Best in the midwest

The magic and wonder of Galena’s Living Windows

The merriment of the holidays is just around the corner! While there are many events to experience in Galena Country, there’s nothing more magical than the Night of the Luminaria and Living Windows. A family-friendly, yet romantic evening in the heart of Galena’s historic district. Showcasing a captivating glow of the candle-lit town and the magic of the holidays, with a touch of shopping – this enchanting weekend has something for everyone! Be sure to check out these businesses who’s windows come to life with wintery-holiday revelry.

 

Book your stay today! Click here to vote on your favorite storefront and be sure to #GalenaCountry!

Stargazing in Galena Country

Escape to the countryside to experience the night sky as you’ve never seen it before — it’s nature’s free light show! Explore all of the awesome stargazing opportunities in Galena Country from watching meteors on the Mound to sleeping under the stars. 

Picture Perfect Parks

A stroll under the night sky is one of the best shows that nature has to offer. Plan a romantic walk through Grant Park or watch the sunset while perched along the bluffs of the Mighty Mississippi at Gramercy Park. One thing about Galena Country, is that you’re never too far from one of twenty parks and trails that offer an incredible opportunity for a snuggle and a sunset. 

Nighttime Events and Programs

Interested in learning more about astronomy or having a unique and fun experience under the stars? The Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation hosts annual events for all ages of night sky enthusiasts. While Galena Country hosts many not-to-miss events, these are recommended for those who may want to experience the warm glow of a sunset, followed by a gorgeous night sky: Meteors on the Mound, Bonfire on the Bluff, Great Galena Balloon Race, Galena’s Halloween Parade & Festival, Holiday Fire in the Sky, and Night of the Luminaria and Living Windows.

Celestial Camping Experiences

Sleeping beneath the night sky offers a memory-making experience for the whole family! There’s nothing like the crisp evening air filled with laughter paired with marshmallows around a cozy campfire. Pitch a tent at one of Galena Country’s campgrounds for a starry getaway just minutes from downtown! Travel tip: pack a star chart to assist in finding constellations, star, and moon phases. 

Rural Lodging

Want to sleep under the stars in the comfort of the indoors? Galena Country is loaded with lodging options that showcase amazing astronomical views. Consider booking a stay at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, Chestnut Mountain Resort, Inn at Irish Hollow, Hawk Valley Retreat & Cottages, or a vacation rental amidst a wooded wonderland. 

Scenic Drive Ideas

Take a romantic scenic drive to one of four vineyards, soak up the views at the scenic overlook, or take a leisurely walk along Galena’s Historic Main Street after a savory meal. One thing is for sure, no matter the time of day – there’s no shortage of beautiful views in #GalenaCountry!

Book your stay and let the exploring begin with a browse through the digital visitor’s guide. 

Galena Country Shopping Guide: Gifts for Men

Men can be the hardest people to shop for, especially when it feels like you’re gifting the same thing year after year. Luckily, Galena Country makes finding unique holiday gifts a breeze! From one-of-a-kind treasures to unique experiences, you’re bound to find the perfect treasure!

Antiques and Awesome Finds
Rich in history and vintage treasures, Galena Country is loaded with antiques and collectibles awaiting a new home! History buffs will love the experience at U.S. Grant State Historic Site, The Old Blacksmith Shop, Dowling House, and more! Explore yesteryear at these following establishments:

For the Foodie
Salsa, hot sauce, dips, jams, and jellies make for tasty stocking stuffers! Don’t stop there, explore all of the foodie-lover boutiques featuring culinary treasures.

Quench his Thirst
Stock his bar with locally made wine, beer, and spirits! Purchase tickets or book a tour at a vineyard, brewery, or the distillery. Have you considered booking a tour to explore the ‘other’ kind of spirits? Start shopping here:

Adventure Enthusiast
Experiences are always a memorable gift idea, especially if you join in! Glide through the air at speeds of up to 40 mph on a zip line, paddle down the Galena River or speed down the Alpine Slide overlooking the mighty Mississippi. Home to twenty parks and trails, it’s easy to unplug and reconnect with nature. Make a weekend of it, filled with unforgettable memories! Start with these adventure-focused locations:


Spruce up his wardrobe

Everyone deserves to feel great! Keep him looking sharp with new apparel and man-scaping products from these boutiques:

Made in Galena Country
Surrounded in such beauty, it’s no wonder that the area is loaded with talented artists. Start with these talented makers to find the perfect gift for your art-lover:

The fun never ends!
Looking for something for the pet lover? The prankster? Yummy treats? Have fun treasure-hunting at these unique boutiques:

Plan a shopping trip or surprise getaway by booking your stay and exploring via the digital visitor’s guide.

Top places to pop the question in Galena Country

© Orangeanchor Photography

From breathtaking views and romantic eateries to hot air balloon rides and magical winter celebrations, Galena Country has everything you need to pop the question in the setting of your dreams. Consider one of these dreamy locations for an unforgettable marriage proposal.

