Galena Country blog

Galena Country Blog

Family Road Trip

“Are we there yet?” The greatest part of a family road trip isn’t arriving at your destination, it’s the little memories made along the way! Gather the gang, get behind the wheel and get to #GalenaCountry!

U.S. Route 20 or U.S. Highway 20 is an east-west highway that stretches from The Pacific Northwest all the way to New England and it’s the longest highway in America. It also happens to travel through Galena Country… the best place to enjoy a family road trip.

Credit: @natalie_dickinson

But first, breakfast

Just off highway 20 heading west towards Galena is the charming town of Stockton! Enjoy a delicious homemade breakfast at Stella’s Café which is housed in the beautiful W.E. White Building. Listed on the National Historic Registry, the building is known for its beautiful original tin ceiling and artful ambiance, so don’t forget to look up!

Strike a pose!

After breakfast, it’s time to strike a pose in front of Stockton’s beautiful murals found just steps away from Stella’s. These family shots are sure to receive loads of likes on Insta! Grab some homemade candy from Sweet Alice’s for the road and take note of the cute Alice in Wonderland theme in the store.

Burn energy and cool off

If the kids need to release some energy, Kidstown Playground is the perfect place to be! If it’s a scorcher of a day… take a dip at the Stockton Park Pool.

Take a piece of Galena Country home with you!

Once you’re back on highway 20, heading west towards Galena, look out for Nature’s Treasures in Woodbine where you’ll find the most gorgeous items to remind you of your trip. Mom, you will love the organic gardening supplies, wind chimes, crystals and so much more!

Take your pick!

The kids are going to love this one! Stop at Terrapin Orchards, a U-pick strawberry and apple orchard offering a couple of hours of fun and loads of juicy and delicious fruit… mmmm!

History Lesson

Highway 20 takes you through the quaint village of Elizabeth. Time for a history lesson at the Chicago Great Western Railway Depot Museum. Watch the numerous model trains and railroads operate around the museum and step inside a full-size Milwaukee Road caboose.

Ice Cream Stop

As you depart the town of Elizabeth, there’s an adorable little candy store called the Three Sisters Sweet Shoppe. Stop for some refreshing ice cream and jump onto the giant pink chair for a great photo together… yes, the whole family can fit!

A welcome sight

As you continue your road trip on highway 20, notice the stunning views of wooded countryside interspersed with neat farmsteads and hilly terrain dotted with cows. This would be a good time to play “I spy”! You’ll soon reach the Long Hollow Scenic Overlook which offers breathtaking views of Galena Country’s rolling countryside… a sight for sore eyes! Don’t miss this opportunity for a great family photo!

Time Travel

Enter the town of Galena on highway 20 and take a turn onto the town’s Main Street (dubbed as the Helluva Half Mile). This street is frozen in time and steeped in history! It’s lined with beautifully restored 19th Century buildings which house art galleries, eclectic boutiques, and restaurants.

Wow the kids

Conveniently located at the beginning of Main Street is a kid’s happy place called Poopsie’s. This store is fun, funky and beyond the ordinary! The children can check out the toys, games, and books on one side of the store, while you explore the one-of-a-kind art, jewelry, home décor and other gifts on the other. Another fun toy/gift shop to explore is Gabby’s Gifts which is a little further on.

Watch Sparks Fly

Once you reach the end of Main Street, turn right and you will find the authentic 1897 Old Blacksmith Shop to your left. Treat the family to a live demo of a blacksmith forging metal the way they used to in the 1800s. The shop is also filled with original tools for you to inspect.

Say Cheese!

For rumbling bellies, there’s a delicious treat waiting for you at Galena River Wine & Cheese as you head out of Galena! Choose any type of cheese from their wide selection for a mouthwatering grilled cheese sandwich. Mom and Dad… pick out that bottle of wine to savor later on!

Mississippi Views

Have your family ever seen the Mighty Mississippi River? Hop back onto highway 20 traveling west and it will lead you straight to it! Stop at Gramercy Park in East Dubuque, a 10-acre city park overlooking the river. It’s also a natural heritage landmark, home to 26 ceremonial and burial mounds. Watch the sun go down at this beautiful site.

Dine at the water’s edge

A great way to end a fun day of family adventure is to head down to Millennium Bar & Marina, tucked away in a slough in East Dubuque. Here you can enjoy some home cooking at the water’s edge while you share your favorite memories of your road trip.

For more fun ideas on ways to entertain the family, check out the Galena Country Visitors Guide. Explore scenic overlooks, picturesque trails and cultural sites… making family memories one road trip at a time.

