Fallon Oldenburg

7 Hidden History Lessons of Galena Country

Galena Country is known for it’s well-preserved, 19th-century architecture and Ulysses S. Grant history, but there’s even more to discover in this historically amazing destination! From the origins of Kraft Cheese to one of the earliest African-American churches in Illinois, Galena Country is loaded with stories of yesteryear, making it a cultural cornerstone where past meets present. 

The Blackhawk War of 1832
In 1832, a faulty treaty caused a 15-week war between American settlers and Native Americans led by the Sauk warrior Black Hawk. Today, remains of the conflict are ingrained in the rich history of Galena Country. Explore the Apple River Fort State Historic Site, to learn more about the intense battle that took place there, interact with re-enactors, and discover how the town of Elizabeth was given it’s name. Stop at E-town Coffee Co. or Three Sisters Sweet Shoppe to fuel up for the next venture!

Cannons in Grant Park
Stroll the park and study the extraordinary cannons and monuments that overlook the Galena River in Grant Park. Take a look at the “Blakely of Grant Park,” which fired some of the first shots in the Battle of Fort Sumter and the “Napoleon,” commonly used in the Civil War. Perfect for a picnic and a book, Grant Park offers some of the best views in Galena Country! Interested in seeing cannon in action? Visit during Grant’s Homefront Civil War Re-enactment or Galena’s 4th of the July celebrations, you’ll know it when you hear it!

Galena’s Nine Generals
Did you know? Galena is the only location in the United States that was home to not one, but nine Civil War generals? That’s right, including Grant himself! All nine generals left an important impact on the town that can still be discovered in buildings, street names, and local history. Consider booking a stay at the Augustus Chetlain Home and Log Cabin Guest Houses, and visit the First United Methodist Church built by General John Corson Smith. You can even sit in the pew that the Grant Family sat in. When exploring downtown, take note of the unique architecture currently occupied by the United States Post Office. Once a Customs House, this unique building was designed and built by Native American General, Ely S. Parker. A great photo-op, this piece of history is the second-oldest continuously operating postal facility in the United States!

Lead Mining and the Driftless Area
The unique geography and lead mining history of Galena Country has had an impact on almost everything in the area from the distinct red “Galena brick” buildings to the size of the Galena River. At one time, this bustling lead mining city was larger than Chicago. Check out a real lead mine, learn about how glaciers shaped the region during the Ice Age, and discover how Galena Country came to be at the Galena and U.S. Grant Museum!

Travel Tip: Explore Galena via Trolley Tour! Sit back, relax, and listen as a tour guide shares historical facts and information about Galena and its incredible architecture.

The Origins of Kraft Cheese
A brand and flavor many of us have savored, Kraft cheese originated right here in Galena Country, in Stockton! Take a step back in time and learn about Kraft and much more at the Stockton Heritage Museum. After snapping a selfie with one of the original wagons used to transport the cheese, stroll the streets and discover even more places to strike-a-pose in Stockton!

Red Stripe Beer
It’s Jamaican, right? Guess again! Red Stripe Beer was crafted in the original Galena Brewing Company in the 1830’s. When the brewery closed in 1938, the recipe was sold to two British investors who moved the company to Jamaica and made the drink world-famous during World War II. Today, the Galena Brewing Company is located on Galena’s Historic Main Street and features craft micro-brews, seasonal flavors, and six styles on tap. Tours, tastings, and a giant pretzel are a must-do!

The Secret of the Sunken Garden
This hidden gem, nestled among the cascading greenery of Linmar Gardens, features the remains of an African-American Baptist Church. Today the walls of the basement and a “Baptismal Font” fountain serve as a reminder of the building’s history as one of the oldest African-American churches in Illinois. Surrounded by colorful flowers and foliage, the garden is a beautiful place to spend a relaxing afternoon reconnecting with nature. 

Immerse yourself in history and book a stay at one of Galena Country’s many award-winning accommodations. Let the planning begin with a browse through the official visitor’s guide!

Desserts to savor in Galena Country

From gourmet icebox cake to homemade vanilla bean creme brûlée, be sure to save room for these mouthwatering desserts while tasting your way through Galena Country. 

Durty Gurt’s – Milkshakes and Malts

Unique flavors, fun names, and premium quality ingredients make handmade milkshakes and malts from Durty Gurt’s an excellent choice for a cool treat. Indulge in an “Elvis” peanut butter and banana shake or the “Chandler Bing” featuring chocolate, cherry, and vanilla. You can also choose from 13 specialty boozy shakes, or create your very own flavor combination to tantalize your taste buds. 

