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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.

 

 

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.

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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 advenures 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!

Spoil Dad in Galena Country this Father’s Day

Let’s talk about Dad! We love him more than he knows and, every year on Father’s Day, we shower him with gifts and adoration. Traditionally, it’s socks, ties, and tools that make Dad smile on Father’s Day. It’s time for new traditions… break free from the expected and surprise Dad with the gift of a Galena Country getaway!

Credit: @samaratoby

Galena Country not only offers one-of-a-kind gifts to purchase for Dad but also experiences that you can enjoy together and create special memories. From kayaking and golfing to the plethora of gift shops along Galena’s Helluva Half Mile, you’ll be able to give Dad nothing less than the best to thank him for all he has done. Book your accommodation now to secure the surprise!

Relax and Recharge

The best way to get Dad to relax and become acclimated to the slower pace is to take him on a scenic, historic drive along Stagecoach Trail Road as you enter Galena Country. This road follows the original stagecoach route between Galena and Chicago. The gently curving and hilly two-lane road, originally established in the mid-1830s, flows across the scenic country landscape and is steeped in history. Drive through the towns of Nora, Warren, Apple River (with the option to take a detour to Apple River Canyon State Park), Scales Mound and end in the renowned town of Galena.

Reconnect with nature 

Now that you’re both relaxed, it’s time to get active and enjoy the outdoors! Take Dad birding at the Valley of Eden Bird Sanctuary in Stockton, featuring more than 100 bird species and 6.6 miles of mowed trails on 409 acres. Notable Illinois species of conservation concern include the Henslow’s sparrow, bobolink, red-headed woodpecker, and northern harrier. Explore the many other parks and trails throughout Galena Country too.

A new perspective 

Give Dad a new perspective with a thrilling experience at Long Hollow Canopy Tours! Zipline together through the trees at Tapley Woods at speeds up to 40 mph! This 2.5-hour tour begins with a UTV ride through the woods and finishes with a rappel or quick jump from the trees! What fun!

Float among the clouds

Is ziplining not high enough? Is a Hot Air Balloon ride on his bucket list? Galena On The Fly will take care of that! Lift off in one of the largest hot air balloons in the country. Drift above the rolling landscapes of Galena Country while taking in views of Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin from your 3,000-foot high perch.

Pedal it out   

Is that too high? Okay… what about renting a couple of bikes from Fever River Outfitters and cycling along the beautiful Galena River Trail just steps away from downtown Galena? It features towering bluffs and beautiful views of the Galena River. If you complete the 8.8-mile stretch, you will reach Chestnut Mountain Resort, another outdoor playground! Take the chair lift to the top of the mountain where you can enjoy a refreshing drink while overlooking the Mississippi River, before exploring the array of activities that are available, such as segway tours, mini golf & disc golf, river cruises, an alpine slide and more!

Reel in memories 

If Dad just wants to float down the river and have you listen to “when I was your age” stories… grab a tandem kayak from Fever River Outfitters and get a-floatin’ down the beautiful Galena River. Nothing beats a good bonding session while fishing! Fine-tune your fishing skills with a guided fly fishing experience with Galena Fly Fishing Outfitters or spend the day picnicking and fishing at Apple River Canyon State Park.

Golf Par Excellence 

Challenge Dad to a round of Golf on one of Galena Country’s scenic Golf Courses! Can you believe there are nine to choose from? Remember to let him win and then celebrate his winnings with a glass of wine at one of the four award-winning wineries.

Peek into the Past 

Does Dad love to tell stories about the good old days? Galena Country is steeped in history and has many a story to tell! Tour the home of Ulysses S. Grant, visit the oldest house in Galena called the Dowling House or spend time at the Apple River Fort State Historic Site, where one of the battles were fought during the Black Hawk War. A really unique experience is a visit to the authentic 1897 Old Blacksmith Shop, featuring working forges and tools and equipment from its 100-year history. Watch sparks fly during a live demo and chat with the historian on site.