Romantic Road Trip

There’s no better time to enjoy a scenic drive than right now. Beautiful year round, Galena Country offers breathtaking views, delicious food, one-of-a-kind boutique shops and priceless memories waiting to be made.

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Elizabeth

Traveling west on highway 20 towards Galena, you will drive through the charming village of Elizabeth. Stretch your legs and enjoy a scrumptious breakfast at E-Town Coffee Co. Pick up a bottle of wine from their great selection for that sundowner later on, and browse the local art on display. Before you leave, grab a cup of E-Town’s locally roasted, freshly ground coffee for the road! Elizabeth is where the battle of the Apple River Fort took place as part of the Black Hawk War in 1832. An exact replica of the fort lies on Myrtle Street if you want to take a peek.

Long Hollow Scenic Overlook

As you leave Elizabeth, you will be treated to views of wooded countryside interspersed with neat farmsteads and hilly terrain. Who says Illinois is flat? Not here! A must-stop is the Long Hollow Scenic Overlook. The breathtaking scenery of Galena Country’s rolling countryside is quite something! Be sure to use this perfect backdrop to snap your selfies!

Tapley Woods

Traveling just a little further will take you into the Tapley Woods Conservation Area, home to the Long Hollow Canopy Tours. Driving through this area is a special treat in the fall! The forest crowds in close to the roadside and with low speeds and open windows, you can enjoy the sounds of birdsong and the buzz of insects. There are spots where the trail breaks clear of the woods and opens up to views of the hilly landscape.

Galena

Ahhhh, Galena! Such beauty and so much history! As you enter this town, you feel like you’ve stepped into a movie set. Frozen in time, the Main Street (dubbed as a Helluva Half Mile) is lined with beautifully restored 19th Century buildings which house art galleries, eclectic boutiques, and stores as well as restaurants. Nearly every scene offers a picturesque background you won’t forget. Stop in at the 1864 American Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor which features an old-fashioned fountain and original cabinets. Grab a refreshing ice cream and take a seat on a sidewalk bench to take in the sights and sounds of Galena. Directly next door to the ice cream parlor is Galena’s Kandy Kitchen. You can’t pass up the opportunity of purchasing some lip-smacking homemade candy for the rest of the drive!

Menominee

While you munch on that delicious candy, continue west to Menominee. This quaint village is located on the Little Menominee River near East Dubuque. J.M.’s Tap is Menominee’s hidden gem! This family-run restaurant specializes in homemade pizza and features all-you-can-eat Friday fish fry! Enjoy a hearty meal as you get to know the locals and share your Galena Country experience with them.

Everywhere you go in Galena Country turns into a classic road trip, packed with adventure and places to explore. There is no hurry, take your time and soak it all in. For more ideas on where to go and what to do, check out the online visitor’s guide.

5 Fun things to do with the Family in Galena Country

Fun for the whole family!

While there is much to do in Galena Country, you may plan your family advenures a little different than your girlfriends’ getaway. Check out these fun things to do on your family vacation in Galena Country.

Explore the great outdoors

Boasting incredible terrain for outdoor adventure, Galena Country offers many options for a variety of skill-level and ages. Children, toddler age and up may enjoy speeding down the Alpine Slide at Chestnut Mountain Resort and finishing off with a game of mini-golf onsite or at the Lil’ General. For those more ‘serious’ golfers, make plans to hit a-round on one of eleven gorgeous golf courses.

Taking a canoe or kayak down the Galena River is a wonderful way to explore Galena. Kayaks, canoes and other outdoor equipment is available for rent at Fever River Outfitters. Galena Country is home to twenty gorgeous parks and trails, a fun option for smaller children is Horseshoe Mound, featuring hidden treasures along the trails. Pack a picnic with a gourmet grilled cheese from Galena River Wine & Cheese, treats from Kandy Kitchen, and chips and salsa from Galena Canning Company.

Outdoor adventure in Galena Country is year-round. With Chestnut Mountain Ski Resort and the Nordic Center at Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa, there’s enough to keep everyone occupied for hours!

Historically Amazing

To say that Galena Country is ‘rich in history’ in an understatement. In fact, even the scenic routes to Galena Country are historical. Make an educational pit-stop on the way through Stockton and stop at the Heritage Museum, the original home of Kraft Cheese! Just a few doors down is Sweet Alice’s, where you’re sure to find something delicious for the family. Take some time to snap a few pictures in front of the murals around town!

Train lovers are going to delight in the Chicago Great Western Railway Depot Museum. Across the street is another important piece of history, the Apple River Fort State Historic Site. This is the location where Black Hawk and his 200 warriors attacked the hastily erected fort on June 24, 1832. His story and that of the early settlers are told.