Foodie Tip: Pair a milkshake or malt with a “Shut the Front Door” burger for the ultimate in American comfort food experience. Served on a glazed donut and topped with bacon and melted cheese, this burger is the perfect compliment to a frosty treat. 

Embe Eatery & Lounge – Bread Pudding

Sweet, rich, warm, and topped with a fluffy cloud of whipped cream, bread pudding from Embe Eatery & Lounge is like heaven in your mouth. House-made rum sauce and soft pillows of french bread melt in your mouth while almonds and raisins add texture and extra sweetness. This decadent dessert is the perfect finale for an incredible meal. Try the gluten-free and made-from-scratch cream of mushroom soup with the pulled pork sandwich, and stay for a drink and live music! 


Fried Green Tomatoes – Vanilla Bean Creme Brûlée

Savor each bite of dinner at Fried Green Tomatoes, but save room for the divine flavor explosion some call creme brûlée. The signature robust vanilla flavor of the custard derives from premium Madagascar vanilla beans. After the custard is carefully made from scratch, it receives a caramelized sugar shell that melts in your mouth and provides a satisfying break as your spoon dives into the creamy deliciousness. Velvety, decadent, and rich, this dessert is best enjoyed after a gourmet meal and a glass of wine. Bon appétit!

Log Cabin Steakhouse – Grasshopper

Who doesn’t love an ice cream dessert topped with fire? That’s right – fire. Not to be confused with the signature Greek starter, Flaming Saganaki (OPAAAA!), the minty hand-blended ice cream after dinner ‘drink’ is the perfect finish to a satisfying Log Cabin Steakhouse meal. Be sure to have your camera ready to capture the moment, then dig in!

Foodie Tip: Have your meal prepared Greek-style, and don’t forget to take home a bottle of Rigopoulos Grove Olive Oil!


Otto’s Place – Icebox Cake

Sweet, light, and wonderfully balanced icebox cake makes for a mouthwatering dessert from Otto’s Place. Be sure to ask about the daily flavor options–all are delicious and made from scratch! Layers upon layers of moist chocolate cake with fluffy chocolate frosting is a perfect choice for any cocoa lover. The carrot and lemon cakes are also show-stoppers when it comes to curing a sweet-tooth. Be on the look-out for special pop-up-dinner events and take advantage of the hearty, yet unique breakfast options! 

Whether here for the day or an extended weekend, go ahead and treat yo’self while you taste and tour your way through Galena Country! You never know what favorite memories await! Let the foodie adventure begin with a browse through the visitors guide, we look forward to seeing you soon!

Plan a Midweek Getaway to Galena Country!

Take a break from the daily stress of balancing work life, home life, and personal “you time” to regain sanity. It’s a no-brainer, trade that morning alarm clock for a midweek refresher to Galena Country! Book the perfect getaway with this three-day itinerary. 

Day 1

Make a pit-stop in Stockton for an early lunch at Stella’s Cafe’ & Catering. Take time to strike a pose in front of the murals; a stop into Sweet Alice’s is the perfect cure for a sweet tooth!  Make your way to Elizabeth for some retail therapy at Jane Marie Boutique, Village Treasures, and Common Cents Resale. Arrive in Galena just in time to check into accommodations, followed up with a savory dinner at the General’s Restaurant. Discover a different side of Galena’s history on a tour with the Haunted Galena Tour Company, or quench your thirst on Matthew’s Haunted Pub Crawl. Polish off the night with drinks and live music at The Cornerstone Bar.

Day 2

Begin with a hearty breakfast at Otto’s Place–be sure to ask about the quiche of the day and try a piece of warm, homemade coffee cake. Stroll across the Galena River for a fresh cup of locally-roasted brew from The Mean Bean or Big Bill’s Sandwich and Coffee Bar. Discover more than of 125 independently owned boutique shops, galleries, attractions and eateries nestled into Galena’s Historic Main Street. Whether you fancy yourself a foodie, fashionista, or history buff – Main Street is a treasure-hunting paradise!

Next up, lunch at The Market House Restaurant, followed up with wine tasting at the Massbach Ridge Tasting Room. Learn about gourmet wine pairings made from locally-grown grapes, then stop over to the Dowling House or the Old Blacksmith Shop for a little history before dinner. Enjoy a scenic drive along historic HWY 20 to East Dubuque for a delicious meal at Timmerman’s Supper Club, perched along the bluffs of the Mighty Mississippi River. Be sure to finish off dinner with a hand-blended grasshopper! If it’s a Thursday, take advantage of the live music and vintage rides at Cruisin’ Thursdays.

