Kirsten Bell

Barefoot Adventures in Galena Country

Our intern, Ally, jumped in with both feet as she experienced Galena Country mostly barefoot! Here is a recount of her adventure… 

“I can’t keep my foot in my mouth any longer about my time at Apple River Canyon State Park. It was a muggy morning but Pine Trail was completely shaded, which made for a nice, cool hike. There are a variety of trails, but we chose this one as it was only 1 mile and the sign promised some things along the way. We buckled up our fanny packs and entered.

It was quiet and peaceful as we made our way through the trail. You realize why it’s named Pine Trail when you see a host of beautiful pine trees lining the walkway. After storms rolled through a few days prior, the timber was lush and filled with beautiful plants and flowers.

Once we found the river, I ditched the shoes and went barefoot. The mud felt sweet between my toes and it made the experience feel extremely natural. The water was off the trail a little but the natural bluffs carved away by the river are a must-see. Before I knew it, we were sitting on the edge of the trail, resting in the grass and listening to the sweet sounds of nature.

It was just what the doctor ordered – a decent dose of sunshine and relaxation.

To add to my natural, holistic foot adventure, I stopped by Sacred Sole and Massage. Most people cringe when I tell them I was getting massaged by someone’s bare feet. I set them straight right away because not only was the massage the most amazing one I’ve ever had but the woman was also even more beautiful. Inside and out, Theresa Young was so great that I had to give her a hug at the end of my session because it wasn’t just a massage. She informed me of why she practices the way she does, background information about the Fiji-style massage and made it a unique experience.

I do CrossFit, which puts a lot of stress and soreness on my body, and she said she massages 3-4 other CrossFitters who come to her regularly, which made me feel even more at home. So, whether you’re an athlete, parent, grandparent or anyone looking for a “not-too-soft” but “not-too-much” pressure massage, go to her!

What she does with her feet, I doubt anyone could do with their hands. Like I said, Theresa has me wanting to come back for more. And if you want to leave a session feeling brand new, choose Sacred Sole & Massage located in the heart of Galena’s Helluva Half Mile.

If you’re not into the idea of a massage from feet but you like the idea of being primped, foot massages and pedicures are another great option. Galena Country is home to top-notch spas, all specializing in a variety of pampering experiences. Treat yourself to an afternoon of bliss and book a spa foot treatment. Soon, it’ll be time to find the perfect pair of sandals to show off your new pedicure.

That’s right. Make it a shopping adventure and explore the Helluva Half Mile for the perfect pair of kicks. Honest John’s is just one of many shops who carry top-quality brands, including my favorite sandals, Birkenstock.

Other barefoot adventures in Galena Country include kayaking and canoeing. While you’ll want to wear shoes while loading your vessel in and out of the water, during your float, you might just find yourself kicking off those shoes and dipping them into the cool current of the Galena River. You can float all the way to the Mississippi River with your toesies hanging out.

So, quit tiptoeing around the idea and #GetToGalena Country to experience these barefoot adventures.”

Galena, Illinois Travel Diaries

Post by guest blogger, Nicole at Uniquely Women

Galena, Illinois is a great Midwest Town to make a day trip out of. The city is a popular tourist destination known for its history, historical architecture, and ski and golf resorts. Galena was the residence of Ulysses S. Grant and eight other Civil War Generals. The downtown area and Main Street is booming full of wineries/breweries and distilleries, antique shops, and candy shops. Here is a breakdown of what we did:

Where we ate:

Vinny Vanucchi’s “Little Italy” – Old World Italian Neighborhood Restaurant. Great food, amazing atmosphere.

Green Street Tavern – Cute pub. Serves great sandwiches/soups and has the best Bloody Mary’s.

Durty Gurts Burger Joint – Unique burger place. Fun sayings on the wall & fun atmosphere. Great for kids!

 

 

Beers, Wine & Spirits:

Galena Brewing Company – Loved this place. Bartender was awesome – very friendly and helpful. HAVE TO HAVE: 2 lb Baked Pretzel. You will not be disappointed. Comes with Beer Cheese as a dipping sauce. Oh yea, and great beer selection!

The Cornerstone – The live music is spot on. Laid back atmosphere. In the heart of Galena’s downtown.

Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery – Wine tasting. 12 different wine samples of your choice for $5. Their Rhubarb wine is my personal favorite.

 

Where we shopped:

Peace of the Past -For you Antique lovers this is the place to go. Vintage books galore. Fun place to go in and take a peek

Poopsie’s – Kids will love this place. Small crazy shop full of unique art, gifts, jewelry, and crazy games!

