fun things to do in Galena

Shop Small Weekend in Galena Country

Shopping Small is a Big Deal!

Shop Small Weekend, Nov. 29-30 is the annual holiday shopping tradition that gets communities out to support independently-owned businesses. Galena Country retailers are pulling out all the stops to create fun shopper experiences, special deals, promotions, and demonstrations to celebrate!

Fri., Nov. 29 – Friday Night Lights

Galena: 

On Friday, businesses will be offering extended shopping hours so that you have extra time to take advantage of great deals!

Stockton:

Stella’s Cafe & Catering will host a pop-up dinner starting at 4 p.m. Call 815.947.2080 for reservations. Enjoy the Living Windows -Christmas themed displays in Stockton from 4-6 p.m including a parade at 6 p.m while shopping for unique finds. Don’t miss the Christmas tree lighting on Highway 20 at 6:45 p.m.

The following stores will be open late on Friday night: 

Sat., Nov. 30 – Small Business Saturday

Enjoy a day packed with local specials, promotions, activities, and giveaways throughout Galena Country. Make time to welcome ‘Santa’ as he rides through town during Galena’s Holiday kick-Off event and stay for the Christmas tree lighting! Don’t forget to refuel at one of the many restaurants along the way!

The following businesses will be offering specials, giveaways, and activities of all kinds over the weekend:

Find even more shopportunities here.

While Galena Country is a shoppers paradise, it has much more to offer! Check out other things to do and see by browsing the online travel guide, and don’t forget to book your accommodation in advance!

No tricks, just treats in Galena Country

Trick or treat… Galena Country‘s got something good for you to eat!

Credit to: @simonstu

Fill your baskets with a wide variety of handmade old-fashioned confections, gourmet popcorn, cupcakes, donuts, long-stemmed chocolate-dipped strawberries, imported European chocolates and more!

Watch delicious treats being crafted on the spot including caramel apples dipped in a traditional copper kettle, and homemade fudge spread on a granite slab! While you’re at it, enjoy a creamy-smooth ice cream from an 1846 shop featuring original cabinets and an old fashioned fountain!

A candy a day keeps the monsters away… so dig in!

If you haven’t heard already, Galena hosts the most exciting, longest and most spooktacular Halloween Parade in Illinois and it’s happening on Sat. Oct. 26… Don’t miss it! Take a sneak peek here. While you’re here, soak in the beautiful fall colors on a scenic drive through Galena Country! Check out the official visitors guide for more ideas on what to do and see, including where to stay overnight!

 

9 Reasons to visit Galena Country this winter

Whether you look at winter as a time for an outdoor adventure to embrace the elements or a call to head indoors for cozy relaxation and family downtime, Galena Country offers the perfect winter escape. From a couple’s retreat to a family vacation, from skiing to sleigh rides, from a Winter Carnival to wine tastings, here are 9 reasons winter is the best time to visit Galena Country.

Chestnut Mountain Resort

1. Skiing & Snowboarding at Chestnut Mountain Resort

It doesn’t matter if you’re an avid skier or a novice, you should hit the slopes during the winter at Chestnut Mountain Resort. Chestnut’s over 220 rolling acres and 475-foot vertical drop are home to 19 ski trails and a 7-acre terrain park, The Farside, featuring over 25 rails and structures. With two quad lifts, four triple chair lifts, two conveyor lifts, and one surface lift, you won’t be waiting in line to get back to the peak.

2. The Nordic Center at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa

For other winter activities, Nordic Center at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa has a 1.5-mile skating pond for that authentic outdoor ice skating experience. Or maybe a winter wonder sightseeing expedition is more your style? You can explore the snow-covered countryside when you cross-country ski or snowshoe over the Center’s 7 miles of groomed trails. And for the kids, there’s nothing more fun than sledding over their golf course at the famous 18th hole. All equipment is available for rent from Fever River Outfitters.

3. Winter Carnival Weekend at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa

Take advantage of the long Presidents Day Weekend and come for Winter Carnival Weekend at Eagle Ridge. The Nordic Center activities will be available plus an assortment of carnival fun, including balloon glows, pony rides, wine tasting, ice-turkey bowling, snow painting, live music and more.

4. Nature Reserves

The Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation works to protect the land near Galena. Casper Bluff is one of the areas under their protection and worth a visit if just for the scenic views of the Mississippi. The real star here is not the view but, rather, the archaeological finds found on this 85-acre site. Fifty-one burial mounds from the Aiken Mount group, a culture that lived nearly 3,000 years ago, rest on these grounds. On select winter dates, they light up the night with a luminary hike via snowshoes or skis, complete with bonfire. For other parks and trails, check out this link. For a peaceful trek through the countryside, visit the Galena River Trail. The trail is perfect for families going cross-country skiing or a snowshoe hike with views of the Galena River and bluffs.

5. Shopping

Shop Galena’s Main Street. With more than 125 independently-owned businesses, offering everything from crafts to vintage clothing to fine chocolates, this shopping excursion is sure to keep you warm. The purchase you make for yourself or a loved one at one of these specialty shops will be something you’ll find nowhere else. The towns of Elizabeth and Stockton offer even more boutique stores to pique your interest. Visit Sweet Alice’s for some sweet treats, Nature’s Treasures for new home or garden decor, or how about Elizabeth’s Grand Antique Mall for that unique treasure!

6. Cozy Dining 

Whether you’re looking for farm-to-table, like One Eleven Main, fine dining, like Goldmoor Inn, or just a really good sandwich, Galena Country offers amazing dining establishments with a full range of culinary choices. There’s breakfast with ambiance at Stella’s Cafe & Catering, great ethnic options, such as Campeche Restaurant, or romantic dinners for two at Fried Green Tomatoes or Log Cabin Steakhouse, two iconic Galena restaurants. From fine dining to intimate cafes and coffeehouses, personal service, fine food and good wine, including locally-produced wines, reign in Galena Country.