Heading to Galena, a visit to the Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site is a ‘must-do’, along with an up-close-and-personal experience at the Old Blacksmith Shop. A trolley tour is an excellent way to ‘see the town’ and learn more about the historic homes and architecture that is adored by the community and visitors alike.

Exciting Events

The events calendar is loaded with incredible happenings! From hot air balloon races to civil war reenactments to magical holiday festivities, there’s always something to discover in Galena Country! Check out this video featuring summer events, and let the planning begin the digital visitor’s guide.

Lodging with flare

There are many great options for family-friendly lodging, but if you’re up for something more to keep the kids occupied, you may want to consider these properties. In addition to Chestnut Mountain Resort, Eagle Ridge Inn Resort and Spa offers lake views and activities, golf, swimming pool and more! Country Inn and Suites, Stoney Creek Inn, and Best Western are home to some excellent swimming options, while The Ramada and Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel feature swimming and a spa! We’re thinking of you, mom and dad!

Farm-Fun!

Agritourism offers the children a chance for hands-on experiences and fun for all ages. Seasonal favorites are Dittmar Farms and Terrapin Orchards, both featuring unique opportunities for incredible memory-making. We haven’t forgotten about the older kids, you know… the ones that you can enjoy a glass of wine with? Galena Country is home to four vineyards, all offering incredible views and delicious wine.

Parents, we’ve got you covered. Start planning today by browsing the digital visitor’s guide and booking your lodging. Questions? Email The Welcome Center at galena@visitgalena.org to help curate the best family vacation yet!

Spoil Dad this Father’s Day

Let’s talk about Dad! We love him more than he knows and, every year on Father’s Day, we shower him with gifts and adoration. Traditionally, it’s socks, ties, and tools that make Dad smile on Father’s Day. It’s time for new traditions… break free from the expected and surprise Dad with the gift of a Galena Country getaway!

Credit: @samaratoby

Galena Country not only offers one-of-a-kind gifts to purchase for Dad but also experiences that you can enjoy together and create special memories. From kayaking and golfing to the plethora of gift shops along Galena’s Helluva Half Mile, you’ll be able to give Dad nothing less than the best to thank him for all he has done. Book your accommodation now to secure the surprise!

Relax and Recharge

The best way to get Dad to relax and become acclimated to the slower pace is to take him on a scenic, historic drive along Stagecoach Trail Road as you enter Galena Country. This road follows the original stagecoach route between Galena and Chicago. The gently curving and hilly two-lane road, originally established in the mid-1830s, flows across the scenic country landscape and is steeped in history. Drive through the towns of Nora, Warren, Apple River (with the option to take a detour to Apple River Canyon State Park), Scales Mound and end in the renowned town of Galena.

Reconnect with nature 

Now that you’re both relaxed, it’s time to get active and enjoy the outdoors! Take Dad birding at the Valley of Eden Bird Sanctuary in Stockton, featuring more than 100 bird species and 6.6 miles of mowed trails on 409 acres. Notable Illinois species of conservation concern include the Henslow’s sparrow, bobolink, red-headed woodpecker, and northern harrier. Explore the many other parks and trails throughout Galena Country too.

A new perspective 

Give Dad a new perspective with a thrilling experience at Long Hollow Canopy Tours! Zipline together through the trees at Tapley Woods at speeds up to 40 mph! This 2.5-hour tour begins with a UTV ride through the woods and finishes with a rappel or quick jump from the trees! What fun!

Float among the clouds

Is ziplining not high enough? Is a Hot Air Balloon ride on his bucket list? Galena On The Fly will take care of that! Lift off in one of the largest hot air balloons in the country. Drift above the rolling landscapes of Galena Country while taking in views of Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin from your 3,000-foot high perch.

Pedal it out   

Is that too high? Okay… what about renting a couple of bikes from Fever River Outfitters and cycling along the beautiful Galena River Trail just steps away from downtown Galena? It features towering bluffs and beautiful views of the Galena River. If you complete the 8.8-mile stretch, you will reach Chestnut Mountain Resort, another outdoor playground! Take the chair lift to the top of the mountain where you can enjoy a refreshing drink while overlooking the Mississippi River, before exploring the array of activities that are available, such as segway tours, mini golf & disc golf, river cruises, an alpine slide and more!

Reel in memories 

If Dad just wants to float down the river and have you listen to “when I was your age” stories… grab a tandem kayak from Fever River Outfitters and get a-floatin’ down the beautiful Galena River. Nothing beats a good bonding session while fishing! Fine-tune your fishing skills with a guided fly fishing experience with Galena Fly Fishing Outfitters or spend the day picnicking and fishing at Apple River Canyon State Park.

