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How to have a green vacation in Galena Country

Galena Country is known for its scenic locations that are the perfect backdrop for capturing memories of adventure, laughter, and romance. What most people don’t know, is that it’s a sustainability leader in its region and in Illinois.

The City of Galena has implemented and is continuing to develop, a variety of sustainability initiatives for this quaint, Midwest city. These activities earned Galena a Governor’s Sustainability Award in 2014. The award recognized the city for its demonstrated commitment to the economy, society, and environment through outstanding and innovative sustainability practices. In other words, it’s “greena” in Galena! Find out more here.

Do you ‘want in’ on all of this sustainability?

Reduce your carbon footprint by parking your car and pedaling insteadFever River Outfitters and Nuts Outdoors make it easy to explore by bicycle with regular and electric bike rentals, perfect for conquering hills and long distances.

Bike from shop-to-shop on Galena’s Historic Main Street, pedal across the pedestrian bridge to Ulysses S. Grant’s Home, reconnect with nature on a ride along the Galena River Trail, or journey to an award-winning vineyard or cruise through a historic cemetery.

Enjoy beverages made from locally sourced ingredients. Get to Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. and Galena Brewing Co. for some tasty craft spirits and beer. Both companies brew and distill their product on-site. Nearly all of the grain used comes from Illinois and the spent grain is enjoyed as a treat by cows and sheep at local farms.

Many Galena Country businesses are part of a new Green Designation certification program whereby owners have taken measures to ensure that they are operating in the green and must fulfill the required criteria, as determined by the committee. Here is a list of these businesses:


Designated Green Lodging:


Designated Green Restaurants:

Galena Juicery and Meal Prep, Inc.
Thriving Thistle Market & Bistro

Designated Green Retail Stores:

Chocolat’ 229
Galena Brewing Company
Galena River Wine & Cheese
New Earth Animals
Noty Kity Galena
Outside the Lines Gallery
River Bend Gallery

Shop till you drop but don’t leave a trail. Bag up your retail finds in an eco-friendly bag. Ditch the plastic shopping bags and purchase a My Green Galena reusable bag at the Galena Welcome Center, Galena Library or City Hall. These bad boys are quite large and are perfect for carrying all those gifts and goodies. Plastic bag pollution is environmentally damaging and completely avoidable. Shopping with a reusable bag is the way to go. The best part? My Green Galena bags are recyclable!

Need a charge?

There’s no shortage of EV chargers in Galena Country, choose from:

Chestnut Mountain Resort – 8700 W. Chestnut Mountain Rd., Galena
Wall outlet (120v), EV Plug (J1772) and Tesla HPWC (Model S).

Culver’s of Galena – 11371 Oldenburg Lane, Galena
Two Tesla High Power Wall Connectors (80A) are available to the public.

Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa – 444 Eagle Ridge Dr., Galena
Two Tesla Charging Stations Type: Level ll (80A) and one Clipper Creek (32A). Please see the front desk.

Galena City Hall – 101 Green St., Galena
Universal charger located in the City Hall parking lot on the corner of Green St. and Commerce St.

Galena Brewing Company – 226 N. Commerce St., Galena
Two Tesla High Power Wall Connectors (80A) and one Clipper Creek J1772 (48A) available to patrons from 4-9 p.m. Mon.-Thu. and 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. Fri.-Sun. Please see the bartender.

Goldmoor Inn & Resort – 9001 W Sand Hill Rd., Galena
Two Tesla High Power Wall Connectors (80A) and one Clipper Creek (32A) EV charging for guests and patrons. Please see the front desk.

Jail Hill Inn – 319 Meeker St., Galena
One Tesla high power wall connector (80A) and one Clipper Creek J1772 (30A) available for patrons. Please see the front desk.

Relax, knowing that you have reduced your carbon footprint!

For more information on what to do and see during your “Green Vacation”, browse the latest Galena Country Visitors Guide. 

10 Instagram worthy photo ops in Galena Country

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to land great photos in Galena Country! Look out for these top photo op spots and be sure to tag us with #GalenaCountry so that we can follow along.

1. Chestnut Mountain Resort, Galena

Well known for its impressive views of the Mighty Mississippi River. Take advantage of the chair lift for an awesome perspective!

2. Gramercy Park, East Dubuque

This historic park boasts beautiful views of the Mississippi River and the Julien Dubuque Bridge which connects Illinois to Iowa.

3. Grant Home, Galena

Stand on the porch of the Grant Home, where President Ulysses S. Grant once stood or pose with the statue of Grant’s wife, Julia!

4. Grant Park, Galena

It’s the perfect place to capture snaps of the city, take a selfie with Grant’s statue or the historic cannons. The footbridge connecting Grant Park to downtown Galena offers many photo opportunities too.

5. Horseshoe Mound Preserve, Galena

The scenic outlooks on this preserve make for outstanding sunset shots! Look forward to 180-degree views of Galena and views across three states.

6. Hot Air Balloons, Galena

Take your photography to new heights on a balloon ride with Galena on the Fly! Take snaps of the rolling landscapes beneath you or of the majestic balloons floating above you!