Shop for Fan Gear

What’s Dad’s favorite team? Whether it’s the lovable losers, winners, or that team only Dad cheers for… the gear to get can be found downtown on Galena’s Helluva Half Mile. Check out Country Crafts & Sports for sports memorabilia, and Fan Zone for licensed jerseys, shirts, and limited edition team hats. Another great option is For Bare Feet, who offer the largest selection of licensed sports socks made in the USA. Yes, we know… we told you to steer away from the usual socks and ties, but trust us, he will totally rock these team socks! While you’re at it, keep Dad up-to-date on the freshest apparel trends with multiple clothing stores and boutiques found on Galena’s Main Street, such as The Cotton Club, Galena Teesand Serendipity.

Brews and Burgers

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, grab a burger served with hand-cut fries from Durty Gurt’s Burger Joynt before heading to Galena Brewing Co. for a refreshing beer flight or pint! Before you leave the brewery, purchase a growler of Dad’s favorite Galena brew to take home and enjoy. In the mood for pizza instead? Head to Wally’s Pizza in Warren which is conveniently located next door to Pecatonica Beer Company Tap House. If he’s more of a spirits kinda guy, treat him to a tour and a tasting at the Blaum Bros. Distilling Company. Click here for other dining options.

For even more ideas on what to do and see, check out the Galena Country Travel Guide! Whatever you choose to give or do for Dad on Father’s Day, remember to tell him that you love him! Every moment is a memory in Galena Country… a family tradition in the making.

Kick off summer in Galena Country this Memorial Day Weekend!

Jump-start your summer with a weekend full of adventure during Memorial Day weekend. For many of us, Memorial Day means school is out and summer vacation officially begins. Grab your travel buddies, book your accommodation and plan a vacation to Galena Country to celebrate the season. Here’s a 4-day itinerary missing only one thing… you!

FRIDAY
Spend Friday immersed in history and be wowed by impressive architecture and historic sites. Explore the historic Elihu B. Washburne House where President Ulysses S. Grant spent his election night. After a walk through Washburne’s home, a tour of Grant’s home is in order. See his original furnishings and tour his property and other historic buildings. Have your camera ready to snap a picture of the historic Stillman Mansion, located just steps away from the Grant home. This building is soon to be the new home of the Galena History Museum. It features exquisite French Italianate details, which date back to 1858. Next up is The Belvedere Mansion & Gardens. Inside, visitors will find Victorian furnishings, Liberace’s estate items, and the famous green drapes, as well as artwork, from “Gone with the Wind.” How about taking a peek inside the oldest house in Galena? Step way back in time as you step into The Dowling House, built of native limestone in 1826. Traveling just 15 miles further to the Apple River Fort State Historic Site is worth the trip. Learn all about the Black Hawk War and the significance of this fort.

SATURDAY
Saturday is for tasting and touring. Galena Country is home to four award-winning wineries, including Massbach Ridge Winery & Tasting RoomFergedaboudit Vineyard & Winery, Rocky Waters Vineyard & Winery, and Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery, all of which offer tours and/or tastings. Wine isn’t your thing? How about a cold craft beer or fine spirits? Blaum Bros. Distillery offers daily tours, tastings, a gift shop, and even a specialty cocktail bar. The Galena Brewing Co. is a microbrewery, featuring brewery tours, tastings, a brewpub menu, gift shop, and live entertainment. Pecatonica Beer Company Tap House, situated on the historic Stagecoach Trail in Warren, offers delicious brews and live entertainment. Read more about Galena Country’s beer, wine, and spirits here. Speaking about good taste… be sure to treat your tastebuds to gourmet finds like Galena Canning Company, Galena Garlic Company, Galena River Wine and Cheese and more.

