Galena Dining

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 cornfields, 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!

Mother’s Day Getaway to Galena Country

Just one day to thank Mom for her superpowers? No way! Mom has sacrificed her waistline, she’s spent countless hours cheering you on at sports practice, she even dried your tears, time and time again, after crash-landings that she warned you about – not to mention mom’s taxi service.

So, how should you thank her? Get her to Galena Country of course, and make a weekend of it! It’s the gift of an experience and we’ve got you covered, from tasty brunches to outdoor activities!

But first, brunch
Galena Country offers fantastic brunch spots that will “wow” mom! Take in remarkable views of the Mississippi River while enjoying brunch at Chestnut Mountain Resort or brunch at Timmerman’s Supper Club. How about a traditional brunch at The Desoto House Hotel, steeped in history since it is Illinois’ oldest operating hotel. Brunch at Stella’s Cafe & Catering, known for its beautiful original tin ceiling and artful ambiance is always a treat! Now, if you decide to have brunch at Eagle Ridge and Spa,… yup you guessed it, you could treat mom to a spa treatment afterwards.

The gift of “me” time
Speaking of spa treatments… what better gift to give mom than a bit of pampering? Galena Country is a great place to unwind and is home to highly-skilled, full-service spas. Whether it’s a quick Mani, a full body massage or a complete make-over, she is in for a treat!

Mom’s shopping paradise
What mom doesn’t like shopping?! Galena’s 19th Century downtown boasts a Helluva Half Mile of more than 120 independently owned stores featuring clothing, jewelry, specialty items, collectibles and more. There is no shortage of restaurants to keep you going along the way. Don’t forget the many charming shops scattered throughout the rest of Galena Country. Elizabeth’s Grand Antique Co. is a treasure trove for antique enthusiasts, Anchors & Arrows, features home decor, functions as a hair salon and houses re-purposed / 0up-cycled antiques, and Beautifully Berkeley Bouquets & Home, an intimate florist, features many one-of-a-kind designs and unique pieces that will pique mom’s interest.

Does mom like to stay active?
No problem! Spring is the perfect time to take a brisk walk on Galena Country’s many miles of hiking trails and capture the natural beauty of its parks and trails. See a whole new side to Galena from a kayak or canoe on the Galena River with Fever River Outfitters. They also hire out e-bicycles which you could use to explore the town of Galena. How about an adrenaline rush? Soar high above the mountain’s peak at Chestnut Mountain Resort and get an eagle’s perspective of the Majestic Upper Mississippi River Valley on the Soaring Eagle Zip Line. Cuddle goats while you strike a yoga pose at Original Goat Yoga, Galena. Need more? Ride 6 zip lines on a 2.5 hour guided canopy tour at Long Hollow Canopy Tours offering spectacular views!

The History-Buff mom
If mom loves history, she may just move to Galena Country after this visit! For a quick overview of the rich history in the area, take a historical trolley tour of Galena with Galena Trolley Tours or Tri-State Trolley. These tours will include a visit to the famous Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site and a demo at the The Old Blacksmith Shop. You will find another little gem just outside the town of Elizabeth – Apple River Fort State Historic Site. The fort comes to life on the weekends through demonstrations, hands-on activities, and conversations with interpreters garbed in 1830s style dress. Click here for even more Historic Sites and museums.

Give mom something to wine about
She sure has listened to a lot of whining, hasn’t she? It’s her turn… Galena Country is home to four wineries, presenting some of the finest, local award-winning wines in Illinois. Stop in for a tasting, take in the beautiful scenery and enjoy a tour to learn about the wine-making process. Two of the wineries, Massbach Ridge and Galena Cellars have their own tasting rooms situated on Main Street if mom prefers not to wonder too far.

Special bonding time with mom
A very thoughtful way to end your stay in Galena Country would be to grab a bottle of local wine, stop in at Galena River Wine & Cheese for some gourmet cheeses, sausages, pates, etc. and head out to Horseshoe Mound Preserve for a sunset picnic. This 40-acre preserve is one of the most scenic properties in all of northern Illinois, with views across three states.

Mom will never forget this Mother’s Day getaway… you may even find her talking about it every year with a wink and a nudge, hinting for a return visit. Book your accommodation now before it’s too late!

