Kirsten Bell

Christmas in the County 2015

Christmas-in-the-County
Make your plans now for a Holiday Getaway or Family Celebration in Galena/Jo Daviess County! Nothing puts you in the spirit faster than a genuine country Christmas with Galena’s garland-lined Main St. Whether you choose a romantic Bed & Breakfast, a resort with all the amenities or a vacation rental home to bring the family together, you can enjoy these “Christmas in the County” events and activities during your stay! Print a PDF HERE!

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Galena

Festival of Trees: November 28, 2015, 1pm – 5pm. The 6th Annual Festival of Trees will kick of the holiday season on Saturday, November 28 in the DeSoto House Ballroom in Galena from 1-5 p.m. The Festival of Trees is a public display of spectacular one-of-a-kind designed holiday trees, wreaths, and other holiday items sponsored and created by local artists, organizations, and businesses.

Old Fashioned Christmas: November 28, 2015. Enjoy the garland-draped shops along Galena’s Main St. and watch as Santa is escorted to the Old Market House by carolers and festive floats! Start of Santa’s Arrival: 5:30 pm, Lighting of Tree: 6:00 pm.

Taste of Christmas Progressive Dinner: December 5, 2015, 5-8 pm.Join the members of Best of Galena as they open their Bed and Breakfasts for this annual event. Your evening will include appetizers, main course, and desserts, which will all be served at a different location. A wonderful opportunity to visit three different locations, meet new friends, and start of your holiday festivities. Reservations required. $50 per person.

Luminaria & Living Windows: December 12, 2015. The streets, steps, and sidewalks of Galena will be lined with nearly 5,000 candle-lit luminaries. New to Living Windows this year will be the Wedding in A Window at Vignettes of Galena!

Mistletoe Stroll: December 12th and 19th, 2-5pm. Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers of Galena invite you to tour historic inns all lavishly decorated for Christmas. From traditions of the past to current day decor, each inn is unique and the experience should not be missed. Sample each inn’s favorite holiday cookie. See website for a list and map of participating houses. No reservations required, you may begin your tour and purchase tickets at any of the houses listed on the website.

Tip: Plan a romantic dinner for just the two of you, try Perry St. Brasserie or Fritz & Frites for an intimate setting with a European flair.

Apple River Fort

Elizabeth

Christmas in Elizabeth: December 5, 2015, 9am – 5pm. Celebrate an old fashioned Christmas with the Village of Elizabeth. Tour the 1876 Banwarth House & Museum decorated for the season, check out the caboose and ten operating model trains at the Chicago Great Western Railway Depot Museum, and visit Santa. While you are there, partake in the living history demonstration at the Apple River Fort and more. There will be a Christmas concert, craft show, bake sale and many stores open late with Christmas bargains and discounts. Find more information on their Facebook Page!

In cooperation with the Elizabeth, IL Chamber of Commerce annual event, “Christmas in the Village‚” the Apple River Fort SHS will provide holiday atmosphere with seasonal music and host a baked items and small home-made gifts sale at the Interpretive Center (311 E. Myrtle St.). Costumed history interpreters will also participate with interactive impressions and activities.

Tip: Get a latte or bottle of wine at E-Town Coffee and make sure there’s time to stroll through Elizabeth’s Grand Antique Mall!

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Stockton

Stockton Christmas Walk: December 4, 2015, Stockton‚ holiday tradition, this year’s theme is “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Start the season with a Christmas tree lighting on Friday evening at 6 p.m. On Saturday, December 5, 9am – 3pm, stroll from store to store and shop, visit Santa, ride in a horse drawn wagon ride, and have some delicious nibbles in the downtown shops. Meet the newly crowned Little Jack Frost and Miss Merry Christmas! Find more information on their Facebook Page!

Tip: Stop into Sweet Alice’s for a treat and shop for gifts and holiday decor at Stockton Floral & Gifts!

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Warren

Warren Christmas Walk: Enjoy the Festival of Trees in the charming & historic Warren Community Building (Old Stone Hotel), starting Saturday November 28 and ending January 3, 2016. Stroll through town to see the decorated snowmen contributed by local businesses and holiday decorations. Santa will arrive in a parade on Monday, December 7 from 4:30 ‚ 7:30pm. Stroll through town and sample the treats and refreshments provided by participating businesses, don’t forget to register for door prizes!