Golf Par Excellence 

Challenge Dad to a round of Golf on one of Galena Country’s scenic Golf Courses! Can you believe there are nine to choose from? Remember to let him win and then celebrate his winnings with a glass of wine at one of the four award-winning wineries.

Peek into the Past 

Does Dad love to tell stories about the good old days? Galena Country is steeped in history and has many a story to tell! Tour the home of Ulysses S. Grant, visit the oldest house in Galena called the Dowling House or spend time at the Apple River Fort State Historic Site, where one of the battles were fought during the Black Hawk War. A really unique experience is a visit to the authentic 1897 Old Blacksmith Shop, featuring working forges and tools and equipment from its 100-year history. Watch sparks fly during a live demo and chat with the historian on site.

Shop for Fan Gear

What’s Dad’s favorite team? Whether it’s the lovable losers, winners, or that team only Dad cheers for… the gear to get can be found downtown on Galena’s Helluva Half Mile. Check out Country Crafts & Sports for sports memorabilia, and Fan Zone for licensed jerseys, shirts, and limited edition team hats. Another great option is For Bare Feet, who offer the largest selection of licensed sports socks made in the USA. Yes, we know… we told you to steer away from the usual socks and ties, but trust us, he will totally rock these team socks! While you’re at it, keep Dad up-to-date on the freshest apparel trends with multiple clothing stores and boutiques found on Galena’s Main Street, such as The Cotton Club, Galena Teesand Serendipity.

Brews and Burgers

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, grab a burger served with hand-cut fries from Durty Gurt’s Burger Joynt before heading to Galena Brewing Co. for a refreshing beer flight or pint! Before you leave the brewery, purchase a growler of Dad’s favorite Galena brew to take home and enjoy. In the mood for pizza instead? Head to Wally’s Pizza in Warren which is conveniently located next door to Pecatonica Beer Company Tap House. If he’s more of a spirits kinda guy, treat him to a tour and a tasting at the Blaum Bros. Distilling Company. Click here for other dining options.

For even more ideas on what to do and see, check out the Galena Country Travel Guide! Whatever you choose to give or do for Dad on Father’s Day, remember to tell him that you love him! Every moment is a memory in Galena Country… a family tradition in the making.

Kick off summer this Memorial Day Weekend!

Jump-start your summer with a weekend full of adventure during Memorial Day weekend. For many of us, Memorial Day means school is out and summer vacation officially begins. Grab your travel buddies, book your accommodation and plan a vacation to Galena Country to celebrate the season. Here’s a 4-day itinerary missing only one thing… you!

FRIDAY
Spend Friday immersed in history and be wowed by impressive architecture and historic sites. Explore the historic Elihu B. Washburne House where President Ulysses S. Grant spent his election night. After a walk through Washburne’s home, a tour of Grant’s home is in order. See his original furnishings and tour his property and other historic buildings. Have your camera ready to snap a picture of the historic Stillman Mansion, located just steps away from the Grant home. This building is soon to be the new home of the Galena History Museum. It features exquisite French Italianate details, which date back to 1858. Next up is The Belvedere Mansion & Gardens. Inside, visitors will find Victorian furnishings, Liberace’s estate items, and the famous green drapes, as well as artwork, from “Gone with the Wind.” How about taking a peek inside the oldest house in Galena? Step way back in time as you step into The Dowling House, built of native limestone in 1826. Traveling just 15 miles further to the Apple River Fort State Historic Site is worth the trip. Learn all about the Black Hawk War and the significance of this fort.

SATURDAY
Saturday is for tasting and touring. Galena Country is home to four award-winning wineries, including Massbach Ridge Winery & Tasting RoomFergedaboudit Vineyard & Winery, Rocky Waters Vineyard & Winery, and Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery, all of which offer tours and/or tastings. Wine isn’t your thing? How about a cold craft beer or fine spirits? Blaum Bros. Distillery offers daily tours, tastings, a gift shop, and even a specialty cocktail bar. The Galena Brewing Co. is a microbrewery, featuring brewery tours, tastings, a brewpub menu, gift shop, and live entertainment. Pecatonica Beer Company Tap House, situated on the historic Stagecoach Trail in Warren, offers delicious brews and live entertainment. Read more about Galena Country’s beer, wine, and spirits here. Speaking about good taste… be sure to treat your tastebuds to gourmet finds like Galena Canning Company, Galena Garlic Company, Galena River Wine and Cheese and more.