Bella Vintaj – Handmade jewelry. Kinda pricey, but love the look of the place and great looking jewelry.

Galena’s Kandy Kitchen – Candy you can buy by the pound. They offer a ton of old school candy.

 

 

We went walking along the “Pathway of the Levee.” The half-mile long pathway offers wonderful views of the Galena River, Galena’s historic downtown, magnificent bluff homes and church steeples. Great views.

XO – Nicole

Credit to Nicole Floss for all pictures. 

Bring your Bachelorette party to Galena Country

We’ve noticed more brides-to-be are visiting Galena for their bachelorette parties and we couldn’t be happier. Galena is already recognized as a destination wedding hot-spot. The beautiful rolling hills of Galena Country, its picturesque churches and a Main Street frozen in the 1800s are just a few things that catch their attention. That said, it might be surprising to learn that maids of honor are drawn to the area for different reasons. Those reasons make Galena one of the best cities to plan bachelorette party adventures.

 

 

Happy hour – With 13 pubs on Main Street there are plenty of places to celebrate the bride-to-be with a drink. Each pub offers a variety of beverages in a unique atmosphere with a little something for everyone. From quiz-bowl trivia, martinis and live music at Miss Kitty’s Grape Escape, Galena Brewing Company and The Cornerstone to and karaoke at Gobbie’s Sports Pub & Eatery, the Galena pub scene is one big party happening on the Helluva Half Mile every night. Don’t worry about driving. All pubs are located within walking distance to one another and, when the night is over, call one of Galena’s cab services to transport the party back to your lodging.

Brunch – Galena’s dining scene is superb and bachelorettes looking for the ultimate brunch experience will find it here, mimosas and all. The Courtyard Restaurant, Goldmoor Inn, Fritz and Frites, Victory Café, Paradise Bar & Grill and Otto’s Café all offer a delicious brunch menu. Don’t forget to order a glass of Rosé and toast the bride-to-be. If the group is coming off a late night and brunch isn’t in the cards, there are plenty of dining options to explore for a late lunch or dinner.

Fun shopping – Who doesn’t love a good boutique? Galena’s Helluva Half Mile has more than 130 independent businesses, making it a shopper’s paradise. Check out the scents and pleasures of Noty Kity. Savor the flavors of Galena with a taste through the Galena Canning Company, The Grateful Gourmet or Galena River Wine & Cheese. Design a custom necklace at Rustic River or create your own personalized wooden sigh at Creative Expressions Galena. Bachelorettes love the variety of shops, gourmet food stores and design studios that line our marvelous Main Street.

 

 

Arts & Crafts – Be inspired by the beauty of Galena County and learn how to spin some pottery at Artists’ Annex, paint beautiful landscapes with artists Jan Ketza, Sandra Principe or take a tour the Pinder Pottery Studio and more. Most of our art shops, studios and galleries are open year-round, so come inside to warm up on a cold day or cool off in one of the amazing art studios.

Unique attractions – Galena is a booming tourist destination with attractions galore. Spend the day exploring the city’s rich history with a trolley tour through the historic district. Embrace Mother Nature with the breathtaking view on top Horseshoe Mound. Walk the same halls that President Ulysses S. Grant roamed with a tour through the Grant Home. Be fearless with a zip line journey through the scenic Tapley Woods with Long Hollow Canopy Tours. The possibilities are endless and with so much to see and do, bachelorette party goers love having options.

Even more spirits – Enjoy more than a drink at one of four wineries, namely Galena Cellars Winery, Massbach Ridge Winery, Fergedaboudit Vineyard & Winery and Rocky Waters Vineyard. Take a tour of the Galena Brewing Co. with beer in hand or learn all about the distilling process at Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. Each business offers a tour of and a behind-the-scenes view into how they make their product. If your group is too large to fit in one vehicle, consider booking a tour with Countryside Tours. Ride comfortably and enjoy a drink while they do the driving.

Safety – This is a top priority for many when choosing a travel destination. Bachelorettes can rest assured knowing Galena is one of the friendliest and safest cities around. Party goers can plan on having have big fun while enjoying the benefits of small town safety including low crime and welcoming locals.

 

Pic credit to @kaitveld on Instagram

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!

Best Midwestern Small Town – Please Vote!

