Galena Country blog

Galena Country Blog

Jump-start your summer with this 4-day itinerary

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 and plan a vacation to Galena 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. 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 building 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.”

SATURDAY
Saturday is for tasting and touring. The Galena Area is home to multiple 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, 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.

SUNDAY
Celebrate Sunday Funday outdoors in one of Galena’s beautiful parks. The Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation maintains breathtaking nature preserves. 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. Chestnut Mountain Resort offers mountain bike rentals and Segway tours through the woods overlooking the Mighty Mississippi River.

MEMORIAL DAY
Between the historic homes, tasty tours and picturesque parks, the weekend has proven to be one for the books. Don’t let your last day in the Galena Area 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 120 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’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. Give us a call or e-mail us! 815.776.9200 – galena@visitgalena.org

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.”

Mother’s Day Getaway to Galena Country

Just one day to thank Mom for her super powers? 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 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. 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, Nature’s Treasures specializes in organic gardening supplies and A Bushel and A Peck features everything from furniture to local food products.

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. 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. This tour 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 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!

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

Thrift in the Driftless

Steeped in history, Galena Country is the perfect setting for antique treasure hunting. Admire ornately carved legs of an antique coffee table or, perhaps, a funky lamp with a hand-molded base. Though many items have lost their luster, they stand with glory and pride intact.

Red’s Iron Yard & Wholesale Barn offers a unique thrifting experience in Galena. The Barn stores hundreds of metal items waiting to be customized into a piece of art. The Yard, located downtown, showcases cast iron, yard décor, weather vanes and even whiskey barrels.

There’s also The Galena Antique Mall, located on Highway 20, just two miles east of downtown Galena. This mall includes more than 55 dealers selling antiques, collectibles, jewelry, furniture and vintage toys.

Galena’s historic Main Street, also known as the Helluva Half Mile, is home to Grammy’s Attic and Gustafson & Grey Ltd. These stores feature antiques, fine jewelry and unique finds.

Bookworms enjoy sifting through 30,000 quality used books at Peace of the Past! These books are surrounded by other interesting finds, including vintage advertising memorabilia and retro furniture. Speaking of retro, Tin Pan Alley carries pieces that span centuries, including art deco, mid-century modern and primitives.

Explore Elizabeth for exciting antique gems! Located just a few miles outside of Galena, Elizabeth is known for antiquing. Check out Common Cents Resale. They pride themselves in keeping the shop fresh by treasure hunting for product throughout the country. Here, you will find a large amount of furniture as well as art pieces, ornaments, crockery you name it!

While perusing new, used and antique furnishings at A Bushel and a Peck, stock up on local, and uber tasty, homemade and homegrown products. The Shop on the Hill’s antique selection fills the entire first floor of a Victorian home.

Elizabeth Grand Antique Co. promises to keep one occupied for hours on end with its 28,000-sq. ft. antique mall. Touch a piece of history at every turn and imagine the life lived at the time of its creation.

Need a bit more of a thrift fix? Check out Sullivan’s Antiques in Hanover, which offers antique and vintage furniture as well as a little bit of rock-n-roll! Antiques Etc. is a 100-year-old farmhouse in Stockton, showcasing ever-changing collections. Dusty’s Closet Antiques in Warren, welcomes shoppers to explore their 1856 brick house full of beautiful antique furniture, vintage collectibles and small gifts. Treasures await!

8 Reasons You’ll Strike Family Vacation Gold in Galena Country

Whether it’s spotting an eagle while hiking trails along the Mississippi River or catching a show performed by master magician PT Murphy, Galena Country offers up activities to put smiles on every face in your family.

Read on to find out why this northwestern Illinois gem should be the next place to visit on your family vacation destination list.