7. Main Street, Galena

Lined with shops and restaurants all housed in beautifully restored 19th Century buildings. Favorite picture spots include the Green Street Stairs and the cobblestone street at the Old Stockade.

8. Old Train Depot, Galena

Built in 1857 and originally used as a passenger train depot, this building features Italianate architecture. It has long been a Galena landmark and very popular photo spot!

9. Stockton Murals, Stockton

Find these vibrant masterpieces in downtown Stockton which serve as the perfect backdrop for your Insta shots!

10. Three Sisters Sweet Shoppe, Elizabeth

Can the whole family fit on this giant pink chair? It’s been done before, give it a try or strike a pose of your own!

For some great ideas on places to see and things to do in Galena County, take a look at the official travel guide. To book your accommodation, choose from a wide variety here.

Meet the Illinois Makers of Galena Country

Are you up for handcrafted? Illinois is a land of pioneers and a fair share of them are found in Galena Country!

The Illinois Made program is an Illinois Department of Tourism initiative. It showcases Illinois makers, creators and artisans – the craftspeople, artists, family-owned businesses, small-batch breweries, distilleries, foodies, and farmers that make Illinois thrive.

Eshelman Pottery – credit: EnjoyIllinois.com

Each maker has a captivating story to tell, whether it be a rich history, unique origins, or a pioneering spirit. Meet the Galena Country makers and creators who are proud to be recognized as Illinois Makers:

Blaum Bros. Distilling Co.

After the brothers quit their day jobs (Mike worked for the Department of Defense; Matt dabbled in nuclear medicine), the Bros. settled in Galena, a town steeped in distilling history, and took their passion for good booze to a higher level. Blaum Bros. has quickly become a popular tourist attraction in Galena. Read more

Dittmar Farms and Orchard

Owned and operated since 1854 by the Dittmar family, this farm specializes in sweet corn, pumpkins, and apples. The pumpkin patch started when they decided to have an annual pumpkin party, now it is famous for offering U-pick pumpkins for five to six weeks in September and October. They also offer hayrides, handmade donuts, a corn maze, and lots of family fun. Read more

Eshelman Pottery

Each piece, from cups to plates to serving dishes, is inspired by Paul Eshelman’s vision of bringing everyone together around a dinner table. His works reflect an artful expression of every day, bold, innovative, austere and practical; or as Paul deftly segments on his website masthead – Eat, Drink, Serve, Pour, Arrange. Read more

Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery

With craftsmanship in mind and family at the root of this Galena winery, Galena Cellars has taken home Winemaker of the Year Award by Grape Growers and Vintners Association, along with many other notable mentions. Keeping to the tradition of the tannin, the third generation of Lawlors are currently learning the art of wine as their parents did, making sure the business remains close to home. Read more

Galena Canning Company

After moving to Galena in 1993, Chef Ivo noticed that in this wonderful old town, no one was making Grandma’s old-fashioned canned goods and after many people asked him to bottle his sauces, salsas, and jams, he decided to give it a try! After selling his goods at fairs and markets, the demand grew and grew, and now Galena Canning Company is a flourishing business winning many awards! Read more

Pinder Pottery

Joe Pinder says that he did not make a conscious decision in high school to have the dream of making pottery as a profession. On his first day of pottery class in college, he made a life-sized sculpture of one of his gym shoes, while other classmates made pinch pots. He has always enjoyed a challenge and does not want to make the ordinary or simple. Joe never thought he would make functional pottery and believes potters should not make items in the same way as they are made by manufacturing companies. This is the reason for his unique color and texture. Read more

River Bend Gallery

As a person born with Down syndrome, Geoffrey has found a special connection with photography as a means of expressing himself. His artwork, often technically difficult, catches elusive light that the eye sees but that cameras often miss. After graduating from Community College, Geoffrey decided that he wanted a full-time career as an artist. In the spring of 2016, River Bend Gallery was launched on Galena’s famous Main Street, housing his entire photography collection. Read more

Rocky Waters Vineyard & Winery

The Spahn family are proud to have created one of the many wonderful and unique attractions to be found in the Mississippi River bluffs region. Area natives Jared & Phyllis Spahn purchased 112 acres of land just outside Hanover, Illinois in 1994 and planted a vine nursery with 3,600 grape cuttings in 1996. They had visited wineries and vineyards in California and those trips inspired them to create their own in Northwestern Illinois, where the natural beauty rivals and may even exceed that of Napa Valley. Read more

 

*A portion of the above text is from the Illinois Office of Tourism website.*

Open Late – Shop Galena Country!

Shop-’til-You-Drop on the Helluva Half Mile

The following stores are committed to staying open late, let’s celebrate for extended shopping hours!

Open Late – Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday

Open Late – First Thursday of the Month

Make your way to Galena Country and let the treasure-hunting begin! Browse the free digital visitor’s guide or contact the Welcome Center at galena@visitgalena.org to further assist in your planning.

Historic Group Tour in Galena Country

Three Day Itinerary – Historic Group Tour

Gather a group of friends and get to Galena Country to explore all things historic!