Day 3

After hitting the snooze-button, fuel up with breakfast at Victory Cafe in Galena, a leisurely morning walk along the levee and up to the Ulysses S. Grant Home for a tour. Take the scenic route home, this time via Stagecoach Trail, grab a delicious smoothie at Thriving Thistle in Apple River and a bite to eat at Chubz Pub & Grub or Wally’s Pizzeria in Warren. With Galena Country only being a few hours’ drive for many – it’s the perfect getaway at any time! Book your stay and let the planning begin with a browse through the digital visitors guide. 
 

Accessible Galena Country

Galena Country offers award-winning accommodations, incredible shopping, dining and attractions for memories-in-the-making! With so many great options, below is a compiled a list of businesses that promote accessibility.*

Accommodations
Whether you stay in the heart of downtown Galena or the rolling hills of the driftless area, Galena Country’s lodging options provide exquisite comfort and relaxation. 


Eats & Treats
From farm-to-table freshness to authentic Italian cuisine and locally made wines to craft brews, Galena Country boasts mouthwatering offerings everyone will savor!

Travel Tip: Galena’s Historic Main Street is best explored with a travel companion. Many of the shops have a step up into their entryway that can be maneuvered with the help of a friend.


Treasure Hunting
Whether shopping for yourself or for others, with more than 125 independently owned businesses in the heart of downtown Galena, you’re sure to discover unique, can’t-live-without treasures!

More to Explore
Be immersed in history with a visit to the Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site, see three different states at Horseshoe Mound Preserve, cool off at the Alice T. Virtue Memorial Pool/Galena Water Park, or enjoy a leisurely visit to Grant Park! Book your stay and let the planning begin with a browse through the digital visitors guide.

Travel Tip: Wheelchairs are available to rent at Hartig Drug Store, located two miles from Galena’s downtown.

*Note, it’s recommended to check accessibility with locations prior to visiting. Galena Country Tourism holds no liability, businesses are responsible for accessibility and maintaining current building codes.

How to plan an intimate and meaningful wedding in Galena Country

Overwhelmed by the thought of gathering hundreds of your friends and family together for your wedding day? Eloping is an option, but that’s not the only way to avoid the crowd. Instead, have all the beautiful elements of a wedding, but on a much smaller scale.

Limit the guest list. When planning a wedding, the guest list can easily get out of hand. For those committing to an intimate wedding, it’s a good idea to cap the number of guests you’d like to invite. Micro-weddings with a smaller guest list offer an opportunity to really connect and make special memories with everyone in attendance.

Plan a destination wedding. Having a destination wedding doesn’t mean you have to go to another country, but it does allow you to plan an intimate wedding that is a better reflection of you, your partner and closest friends. Celebrating together allows for more connections and memory-making, for example zooming through the treetops at Longhollow Canopy Tours or hitting a round of golf before tying the knot.

Alternative venue. One of the easiest ways to keep the budget and guest list down is to book a venue that suits a limited number. Intimate properties like the Jail Hill Inn, Goldmoor Inn & Dining, The Eagles Nest, and The Hellman Guest House all offer romantic opportunities for the micro-wedding of your dreams! Check out vacation rental booking sites like AirBnB and VRBO for private estates that are suitable for your special event. There’s nothing more personal than hosting an intimate affair in a place that is meaningful to the couple!

Splurge on a smaller budget. With a smaller guest list, you might decide that a four-course dinner for 50 people is better than cake and punch for 100. Small weddings give you the opportunity to really go ‘all-out.’ Guests can enjoy luxurious accommodations or a rehearsal dinner featuring fine dining that they may not usually purchase themselves. The shorter guest list makes things more accessible, think boxes of chocolates instead of a single truffle, exceptional live music filling the air and luxurious arrangements of flowers as far as the eye can see.

The best of both. Keep things intimate with your partner, have a private ceremony with just the two of you – exchange vows the morning of in a special location of your choice. Imagine, floating over the rolling landscape of the driftless region in a hot air balloon, hiking to a special place in one of Galena Country’s 20 parks and trails, or overlooking the Mississippi River. Then, party on! If an intimate ceremony is most important, you can create a separate, larger guest list for the reception—and inform your guests of the arrangements.

Think outside of the box. Often times, brunch, lunch or an afternoon affair is a great way to share your moment, while keeping it personal. Imagine, brunching together in a private room, at one large table while overlooking the backwaters of the Mighty Mississippi. Exchanging vows in a craft brewery, the gardens of a beautiful Inn, or along the vines of a local vineyard, can be a dream come true in Galena Country. Let the planning begin with an inquiry at foldenburg@visitgalena.org and a browse through the digital visitors guide.