1. Be natural. If the name of your family’s game is nature, there’s no shortage of outdoor spaces to visit. Head to Apple River Canyon State Park, which is an ideal spot for boating, camping, hiking and fishing. There’s also Horseshoe Mound Preserve, where you can hike, bird-watch and picnic while learning about local geology and taking in picturesque views of the area. Or if you’re looking for a place to enjoy a nice bike ride, head to the 9 mile Galena River Trail. If you’re bringing your pets, don’t worry! All of the spots mentioned above are pet-friendly.

2. Summer Camp on a farm. Book a unique summer sleepaway camp for the kids (ages 7-12) at The Country Experience – Amztutz Family Farm Camp. Children enjoy hands-on learning, using real-world tools to build an appreciation for the value of time and effort, a respect for life and nature, and the development of important life skills. They will also get to relax and make new friends, including furry and feathered ones… such as goats, pigs, sheep, cows, donkeys, chickens, and rabbits!

3. Make a little magic. “How did he do that?” Whether you’re 13 or 93, that’s the question you’ll be asking yourself throughout the 65-minute show delivered by Galena’s master magician, P.T. Murphy. Murphy, known for his personal style and mischievous sense of humor, believes in magic, and his goal is to leave you feeling mystified and inspired. The location for the show, an intimate 24-seat theater— located in the heart of historic downtown—only contributes to the fascinating experience. Shows are offered Wednesday through Sunday, and advance purchase of tickets is recommended.

4. Travel back in time. History runs deep in Galena. For example, your kids can get to know Grant—Ulysses S. Grant—that is. Yep, one of Galena’s most famous faces was Grant, whose family moved to town one year before the Civil War. Before the war, the top Union general, and future president, worked at his father’s leather goods store, Grant & Perkins. At the Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site, you can tour Grant’s home, which was given to him by a group of Galena citizens after the war.

Another option for a lesson is in history is to visit Apple River Fort State Historic Site, a Black Hawk War landmark. In 1832, Black Hawk and his warriors attacked the fort. Today, you’ll find a reconstruction of the long-vanished fort (completed in 1997 and modeled after findings from a 1995 archaeological dig), where Black Hawk and the early settlers’ stories are shared. The site is open year-round, Wednesday through Sunday.

5. Spin your wheels. Work smarter, not harder while navigating Galena’s hilly landscape and rent an electric bike from Fever River Outfitters; this a good option and fun activity for people 18 or older. These easy-to-ride bikes allow you to glide down one of the area’s many trails or visit destinations such as the four wineries located in Galena Country. Rentals are available for two-hour increments.

6. Take a hidden hike. Burn a few calories while checking out some of Galena’s lesser-known hikes. For example, there’s the 230-acre Winston Tunnel State Natural Area, where you can find the historic Winston Tunnel, which was completed in 1888 for the Minnesota and Northwestern Railroad. Although the tunnel is closed to the public, the area is a great spot to view a little history in the midst of nature. Or visit Galena’s 4-acre Linmar Gardens, which are situated on natural limestone outcroppings that overlook the town. Here, your family will find water features, a small mine replica and an exquisite sunken garden situated in the ruins of one of the first African-American churches in Illinois. Last but not least, take the family to the West Street Sculpture Park, where they can wander through an outdoor gallery of more than a dozen large steel sculptures created by award-winning local artist John Martinson. You’ll see sculptures including two 40-foot towers and a giant TINKERTOY. The park is open year-round, and there’s also an on-site studio where Martinson is often working.

7. Try the trolley. Give those tired feet a rest and take a Galena Trolley Tour. Choose from a one-hour nonstop tour of Galena’s Historic district or a 2 ½ hour tour of homes, including admission to Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site, Belvedere Mansion and Dowling House.

8. Sleep and swim. No trip is complete without a little swim time. Your kiddos will be beyond content with the pools at hotels, such as Ramada Galena Hotel & Day Spa, which offers a catch and release pond, indoor pool, whirlpool and fitness room;  Stoney Creek Inn, which offers complimentary breakfast, an indoor pool and fitness center; Country Inn & Suites By Carlson in Galena and Stockton, offering complimentary continental-plus breakfast and an indoor waterpark featuring a 72-foot waterslide, whirlpool and wading pool/frog waterslide; and Best Western Designer Inn & Suites, which offers an indoor/outdoor pool and hot tub, in-room fireplaces, and complimentary hot breakfast.

