve hiking trails where he can climb, scamper and in some cases, even swim. If he’s more of an ambler, pick up a picnic basket from Galena River Wine and Cheese for yourself and some treats from New Earth Animals for Fido… then head to one of the parks for a leisurely stroll. Don’t forget to check the leash laws.

Apple River Canyon State Park Gramercy Park
Buehler Preserve Grant Park
Casper Bluff Land & Water Reserve Horseshoe Mound Preserve
Chestnut Mountain Resort Trails Schurmeier Teaching Forest
Galena Gateway Park Wapello Land & Water Preserve
Galena River Trail Winston Tunnel State Natural Area

Pet-Friendly Stores

Shopping with your pup, how doggone fun does that sound?! Throw a leash on Fido, remind him to put on his best behaviour and hit Galena’s Main Street. This historic main street, boasts more than 125 independently-owned storefronts. Many welcome pets, which we’ve listed below…

At Home in Galena Honest John’s Trading Post 
Beyond the Horizon  La Vie en Rose 
Carlotta’s Studio  New Earth Animals 
Country Crafts & Sports  Peace of the Past 
Dream Catcher  Petals & Primitives 
Dreams Boutique  Poopsie’s  
Earth’s Treasures  Red’s Iron Yard & Wholesale Barn 
Ethyl’s Rustic River Finds 
Eureka Simply Elegant Boutique
Fever River Outfitters Serendipity of Galena 
For Bare Feet Something Special
From Head to Toe Sportswear  Strawberry Lane 
Galena Cellars Wine Tasting Room   Union Leather 
Gabby’s Gifts   Vignettes of Galena 
Galena Garlic Company The Feathered Nest 
Galena Tees  Wooden Wardrobe 
Gustafson & Grey Ltd. You Gotta Be Kidding 
Honest John’s Emporium   


Treat your best friend to a yummy treat from New Earth Animals for his pawsome behaviour on your shopping trip. Bon A-pet-treat Fido! Maybe you can pick out a new outfit for him at the same time?

Art Galleries/Studios

Does Fido have an artistic streak? Okay, maybe you do? Fur-tunately, these galleries and studios on Main Street welcome pets:

Outside the Lines Art Gallery
Pinder Pottery
Skidmore Art Gallery  

Skidmore Art Gallery offers thirsty four-legged travelers a refreshing drink just outside the gallery. Speaking of drinks… by this time the thirsty human should need one after a long day of exploring. Stop in at Miss Kitty’s Grape Escape for a specialty martini, glass of wine or a beer with Fido at your side. If you’re hungry, they serve appetizers, sandwiches and more. Tip: The local VFW in Hanover will allow your pooch to sit at the bar with you too!

Spa Day

It’s time to pamper your pooch with a rub down, a paw-dicure or a full makeover! Doggie Do’s & New Earth Animals Grooming will take great care of your furry friend. While you wait, why not treat yourself to a spa treatment of your own at one of Galena Country’s full-service spa’s. If you absolutely MUST visit a few places that do not allow pets, Doggie Do’s also offers a daycare service where Fido can meet other four-legged travelers and exchange travel stories.

Vineyard Outing

Award-winning wineries that welcome pets? Hot diggety dog – let’s go! Enjoy a delicious glass of wine with a scenic view. A great time for you and Fido to paws and reflect!

Fergedaboudit Vineyard & Winery Massbach Ridge Winery
Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery Rocky Waters Vineyard & Winery 

Book your stay and start planning your paw-fect getaway to #GalenaCountry!