Galena things to do

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.

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.*

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.

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.

2019 is heating up in Galena Country!

The air is cold but Galena Country is heating up with these exciting events coming up! Explore writing skills, savor good food and local beer, sip on whiskey, plan your wedding, enjoy winter activities and be a spectator at fun winter sport events!

The Galena LitFest  

Jan. 5-19
This festival, for readers and writers, is back for the fifth year. Brush up on your skills at various free writers’ workshops, have brunch with “Elizabeth Barrett Browning” and dine with award-winning indie author, Heather Bentley as well as New York Times bestselling author and humorist, Micheal Perry.

 

Beer Pairing Dinner at Galena Brewing Company

Jan.18
Seated in the beer cellar of the Galena Brewing Company, savor a 4-course meal together with beer parings, alongside new beers that are happily fermenting at your side. Ask your hosts those beer related questions you have always wanted to ask, and learn more about the beer making process during this unique experience.

 

Galena Whiskey Weekend

Jan. 26
Cheers to liquid sunshine! Sip on more than 175 whiskeys in the historic Turner Hall, a treasured gathering place by the citizens of Galena for more than 125 years, just steps away from the Helluva Half Mile. Ticket’s include heavy hors d’oeuvres and a Glencairn keepsake glass.

 

Illinois Special Olympics – Winter Games 

Feb. 5-7
Cheer on more than 400 athletes as they go for the gold in Alpine Skiing, Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing at Chestnut Mountain Resort! Athletes from around the state will compete in this 3-day event, which kicks off with an opening ceremony and parade in downtown Galena. Don’t miss the fireworks display after the parade.

 

Winter Carnival Weekend

Feb. 15-17
Have “snow” much fun with the whole family while making cherishable memories. Warm up in front of a cozy bonfire while watching a Hot Air Balloon Glow, play snow games, watch ice carving, sled on a 75-foot vertical drop, enjoy cross-country skiing or ice-skate on a 1.5-acre pond.

 

 

Beer Pairing Dinner at Galena Brewing Company

Feb.15
Seated in the beer cellar of the Galena Brewing Company, savor a 4-course meal together with beer parings, alongside new beers that are happily fermenting at your side. Ask your hosts those beer related questions you have always wanted to ask, and learn more about the beer making process during this unique experience.

 

Galena Bridal Fair

Feb. 16
Did you say “yes”? Visit the regions top wedding specialists at this bridal fair, taking place in the historic Turner Hall. Make your wedding dreams come true by taking care of all arrangements in one location and register for dozens of prizes.

Java, Chocolate & Champagne Stroll

Feb. 16
Galena is hosting their first Java, Chocolate & Champagne Stroll! Enjoy special treats as you stroll your way along Galena’s magical Main Street. The entire weekend has a Java, Chocolate & Champagne theme to it with specials and events sprinkled everywhere you go.

 

Annual Big Nut Open

Mar. 16-17
Get to Galena for some powder competition at Chestnut Mountain Resort! Ski and Snowboard athletes compete for honor and a cash prize in the Rail Jam, Slopestyle, and Big Air competitions. Chestnut Mountain perches high on a ridge overlooking the Mississippi River near the historic river port of Galena.

 

More events…

There’s always something going on in Galena Country! Stay up to date with what’s happening by following the events calendar on VisitGalena.org. Plan your visit around popular happenings such as The Great Galena Balloon RaceGalena Country Fair, Galena Halloween Parade and the Night of Luminaria and Living Windows. Be sure to book accommodation early!

FAQ about Galena Country

You’ve decided that without a doubt, you want to visit Galena Country and you are about to start planning your trip… but you have so many questions and need answers fast! We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to save you time:

Where can I get visitor information once I get there?
The Visitgalena.org website is optimized to view on mobile devices and tablets, so take the information with you on vacation. If you cannot find what you are looking for, call the Galena Country Welcome Center at 815.776.9200 or stop by at 123 North Commerce Street (The Old Market House).

Where are the public restrooms in Galena?
Permanent public restrooms are located in downtown Galena at the Galena City Hall, 101 Green St. and at Hello Galena!, 121 N. Commerce St.

