Exploring new areas is always a treat, and that treat is made even sweeter when you’re traveling with your girlfriends. My girl group found a favorite retreat to keep going back to year after year, and that’s Galena Country. The charming towns filled with friendly locals, the gorgeous scenery no matter what season, the myriad opportunities for both adventure and relaxation—the girls and I always have a great time reconnecting there and you will, too.
Take a girlfriend’s getaway to Galena Country and hit up local businesses that have strong women in charge. There’s a lot to choose from—eating and drinking establishments, places to buy clothes or gifts and a day spa where the worries of today, or the past, will melt away.
At Galena Cellars Vineyard and Winery, winemaker Christine Lawlor-White is the driving force in the production of more than 60,000 gallons of wine annually made from 40 different varietals. Galena Cellars’ wines routinely win awards, and Lawlor-White has been honored as well. In 2002 and 2008 she was named Winemaker of the Year by the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association. She’s active in wine-growing circles, leading seminars and working on Midwest hybrid grapes.
Visit the downtown Galena tasting room to try out some of the many prize-winning vintages or consider a trip to the vineyards—about 10 miles outside of town—for a tour and a taste. You’ll get a look at how the grapes are grown and see what it takes to make a bottle of award-winning wine. If you have some extra time, spend the night. There’s a guest suite and a house for overnight stays, both with views of the vineyards.
Blaum Bros. Distillery is a family-run business founded in 2013 that handcrafts premium bourbon, rye, vodka and gin. With daily tours and an on-site tasting room, you can sample the goods and get a look at their custom, hand-made copper still all while learning about the distilling process. Shelby Cole is the assistant distiller.
Sometimes it’s difficult to choose between spirits, wine or beer. In that case, head to downtown Galena and Miss Kitty’s Grape Escape. Catherine Kouzmanoff’s bar offers up all of the above including a collection of specialty martinis like The Greyhound Bus to Memphis, made with raspberry vodka and grapefruit juice, and the Dirty Girl Scout, with Godiva mint liqueur, vanilla vodka and cream. There’s also a menu offering appetizers, sandwiches and desserts. On weekend nights there’s live music, and open mics give musicians from all genres a chance to get up on stage.
At the Jane Marie Boutique on Main Street in Elizabeth, founder Tiffany Patterson is showing her three daughters what it takes to run a family business. The shop is aimed at helping women feel good and look beautiful in the latest fashions at an affordable price.
Head out to Woodbine and find Nature’s Treasures, where Sandy Stass delivers a curated collection of crystals, gems, rocks and minerals. There’s jewelry to covet—gemstones of course, but also, for example, a lavender bracelet—salt lamps, essential oils and an eclectic assortment of home design pieces.
And on Main Street in Galena at Gabby’s Gifts, Jennifer Picket delivers on the name’s promise. There are gifts here for everyone, at all price points. Games, toys, books, outdoor party items, gag gifts, personal care products and home décor items decorate a chock-full shop that could keep you busy for hours.
At Indulge Day Spa, owner Brenda Imbus-Sherman is on a mission to pamper every client and help them relax during massages, facials, pedicures, manicures and salon services. The Day Spa has two massage rooms, three nail stations and three hair-styling units. Guests can also use the 67-foot indoor swimming pool at the Ramada by Wyndham, the hotel’s whirlpool or fitness room, or spend time walking the landscaped grounds. It’s a beautiful spot to put your feet up and relax awhile.
In one of the oldest buildings in the city, Laura Hefel manages the Market House Restaurant complete with a mahogany bar and original tin ceiling. Kick back and enjoy the view of the historic downtown as you savor the specialty drinks, cold beer and home-cooked meals just like mom or grandma used to make. Some of the favorites are the Homemade Crab Louis Salad and the Slow Roasted Reuben. And guess what? The Market House Restaurant is a TV- and Internet-free dining establishment.