Tip: Stop in to Bugaboo’s for a great meal in their charming Main St. diner and Pecatonica Beer Co. for a local brew!

East Dubuque

Candlelight Christmas Walk: November 28, 2015, starting at 2pm. Join us for an old-fashioned Christmas gathering in downtown. Greet Santa at the fire station, create a Christmas craft and enjoy cookies and milk. Participate in the Candlelight Walk to the Christmas tree lighting and decorating. Optional donation of a canned food item for the Food Pantry, located at the East Dubuque Fire Department, 183 Sinsinawa Ave., East Dubuque, IL.

More Ideas

Henry’s Favorite Things About Jo Daviess County

For our “Favorite Things” series we asked local artist of Stoned Art Studio, Henry Matthiessen III, to share what he loves about Jo Daviess County!

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1. The Driftless Area scenery is just stunning. I’m very fortunate to be living and have my studio on top of one of the hills amongst it.

 

Henry-Matthiessen

2. Having access to and being able hang out with many of the artisans sprinkled through out Jo Daviess County. They inspire and mentor me as an artist.

 

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3. The sharing that takes place among the folks living here.

 

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4. Access to the Mississippi River. (photo taken at the Mississippi Palisades State Park)

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5. The experience of small town Elizabeth, Stockton, and Warren. (photo taken in Elizabeth, IL)

 

Wineries

6. Having all the wineries in the area.

Henry has lived in Jo Daviess County for about two years, but has been visiting from the Chicagoland area for over 30 years. Stoned Art Studio has been established for 5 years…it’s a combination of his artwork and landscape photography. His studio on Snipe Hollow Rd. has been constructed from reclaimed, old barn steel¬†and¬†100 year old boxcar doors are planted in the walls. Post and beams, tongue and groove from an old locomotive shed, etc. Henry is moving his art and landscape photography into this space from his basement studio, to be ready for his open studio events on weekends.¬†

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Henry has been involved in the development of the NW IL Art Festival and the All River Road Talent art tour (ARRT). The next tour will be held Saturday, November 7, 2015. Artists of all ages and art styles come together to showcase their talents by opening their studios to the public. Take a country drive, visit with artists and tour their studios. Please call the individual studio for specific hours. Some will be open Saturday and Sunday.

All photos are from Henry Matthiessen III, follow him on Instagram and Facebook!

A Family Celebration

Plan your family celebration at galena.org! When October hits we start the sprint towards the holiday season. If¬†you feel rushed and busy it takes away from the quality family time you want from these¬†holidays. Here¬†are some Insider Tips¬†to enjoy this time of year and focus on what’s important to you.

1. Rent a vacation home so that everyone gets to be on vacation and cleaning up doesn’t fall to the hosts! (Robert Johnson Rental Homes pictured)

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2. Choose a resort or hotel so that everyone has something (or nothing!) to do and no one has to cook. (Stonedrift Spa pictured)

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3. Order in! We have many options for you…from a private chef, a caterer or dinner-to-go from your favorite restaurant. (Fried Green Tomatoes, Tuscan Mac-N-Cheese¬†pictured)

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4. Is it just the two of you, but you want the feeling of coming home? Book a bed & breakfast, the innkeepers have a knack for thinking of everything when it comes to your comfort. (Susan Steffan of Farmers’ Guest House pictured)

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5. Stock up on the local flavors, wine from our four vineyards, spirits from the distillery, seasonings, garlic, olive oil and treats from Galena’s Main St. shops and the shops all over Jo Daviess County.¬†(Rigopoulos Grove Extra Virgin Olive Oil at Galena Canning Co. pictured)

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  • Let us know if we can help you plan your family getaway at galena.org.
  • Request free travel information HERE!
  • Also use our Events Calendar to plan activities for the whole family to enjoy!

 

 

 

 

International Travel to Galena!