Where do I park in Galena?
Parking regulations in Galena vary depending on the location, day, and time of the day. Carefully read regulatory signs before parking. You will find a substantial number of free parking spaces downtown, however some are limited to three hours duration.

The City of Galena offers free all-day public parking lot on the east side of the river near the Old Train Depot. The lot is accessible from US Highway 20 via Park Avenue and Bouthillier Street. Pedestrian access is available from the lot over one of two bridges to the downtown. Another all-day public lot operated by the City of Galena is located downtown on Commerce Street between Green Street and Washington Street.  Parking in the lot is $1 per hour or $5 all day.

All day, free, on-street parking is available on Water Street next to the levee. When entering downtown from US Highway 20, access this parking by taking the first right after you pass through the flood gates.

View a map of downtown parking here.

Are all stores on Galena’s Main Street open on a Monday or on public holidays?
All stores are independently owned, have their own hours and sometimes close due to unforeseen circumstances. In busy season, most stores are open as much as possible due to the increase in traffic. Here is a directory of shops in Galena Country if you would like to call ahead of time to make sure that a specific shop will be open.

When is the big craft fair?
The annual Galena Country Fair is held in Grant Park, Galena on the weekend before the Columbus Day holiday. The fair attracts more than ten thousand visitors and lodging reservations should be made well in advance. The Autumn Craft Fair takes place on the same weekend in Hanover, where more than 90 artisans and crafters offer unique handmade artwork, crafts and jewelry.

What are the most popular, events in Galena Country?
There is always something happening in Galena Country and there’s never a shortage of events but some events have become longstanding and very popular over the years. The top three events that fall in this category are as follows:

Night of Luminaria and Living Windows
Galena Country Fair
Halloween Parade

Can you tell me about upcoming events?
For the latest information on upcoming events, visit the Galena Country Events Calendar.

When is the peak of fall color in Galena Country?
Mid-October. It’s hard to predict when the best fall colors are going to happen in Galena Country. We are at the mercy of Mother Nature and so many factors determine their intensity and timing, such as the amount of precipitation and temperatures. Generally, a hard frost happens right before the peak of fall colors. So, while we can’t predict the precise peak, if you contact us shortly before your visit we’ll be happy to give you an idea of how the colors are developing.

Are there any scenic motorcycle rides in Galena Country?
Absolutely. We have beautiful scenic drives that are great for a motorcycle ride. Just a heads up… many of the township roads have no shoulders or guardrails and some have gravel surfaces. Please try to travel along hard-surfaced roads. Read more about our most scenic routes and which trails are best for motorcycle rides on our Road Trip page.

Where can I rent a wheelchair?
Hartig Drug Store located at 11002 Bartell Blvd., about two miles west of downtown Galena, has wheelchairs for rent. There is fully-refundable deposit and a per day rental fee. You can reserve a wheelchair for use during your visit by calling 815.777.2700.

Where can I charge my Electric Vehicle?

Need a charge? Galena is not short of EV charges, here is a list to choose from:

Chestnut Mountain Resort – 8700 W. Chestnut Mountain Rd., Galena
Wall outlet (120v), EV Plug (J1772) and Tesla HPWC (Model S).

Culver’s of Galena – 11371 Oldenburg Lane, Galena
Two Tesla High Power Wall Connectors (80A) are available to the public.

Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa – 444 Eagle Ridge Dr., Galena
Two Tesla Charging Stations Type: Level ll (80A) and one Clipper Creek (32A). Please see front desk.

Galena City Hall – 101 Green St., Galena
Universal charger located in the City Hall parking lot on the corner of Green St. and Commerce St.

Galena Brewing Company – 226 N. Commerce St., Galena
Two Tesla High Power Wall Connectors (80A) and one Clipper Creek J1772 (48A) available to patrons from 4-9 p.m. Mon.-Thu. and 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. Fri.-Sun. Please see bartender.

Goldmoor Inn & Resort – 9001 W Sand Hill Rd., Galena
Two Tesla High Power Wall Connectors (80A) and one Clipper Creek (32A) EV charging for guests and patrons. Please see front desk.

Jail Hill Inn – 319 Meeker St., Galena
One Tesla high power wall connector (80A) and one Clipper Creek J1772 (30A) available for patrons. Please see front desk.