SUNDAY
Celebrate Sunday Funday outdoors in one of Galena Country’s beautiful parks. The Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation maintains breathtaking nature preserves, some of which offer guided safaris. Plan a picnic lunch on a preserve and enjoy Mother Nature at her finest. Spend the afternoon hiking, biking or even kayaking your way through the scenic landscape of Northern Illinois. Fever River Outfitters can hook you up with bike and kayak rentals. Kayak down the beautiful Galena River just steps away from Downtown Galena or cycle along the 8.8 mile Galena River Trail which ends at Galena Junction, at the foot of Chestnut Mountain Resort. Chestnut Mountain Resort offers an array of outdoor activities such as segway tours, river cruises, mountain bike rentals, ziplining, and an alpine slide. Enjoy all of these activities while taking in stunning views of the Mighty Mississippi River. If you get a taste of ziplining at Chestnut Mountain and you want more… head on over to Long Hollow Canopy Tours in Tapley Woods, where you will enjoy approximately 2.5 hours of thrilling fun by reaching speeds up to 40 mph and heights of 75 feet!

MEMORIAL DAY
Between the historic sites, tasty tours and picturesque parks, the weekend has proven to be one for the books. Don’t let your last day in the Galena Country fizzle out. It’s time to shop ‘til you drop and eat your heart out! Galena’s 1800s Main Street was voted as the nation’s Best Shopping on Main Street experience by ShopOnMain. More than 125 independently owned shops tempt visitors with boutique shopping, incredible antiques, and gourmet foods. End your Memorial Day shopping spree with a sit-down meal at one of Galena Country’s fine restaurants. Enjoy a glass of wine and unwind as you recap your weekend with friends over a delicious dinner, a perfect ending to a perfect weekend.

Looking for more travel ideas? We’d love to help you plan your trip. Check out our online travel guide, give us a call 815.776.9200 or e-mail us!

Galena Country Vacation Bucket List

Six unique experiences you don’t want to skip.

It’s pretty amazing here, with endless opportunities to explore – we’ve compiled a list of unique experiences to tackle on your next trip (or two….or three).

Take your vacation to new heights

Peacefully float above the rolling landscapes of Galena Country on a hot air balloon ride from Galena on The Fly. This incredible ride can carry up to 13 of your closest friends, flights last about an hour and end with a champagne toast and chocolates!

Long Hollow Canopy Tours will have you soaring through the treetops at speeds up to 40 mph at heights of up to 75 feet! This 2 1/2 hour thrilling journey begins with a UTV ride through the woods to the first platform, followed with a 140-foot sky bridge and a quick jump or rappel to the finish.

The perfect place for a picnic date with a view, Horseshoe Mound Preserve is located off of Blackjack road and boasts some of the best scenes of Galena. Use the viewing scopes to see geographical mounds of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa, while enjoying the stone-henge style gathering space. A lovely location for a hike with the kids, pets or alone – be on the lookout for hidden treasures amongst the trees.

Epic Events

Full of infinite opportunities, from cemetery walks to hot air balloon races to incredible parades and magical holiday festivities. There’s always something to discover in Galena Country! Check the events calendar while planning your vacation to plan accordingly. While there’s fun to be had at every event, the following events made it to the bucket list.

Experience the 1860s through a Living History Encampment and Civil War Battle at Grant’s Home Front Reenactment on the banks of the Galena River. Free admission to those dressed in fully scout or military uniform.

The Galena Country Fair is one of the area’s most popular events, overflowing with original handmade arts and crafts, live entertainment and mouthwatering fair food. Indulge in the Gazebo Wine Garden featuring award-winning local wines and take advantage of the complimentary shuttle service available on both Saturday and Sunday.

Bringing in thousands of spectators, the Halloween Parade & Festival is something you don’t want to miss. Featuring spectacular floats, marching bands, costumed participants, prizes and treats, you can expect this to be an unforgettable weekend!

Romantic, nostalgic, and magical are just a few words to describe the Night of the Luminaria and Living Windows event. Stroll down the Helluva Half-Mile as more than 40 storefronts come to life with extraordinary holiday scenes. Thousands of twinkling, candle-lit luminaria brighten streets and walkways throughout the town, making for a lovely tour on foot, shuttle or via trolley.

All things Ulysses S. Grant

Stepping onto Galena’s Main Street is like something out of a movie. Looking much like it did when President Grant strolled the streets, it’s easy to see why Galena is often called the ‘City that’s Frozen in Time’. We’ve added a few historical ‘Grant features’ to the bucket list.