Adventure King

Scroll through the two posts below for a look at the international¬†adventure travel to Galena feature in the Japanese magazine…Adventure King! The bottom post is from another Japanese magazine called Shukan New York Seikatsu.¬†The State of Illinois, Great Rivers Country Regional Office and the Galena/Jo Daviess County CVB were happy¬†to host these international travelers this summer, one of whom was Ms. Makiko Yamamoto¬†of Adventure King. They had an action-packed itinerary where they enjoyed tours of the Goldmoor Inn, Blaum Bros. Distilling Co., ¬†Chestnut Mountain Resort, Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site, Tri-State Trolley Tour, Amelia’s Ghost Tours and the Elihu B. Washburne House.

The writers got a taste of Galena with¬†meals at Otto’s Place, Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa, Vinny Vanucchi’s¬†”Little Italy” and One Eleven Main. They arrived at the¬† perfect time back in June, allowing them to take in¬†the Great Galena Balloon Race AND ride in a hot air balloon with Galena On The Fly! The travelers were able to rest during this whirlwind tour at the DeSoto House Hotel and the Ramada Hotel & Spa.

(Grab the dark gray bar on the right and scroll down to view their feature!)


You can see the campaigns to promote the State of Illinois in Japan and other countries HERE and on Youtube!

Are you a travel writer or an adventure lover on social media? Tag us in your posts (@EnjoyGalenaCtry) or contact us so we can share your experiences! Plan your adventure with us at galena.org!

photos: Adventure King, adventurekingjp on Instagram

Fall Foliage Meter

Come to galena.org every week for our Fall Foliage Meter to see how the leaves are changing in Galena/Jo Daviess County, IL! Look for this box on the sidebar of our website for a quick glance at the fall colors from this beautiful view at Horseshoe Mound Preserve.

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We’ll be updating this photo on our website and Facebook Page every Tuesday!

Here’s the original photo…we just love this view looking southwest towards the Mississippi River.

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Here are our Top 5 recommendations for enjoying Fall Color in Jo Daviess County!

  • The Soaring Eagle Zipline at Chestnut Mountain Resort, overlooking the Mississippi River.
  • Champagne Cruise on Lake Galena with¬†Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa.
  • Hot air balloon ride with Galena On The Fly.
  • Enjoy a glass of wine at one of the 4 beautiful vineyards in Jo Daviess County.
  • Drive US Hwy 20 from one end of the county to the other, add Blackjack Rd. to Hanover, IL and Stagecoach Trail to Warren, IL and you’ve covered the entire county!

Here’s where we are as of October 27,2015:

fall foliage meter_10_27_15You can also check the Live Camera feed on the Chestnut Mountain Resort!

See the leaves change on our Facebook album!

Come to galena.org each week to see how the leaves are changing in Galena/Jo Daviess County on our Fall Foliage Meter!…

Posted by Galena/Jo Daviess County CVB on Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Bed and Breakfast Experience

UPDATED POST! Congratulations to¬†Farmers’ Guest House for being named one of the Top B&Bs of 2015 by BedandBreakfast.com!

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The Bed and Breakfast experience has existed for hundreds of years. Country travelers found a place to clean up, fill their bellies and get some rest before making their way slowly down the road. The elite have always known the pleasures of a holiday, to restore their health and spirit. It wasn’t until the Middle Class emerged after World War II that Americans took a vacation as we know it today. The war had opened a lot of soldiers’ eyes to traveling the world and American travelers to Europe fell in love with the cozy, friendly and affordable Bed & Breakfasts. Learn more about the 30+ Bed & Breakfasts, Guest Houses and Inns of Jo Daviess County HERE!

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Aldrich Guest House, 900 Third St., Galena

What can you expect from your Bed & Breakfast experience in Galena/Jo Daviess County, IL?

  • Dedicated owners and managers who are passionate about the hospitality industry.
  • Great food! Whether it’s breakfast in the morning, dessert after a dinner on Main St. or cookies anytime, the innkeepers each have their own specialties!

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The Inn at Irish Hollow, 2800 S. Irish Hollow Rd.,  Galena

  • Comfortable rooms with special touches and private bathrooms.
  • Unique experiences for each property…it could be a porch with a view, nightly cocktail hour, fireplace in your room, spa services and libraries with movies and books.