Say ‘Yes’ to Fresh

The lush landscape of Galena Country provides a beautiful backdrop for any proposal. A romantic sunset picnic with a bottle of wine at Horseshoe Mound Preserve is sure to get rave reviews. If you’re staying in The Galena Territory, the Thunder Bay Falls are a lovely option. Or in Apple River, atop the bluffs or along the river at Apple River Canyon State Park are locations that include a romantic scenic drive! Galena’s Grant Park offers many proposal-worthy locations and landmarks, not to mention the breathtaking town perched along the hillside! Take a stroll along Main Street or overlooking the city, atop the Green Street Stairs during golden hour!

A Rehearsed Dinner

Rich in historically amazing eateries, you’ll want to indulge in the fine dining of Fried Green Tomatoes, Log Cabin Steakhouse, Fritz and Frites Bistro, or One Eleven Main. For dinner with a view, check out Woodlands at Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa or Timmerman’s Supper Club, The Goldmoor Inn, or Chestnut Mountain Resort – all showcasing priceless views of the Mississippi River.

Enchanting Accommodations

A romantic getaway is a perfect time to further your love story! Galena Country’s award-winning, luxury lodging properties offer an intimate and romantic setting for just the two of you. Consider indulging in Jail Hill Inn, Aldrich Guest House, Lamberson Guest House, Inn at Irish Hollow or Hawk Valley Retreat as your home-away-from-home. Whether you choose to lodge immersed in mother nature, amidst history, or in the heart of downtown Galena, this vacation is one you’ll never forget!

‘Head over Heels’ Experiences and Events

Book a private flight and propose on a hot-air balloon, among the vines of a local vineyard, or at one of many epic events. Consider happenings with a more romantic flare such as the Night of the Luminaria and Living Windows, Holiday Fire in the Sky, Corkless in Galena, Great Galena Balloon Race, or Galena Cellars Fall Harvest Festival.

Whatever the location, make it meaningful, personal, and don’t forget to #GalenaCountry! Begin planning the next chapter by booking your stay and checking out the digital visitor’s guide. 

6 ways to Unwind in Galena Country

We all need a little R&R now and again. In fact, most of us probably don’t get enough time to ourselves to re-charge those batteries. Here are a few top ways to refresh with a retreat to Galena Country. 

Spa Day

There’s nothing better than spending the day relaxing, sipping champagne, and being pampered. Treat yourself to a relaxing spa day at one of these incredible spa and wellness centers:

If you’re interested in something a little more intimate, consider booking a stay at a lodging property that offers on-site massages. Check out: Jail Hill Inn, Goldmoor Inn, Farmer’s Guest House, the Inn at Irish Hollow, Aldrich Guest House, Le Fevre Inn and Resort, and Lamberson Guest House.

Baaaa-Maste

Whether you’re into outdoor yoga, indoor yoga, or even yoga with goats, we’ve got you covered! Check out all of Galena Country’s options for a fun and fit experience. Original Goat Yoga, Galena is perfect for animal-loving groups looking for an unforgettable activity. For more traditional yoga enthusiasts, check out Awake 4 Yoga for pop up, private, and group yoga.

The Great Outdoors

Unplug and reconnect with nature by spending some time outdoors. With incredible terrain, Galena Country offers many opportunities to explore! A serene walk or hike on one of the 20 parks and trails, a leisurely bike ride along the Galena River Trail, or peacefully paddle your way down the Galena River. All are great options to relax and disconnect from the stresses of everyday life.

Libations

Taste and tour your way through the county at alluring wineries, a distillery and craft breweries. Consider booking a wine tour or take a scenic drive to explore the lush landscape of the driftless region. If you’re interested in live music at a local establishment, or perhaps a sports bar, check out these ideas for pubs and nightlife.

Golf

Nothing beats a relaxing round on one of Galena Country’s eleven golf courses. The rolling hills of Northwest Illinois provide a memorable and unique golfing experience. Check out Woodbine Bend’s links-style golf course, Lacoma Golf Club in East Dubuque, Galena Golf Club and The General at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa.

Cozy up and Relax

While exploring the corners of Galena Country, be sure to pick up some of your favorite beverages to bring back to your room. Sit back, relax with a glass of wine while taking a bath or reading a good book.

Galena Country is rich in offerings for a relaxing time with your friends, family, or by yourself. Start planning your retreat with a stress-free browse through the visitor’s guide and booking your stay.

9 ways to experience Galena Country on a budget

In Galena Country, an awesome getaway doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many opportunities to experience local food, nature, history, special events, and even shopping that are perfect for any budget. Get to Galena Country for an affordable and amazing adventure!