7. Wine, Beer, and Spirits 

Galena Cellars offers more than 40 varieties of wine. Stop by their Main Street tasting room, located in a historic 1840s granary building. Massbach Ridge Winery also offers visitors the ease and accessibility of a tasting room right in downtown Galena. Ask to sample their St. Pepin, displaying “a whiff of citrus and cuts with a spray of green apple.” For beer lovers, Galena Brewing Co. offers a full microbrewery experience from tours to tastings to dining and live entertainment and Pecatonica Beer Tap House is hoppin’ (pun intended) with seasonal brews and great company. But if a martini or shot of whiskey is more to your liking, visit Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. for daily tours and tastings of the premium spirit of your choice – whiskey, vodka, gin and more – produced right in downtown Galena.

8. Cozy B&B’s

Named the B&B Capital of the Midwest, Galena Country is proud to offer a variety of warm and intimate places to stay. Check into a historic 1800s bed & breakfast right in town, such as Abe’s Spring Street Guesthouse, and you’ll be just steps away from Main Street. Here you’ll get all the conveniences of home, complete with breakfast in the morning, dessert and coffee at night and your own key to the house. Other B&Bs, such as The Felt Manor Guest House, is situated in the hills, offering a beautiful view of Galena from above. And all of these private residences and inns offer their own style of historic charm, breakfast and personalized service, along with great suggestions of where to go and what to do in the area.

9. Nightlife and Festivals

When night time comes and you want to know where to go… enjoy live music venues, such as The CornerstoneMiss Kitty’s Grape Escape, Galena Brewing Company and Frank O’Dowd’s Irish Pub & Grill. For family fun, make it a night out at P.T. Murphy Magic Theatre, an intimate 24-seat theatre where the magician dazzles his audience with optical illusion tricks and a mischievous sense of humor. Experience fine dining and exceptional entertainment in a unique Supper Club atmosphere at Amelia’s Under the Lamplight Dinner Theater. Annual events to look forward to include Holiday Fire in the Sky, Night of the Luminaria & Living Windows, Galena Whiskey Weekend, Java, Chocolate & Champagne Stroll, Galena Goes 50’s, and Wine Lovers Weekend. Check out even more events here.

Bonus tip: 

For the history buffs out there, some historic attractions are indeed open in the winter! Keep warm in the Ulysses S. Grant Home, learn all about the history of Galena Country at these museums, and make sure that you stop by the Old Market House in Galena where you will find the largest collection of Ulysses S. Grant memorabilia in the world! It also happens to be the Galena Country Welcome Center where you can gather some more information on what to do in the area.

Book your accommodation and start planning your winter escape using this helpful visitors guide.

Winter Holiday Events in Galena Country

There’s something special about the holiday season. Maybe it’s the sense of wonder and amazement looking at the beautiful light displays, or the smell of hot cocoa and a fire burning in the fireplace. Or maybe, it’s the sentiment of gift-giving, family and traditions.

Night of Luminaria & Living Windows

There’s no better way to cultivate those special feelings about the holidays, than a trip to Galena Country. Whether you’re on a family vacation, romantic getaway, or want to start a new tradition with friends, it’s the perfect addition to a wonderful holiday experience. Enjoy these wonderful 2019 events and activities during your ‘Christmas in Galena Country’ stay!

Events

More Ideas

For more events, visit the events calendar and check out the latest visitors guide for more ideas on what to do and see!

 

 

Oktoberfest Weekend in Galena Country

It’s almost here… Galena’s annual festival that celebrates German heritage, Oktoberfest Weekend Oct 4-5 in Depot Park. Prost! to barrels and barrels of fun ahead!

This ever-popular event promises family fun, live music, wiener dog racing, German-style food and of course lots of beer! For a detailed schedule of events, click here but for the highlights… keep reading:

Movie in the Park

Kick-off the Oktoberfest celebrations on Fri., Oct 4 in Depot Park with live music, delicious food-truck-eats and craft beer, followed by an outdoor screening of the Field of Dreams movie.

2019 Midwest Health & Fitness 5K Fun Run/Walk

Fun for the whole family along the scenic Galena River Trail! Pets and strollers are welcome on this fun run or walk.

Live Music and Dancing

Oktoberfest on Oct. 5 features non-stop live music all day and into the night. Enjoy tunes from the Jim Busta Band, a Czech-German, five-piece polka band with many vocal arrangements, The Goodtime Dutchmen, an award-winning Dutchmen-style band that plays German Bohemian and Polish music and Back Seat Betty playing classic rock, current hits, and all your favorites.

Wiener Dog Races

Who will be the champions in this year’s Wiener Dog Races? Don’t miss the wiener dog parade and a best-dressed contest for both male and female wiener dogs.

Polka Lessons

Learn how to dance the Polka (originally a Czech dance) with Tim and Kathy who have been dancing together for 10 years and travel around to various polka festivals.

The New Glarus Alphorners

Join George Albright & Heinz Mattmann in celebrating this awesome tradition. These long wooden horns were used for centuries by mountain dwellers in the Alps for music and communication.

Beer Stein Endurance Contest

How long could you last? The goal of this well-known and competitive Bavarian strength contest is to hold a stein at shoulder height, parallel with the ground as long as possible. If the contestant waivers (or spills), he/she is eliminated. How long could you last this test of both strength and endurance? For more details click here.

Bean Bag Tournament

Pre-register for this single-elimination format tournament (participants must be 16 years or older). First prize is $100 and the second is $50!

For more ideas on what else to do and see while in #GalenaCountry, browse through the latest Visitors Guide and be sure to book your accommodation a.s.a.p!

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!

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.

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.