Best in the midwest

Enjoy a picnic in Galena Country

As the weather invites us outside with its blue skies and fresh breeze coupled with blossoming blooms and cheerful bird chirps, it’s hard to resist the urge to picnic! With social distancing in place, it’s an ideal way to dine safely with your family.

Credit: @lindseytaylorphotography

Sit in the sun or the shade of a mossy tree, take your shoes off and lie back in the cool grass, all while enjoying delicious treats and the company of loved ones while chasing a flying napkin or two. Speaking of chasing things… your fur baby would love a new frisbee from New Earth Animals to enjoy at the picnic!

What’s in the basket?

Part of the adventure is the unveiling of what has been packed in the basket! Let’s take a peek at the deliciousness that awaits:

A selection of gourmet cheeses, sausages, and pâtés from Galena River Wine and Cheese, freshly baked bread and pastries from Tammy’s Piggly Wiggly and delicious sandwich meat from Pat’s Country House Grocery. Digging a little deeper, we have tasty dips and spreadables from Galena Canning Co. and the Grateful Gourmet Co., as well as yummy gourmet popcorn from the Great American Popcorn Co. Oh, what’s this we have here… some chocolate covered strawberries from Galena’s Kandy Kitchen for dessert. Yum!

What’s in the cooler bag?

No picnic is complete without a refreshing beverage! Pack a bottle of wine from one of Galena Country’s award-winning wineries or a growler of flavorful locally brewed beer! Looking for something a little different? Substitute the wine and beer with a cocktail kit from Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. or from Miss Kitty’s Grape Escape for the perfect sundowner! Cheers!

Great spots to lay down your picnic blanket

Casper Bluff

Not only does this preserve boast some of the most commanding views of the Mississippi River and its backwater sloughs but the site also contains Native American mounds which were created centuries prior by local natives of the land. The most fascinating mound being the Thunderbird Effigy Mound, the only one known of its kind in Illinois.

Gramercy Park

Located on the bluff in East Dubuque overlooking the Mississippi River, this 10-acre city park is an Illinois Natural Heritage Landmark. It is home to 26 ceremonial and burial mounds from the Hopewell Native American Culture.

Grant Park

Pack a bottle of bubbles for the kids from Gabby’s Gifts or Poopsie’s online stores and enjoy a picnic in this historic and scenic park! Take in the stunning views of the city of Galena, watch the trains go by and check out the historic cannons and monuments. It’s selfie time with U.S Grant!

Horseshoe Mound

This 40-acre preserve offers one of the most scenic outlooks in Galena Country! The breathtaking views stretch across three states. Take a closer look through the viewing scopes! After your picnic, enjoy the hiking trails that extend throughout the preserve.

Wapello Land and Water Reserve

Based on its significance as a meshing point of two Native American cultures, this 79-acre site south of Hanover, was accepted into the National Register of Historic Places. It now boasts one of the premier prairie restorations in the Midwest.

It’s true. You can’t change time. But if you spend it right, it can change you. Make the most of your time with a perfect picnic, making memories…where one good story always leads to another!

7 Hidden History Lessons of Galena Country

Galena Country is known for it’s well-preserved, 19th-century architecture and Ulysses S. Grant history, but there’s even more to discover in this historically amazing destination! From the origins of Kraft Cheese to one of the earliest African-American churches in Illinois, Galena Country is loaded with stories of yesteryear, making it a cultural cornerstone where past meets present. 

The Blackhawk War of 1832
In 1832, a faulty treaty caused a 15-week war between American settlers and Native Americans led by the Sauk warrior Black Hawk. Today, remains of the conflict are ingrained in the rich history of Galena Country. Explore the Apple River Fort State Historic Site, to learn more about the intense battle that took place there, interact with re-enactors, and discover how the town of Elizabeth was given it’s name. Stop at E-town Coffee Co. or Three Sisters Sweet Shoppe to fuel up for the next venture!

Cannons in Grant Park
Stroll the park and study the extraordinary cannons and monuments that overlook the Galena River in Grant Park. Take a look at the “Blakely of Grant Park,” which fired some of the first shots in the Battle of Fort Sumter and the “Napoleon,” commonly used in the Civil War. Perfect for a picnic and a book, Grant Park offers some of the best views in Galena Country! Interested in seeing cannon in action? Visit during Grant’s Homefront Civil War Re-enactment or Galena’s 4th of the July celebrations, you’ll know it when you hear it!

