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6 cool places to get ice cream in Galena Country

Are you screaming for ice-cream? Chill out, we’ve got the scoop on where to find that sweet, cold fix in Galena Country!

Photo credit: Great American Popcorn Co.

American Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor, Galena
Galena’s ice cream parlor since 1970, serving homemade waffle cones, floats, shakes & malts, and banana splits.

Elle & Becks, Galena
While browsing their selection of clothing and accessories, grab some homemade gelato. Gluten-free and vegan options available.

Great American Popcorn, Galena
Famous for their gourmet popcorn in more than 50 flavors, but also well-known for their delicious ice cream!

Three Sisters Sweet ShoppeElizabeth
Grab a cone from this delightful little shop, owned by three young sisters with a little help from their parents. Try out the giant chair for a great photo op.

Root Beer Revelry, Galena
How about some ice-cream that floats?… in Root Beer, a Root Beer float! Change up your float with a gourmet flavor of your choice, like orange cream, key lime or black cherry.

Slim’s Eats & Treats, Warren
Try out some great flavors like Blue Moon, Orange Sherbert, Green Tea, Toffee Crunch and more…

Remember… never settle for just one scoop. A balanced diet is ice cream in each hand!

For more ideas on things to do and see in-between ice cream stops, check out the official Galena Country Visitors Guide.

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!

Breakfast in Galena Country

Eggs, bacon, and biscuits… oh my!

A delicious breakfast is the perfect way to start the day, especially when you don’t have to cook it! We’ve compiled a list of the best local establishments to fuel-up for an awesome day!

Galena

6 Ways to enjoy the outdoors in Galena Country

Galena Country’s rolling terrain along the Mississippi River creates a natural playground for outdoor relaxation, whether you want to go-go or go slow. Here are some fresh-air fun ideas.

Credit: @tatserur

1. Alpine Slide, Boat Cruise, Segway Tours and more

Chestnut Mountain Resort is situated on a wooded palisade overlooking the Mississippi River and offers an array of outdoor activities! Race down 2,050 feet of the terrain-tailored Alpine slide track to the banks of the Mississippi. Soar high above the mountain peak on the Soaring Eagle Zipline for an awesome perspective of the river. Enjoy a Mississippi River Cruise to learn about the surrounding wildlife and history of the area. Go on an adventure off the beaten path on a Segway Tour over 220 rolling acres of mountain terrain or take in the beauty of the mountain by bike along the trails. The Mini Golf & Disc Golf courses offer hours of fun and challenges all levels.

2. Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, and E-biking

Fever River Outfitters allows you to explore Galena Country via land or water by offering a wide selection of rental equipment such as kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, electric bikes, and road bikes. Enjoy the freedom of exploring on your own, or opt for a guided adventure. Nuts Outdoors supplies a full fleet of electric fat tire bikes for you to explore Galena Country’s hilly terrain with ease.

3. Ziplining Through The Trees

Find your wild at Long Hollow Canopy Tours. Glide through Tapley Woods on 6 zip lines, rappel down platforms and cross the 140-foot sky bridge. The tour begins with an enjoyable UTV ride through the trees to the first platform. Reach speeds up to 40 mph and heights of 75 feet. The course gets progressively longer, starting with shorter zip lines and ending with 3 zip lines over 700 feet long. Guides will share their knowledge on the plants and animals of Northwestern Illinois during your tour!

4. Goat Trekking

Reconnect with nature and with some really fun companions at Hoof It Goat Treks! While walking through native prairie and forest, baby goats (kids) will keep you company and play around you as you walk the paths. If you’re not up for a walk, enjoy a play date with the goats on the porch instead, or bottle-feed the kids (when applicable) before relaxing beside a bonfire under the stars!

5. Hiking, Birding, Fishing and exploring Parks & Trails

Hike or bike your way through parks and trails surrounded by breathtaking sights and rich history of prairies, forests and effigy mounds in Galena Country. Enjoy a day of fishing from one of the beautiful lakes, rivers, and creeks or grab a bird guide and binos to explore the many bird species in their natural environment.