First up, the Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site. The stunning, Italianate style home, was gifted to Grant upon his return home from the Civil War. With no detail overlooked, the home was fully furnished and proudly overlooks the city. In 1904, the Grant children donated the house to the city. It’s is open year-round for tours and features original furnishings.

Another must-see is the Elihu B. Washburne House State Historic Site, just a block away from Grant’s home. Washburne was a prominent attorney and later a popular U.S. Congressman, political advisor to Abraham Lincoln and U.S. Grant, and an ambassador to France. Visit the library where General Grant received the election night news via telegraph, that he was elected as President.

The DeSoto House Hotel, located in the heart of town was the center of Galena’s social and political activities. Being Illinois’ oldest operating hotel, it’s dripping with history. For a true ‘Grant experience’, you’ll want to book rooms 209 and 211, where he ran his presidential headquarters.

Take in the mighty Mississippi

Being the second longest river in the North American continent, the Mississippi River is a must-see while in Galena Country. Part of the driftless region, this captivating location is lush with rolling hills and breathtaking views for miles. Here are five amazing ways to experience the Mississippi River while on vacation.

Chestnut Mountain Resort is a premier destination to experience the river. Whether taking it all in from the dinner table, chair lift or river cruise, it’s an incredible year-round adventure.

For the perfect romantic getaway, stay and dine at the Goldmoor Inn. Take your dining experience to the next level and dine at the chef’s table, an intimate experience in the heart of the kitchen. Nestled along the bluffs of the river, this castle-like Inn offers an unforgettable, luxury experience.

Bring the dog, a picnic and explore sacred grounds overlooking the river at Casper Bluff Land & Water Reserve. Located just 10 minutes from downtown Galena, it’s an excellent location to unplug and reconnect with nature. Take some time to check out the 51+ Native American burial mounds, including one Thunderbird effigy.

Iconic Timmerman’s Supper Club offers another dining opportunity with a view. Perched along the bluffs of the backwaters, Timmerman’s offers a mouthwatering experience with no ‘bad seat’ in the house.

Just up the street from Timmerman’s, is Gramercy Park. A 10-acre park located on the bluffs in East Dubuque. This site is home to 26 ceremonial and burial mounds from the Hopewell Native American culture. Journey along the walking trails while the kids explore the playground, or relax and take it all in at the overlook pavilion.

Fascinating History

Galena, established in 1826 offers many awe-inspiring opportunities, here are a few favorite facts to share and explore.

The Dowling House, Galena’s oldest home, is really something to see. Nestled amongst the shopping and restaurants in downtown Galena, is a home built out of limestone, furnished with primitives and a collection of Galena pottery.

The oldest continually owned and operated Post Office in America is located on the corner of Green and Commerce St. in Galena. The building featuring Federal style architecture was constructed out of the best quality granite, shipped up the Mississippi from Nauvoo. An excellent location to send off your postcards and stop for a picture!

Another piece of treasured history is the Galena Fire Department, Illinois’ oldest fire department. Once comprised of five fire companies, Liberty house No. 1, located on Bench Street, is recognizable by its bell and can be seen from Main Street. The Galena Fire Department is now located at 101 S. Bench Street and has been a 100% volunteer department since inception in 1830.

The best in the U.S.

Galena Country is not only home to some ‘firsts’ and ‘oldest’ but is also the proud home to Jail Hill Inn. Rated the #1 B&B in the U.S. and #2 in the world by Trip Advisor, this romantic, luxury stay is one you don’t want to miss. Featuring a multiple-course breakfast that’s loaded with delicacy and indulgences, paired up with unique features in each room, the Jail Hill Inn has many ‘repeat offenders’, who come to experience the exclusivity of each room.

Adventure awaits, browse the digital travel guide and let the planning begin!

Follow Historic Wheels on Stagecoach Trail Road

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.

Credit:@johnposhepny

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 corn fields, 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!

#GalenaCountry by the numbers

Discover more to love about Galena Country

It doesn’t take a mathlete to know that there are numerous reasons to fall in love with Galena Country. Here are just a few fun numbers to note and explore on your next visit to this historical mecca of the Midwest.

One-of-a-kind restaurants
Come hungry. With more than 57 unique dining opportunities, you’ll want to create a ‘restaurant bucket-list’ for future visits! Partake in an intimate dining experience at the ‘chef’s table’ or take in the views while perched along the bluffs of the mighty Mississippi River. Either way, this vacation dinner date is one you’ll never forget.


More golf courses than stop lights
Unlike most of Illinois, this captivating location is lush with rolling hills and stunning waterways, making it an ideal location for not one – but nine gorgeous golf courses. Hit them all and fine-tune your techniques with 189 birdie opportunities throughout Galena Country.