Easter Brunch In Galena Country

Put all your eggs in one basket on Easter Sunday and hop on over to Galena Country! We’ve got your Easter Brunch celebration covered at one of these delightful brunch spots.

Book now, reservation times fill quickly!

Woodlands Restaurant at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Tucked among the Galena Territory’s 6,800 rolling acres of pristine woodlands and open countryside. This extraordinary holiday buffet includes culinary creations and family favorites alike.
Adults $34, children (4-12 years of age) $17 and children under 4 are free.

Chestnut Mountain Resort 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Nestled neatly among the hills overlooking the majestic Mississippi River. Enjoy a traditional Easter Buffet including carved ham, an omelet station, assorted pastries and so much more.
Adults $18.95, children (6-12 years of age) $9.95 and children under 6 are free.

Paradise Cafe & Grill 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
A local’s favorite for more than thirty-four years, offering a laid back atmosphere and a focus on fun. Located on Main Street in Galena. Tuck into a scrumptious Easter Breakfast Buffet.
Adults $9.95, children (10 years of age and younger) $5.

Desoto House Hotel Seatings at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.
Steeped in history and located in the heart of Galena, this hotel is the oldest operating hotel in Illinois. Join in on a traditional Easter Buffet and a visit with the Easter Bunny!
Adults $29.95, children (10 years old and younger) $14.95.

Timmerman’s Supper Club 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
A charming relaxed supper club atmosphere that overlooks the majestic Mississippi River in East Dubuque. Sit back and enjoy the incredible view and indulge in a Sunday Brunch offering a variety of brunch specialties including an omelet bar.
Adults $20, children (3-10 years of age) $8.50 and children under 2 are free.

Woodbine Bend Golf Course and Restaurant 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m
Located in a peaceful country setting between the towns of Elizabeth and Stockton. Celebrate Easter with a hearty Brunch Buffet including ham, salmon, quiche, crepes, and fresh fruit.
Cost TBD

Wait there’s more… 

After brunch, take time to explore Galena Country! Tour the home of Ulysses S. Grant in Galena or visit the Apple River Fort State Historic Site in Elizabeth. Stroll down the Helluva Half Mile, historic Main Street of Galena, featuring more than 125 independently owned unique shopping experiences. For more attractions and things to do, click here. Before heading back to your lodging for the night, enjoy a delicious meal at one of the many dining options available.

Eat like a local: Top places to enjoy a Friday Fish Fry in Galena Country

A mouth-watering tradition.

The classic fish fry usually includes several pieces of fried fish, paired with some type of potato and salad or coleslaw. There’s nothing better to wash down fried fish than an ice-cold, locally brewed beer.

Check out these Friday fish fries, just a sampling of the many great places to eat in Galena Country.

Galena
Paradise Bar & Grill – 205 N Main Street (815) 777-3245
Emmy Lou’s – 11347 Oldenburg Lane (815) 777-4732

Stockton
JJ & Freddies – 211 W North Avenue (815) 947-2798
Stella’s Cafe & Catering – 100 N Main Street (815) 947-2080

Elizabeth
Jug’s Main Street Tap
– 200 N Main Street (815) 858-3333
Small Town Saloon – 111 N Main Street (815) 858-9111

East Dubuque
JM’s Tap – 7625 N Menominee Road (815) 747-7730

Apple River
Sidetrack Inn -102 W Railroad Street (815)-594-2278

Hanover
Charlie’s Place – 213 Jefferson Street (815) 591-3501

Be sure to call ahead, the Friday Fish Fry is often a special that restaurants offer for a limited time, typically March-April.

Enjoy delicious fried fish year-round at the following restaurants:

Galena
Green Street Tavern 
– 230 S Main Street (815) 777-0090

East Dubuque
Taste Country Roadhouse 
– 14877 US Hwy 20 W (815) 747-6656

Elizabeth
Cajun Jack’s 
– 1336 US Hwy 20 W (815) 858-3535

Galena
The Market House 
– 204 Perry Street (815) 777-0690

Stockton
Checo’s Family Restaurant & Pizzeria –  642 S Main Street (815) 947-3240