What can we do with children?
Galena Country is definitely a family-friendly destination. In addition to learning about history, there’s plenty of outdoor activities that children will enjoy. Activities such as horseback riding, berry picking, skiing, canoeing/kayaking, an alpine slide and miles of trails to hike and ride will keep the little ones busy. Kids also enjoy the Lil’ General Miniature Golf Course and the outdoor Alice T. Virtue Water Park.

What are the historical must-see spots?

Ulysses S. Grant Home in Galena presented to Grant in 1865 on his return from the Civil War. The home contains original furnishings.

Apple River Fort in Elizabeth is the site of one of the battles fought during the Black Hawk War.

Desoto House Hotel in Galena is the oldest operating hotel in Illinois and its most notable visitor was President Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.

The Dowling House is Galena’s oldest house, built of native limestone in 1826 as a trading post and residence.

The Old Blacksmith Shop is an authentic 1897 blacksmith shop with working forges and is filled with tools and equipment from its 100-year history.

The Washburne House State Historic Site was home to Elihu Washburne, a prominent Galena attorney and later a popular U.S Congressman. Visit the library where General Grant received the telegraph announcing that he was president.

Old Market House State Historic Site, constructed in 1845, this building sheltered vendors and shoppers until 1910. It is now home to the largest collection of Ulysses S. Grant memorabilia in the world. It also happens to be the Galena Country Visitor center.

Where can we go hiking?
Galena Country offers many scenic hiking trails. The Galena River Trail is very popular as it can be accessed from downtown Galena and it features 8.8 miles of Galena River and towering bluff views. The Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation has done a fantastic job of rehabilitating, conserving and maintaining beautiful properties throughout Galena Country which offer picturesque trails.

Is Galena pet friendly?
Bring Fido along with you! Many hotels, shops and restaurant patios allow pets. Outdoor activities are plentiful in Galena Country and your dogs will love you for taking them along! If you need help navigating the best pet-friendly spots to visit, please call the Galena Country Visitor Center on 815.776.9200 or email galena@visitgalena.org.

Looking for a place to leave your fur-baby while you visit not so pet-friendly spots? Let Doggie Do’s & New Earth Animals Grooming & Daycare take care of your fur baby for the day. You could even treat Fido to a makeover while you are away.

Visit New Earth Animals on Main Street Galena with your pet and let him/her pick out a treat!

Where in Galena Country can I go to see the Mississippi River?
Chestnut Mountain Resort overlooks the Mississippi River and offers river cruises. Casper Bluff Land & Water Reserve boasts some of the most commanding views of the Mississippi River and its backwater sloughs. Gramercy Park is located on the bluff in East Dubuque overlooking the Mississippi River.

Have a question that’s not listed above? Send us your query to galena@visitgalena.org or call 815.776.9200 and we will be more than happy to help.

Have a farm-tastic time in Galena Country!

Corn, crops, and countryside, oh my!

Have you ever toured a farm? Petted a cow? Enjoyed a hayride? Stomped grapes? Or watched a tractor harvest its crops? Well, get to Galena Country and experience all that and more.

You know you’re in the Midwest when the cornfields are endless and the pastures are sprinkled with classic red barns and bellowing cattle. To deepen your understanding and strengthen your appreciation of the land, Galena Country has the perfect spots to explore.

Terrapin Orchards

Terrapin Orchards believes that if you’ve never had a farm fresh strawberry, you’ve never really had a strawberry! Pick your own delicious bursts of goodness or grab a bag of pre-picked berries. The strawberries have a red juice filled center, instead of the unripe white pith that we have come to view as normal. Be warned… children who wear a white colored shirt to pick strawberries typically leave with a red colored shirt and a huge smile! Strawberry season starts in early June and runs through to mid-June.

Apples are king at Terrapin! Anticipated to be ready to munch on by September, the variety of apples and pears available are picked at the peak of perfection. One of the favorites is the first apple to ripen… the Zestar! Offering the perfect blend of sweet and tart in a beautiful crisp, red and green striped fruit, the Zestar doesn’t disappoint!