Rediscover Romance With a Getaway to Galena Country

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

Located in the northwestern corner of Illinois, along the Mississippi River, Galena is a  sweet spot that offers activities to suit couples of all kinds. Below, are eight reasons to start planning your getaway today.

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

2. Tee for two. If taking in nine or 18 holes is a favorite pastime for the two of you, grab the clubs and schedule a tee time at one of Galena’s 10 courses. From the challenging Black Hawk Run Golf Course to the nine-hole Apple Canyon Lake Golf, there’s an option for every skill level. Or try out a different type of golf—foot golf—that is. A cross between soccer and golf, this popular new sport has holes bigger than a typical golf course, so your chances of a hole-in-one just got higher!

3. Taste the grapes. Who needs Tuscany, Italy, when you can wander among the vineyards that call the Galena area home? Only a short drive away in Hanover, Fergedaboudit Vineyard and Winery specializes in dry-red-bold wines. The Rocky Waters Vineyard and Winery (also in Hanover) has an awesome deck where you can enjoy the sunset. Get to know the Lawlor family, who has more than 30 years of winemaking experience at Galena Cellars Vineyard and Winery. And last but not least, visit the Massbach Ridge Winery in Elizabeth, which is nestled in the hills and boasts breathtaking views.

4. Go for a ride. The miles of groomed trails through the wooded hills of Galena Country are the perfect settings for a horseback ride for two. Go on a guided trail ride, or have evening outing with a horse-drawn carriage ride.

5. Wine and dine. Make your meal for two special at one of Galena’s cozy nosh spots. From American tastes to Italian to German, there’s a cuisine for every type of palate. Try the chef’s table at Goldmoor Inn & Dining. Enjoy fine dining with a panoramic view of the mighty Mississippi River and valley at Timmerman’s Supper Club. Savor tastes like a prime steak or fresh scallops at Fried Green Tomatoes. Taste a little bit of Italy at Vinny Vanucchi’s “Little Italy.” Or take in an intimate dinner at Woodlands Restaurant at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa overlooking the picturesque Lake Galena.

6. Shop around. Looking to do a little shopping on your getaway? Make a visit to the Helluva Half Mile, where you’ll find more than 125 shops and restaurants along Main Street. From picking out sweet treats together at boutiques, such as Chocolat’ and the Noty Kity (a family-owned adult boutique filled with items ranging from lingerie to adult novelties), both you and your better half will find treasures to take home. If antiques are your cup of tea, antique furniture, vintage collectibles, old toys, repurposed jewelry, albums, art and potteries are a few of the items you might find at shops such as A Bushel and A Peck and Elizabeth’s Grand Antique Co.

7. Roll on down the river. Take a load off and see all that Galena Country has to offer from a different point of view—floating down the Mississippi River. Choose from a private hour-long ride, lunch/dinner cruises or a daylong adventure that includes themes like murder mysteries.

8. Stay in for the night. Of course, there’s always the option to spend a quiet night in. Snuggle up with your special someone at one of Galena’s luxury lodging B&Bs and Inns, such as the castle-like estate, Golmoor Inn, overlooking the Mississippi River. Or the Jail Hill Inn, home to suites with gas fireplaces and steam showers or bubble massage tubs. The Inn at Irish Hollow offers luxury cottages on a 500-acre working farm in the Galena countryside. Hawk Valley Retreat & Cottages is located on 10 secluded acres of meadows and gardens, where you can take in the scenic valley and sunset views. Or call the historic DeSoto House Hotel home for your stay in one of its suites overlooking the Galena’s Helluva Half Mile.

 

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!