family attractions in galena

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! Liftoff 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.

8 Reasons You’ll Strike Family Vacation Gold in Galena Country

Whether it’s spotting an eagle while hiking trails along the Mississippi River or catching a show performed by master magician PT Murphy, Galena Country offers up activities to put smiles on every face in your family.

Read on to find out why this northwestern Illinois gem should be the next place to visit on your family vacation destination list.

1. Be natural. If the name of your family’s game is nature, there’s no shortage of outdoor spaces to visit. Head to Apple River Canyon State Park, which is an ideal spot for boating, camping, hiking and fishing. There’s also Horseshoe Mound Preserve, where you can hike, bird-watch and picnic while learning about local geology and taking in picturesque views of the area. Or if you’re looking for a place to enjoy a nice bike ride, head to the 9 mile Galena River Trail. If you’re bringing your pets, don’t worry! All of the spots mentioned above are pet-friendly.

2. Summer Camp on a farm. Book a unique summer sleepaway camp for the kids (ages 7-12) at The Country Experience – Amztutz Family Farm Camp. Children enjoy hands-on learning, using real-world tools to build an appreciation for the value of time and effort, a respect for life and nature, and the development of important life skills. They will also get to relax and make new friends, including furry and feathered ones… such as goats, pigs, sheep, cows, donkeys, chickens, and rabbits!

3. Make a little magic. “How did he do that?” Whether you’re 13 or 93, that’s the question you’ll be asking yourself throughout the 65-minute show delivered by Galena’s master magician, P.T. Murphy. Murphy, known for his personal style and mischievous sense of humor, believes in magic, and his goal is to leave you feeling mystified and inspired. The location for the show, an intimate 24-seat theater— located in the heart of historic downtown—only contributes to the fascinating experience. Shows are offered Wednesday through Sunday, and advance purchase of tickets is recommended.

4. Travel back in time. History runs deep in Galena. For example, your kids can get to know Grant—Ulysses S. Grant—that is. Yep, one of Galena’s most famous faces was Grant, whose family moved to town one year before the Civil War. Before the war, the top Union general, and future president, worked at his father’s leather goods store, Grant & Perkins. At the Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site, you can tour Grant’s home, which was given to him by a group of Galena citizens after the war.

Another option for a lesson is in history is to visit Apple River Fort State Historic Site, a Black Hawk War landmark. In 1832, Black Hawk and his warriors attacked the fort. Today, you’ll find a reconstruction of the long-vanished fort (completed in 1997 and modeled after findings from a 1995 archaeological dig), where Black Hawk and the early settlers’ stories are shared. The site is open year-round, Wednesday through Sunday.

5. Spin your wheels. Work smarter, not harder while navigating Galena’s hilly landscape and rent an electric bike from Fever River Outfitters; this a good option and fun activity for people 18 or older. These easy-to-ride bikes allow you to glide down one of the area’s many trails or visit destinations such as the four wineries located in Galena Country. Rentals are available for two-hour increments.

6. Take a hidden hike. Burn a few calories while checking out some of Galena’s lesser-known hikes. For example, there’s the 230-acre Winston Tunnel State Natural Area, where you can find the historic Winston Tunnel, which was completed in 1888 for the Minnesota and Northwestern Railroad. Although the tunnel is closed to the public, the area is a great spot to view a little history in the midst of nature. Or visit Galena’s 4-acre Linmar Gardens, which are situated on natural limestone outcroppings that overlook the town. Here, your family will find water features, a small mine replica and an exquisite sunken garden situated in the ruins of one of the first African-American churches in Illinois. Last but not least, take the family to the West Street Sculpture Park, where they can wander through an outdoor gallery of more than a dozen large steel sculptures created by award-winning local artist John Martinson. You’ll see sculptures including two 40-foot towers and a giant TINKERTOY. The park is open year-round, and there’s also an on-site studio where Martinson is often working.

7. Try the trolley. Give those tired feet a rest and take a Galena Trolley Tour. Choose from a one-hour nonstop tour of Galena’s Historic district or a 2 ½ hour tour of homes, including admission to Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site, Belvedere Mansion and Dowling House.

8. Sleep and swim. No trip is complete without a little swim time. Your kiddos will be beyond content with the pools at hotels, such as Ramada Galena Hotel & Day Spa, which offers a catch and release pond, indoor pool, whirlpool and fitness room;  Stoney Creek Inn, which offers complimentary breakfast, an indoor pool and fitness center; Country Inn & Suites By Carlson in Galena and Stockton, offering complimentary continental-plus breakfast and an indoor waterpark featuring a 72-foot waterslide, whirlpool and wading pool/frog waterslide; and Best Western Designer Inn & Suites, which offers an indoor/outdoor pool and hot tub, in-room fireplaces, and complimentary hot breakfast.