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Hawk Valley Retreat & Cottages, 2752 W. Cording Rd., Galena

Break from the norm and stay in one of Galena and Jo Daviess County’s bed and breakfasts, guest houses and inns. Our historic B&Bs, guest houses and inns, many 19th century architectural treasures, provide fascinating opportunities to truly step back in time. Enjoy a cozy evening like an early settler in one of our comfortable guest houses or inns. Catch up on a good book or bring your journal to capture the special moments of your stay. Whether you’re searching for a romantic getaway, quiet time away from home or a stay unlike others, our unique properties work hard to make your time in Galena and Jo Daviess County unforgettable.

Learn more about The Bed & Breakfast Experience on HuffPost Travel¬†and¬†“Top 10 Benefits to Staying in a Bed & Breakfast!”

Fantastic Fall Events!

Lodging properties fill up fast each autumn in Galena/Jo Daviess County, IL! With that being said we couldn’t help tempting you with some of our fantastic Fall events! The leaves are at their peak around Columbus Day weekend, count on us to keep you updated on our Fall Foliage Meter!

Dittmar Farms Mill Creek Valley¬†is opening September 19 and will remain open until October 25. Admission includes a pick-your-own pumpkin, a run through the corn maze and a wagon ride! Enjoy some homemade sweet treats and coming soon…APPLES! The Dittmars are estimating a pick date for apples in 2017! Insider tip: After getting your pumpkin head to E-Town in Elizabeth for lunch!
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Warren Pumpkin Festival is held September 25-27, 2015! An old-fashioned festival with antique tractor pulls, parade, carnival rides, pumpkin-themed games, lots of food and beverage and much more. Fun for the whole family. Special for this year is the 144th Army Band performing especially for the festival.

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Galena Oktoberfest (Galena Lions Club) is October 3, 2015. “The 9th annual Galena Oktoberfest will feature a Ceremonial Tapping of the Keg; non-stop live music; wiener dog races; polka lessons and dancing; bean bag tournament; beer stein endurance contest;
bounce house & pumpkin decorating, for the kids; lots of food and beer.” Insider tip: Wear layers, you can have all sorts of weather in one day!

Galena Country Fair: An arts & crafts festival filling historic Grant Park. The food, the smells, and the beauty of Fall will lure you in as you wander through the paths filled with country crafts and fine art. The Country Fair is held annually on the Saturday & Sunday of Columbus Day weekend. This year the event is October 10 & 11! Insider Tip: Can’t get enough crafts? Head to Hwy 84 in Hanover to the indoor River Ridge Craft Fair!

Galena Country Fair

 

Fear Forest at Shenandoah Riding Center will definitely deliver some screams! Fear Forest opens on Friday October 9 then will be open Friday & Saturday evenings until Halloween! Insider tip: Don’t forget your running shoes! 😉

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The Galena Halloween Parade & Festival brings thousands to Main Street for our colorful and spooky parade. Fun for the whole family! This year the parade will be held on October 31! Insider tip: wear a costume!

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There is so much going on around here, check our Events Calendar at galena.org for updated event information! Enter to win our Fall Escape Sweepstakes, get the details HERE!

10 Favorite Things About Jo Daviess County Series – #2

Douglas’s 10 Favorite Things About Jo Daviess County

 We asked local innkeeper of the Aldrich Guest House, Douglas Mahan, to share what he loves about Jo Daviess County! 

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1. The people of Jo Daviess County РAs soon as my husband and I moved here we were instantly welcomed with opened arms. The sense of community is really unlike anything I have experienced anywhere else. Some of the most kind and genuine people you’ll ever meet call Jo Daviess County home.

2. Casper Bluff РThere is so much rich history in Jo Daviess county that revolves around the mid- 1800’s but to go even further back by thousands of years and see intact Native American burial grounds with some of the most incredible views of the Mississippi River is so incredible. One of my favorite spots for a sunset picnic.

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3. Pesto Salmon at Fried Green Tomatoes – Always at the top of my list of places to eat, they have so many great options on their menu, but i could eat this salmon every day!

4. The architecture – For as many hard hits the area has taken through floods and depressions it is truly amazing to see so much of the architecture is still intact, being used and preserved. A trip anywhere in the area is like being on a history tour.