Lucious Wineries 
Appreciate the craft of wine-making with a taste and tour of Galena Country’s award-winning wineries. Whether you visit one or all four, you’re sure to discover flavors and pairings that will be the talk of your next dinner party!


Shopper’s Paradise
Whether shopping for yourself or gifting, one thing is for sure – the unique shopping experience that Galena Country has to offer is like no other! Have a blast treasure hunting in more than 135 independently owned boutiques!

The most popular vacation destination in Illinois
In early 2019, Cosmopolitan named Galena, IL the most popular vacation destination in the state! “A small town with a lot of heart, Galena is known for its charming 19th-century buildings and proximity to skiing, hiking, zip lining and anything else you want to do to get out of the city for a change.”


Calling all Anglers
Throw in a line to catch a variety of six different species of fish! Boasting two lakes and three rivers, there’s no shortage of fishing opportunities here.

It’s gorgeous here
For real. All. Year. Round. With an average temperature of 83 degrees in the summer and 36 inches of snowfall in the winter, not only is the area immersed in beauty but also abundant in outdoor adventure! Ski, paddle, hike, bike or zip-line your way through Galena Country!


11 Amazing Locations
#GalenaCountry is home to 11 distinct cities, towns and villages, offering infinite opportunities for memory making! Take the scenic route and venture off to explore Galena, East Dubuque, Elizabeth, Stockton, Warren, Apple River, Scales Mound, Nora, Menominee, Hanover, and Woodbine.

The first step in planning your vacation is booking your stay and browsing through the official 2019 Visitor’s Guide.  

Mother’s Day Getaway

Just one day to thank Mom for her superpowers? No way! Mom has sacrificed her waistline, she’s spent countless hours cheering you on at sports practice, she even dried your tears, time and time again, after crash-landings that she warned you about – not to mention mom’s taxi service.

So, how should you thank her? Get her to Galena Country of course, and make a weekend of it! It’s the gift of an experience and we’ve got you covered, from tasty brunches to outdoor activities!

But first, brunch
Galena Country offers fantastic brunch spots that will “wow” mom! Take in remarkable views of the Mississippi River while enjoying brunch at Chestnut Mountain Resort or brunch at Timmerman’s Supper Club. How about a traditional brunch at The Desoto House Hotel, steeped in history since it is Illinois’ oldest operating hotel. Brunch at Stella’s Cafe & Catering, known for its beautiful original tin ceiling and artful ambiance is always a treat! Now, if you decide to have brunch at Eagle Ridge and Spa,… yup you guessed it, you could treat mom to a spa treatment afterwards.

The gift of “me” time
Speaking of spa treatments… what better gift to give mom than a bit of pampering? Galena Country is a great place to unwind and is home to highly-skilled, full-service spas. Whether it’s a quick Mani, a full body massage or a complete make-over, she is in for a treat!

Mom’s shopping paradise
What mom doesn’t like shopping?! Galena’s 19th Century downtown boasts a Helluva Half Mile of more than 120 independently owned stores featuring clothing, jewelry, specialty items, collectibles and more. There is no shortage of restaurants to keep you going along the way. Don’t forget the many charming shops scattered throughout the rest of Galena Country. Elizabeth’s Grand Antique Co. is a treasure trove for antique enthusiasts, Anchors & Arrows, features home decor, functions as a hair salon and houses re-purposed / 0up-cycled antiques, and Beautifully Berkeley Bouquets & Home, an intimate florist, features many one-of-a-kind designs and unique pieces that will pique mom’s interest.

Does mom like to stay active?
No problem! Spring is the perfect time to take a brisk walk on Galena Country’s many miles of hiking trails and capture the natural beauty of its parks and trails. See a whole new side to Galena from a kayak or canoe on the Galena River with Fever River Outfitters. They also hire out e-bicycles which you could use to explore the town of Galena. How about an adrenaline rush? Soar high above the mountain’s peak at Chestnut Mountain Resort and get an eagle’s perspective of the Majestic Upper Mississippi River Valley on the Soaring Eagle Zip Line. Cuddle goats while you strike a yoga pose at Original Goat Yoga, Galena. Need more? Ride 6 zip lines on a 2.5 hour guided canopy tour at Long Hollow Canopy Tours offering spectacular views!

The History-Buff mom
If mom loves history, she may just move to Galena Country after this visit! For a quick overview of the rich history in the area, take a historical trolley tour of Galena with Galena Trolley Tours or Tri-State Trolley. These tours will include a visit to the famous Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site and a demo at the The Old Blacksmith Shop. You will find another little gem just outside the town of Elizabeth – Apple River Fort State Historic Site. The fort comes to life on the weekends through demonstrations, hands-on activities, and conversations with interpreters garbed in 1830s style dress. Click here for even more Historic Sites and museums.