SUNDAY
Celebrate Sunday Funday outdoors in one of Galena Country’s beautiful parks. The Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation maintains breathtaking nature preserves, some of which offer guided safaris. Plan a picnic lunch on a preserve and enjoy Mother Nature at her finest. Spend the afternoon hiking, biking or even kayaking your way through the scenic landscape of Northern Illinois. Fever River Outfitters can hook you up with bike and kayak rentals. Kayak down the beautiful Galena River just steps away from Downtown Galena or cycle along the 8.8 mile Galena River Trail which ends at Galena Junction, at the foot of Chestnut Mountain Resort. Chestnut Mountain Resort offers an array of outdoor activities such as segway tours, river cruises, mountain bike rentals, ziplining, and an alpine slide. Enjoy all of these activities while taking in stunning views of the Mighty Mississippi River. If you get a taste of ziplining at Chestnut Mountain and you want more… head on over to Long Hollow Canopy Tours in Tapley Woods, where you will enjoy approximately 2.5 hours of thrilling fun by reaching speeds up to 40 mph and heights of 75 feet!

MEMORIAL DAY
Between the historic sites, tasty tours and picturesque parks, the weekend has proven to be one for the books. Don’t let your last day in the Galena Country fizzle out. It’s time to shop ‘til you drop and eat your heart out! Galena’s 1800s Main Street was voted as the nation’s Best Shopping on Main Street experience by ShopOnMain. More than 125 independently owned shops tempt visitors with boutique shopping, incredible antiques, and gourmet foods. End your Memorial Day shopping spree with a sit-down meal at one of Galena Country’s fine restaurants. Enjoy a glass of wine and unwind as you recap your weekend with friends over a delicious dinner, a perfect ending to a perfect weekend.

Looking for more travel ideas? We’d love to help you plan your trip. Check out our online travel guide, give us a call 815.776.9200 or e-mail us!

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 corn fields, 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!

#GalenaCountry by the numbers

Discover more to love about Galena Country

It doesn’t take a mathlete to know that there are numerous reasons to fall in love with Galena Country. Here are just a few fun numbers to note and explore on your next visit to this historical mecca of the Midwest.

One-of-a-kind restaurants
Come hungry. With more than 57 unique dining opportunities, you’ll want to create a ‘restaurant bucket-list’ for future visits! Partake in an intimate dining experience at the ‘chef’s table’ or take in the views while perched along the bluffs of the mighty Mississippi River. Either way, this vacation dinner date is one you’ll never forget.


More golf courses than stop lights
Unlike most of Illinois, this captivating location is lush with rolling hills and stunning waterways, making it an ideal location for not one – but nine gorgeous golf courses. Hit them all and fine-tune your techniques with 189 birdie opportunities throughout Galena Country.

Lucious Wineries 
Appreciate the craft of wine-making with a taste and tour of Galena Country’s award-winning wineries. Whether you visit one or all four, you’re sure to discover flavors and pairings that will be the talk of your next dinner party!


Shopper’s Paradise
Whether shopping for yourself or gifting, one thing is for sure – the unique shopping experience that Galena Country has to offer is like no other! Have a blast treasure hunting in more than 135 independently owned boutiques!

The most popular vacation destination in Illinois
In early 2019, Cosmopolitan named Galena, IL the most popular vacation destination in the state! “A small town with a lot of heart, Galena is known for its charming 19th-century buildings and proximity to skiing, hiking, zip lining and anything else you want to do to get out of the city for a change.”


Calling all Anglers
Throw in a line to catch a variety of six different species of fish! Boasting two lakes and three rivers, there’s no shortage of fishing opportunities here.

It’s gorgeous here
For real. All. Year. Round. With an average temperature of 83 degrees in the summer and 36 inches of snowfall in the winter, not only is the area immersed in beauty but also abundant in outdoor adventure! Ski, paddle, hike, bike or zip-line your way through Galena Country!


11 Amazing Locations
#GalenaCountry is home to 11 distinct cities, towns and villages, offering infinite opportunities for memory making! Take the scenic route and venture off to explore Galena, East Dubuque, Elizabeth, Stockton, Warren, Apple River, Scales Mound, Nora, Menominee, Hanover, and Woodbine.

The first step in planning your vacation is booking your stay and browsing through the official 2019 Visitor’s Guide.