5.  Views of Galena from the Grant House -  The statue of Julia Grant may remind me of Mrs. Buttersworth and always make me suddenly crave pancakes, but sitting up on the hill alongside her are some of the most gorgeous views of our charming city from East Galena.

6. Geology -  I have lived in the Midwest my entire life and until recently never dreamed our flat area of the world could have such fascinating terrain as The Driftless Area. Not only does it create some of the most scenic vistas it also maintained some natural life that the Ice Ages wiped out everywhere else.

7. Outdoor Activities in Nature – We have so many fun ways to experience nature in an active way. I love to be able to ride my bike down the Galena River trail in the warmer months and cross country ski along it when there is snow. Taking a stand up paddle board from Fever River Outfitters down the river might just be one of the most peaceful forms of exercise I have ever experienced and then downhill skiing at Chestnut Mountain where you zoom down the hills right to the Mississippi River is a thrill all its own.

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8. The Seasons РAlmost cliche to say of the Midwest, but Jo Daviess County really does get the best of all seasons and I can now say that as i have been here for all 4 of them now. I think the landscape has something to do with it though, all of our hills and valleys create a collage of nature’s best in any direction you look.

9. Hand-Crafted & Locally Made – There is so much talent in the area, artists of every kind. Some of my favorite are the artists of the food and beverage variety. Places like Kandy Kitchen where Chuckles were invented and they have been making rich and chocolatey Pecan Georgies for decades. Chocolaterie Stam makes the most refreshing and decadent flavors of homemade gelato around. Historic places like the Galena Brewery where they revived a brewery from years past and serve a little bit of history in every pint or new operations like Blaum Bros. Distillery where you can find some very unique and witty spirits.

10. Night of Luminaria РGalena’s most magical night of the year. To see this incredible city illuminated in paper luminaries is really just the most enchanting way to light the holiday spirit within.

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Douglas Mahan and his husband Robert are the innkeepers at the Aldrich Guest House in Galena, IL. They’ve given the historic home a fresh, updated look and have brought their years of upscale hospitality experience to their comfortable inn. The Aldrich Guest House dates back to 1845 and it has been a bed and breakfast since the mid 80‚Äôs. They are the 6th innkeepers, giving it a fresh new life to continue on another 170 years!

Stay tuned for more in our blog series and share your favorite things with us on Facebook!

 

10 Favorite Things About Jo Daviess County Series – #1

Molly’s Ten Favorite Things About Jo Daviess County

We asked local mom, teacher and business owner, Molly McGovern-Mensendike to share what she loved about Jo Daviess County!

1. Hands down, we have the best views of hills and greenery with historic downtown architecture tucked into the hillsides. I need to stop myself sometimes to take it all in and not overlook it with my busy lifestyle. In my opinion, the best view in Jo Daviess County is scenic overlook, just outside Elizabeth. I don’t think I’ve ever driven by when there wasn’t someone stopping to take a picture.

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2. I teach at one of the best public schools in Illinois, River Ridge CUSD 210. Our teachers and staff care about our students and provide them with the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in their careers and as citizens. The schools in Jo Daviess County are THE best in my opinion. The small-town feel with the highly educated teachers and staff makes for incomparable educational opportunities for our students in Jo Daviess County. Tootin’ my own horn here!

3. The interesting people of Jo Daviess County are friendly and unique. I’ve only known the townspeople to be friendly and wave as you go by, even when they don’t know your name. Take a cruise down a country road and you’ll see what I mean. AND, there are so many artists and musicians, too. I love to drive through downtown Galena and hear the music being played in the small park and see the artists working in their storefront windows.

4. The rural area provides the inhabitants and visitors an abundance of produce and baked goods at local farmers’ markets. A great example would be the produce crates that Groezinger Produce Farm provides upon request. The Elizabeth Farmer’s Market is on Friday night so you can pick up your needs as the weekend begins. I like to get my pumpkins and corn from Dittmar Farms at this one!

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5. Geocaching. This is an activity that all, young and old, can enjoy. Download the geocaching app, and watch the video of how it works. Then, wherever you are, you can geocache. I find it works well if I have been running a ton of errands and want to reward my patient kids with an activity! It takes a bit of navigation and some searching!