Tie the knot in #GalenaCountry

Say ‘yes’ to Galena Country.  Nestled among the rolling hills of Northwest Illinois, Galena Country offers a picturesque background paired with 19th-century charm and everything necessary for a dream wedding! Check out these top reasons to say ‘I do’ in Galena Country.

Photo credit: Unposed Photography

Nonstop Beauty

From historical architecture to stunning waterways and breathtaking views, this place is a photographer’s dream! Whether one’s style is simple or regal, they’re sure to have gorgeous portraiture when photographed in Galena Country.

Adored Destination

Rich with history, shopping, lodging and entertainment, guests will more than enjoy a destination wedding in Galena Country! Wedding nuptials offer a special reason for a ‘getaway’ and for many, Galena Country is only a road-trip away!

Enchanting Venues

Choosing a venue that suits style and accommodations is an essential part of planning. Romantic, vintage, rustic, modern, bohemian or traditional, it’s all in Galena Country. From intimate elopements to grand celebrations, whatever the setting, we’ve got it covered.

Local Talent

Not to brag (okay, maybe a little), but Galena Country is loaded with talent. From musicians and catering to dresses and designers, all vendors can be hired locally! No one knows the ins and outs of Galena Country, like someone straight from the community. Utilize local resources, schedule tastings and gather information with event coordinators and vendors. They are a wealth of knowledge!

Extraordinary Parties

The perfect location for bachelor/bachelorette parties! Plenty of opportunities for tastings and toasting, delicious food, indulging spas, and epic adventures…this is a no-brainer! Not only are there endless memories in the making, let’s not forget about amazing lodging. Choose from resorts, hotels, vacation rentals, small inns, and b&bs! Stay nestled amongst nature, or lodge right downtown where the action is!

Romantic Tradition

A lovely idea to commemorate where it all began. Start a tradition and head to Galena Country for wedding anniversaries, explore different locations or re-visit your favorites. Though it looks like ‘Galena is frozen in time,’ new lodging, restaurants, shopping, and outdoor activities await!

Congratulations on your engagement!

Get to Galena Country, let the celebration begin! Plan a scouting trip with help from the Welcome Center staff at galena@visitgalena.org.

Dining out during the Holidays in Galena Country

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and in Galena Country, the season is celebrated with Luminaria and Living Windows, Fireworks, Christmas walks, and gift shopping on beautifully decorated Main Street in Galena. Traveling during the holidays has its perks, you can skip hours of labor in the kitchen and someone else can do the dishes. Here is a quick guide of restaurants that are open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day:

Christmas Eve 

Almost Paradise Bar & Grill: 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
Chestnut Mountain Resort: Breakfast 8-11 a.m. Summit Bar 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Culver’s: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Green Street Tavern at DeSoto House Hotel: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Dillon’s Pizza & Tavern: 6 a.m-1 a.m.
Durty Gurt’s Burger Joynt: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Gobbie’s Sports Pub & Eatery: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Market House Restaurant: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
McDonald’s: 5:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Paisano’s at Eagle Ridge: 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. (Pizza Only)
Subway: 7 a.m.-6p.m.
The Grape Escape: 2 p.m-1 a.m
Victory Café: 6 a.m.-2 p.m.
Woodlands at Eagle Ridge Resort: Breakfast 7-11 a.m. Lounge 11 a.m.-10 p.m (full menu) & 5-9 p.m. for Dinner.

Christmas Day

Almost Paradise Bar & Grill: 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
Chestnut Mountain Resort: Breakfast 8-11 a.m. Summit Bar 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Little Tokyo: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
The Grape Escape: 2 p.m-1 a.m
Woodlands at Eagle Ridge Resort: Breakfast 7-11 a.m. Lounge 11 a.m.-10 p.m (full menu) & 5-9 p.m. for Dinner.

Dig in, and enjoy the holidays in Galena Country! Check out the events calendar and browse the visitors guide for ideas on what to do and see!

5 ways to experience winter in Galena Country

History, outdoor adventure, shopping, and magical holiday events await! Whether you want to zoom across the landscape on a pair of skis or cozy up by the fireplace with a glass of locally-made wine, Galena Country is loaded with a wonderland of happenings.

Cozy Lodging

Named as the B&B Capital of the Midwest by Chicago Tribune, Galena Country offers a variety of warm and intimate places to stay. Check in to a storied bed & breakfast such as Abe’s Spring Street Guesthouse, or the conveniently located Main Street Inn. The Inn at Felt Manor is perched on the hillside, offering a bird’s eye view of the city. Discover more than 30 B&Bs and Inns that showcase their own style of historic charm, indulgent breakfast, and personalized experience.