Day 1

Make a pit-stop along the Historic Hwy 20 with a visit to Stockon. Fuel up for the day with baked goods and treats from Sweet Alice’s and a coffee at Stella’s Cafe. Before heading back to the bus, make a point to capture a few memories, as the murals make for a lovely background.

Onward towards Galena! Arrive in time for a light lunch at Green Street Tavern, located in the historic DeSoto Hotel, followed up with early check-in. Quench your thirst with a refreshing drink from Rootbeer Revelry before stretching your legs to explore Main Street. Make a point to stop at the Welcome Center and gather information for this trip and future visits. While you’re there, take a close look at the Grant memorabilia on display, it’s the largest collection… in the world!

3:00 p.m. meet for a Trolley Tour, learn about the history of Galena and a personalized view of the gorgeous architecture throughout the town. After the tour, enjoy some free time to further explore Main Street or head back to the DeSoto House Hotel to freshen up for dinner at Galena’s oldest supper club, the Log Cabin. Travel tip: Polish off your dinner with a hand-mixed grasshopper!

Day 2

Arise for breakfast at the hotel or offsite at Victory Cafe on Main Street or Otto’s Place, across the river near the Old Train Depot. 10:00 a.m. Head to Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site for a tour, followed up with more history at the Elihu B. Washburne House, two blocks away. Travel Tip: Take in an extra moment while in the library, as that’s where Grant received the telegraph announcing he had been elected as the 18th President of the United States!

Head back across the river for a visit to the Old Blacksmith Shop, to experience live forging demonstrations. Enjoy lunch on your own and meet back at the bus at 2:00 p.m. for a tasting and tour of Galena Cellars Winery and Vineyard.

Make your way to the hotel and freshen up for dinner and a show at Amelia’s Under the Lamplight Dinner Theater.

Day 3

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel or journey along downtown to Kaladi’s or Big Bill’s coffee shops. 9:00 a.m. visit to the Galena and U.S. Grant History Museum followed with a tour of Galena’s oldest home, the Dowling House. Dine with a view at Chestnut Mountain Resort before making the journey home. Travel Tip: Relish in a peaceful chair lift ride for an even more incredible view of the mighty Mississippi River.

With so much to discover in Galena Country, you’ll be back to indulge in even more historic discoveries. Further plan your group tour by contacting the Welcome Center at galena@visitgalena.org.

Insider’s Guide to 4th of July festivities in Galena Country

Independence Day celebrations in Galena Country means fun-filled days of activities for the whole family, mouthwatering BBQ’s and of course the thrill of spectacular firework displays.

Here’s your guide to navigating all of the fun leading up to and happening on the 4th of July!

East Dubuque Fireworks Family Event – June 29

Experience fun for the whole family with face painting, bounce houses, free admission to the swimming pool and delicious eats and treats. Try your luck at the raffle to win a 2019 CanAm side-by-side or $10,000! Stay and enjoy the show as fireworks light up the sky.

Elizabeth Freedom Fest – July 1

Enjoy live music by Ten Gallon Hat and tasty food and drinks, while the kids have their faces painted and endless fun on the bounce houses. The highlight of the event happens at 7 p.m. when the U.S Army Golden Knights parachute jump into Terrapin Park. The night ends with a spectacular firework display. Come dressed to show your patriotism, awards will be presented to ‘best-dressed.’

Head back to Elizabeth on July 4th to experience the Fourth of July at the Apple River Fort! Enjoy games and dancing, listen to speeches, toasts, and petitions, try Election Cake, and more!
Bring blankets and a picnic lunch. Water, lemonade, and desserts will be available courtesy of the Fort.

Hanover Days – July 3

The holiday celebration begins with the VFW’s traditional annual beef roast dinner. Explore Main Street as it comes to life with activity, food carts open at 5 p.m., and the parade starts at 6 p.m. Try your skills with the canoe race down the Apple River, and at dusk, the fireworks light up the river in a beautiful holiday tradition. Finish the evening at The Hangover Tap with live music.


Stockton – July 4

Celebrating for more than 50 years, this event is a ‘must-do!’ Treasure hunt in more than 70 vendor booths while the kids burn off some energy in the bounce houses. Experience a science stage show, kiddie tractor pull, Bingo and more! The Lions Club Chicken Dinner is a favorite, along with live music and swimming! The evening ends with a colorful burst of fireworks.

Galena – July 4

Join in on the fun at Galena’s 23rd Annual Galena Independence Day Celebration featuring live music, delicious eats and treats, and the spectacular parade down Main Street. Make your way towards Grant Park to find a place to watch as fireworks light up the sky!

The fireworks will launch from Grant Park at dusk! If you prefer a high vantage point, book a space at the DeSoto House Hotel’s Rooftop Party. Spend the evening atop the oldest operating hotel in Illinois. This top spot offers prime views of the Galena firework display. Enjoy burgers, brats, hot dogs, beer, wine and more while jamming to your favorite tunes.

Let the planning begin with a browse through the visitor’s guide and booking your stay.

Family Road Trip to Galena Country

“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.

Escape to Galena Country on a 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.

© Greater Galena Marketing, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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 adventures 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!

Follow Historic Wheels on Stagecoach Trail through Galena Country

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 cornfields, 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!