Galena, IL has been nominated in the USA Today 10 Best – Reader’s Choice Awards for the Best Midwestern Small Town! Please help us to the top with your vote. You can vote daily until April 24, 2017. We appreciate your help! 

 

Galena is a 3 hour drive west from Chicago, in the northwest corner of Illinois. The Mississippi River defines it’s western border and is the reason for the boom in the mid 1800’s that Galena attributes to it’s charm. One-of-a-kind shops, restaurants, along with bed and breakfasts, hotels, resorts and vacation rental homes, this midwestern destination is the perfect choice for your next vacation. There is plenty to do for everyone, with 10 golf courses in Jo Daviess County, two resort communities with lakes, horseback riding, hot air ballooning and canopy tours. Kayak the Galena River, race your friends down the mountain on the Alpine Slide at Chestnut and take a Mississippi River cruise. Indulge in the tastes of Jo Daviess County with four vineyards, a distillery and two breweries. Every season holds something special with special events and fun activities.

Plan your trip at galena.org and let us know if we can help!

 

Great River Road named in the “Top 50 Trips 2017”

Wanderlust Magazine out of the UK names the Great River Road as one of the “Top 50 Trips 2017” in their February issue! The seventeen page article highlights stops along the Mississippi River, including “thriving” Galena, IL. Author Phoebe Smith suggests dining at One Eleven Main and Otto’s Place while staying at the historic DeSoto House Hotel on Galena’s Main St. Ms. Smith also points out wine tours of our local vineyards and the rich American history all along the Mississippi River.

Photo: @lyndseylegrand on Instagram

Visitor’s wanting to make the Mississippi River a part of their Galena & Jo Daviess County experience can use these tips when planning their vacation.

Use these helpful websites when planning your road trip:

 

Ring in the New Year

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There are so many ways to ring in the New Year in Galena & Jo Daviess County! Cozy up in a quiet B&B, choose an inclusive package at a resort or hotel or gather up your family or friends in a vacation rental home. All of these choices will provide the perfect setting for a festive New Year!

Here are some of our ideas, let us know on Facebook or Twitter if we can help you customize your visit or answer any questions.

Breakfast at Jail Hill Inn (@halcraftem)

Breakfast at Jail Hill Inn (@halcraftem)

The luxurious Jail Hill Inn, just steps from Galena’s Main St. Dine at a European-style bistro, Fritz and Frites Bistro, and then jump into the live music & festivities at The Grape Escape, Gobbie’s or The Cornerstone. When you wake up you can enjoy a bubble bath in spa-like bathrooms of the Jail Hill Inn and a gourmet breakfast. Galena has excellent choices for cuisine and nightlife, including a special NYE event at Galena Brewing Co.!

Goldmoor Inn & Dining

Goldmoor Inn & Dining

The Goldmoor Inn & Dining offers a New Year’s Eve package that includes a gourmet meal, dancing and bubbly. Wake up to fantastic views of the Mississippi River, breakfast in the dining room or delivered to your suite, then treat yourself to spa services. A quiet retreat to get away from the busy city, but close enough to enjoy the charm of Galena and the surrounding communities and Chestnut Mountain Resort is just down the road.

The Nordic Center at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa

The Nordic Center at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa

Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa in the Galena Territory has options galore for families, couples and a group of your friends. A family party at the Inn, the Nordic Center for winter fun and the indoor pool will make a festive family getaway. Guests over 21 can enjoy dinner and dancing in the ballroom at the Inn or maybe a prime rib buffet at The Woodstone is more your speed! There is something for everyone, with lots of amenities, including Stonedrift Spa and lake views with the potential for eagle sightings. Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa offers rooms at the Inn, condos & villas and vacation rental homes with up to 5 bedrooms.

Winter-Chestnut Skiers - Cropped3 low

Ski at Chestnut Mountain Resort

Ski under the lights at Chestnut Mountain Resort and then fuel up with three different dining options on the property. Relax in the pool after a day on the slopes and enjoy the sunset over the Mississippi River while enjoying a cocktail from the bar. Don’t miss the fireworks at midnight on New Year’s Eve!

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Stockton Bowling Lanes

Stay at Country Inn & Suites – Stockton for it’s prime antiquing location in Jo Daviess County. Trips to Warren, Elizabeth and Hanover are easy from Stockton, with a lot to see and do along the way. Dinner and a monster skillet cookie sundae in a log cabin at JJ & Freddie’s will be just what you need after a day of “hunting!” There’s also a well-maintained bowling alley from the 1940’s that will really be a treat!

frankodowds

A traditional Irish snug at Frank O’Dowd’s Pub

Toast in the new year in a traditional Irish snug at Frank O’Dowd’s Pub. Dinner, live music, Irish dancers and a festive crowd make this a great spot to celebrate. Head upstairs to your room in the Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel after enjoying some pints!