6. Golfing 

Galena County is one of the Midwest’s premier golf destinations. Choose from 11 different courses for a memorable golf experience. Picturesque nine-hole layouts and challenging, world-class championship courses provide the perfect fairway to suit your level of play. If you need to brush up on your skills… take up a state-of-the-art golf lesson with Nathan Studtmann Golf!

For more outdoor activities, popular attractions and lodging options, browse the official 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.*

Restaurants catering to Special Diets in Galena Country

Finding Gluten-free (GF) and vegan (V) dining options in Galena Country is easy! Let us prove it to you with this drool-worthy list of establishments that will supply options for your dietary requirements.

Credit: One Eleven Main

Big Bill’s Sandwich and Coffee Shop, Galena GF+V
This full-service coffee bar is in the Historic Logan House building and offers gluten-free bread options so that you can enjoy their yummy sandwiches! Try the vegan hummus sandwich and vegan almond milk latte.

Cajun Jack’s Bar & Grill, Elizabeth GF
Enjoy gluten-free options such as their Rib-Eye Dinner, Tacos or Baked Fish in a unique dining atmosphere. Be sure to snap a selfie with the shark hanging out front!

Cannova’s Pizzeria, Galena GF
This cozy Italian restaurant serves delicious gluten-free pizza options! Nothing like a great wine to go with your pizza… there is a good selection!

Culvers, Galena GF+V
Who doesn’t love fast food? Culver’s offers gluten-free buns, soup, shakes, and sides! There are also a few vegan sides that can make up a meal.

Durty Gurt’s Burger Joynt, Galena GF+V
You’ll love the décor in this fun restaurant! The burgers are just as exciting! Gluten-free buns are available and vegan veggie burgers (yup, no eggs or dairy) – remember to hold the cheese and mayo!

Elle & Becks, Galena GF+V
This is a unique lifestyle boutique where you can shop for the latest in fashion, accessories, and homewares as well as get your gelato and coffee fix! Vegans can enjoy dairy free, dark chocolate gelato and milk alternative lattes!

Embe, Galena GF
A cozy spot situated on Main Street! They serve the best gluten-free cream of mushroom soup with artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes!

E-Town Coffee Co., Elizabeth GF
Enjoy an assortment of tasty sandwiches for lunch substituting with gluten-free bread. Browse local art on display and buy a bottle of wine while you’re there.

Fried Green Tomatoes, Galena GF+V
A wide variety of gluten-free and vegan options are listed on the menu at this restaurant, as well as great award-winning wines.

Fritz and Frites, Galena GF
European-style bistro serving French and German classics for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.

Galena Brewing Company, Galena GF
Nothing fried and nothing grilled in this brewpub. They are famous for their baked chicken wings and guess what… they’re gluten-free! Wash them down with a New Grist gluten-free beer.

Galena Juicery & Meal Prep, Galena GF+V+DF
Looking for Delicious gluten-free or vegan smoothie? This is the place to be! Locally sourced whole fruits and vegetables, as well as super greens that are grown on site,  are the main ingredients!

Generals’ Restaurant at the DeSoto House Hotel, Galena GF
Dine in the oldest operating hotel in Illinois! Their menu features many house-made specialties as well as hand-cut steaks and seafood with gluten-free options. Try their delicious gluten-free desserts!

Gobbie’s Sports Pub & Eatery, Galena GF+V
Featuring an outdoor patio, plenty of TVs to catch the game, live entertainment and Karaoke! A favorite for vegans is the Mediterranean wrap with no cheese and Italian dressing!

Goldmoor Inn, Galena GF+Dairy Free
Enjoy the elegance and refinement of fine dining overlooking views of the Mississippi River. They offer a dedicated gluten-free and dairy-free menu with outstanding options. Delicious meals such as GF& DF wild caught 1/3lb prawns and cold-water Baby Maine Lobster Tail or GF Cured and grill Pork Belly are available.