Galena’s Nine Generals
Did you know? Galena is the only location in the United States that was home to not one, but nine Civil War generals? That’s right, including Grant himself! All nine generals left an important impact on the town that can still be discovered in buildings, street names, and local history. Consider booking a stay at the Augustus Chetlain Home and Log Cabin Guest Houses, and visit the First United Methodist Church built by General John Corson Smith. You can even sit in the pew that the Grant Family sat in. When exploring downtown, take note of the unique architecture currently occupied by the United States Post Office. Once a Customs House, this unique building was designed and built by Native American General, Ely S. Parker. A great photo-op, this piece of history is the second-oldest continuously operating postal facility in the United States!

Lead Mining and the Driftless Area
The unique geography and lead mining history of Galena Country has had an impact on almost everything in the area from the distinct red “Galena brick” buildings to the size of the Galena River. At one time, this bustling lead mining city was larger than Chicago. Check out a real lead mine, learn about how glaciers shaped the region during the Ice Age, and discover how Galena Country came to be at the Galena and U.S. Grant Museum!

Travel Tip: Explore Galena via Trolley Tour! Sit back, relax, and listen as a tour guide shares historical facts and information about Galena and its incredible architecture.

The Origins of Kraft Cheese
A brand and flavor many of us have savored, Kraft cheese originated right here in Galena Country, in Stockton! Take a step back in time and learn about Kraft and much more at the Stockton Heritage Museum. After snapping a selfie with one of the original wagons used to transport the cheese, stroll the streets and discover even more places to strike-a-pose in Stockton!

Red Stripe Beer
It’s Jamaican, right? Guess again! Red Stripe Beer was crafted in the original Galena Brewing Company in the 1830’s. When the brewery closed in 1938, the recipe was sold to two British investors who moved the company to Jamaica and made the drink world-famous during World War II. Today, the Galena Brewing Company is located on Galena’s Historic Main Street and features craft micro-brews, seasonal flavors, and six styles on tap. Tours, tastings, and a giant pretzel are a must-do!

The Secret of the Sunken Garden
This hidden gem, nestled among the cascading greenery of Linmar Gardens, features the remains of an African-American Baptist Church. Today the walls of the basement and a “Baptismal Font” fountain serve as a reminder of the building’s history as one of the oldest African-American churches in Illinois. Surrounded by colorful flowers and foliage, the garden is a beautiful place to spend a relaxing afternoon reconnecting with nature. 

Immerse yourself in history and book a stay at one of Galena Country’s many award-winning accommodations. Let the planning begin with a browse through the official visitor’s guide!

Desserts to savor in Galena Country

From gourmet icebox cake to homemade vanilla bean creme brûlée, be sure to save room for these mouthwatering desserts while tasting your way through Galena Country. 

Durty Gurt’s – Milkshakes and Malts

Unique flavors, fun names, and premium quality ingredients make handmade milkshakes and malts from Durty Gurt’s an excellent choice for a cool treat. Indulge in an “Elvis” peanut butter and banana shake or the “Chandler Bing” featuring chocolate, cherry, and vanilla. You can also choose from 13 specialty boozy shakes, or create your very own flavor combination to tantalize your taste buds. 

Foodie Tip: Pair a milkshake or malt with a “Shut the Front Door” burger for the ultimate in American comfort food experience. Served on a glazed donut and topped with bacon and melted cheese, this burger is the perfect compliment to a frosty treat. 

Embe Eatery & Lounge – Bread Pudding

Sweet, rich, warm, and topped with a fluffy cloud of whipped cream, bread pudding from Embe Eatery & Lounge is like heaven in your mouth. House-made rum sauce and soft pillows of french bread melt in your mouth while almonds and raisins add texture and extra sweetness. This decadent dessert is the perfect finale for an incredible meal. Try the gluten-free and made-from-scratch cream of mushroom soup with the pulled pork sandwich, and stay for a drink and live music! 