Take a Cab! Call A to B Cab Company to drive you to and from celebration destination from your lodging property. Do you have a group staying at a vacation rental home in the Galena Territory? Log Cabin Steakhouse and Fried Green Tomatoes will pick you up, just make sure to call ahead for availability. Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa also has a shuttle to Chestnut Mountain Resort and downtown Galena, again, call ahead for availability.

This is just a sampling of what’s available! Check our Events Calendar and explore galena.org for more options. Enjoy Galena Country on your next getaway and best wishes to you in 2017!


  • Get a glimpse into a vacation rental home in the Galena Territory and a friends’ getaway to Galena with vlogger Belinda Selene!

Japanese TV show shoots Illinois special, features Galena, IL

Jo Daviess County raised its tourism profile with a Japanese television program called Tabi Salad. In September 2016, the TV celebrity travel show filmed a visit to Illinois, including Galena in part two of the series. Tabi Salad is a 90-minute weekend morning show featuring a 20 minute travel segment. The Illinois Office of Tourism partnered with Connect Worldwide Japan Co., Ltd. and secured Illinois for their 4 part overseas travel show. The Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) worked with the Illinois Office of Tourism for this special road trip.

The team traveled from Chicago to Galena, IL; enjoying the views on US Hwy 20. Upon arrival the host, Ms. Aoi Yoshikura, tells viewers, “Here you will find the old-fashioned mid-western town of Galena, a 19th century mining town with a quiet pace of life where you can escape the busy city. With the old buildings just as they were, it looks like a nice place to live. It takes you back in time and you get a feel for the way America used to be.”

Ms. Yoshikura enters the charming bed and breakfast, Farmers’ Guest House, commenting that “the owner is lively and cheerful and greets you like an old friend.” She also enjoyed the accommodations, the “cute, country-style rooms, great for relaxing,” and the homemade cherry danish is a “real taste of Mid-America.”

The travel show takes viewers to a relaxing mud & charcoal facial at the Stonedrift Spa at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, before heading downtown for dinner at Log Cabin Steakhouse. The petite host enjoyed their specialty, hand-cut Allen Bros. steak, “so big, everything is big here! So tender and delicious and I ate the whole thing!”

Ms. Yoshikura took to the skies in a hot air balloon with Galena on The Fly, enjoying the panoramic views of Jo Daviess County. The footage from the balloon is stunning.

Viewers of Tabi Salad can find travel information here at galena.org!

Galena/Jo Daviess County CVB Will Shine a Light on the Destination at the 25th BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival in Chicago, IL

The Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) will be partnering with the Illinois Office of Tourism to represent the state at the Magnificent Mile® Lights Festival during its 25th anniversary celebration. The Magnificent Mile® invites visitors to kick off the holiday season with a day full of family fun. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse from the Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida will lead an unforgettable evening lighting parade down North Michigan Avenue, illuminating more than one million lights on 200 trees.  But first, on November 18-19, 2016 from 11AM – 4PM, in the consumer exposition area, Lights Festival Lane, the Illinois Office of Tourism will be using their mobile Tourism Information Center to offer attendees the Travel Illinois magazine and other statewide information.  In addition, to best showcase some of the amazing experiences throughout the state, visitor bureaus such as the Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau have been invited to highlight their destinations. The CVB will be showing visitors how they can capture the moment with great places to stay, things to do, taste and see in Galena & Jo Daviess County in northwest Illinois.

The Galena/Jo Daviess County CVB (galena.org) is honored to be a part of the 25th year of this popular festival in downtown Chicago, which sees over 50,000 visitors annually. “Our partners in Jo Daviess County are helping us offer chances to win overnight packages to our destination, restaurant vouchers and more,” says Executive Director, Katherine Walker. “Stop by our booth in Lights Festival Lane at Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Avenue, to enter our magnificent giveaways and learn more about your next Great Midwest Getaway!”

The Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) was established in 1983 as a department of county government and is certified by the State of Illinois. The Bureau’s mission is to promote Galena/Jo Daviess County as the Midwest’s Premier Destination Getaway for overnight visitors. Find travel information on their mobile-friendly website, galena.org. Follow and tag the CVB in your getaway photos @enjoygalenactry on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.