A Warm Drink in One Hand, A Shopping Bag in the Other

Galena’s Historic Main Street is the place to find unique items while savoring a hot cuppa joe. Taste the delicious flavors of cocoa and coffee drinks from Kaladi’s Coffee Bar, or try Big Bill’s Sandwich and Coffee Shop and Mean Bean Roasters for something locally roasted. Stroll the historic district and explore a plethora of local boutiques, eateries, galleries, and attractions. With more than 125 independently owned businesses to choose from, you’re sure to find a must-have, one-of-a-kind treasure!

Outdoor Adventures

Whether Mother Nature sprinkles the landscape with snow or showcases it’s natural form, there’s plenty of adventure to be had! With 20 unique parks and trails, it’s easy to unplug and reconnect with nature! Plan a snow day and take the whole family to the Nordic Center at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa for cross country skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, and sledding. For downhill skiing and snowboarding, check out Chestnut Mountain Resort, featuring a 475-foot vertical drop, delectable dining, and priceless views.

Tastings and Toastings

Regardless of the weather, wine and spirits are always tasty! Massbach Ridge Winery and Galena Cellars both have tasting rooms conveniently located on Main Street and are open year-round. Check out Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. where you can take a tour of the distillery, enjoy a cocktail and re-stock the liquor cabinet, all in one location! Craft beer lovers, you’ll be happy to know that Galena Country is home to two breweries, Galena Brewing Co. and Pecatonica Beer Co. Tap House. Cheers!

Special Events and Activities

Turn experiences into traditions with the magic and wonder of wintertime in Galena Country. One of the most romantic times of the year, December is home to, holiday concerts, fireworks, enchanting celebrations, luminaria, and more! Return after the hustle and bustle of the holidays to relax and recharge on a romantic getaway!

Take the first step by booking your stay and browsing the visitor’s guide.

The magic and wonder of Galena’s Living Windows

The merriment of the holidays is just around the corner! While there are many events to experience in Galena Country, there’s nothing more magical than the Night of the Luminaria and Living Windows. A family-friendly, yet romantic evening in the heart of Galena’s historic district. Showcasing a captivating glow of the candle-lit town and the magic of the holidays, with a touch of shopping – this enchanting weekend has something for everyone! Be sure to check out these businesses who’s windows come to life with wintery-holiday revelry.

 

Book your stay today! Click here to vote on your favorite storefront and be sure to #GalenaCountry!

Stargazing in Galena Country

Escape to the countryside to experience the night sky as you’ve never seen it before — it’s nature’s free light show! Explore all of the awesome stargazing opportunities in Galena Country from watching meteors on the Mound to sleeping under the stars. 

Picture Perfect Parks

A stroll under the night sky is one of the best shows that nature has to offer. Plan a romantic walk through Grant Park or watch the sunset while perched along the bluffs of the Mighty Mississippi at Gramercy Park. One thing about Galena Country, is that you’re never too far from one of twenty parks and trails that offer an incredible opportunity for a snuggle and a sunset. 

Nighttime Events and Programs

Interested in learning more about astronomy or having a unique and fun experience under the stars? The Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation hosts annual events for all ages of night sky enthusiasts. While Galena Country hosts many not-to-miss events, these are recommended for those who may want to experience the warm glow of a sunset, followed by a gorgeous night sky: Meteors on the Mound, Bonfire on the Bluff, Great Galena Balloon Race, Galena’s Halloween Parade & Festival, Holiday Fire in the Sky, and Night of the Luminaria and Living Windows.

Celestial Camping Experiences

Sleeping beneath the night sky offers a memory-making experience for the whole family! There’s nothing like the crisp evening air filled with laughter paired with marshmallows around a cozy campfire. Pitch a tent at one of Galena Country’s campgrounds for a starry getaway just minutes from downtown! Travel tip: pack a star chart to assist in finding constellations, star, and moon phases. 

Rural Lodging

Want to sleep under the stars in the comfort of the indoors? Galena Country is loaded with lodging options that showcase amazing astronomical views. Consider booking a stay at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, Chestnut Mountain Resort, Inn at Irish Hollow, Hawk Valley Retreat & Cottages, or a vacation rental amidst a wooded wonderland. 

Scenic Drive Ideas

Take a romantic scenic drive to one of four vineyards, soak up the views at the scenic overlook, or take a leisurely walk along Galena’s Historic Main Street after a savory meal. One thing is for sure, no matter the time of day – there’s no shortage of beautiful views in #GalenaCountry!

Book your stay and let the exploring begin with a browse through the digital visitor’s guide.