Fried Green Tomatoes – Vanilla Bean Creme Brûlée

Savor each bite of dinner at Fried Green Tomatoes, but save room for the divine flavor explosion some call creme brûlée. The signature robust vanilla flavor of the custard derives from premium Madagascar vanilla beans. After the custard is carefully made from scratch, it receives a caramelized sugar shell that melts in your mouth and provides a satisfying break as your spoon dives into the creamy deliciousness. Velvety, decadent, and rich, this dessert is best enjoyed after a gourmet meal and a glass of wine. Bon appétit!

Log Cabin Steakhouse – Grasshopper

Who doesn’t love an ice cream dessert topped with fire? That’s right – fire. Not to be confused with the signature Greek starter, Flaming Saganaki (OPAAAA!), the minty hand-blended ice cream after dinner ‘drink’ is the perfect finish to a satisfying Log Cabin Steakhouse meal. Be sure to have your camera ready to capture the moment, then dig in!

Foodie Tip: Have your meal prepared Greek-style, and don’t forget to take home a bottle of Rigopoulos Grove Olive Oil!


Otto’s Place – Icebox Cake

Sweet, light, and wonderfully balanced icebox cake makes for a mouthwatering dessert from Otto’s Place. Be sure to ask about the daily flavor options–all are delicious and made from scratch! Layers upon layers of moist chocolate cake with fluffy chocolate frosting is a perfect choice for any cocoa lover. The carrot and lemon cakes are also show-stoppers when it comes to curing a sweet-tooth. Be on the look-out for special pop-up-dinner events and take advantage of the hearty, yet unique breakfast options! 

Whether here for the day or an extended weekend, go ahead and treat yo’self while you taste and tour your way through Galena Country! You never know what favorite memories await! Let the foodie adventure begin with a browse through the visitors guide, we look forward to seeing you soon!

Plan a Midweek Getaway to Galena Country!

Take a break from the daily stress of balancing work life, home life, and personal “you time” to regain sanity. It’s a no-brainer, trade that morning alarm clock for a midweek refresher to Galena Country! Book the perfect getaway with this three-day itinerary. 

Day 1

Make a pit-stop in Stockton for an early lunch at Stella’s Cafe’ & Catering. Take time to strike a pose in front of the murals; a stop into Sweet Alice’s is the perfect cure for a sweet tooth!  Make your way to Elizabeth for some retail therapy at Jane Marie Boutique, Village Treasures, and Common Cents Resale. Arrive in Galena just in time to check into accommodations, followed up with a savory dinner at the General’s Restaurant. Discover a different side of Galena’s history on a tour with the Haunted Galena Tour Company, or quench your thirst on Matthew’s Haunted Pub Crawl. Polish off the night with drinks and live music at The Cornerstone Bar.

Day 2

Begin with a hearty breakfast at Otto’s Place–be sure to ask about the quiche of the day and try a piece of warm, homemade coffee cake. Stroll across the Galena River for a fresh cup of locally-roasted brew from The Mean Bean or Big Bill’s Sandwich and Coffee Bar. Discover more than of 125 independently owned boutique shops, galleries, attractions and eateries nestled into Galena’s Historic Main Street. Whether you fancy yourself a foodie, fashionista, or history buff – Main Street is a treasure-hunting paradise!

Next up, lunch at The Market House Restaurant, followed up with wine tasting at the Massbach Ridge Tasting Room. Learn about gourmet wine pairings made from locally-grown grapes, then stop over to the Dowling House or the Old Blacksmith Shop for a little history before dinner. Enjoy a scenic drive along historic HWY 20 to East Dubuque for a delicious meal at Timmerman’s Supper Club, perched along the bluffs of the Mighty Mississippi River. Be sure to finish off dinner with a hand-blended grasshopper! If it’s a Thursday, take advantage of the live music and vintage rides at Cruisin’ Thursdays.

Day 3

After hitting the snooze-button, fuel up with breakfast at Victory Cafe in Galena, a leisurely morning walk along the levee and up to the Ulysses S. Grant Home for a tour. Take the scenic route home, this time via Stagecoach Trail, grab a delicious smoothie at Thriving Thistle in Apple River and a bite to eat at Chubz Pub & Grub or Wally’s Pizzeria in Warren. With Galena Country only being a few hours’ drive for many – it’s the perfect getaway at any time! Book your stay and let the planning begin with a browse through the digital visitors guide. 
 

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 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.