Explore the Natural Wonders of the Driftless Area

Whether you want to hike and bike or just observe the beauty of nature, Galena Country has many beautiful locations where you can enjoy the outdoors for free! Check out: Horseshoe Mound Preserve, Apple River Canyon State Park, Casper Bluff Land & Water Reserve, Galena Gateway Park, Wapello Land & Water Reserve, and Galena River Trail.

Discover Local Works of Art

Being surrounded by beauty, it’s only natural that Galena Country would be home to an abundance of talented artists. Take in the creativity of local artists by visiting art galleries, sculpture parks, pottery studios, and more! Don’t miss: West Street Sculpture Park, Outside the Lines Art Gallery, River Bend Gallery, Skidmore Art Gallery, Chicago Skyline Art, Mangelsen Images of Nature Gallery, Galena Center for the Arts, Scenic Art Loop, and the Stockton Murals.

Stargazing

Escape to the countryside to experience the night sky as you’ve never seen it before — it’s nature’s free light show! Travel tips: Book your stay nestled amongst nature, watch for meteors on the mound, camp under the stars, take the scenic route for a late-night drive!

Immerse yourself in history

What does General Ulysses S. Grant have in common with Kraft cheese? Both are parts of Galena Country’s fascinating history that you can learn about at museums and historical state sites! Must dos: Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site, Elihu B. Washburne House State Historic Site, Apple River Fort State Historic Site, Desoto House Hotel self-guided tour, Stockton Heritage Museum, The Old Blacksmith Shop.

Time Travel Tour

Grab some brochures from the Welcome Center, and check out the Historical Room in the Galena Public Library before strolling down Galena’s historic Main Street that is “frozen in time.” Nearly every building you’ll pass has a fascinating background and story to tell! Download: Galena Tours App

Amazing Annual Events

Galena Country features epic events all year long! Before planning your trip, check out the calendar of events to plan for a unique and authentic local experience! 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! Travel tip: Check out the spring and summer sidewalk sales event!

The Real Deal

Skilled musicians can be found sharing their talents in restaurants, bars, and even out on Galena’s Main Street. Pay a visit to The Cornerstone, Miss Kitty’s Grape Escape, Galena Brewing Company, and Council Hill Station.

Take a Scenic Drive

There’s no shortage of scenic routes in Galena Country! Explore the back roads and experience some of Illinois’ best (and breathtaking) views! Recommended routes: historic Stagecoach Trail, Family road trip, and U.S. Hwy 20.

Window Shop Until You Drop

Galena’s historic Main Street features more than 125 independently owned businesses for your eyes to explore. Window-shopping is best done in the early morning or late evening when the shops are closed. Make a list and come back during business hours to complete the treasure hunt! 

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

24-hour getaway to Galena Country

Sometimes, you just need a getaway.

With Galena Country only being a few hours’ drive from midwest metropolitan areas, it’s the perfect destination to re-charge those batteries. We’ve made planning easy with this 24-hour itinerary.

Hit the road…

Make your way to Galena Country with an early morning start and a pit-stop in Stockton for breakfast at Checo’s Family Restaurant. Following historic Hwy 20, head towards Elizabeth, where you can fuel up with a coffee from E-Town. Explore and do some shopping at Jane Marie Boutique, Eshelman Pottery, and the Elizabeth Grand Antique Co. On the way to Galena, stop at the Scenic Overlook for a great photo-op!

First stop in Galena, the Ulysses S. Grant Home, a gift from the citizen’s of Galena upon Grant’s return home from the Civil War. Follow up the tour with a visit to the Old Blacksmith Shop, where you can ‘watch the sparks fly’ as talented blacksmiths form the metal.

Time for lunch! Head straight across the street to Campeche Restaurant and enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine before hitting up the shops on Main Street. Make your way down to Gateway to History or Galena Trolley Tours for a trolley tour, where you can learn more about the history and beautiful architecture that makes Galena so unique. Back on Main Street, head on over to Jamie’s Wine Studio for a few tastings before dinner at One Eleven Main and an epic magic show by P.T. Murphy.

Polish off the evening with live music at Embe Eatery & Lounge before settling in for the night.

Good morning!

Arise early and enjoy breakfast at your lodging property, or one of these fine establishments. Start the day with a morning kayak adventure from Fever River Outfitters or Nuts Outdoors, followed up with a coffee and gelato from Elle & Becks on Main Street. Finish up any last-minute shopping before heading to East Dubuque for a water-front lunch at the Silver Spoon Restaurant. Explore along the bluffs of the Mighty Mississippi River at Gramercy Park before making your way back to Galena.

Pass through town and turn right onto Blackjack Road towards Chestnut Mountain Resort. Choose to ride the chair-lift, Alpine Slide, Soaring-Eagle zipline…or try them all! Revel in the fresh air and breathtaking views of the Mississippi River Valley. Take the scenic route back to Hwy 20, enjoy dinner at the Welcome Inn while passing through Elizabeth. Head home refreshed and ready to take on another week!

Go ahead, book your stay and get away for a day… or two!

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.*

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!