Green Street Tavern & Restaurant at DeSoto House Hotel, Galena GF
Serving anything from hand-cut steaks to seafood to sandwiches, this restaurant features an outdoor patio and a great dedicated gluten-free menu. All of this, within the oldest operating hotel in Illinois.

Little Tokyo, Galena V
Some great vegan options at this Japanese restaurant include avocado sushi rolls, sweet potato, and veggie rolls, pineapple fried rice sans egg and add tofu, vegetable tempura, and miso soup.

Market House Restaurant, Galena GF+V
A family-run restaurant serving homemade food! Enjoy one of their yummy sandwiches on gluten-free bread or indulge in a vegan Portabello sandwich or vegan impossible burger!

One Eleven Main, Galena GF
This restaurant has forged special partnerships with local and regional farmers, utilizing locally-sourced ingredients. They offer a gluten-free menu that even has gluten-free pasta on it, oh and you have to try the Flourless Chocolate Cake! Bonus… they serve gluten-free beer too.

Otto’s Place, Galena GF+V
Situated opposite the Old Train Depot alongside the train tracks, this restaurant boasts beautiful views of downtown Galena. Otto’s offers gluten-free bread for any of their sandwiches and for vegans, they have veggie burgers!

Pudgy’s, Galena GF
A family-run hot dog joint serving authentic Chicago Style Hot Dogs… with the option of a gluten-free bun!

Silver Spoon Restaurant, East Dubuque GF
Located on the beautiful Mississippi River backwaters, this restaurant serves elevated comfort food and provide gluten-free options.

Small Town Saloon, Elizabeth V
Featuring an outdoor deck, this restaurant offers a farm-to-table menu including Impossible Burgers… mmmm… yum!

Subway, Galena GF+V
Just want a quick take-out? Subway offers gluten-free buns as well as wraps. They have vegan options too. Quick and tasty!

Thriving Thistle Market, Apple River GF+V
This gourmet gas station is located on the historic Stagecoach Trail. Examples of options they have include delicious gluten-free banana pancakes and vegan blended smoothies with almond milk!

Vinny Vannucchi’s, Galena GF
Serving classic Italian dishes, this family-owned restaurant offers a gluten-free menu full of variety. Being gluten-free doesn’t mean that you need to go without pasta when it comes to this restaurant!

Victory Café, Galena GF+V
This is a great spot for breakfast and you don’t have to go without toast – you can enjoy your egg on delicious gluten-free toast. A vegan option would include good old-fashioned oatmeal with fruit and brown sugar, served with hash browns and coffee.

Woodstone Restaurant at Eagle Ridge Resort, Galena GF
Boasting beautiful views of the tri-state region and of the General golf course, here you can enjoy gluten-free, wood-fired pizzas and a variety of gluten-free entrées.

Please Note: If you have celiac disease, or are severely gluten intolerant, we recommend calling ahead to see what practices the restaurants have in place in their kitchens to avoid contamination.

A lot of the accommodation establishments in Galena Country offer gluten-free and vegan options at breakfast time! Stay tuned for an upcoming blog that highlights these options.

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.

Top places to stay with your dog in Galena Country

#GetToGalenaCountry and bring the dog!

Pet travel is on the rise and we’re thrilled! With incredible outdoor activities and a welcoming community, there’s no reason to leave your best bud behind! To assist in planning, we’ve compiled a quick-guide of pet-friendly lodging:

If you’re on an adventure that doesn’t allow furry-friends, Doggie Do’s offers a daycare and pampering service, so you can explore Galena Country worry-free.

Be sure to check with the lodging property prior to booking, as some restrictions may apply. Explore other pet-friendly activities and ideas here, and browse the digital visitor’s guide here to further your plans.