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6. You cannot comprehend the magnificence of Galena’s Halloween parade unless you have experienced it. My favorite part is the blowing of the hot air from the hot air balloon baskets driven through the parade. Oh, the warmth they bring…

7. Country Fair weekend in Galena that coincides with the Autumn Craft Fair in Elizabeth at River Ridge High School is my favorite of all the fall weekends. I have nostalgic memories of growing up in Galena and experiencing the caramel apples at the fair. The crisp apples and the crisp fall air are two things that bring comfort to my soul.

8. For a small town, Stockton’s 4th of July celebration is my favorite. The chicken that is grilled at the park is well worth the wait. There’s always a great band with afternoon music and a fabulous show of fireworks at dusk. This is my family’s go-to spot to celebrate Independence Day!

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9. Restaurants, restaurants, restaurants. I may be a little biased as I have a brother for a chef. I of course love his restaurant, Stella’s Café and Catering, with the ambiance of the historic building and the homemade soups and breads, the fresh salads and homemade dressings. Yum! My all-time favorite place for steaks (the only steak I ever eat without A1 sauce) and Bloody Marys is Galena’s Log Cabin Steakhouse. If you dine there, you MUST get the saganaki as an appetizer. Elizabeth’s Small Town Saloon is a great lunch destination for a burger and a beer. Their spicy ketchup is to-die-for. I mean, I crave this stuff like I were nine months pregnant.

10. The small towns in Jo Daviess County are full of activities and festivals. Galena’s Living Windows and the lighting of the luminaria really make Christmastime magical. All in all, I make it a point to try something new. For instance, this year, Elizabeth is hosting the Midwest Garlic Fest and I am dying to try it out!

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Molly McGovern-Mensendike was born in Galena, IL and currently resides in Elizabeth, IL with ties to all of the communities in Jo Daviess County. She opened Savvy Scavengers with her mom in November of 2006 in Galena. It’s a “boutique for the eclectic woman’s style offering clothing, shoes, purses, and jewelry.” They like to think of it as a place where both a mom and daughter can shop together. They’ve expanded their business to include another location in Stockton, IL and opened Stockton Floral & Gifts, along with Sweet Alice’s candy shop. In addition to these entrepreneurial pursuits Molly teaches high school English at River Ridge where her students “are forever engrained in her heart.”

Stay tuned for more favorites in our blog series!

 

Girlfriends’ Guide to Galena

It’s time for a getaway with the girls! Where can you meet that isn’t too far and has something for everyone? Galena and Jo Daviess County, IL can check most, if not all, of your boxes! Our lodging, dining, events and special excursions provide just the right fit for your weekend getaway with friends.

Kelsey Winkey

  • Request an Activity Guide to start planning and use galena.org as a more comprehensive tool. We’ve featured some highlights in all areas here to help you get started!
  • Do you mind driving or do you want to walk to everything? There are great lodging options within 15 minutes of Galena or some within walking distance of Galena’s Main St. Use our Where to Stay section to find the right fit.
  • Narrow down your lodging preferences. Do you takeover a Bed & Breakfast or rent a vacation home? Do you want a pool or is a fireplace high on the list? Our Activity Guide has a handy symbol guide to show which properties have the amenities you want!
  • See if one of our Packages will fit your getaway plan or call the property you have in mind and see if they have one for you.
  • If you have a party of six or more you may want to make reservations for dinner. Use our Where to Dine section to find a place that fits everyone’s taste buds.
  • There are great options for activities and excursions to make your trip unique…see a magic show, get your tarot cards read, tour a distillery, brewery and vineyard all in the same day! You could spend the weekend touring & tasting wine at four vineyards in our county, see your options HERE!
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  • Shop the many boutiques, galleries and gourmet shops! You’ll want to stock up on the popcorn and chocolates for those late night chats. Plan your adventure on our What to Do page!
  • Order up relaxation for you and your friends with SPAcha. Studio One‚Äôs mobile spa services & pure organics bring pampering to you!

Ladies Getaway Weekend is September 9-11, 2016! You can join the Pajama Party at Galena Brewing Co., play Quartermania at Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. and take part in the Bloody Mary Contest at Miss Kitty’s Grape Escape!

Get more ideas and share your getaway with us on Instagram! Follow us and tag @enjoygalenactry!