Orchard Landing

Where can you find apple trees, airplanes and mini donuts? At Orchard Landing in Hanover. Yummy doesn’t begin to describe this extraordinary farm stand experience. It’s not only a visual treat with a large orchard, a grass runway for planes and a cute airplane hangar that doubles as the shop, it’s loaded with goodies from doughnuts, apples and dried cherries to syrup, jellies and honey mustard.

The drive out (or fly in?) is lovely and it’s just minutes from the Helluva Half Mile in downtown Galena. Open August to mid-November, grab some pumpkins and enjoy any of nine varieties of apples as they come into season. Plan on flying in? The elevation is 970 feet.

 

Erhler Ranch

Get the best look at the countryside while learning about local growers and what it takes to supply and maintain successful crops. Along with a tour, there are plenty of activities and opportunities for kids with bean bags, picnics and pony rides, as well as the chance to splash their feet in Rock Bottom Creek.

Spark your kids’ love of equestrian activities with a pony ride. Led by staff, not only can you ride a pony but also learn safety basics and the fundamentals of riding. Finish the day with a hayride for an up-close look into a real-life farm. Don’t be surprised if you see a tractor in the cornfield or a rancher wrangling cattle. These are just the normal day-to-day operations at Ehrler Ranch.

Dittmar Farms

Although summer has just arrived, fall and Halloween will be here before you know it. With this in mind, experience your new favorite fall season getaway with the best place for corn, pumpkins and the ever-frustrating but hysterical corn maze! Just a few minutes from Galena, this farm is in Elizabeth, the heart of Galena Country!

The most popular activity, besides navigating the giant u-pick pumpkin patch, is a hayride. The 20-minute excursion gives riders an opportunity to see the entire scenic span of the farm. Dittmar Farms are extremely kid- and family-friendly.

Want to keep the kiddos busy for a while? They offer a 2-acre corn maze to burn off some energy with some innocent fun. End your trip at Dittmar munching on their homemade pumpkin bread and, yes, even pumpkin donuts. This farm is a must-visit.

Grapes are a crop, too

Witness the wine-making process from the field to bottle and enjoy a tasting at one of Galena Country’s four vineyards. These wineries are set among the beautiful countryside in charming historic towns. Enjoy award-winning Illinois wines and during the fall season, you can even stomp grapes at one of the harvest celebrations.

Galena, Illinois Travel Diaries

Post by guest blogger, Nicole at Uniquely Women

Galena, Illinois is a great Midwest Town to make a day trip out of. The city is a popular tourist destination known for its history, historical architecture, and ski and golf resorts. Galena was the residence of Ulysses S. Grant and eight other Civil War Generals. The downtown area and Main Street is booming full of wineries/breweries and distilleries, antique shops, and candy shops. Here is a breakdown of what we did:

Where we ate:

Vinny Vanucchi’s “Little Italy” – Old World Italian Neighborhood Restaurant. Great food, amazing atmosphere.

Green Street Tavern – Cute pub. Serves great sandwiches/soups and has the best Bloody Mary’s.

Durty Gurts Burger Joint – Unique burger place. Fun sayings on the wall & fun atmosphere. Great for kids!

 

 

Beers, Wine & Spirits:

Galena Brewing Company – Loved this place. Bartender was awesome – very friendly and helpful. HAVE TO HAVE: 2 lb Baked Pretzel. You will not be disappointed. Comes with Beer Cheese as a dipping sauce. Oh yea, and great beer selection!

The Cornerstone – The live music is spot on. Laid back atmosphere. In the heart of Galena’s downtown.

Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery – Wine tasting. 12 different wine samples of your choice for $5. Their Rhubarb wine is my personal favorite.

 

Where we shopped:

Peace of the Past -For you Antique lovers this is the place to go. Vintage books galore. Fun place to go in and take a peek

Poopsie’s – Kids will love this place. Small crazy shop full of unique art, gifts, jewelry, and crazy games!

Bella Vintaj – Handmade jewelry. Kinda pricey, but love the look of the place and great looking jewelry.

Galena’s Kandy Kitchen – Candy you can buy by the pound. They offer a ton of old school candy.

 

 

We went walking along the “Pathway of the Levee.” The half-mile long pathway offers wonderful views of the Galena River, Galena’s historic downtown, magnificent bluff homes and church steeples. Great views.

XO – Nicole

Credit to Nicole Floss for all pictures. 

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.