Give mom something to wine about
She sure has listened to a lot of whining, hasn’t she? It’s her turn… Galena Country is home to four wineries, presenting some of the finest, local award-winning wines in Illinois. Stop in for a tasting, take in the beautiful scenery and enjoy a tour to learn about the wine-making process. Two of the wineries, Massbach Ridge and Galena Cellars have their own tasting rooms situated on Main Street if mom prefers not to wonder too far.

Special bonding time with mom
A very thoughtful way to end your stay in Galena Country would be to grab a bottle of local wine, stop in at Galena River Wine & Cheese for some gourmet cheeses, sausages, pates, etc. and head out to Horseshoe Mound Preserve for a sunset picnic. This 40-acre preserve is one of the most scenic properties in all of northern Illinois, with views across three states.

Mom will never forget this Mother’s Day getaway… you may even find her talking about it every year with a wink and a nudge, hinting for a return visit. Book your accommodation now before it’s too late!

Make your next vacation a ‘race-cation’

Plan a getaway that combines health, wellness, and adventure! Galena Country boasts miles of winding roads and trails with exceptional views, historic significance and a variety of skill levels.

A destination race is a perfect way to combine a vacation and a good workout and here’s why:

  • As you race through the area, you’ll get a quick preview of what there is to see and do.
  • Mingling with the locals will give you inside information and tips to perfect your stay!
  • You’ll get an early start to the day before sightseeing with the family begins.
  • Guilt-free reason to indulge in delicious local food, wine, and craft beer and spirits.
  • Proudly return home with some race swag!
  • The registration fee usually goes to a good cause and gives back to the community.

What are you waiting for? Pack your running shoes, pump up your tires, book your accommodation and build your next vacation around these upcoming races in Galena Country!

On your mark, get set, go…

Ride the Ups and Downs, Elizabeth | May 4

This bicycle ride is a one-day tour of beautiful Galena Country, featuring hilly terrain, spectacular ridge top panoramas, and long valley views. Choose one of three clearly marked routes on rolling, low traffic, paved roads throughout a rural setting: 32 miles (50 km), 52 miles (84 km) and 63 miles (100 km).

Galena River Trail Run, Galena | May 18

Come for the run and stay for the fun! This race takes place on the popular Galena River Trail. The forested trail winds south to Galena Junction and the backwaters of the Mississippi River, making for a scenic out-and-back racing course. 10K, runners only and 5K runners and walkers.

Galena Sky Trail Race, Galena | May 18

Think of yourself as a Nordic Warrior conquering challenging, yet runnable trails! The course is set on the trails of Chestnut Mountain Resort – which happens to be a ski resort in the winter! You’ll be treated to majestic views of the mighty Mississippi River and a delicious finisher meal prepared by Chestnut Mountain Resort while watching the grand sunset on the Mississippi horizon. Choose to take on either a 4-hour race or an 8-hour race.

Massbach Ridge Wine Run 5K, Elizabeth | June 22

Like running? Love wine? How about running to the wine? Take on this exciting 5K scenic course and then enjoy a full pour of delicious Massbach wine at the finish line! Spectators are encouraged to attend the 0K which gains you access to the race and includes a full pour and a souvenir wine glass… and you don’t even have to run!

Stockton 5k/10k Run/Walk, Stockton | July 6

The great community course offers breathtaking views and on-course entertainment. Snacks and cookies will be provided and runners will have free access to the Stockton Pool after the race. Each division will be awarded 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place medals with the overall male/female winner winning a trophy.

Heroes for History Stair Challenge 5K Race, Galena | Sept. 7

This event commemorates the 18-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks while also honoring the brave, selfless first responders who serve and protect their community day after day. The 5K competitive run/fun walk features Galena’s iconic Green Street staircase as the defining and most challenging portion. Options include 5K 7-lap stair challenge or 1-lap fun run/walk. Dress as your favorite hero.

Midwest Health & Fitness Fun Run Walk, Galena | Oct. 5

An event for the whole family! Pets and strollers are welcome on this 5K fun run or walk along the scenic Galena River Trail.

Galena River Fall Half Marathon & 8K, Galena | Oct. 26

This is a fast, flat half marathon along the scenic Galena River Trail. A 5K race option is also available for those looking or a shorter race.

Seeing as you are the active type… check out these outdoor activities and fitness facilities available in Galena Country to keep you moving.