Galena things to do

10 Reasons to visit Galena Country this winter.

Whether you look at winter as a time for 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 the 10 reasons winter is the best time to visit Galena Country.

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. With 19 runs ranging from beginner to expert, you can move on to the next challenge or stay in your comfort zone. For snowboarders, the Farside, Chestnut Mountain’s own 7-acre terrain park named the top Midwest Snowboard Park by Transworld for 3 consecutive years, has its own triple-chair and surface lift with more than 25 rails and jumps. In fact, it’s the largest terrain park in all the Midwest. Group ski lessons for children are broken into two age groups, 4 to 6 or 7 to 12, with all-day or half-day options and snowboarding available for ages 7 and older. A toddler daycare program is also available. And when hunger hits, no need to leave the area. Mountain Top Cafe is located just off the bunny slope and has everything from pizza to cheese fries and a salad in between.

 

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.

 

3. 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. Hiking trails provide information kiosks, helping visitors find their way to the mounds and vistas along the way. On select winter dates, they light up the night with a luminary hike via snowshoes or skis 4:30-8:30 p.m. It’s free and complete with bonfire. No reservations needed unless renting equipment. For other parks and trails, check out this link.

 

 

Eighteen acres just north of Galena is Buehler Preserve, another JDCF property and a popular place for visitors and their pets for hiking and camping. Comprised of hilly woodlands and flat planes with the Galena River cursing through, you can picnic, fish or enjoy a day of quiet bird watching. For a peaceful trek through the countryside, visit the Galena River Trail. At just 3.5 miles the trail is perfect for families going cross-country skiing or a snowshoe hike with views of the Galena River and bluffs.

 

6. Shopping

Shop Galena’s Main Street, otherwise known as the Helluva Half-Mile. With more than 125 independently owned stores, 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 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, Beautifully Berkeley for a new home-ware item or how about Elizabeth’s Grand Antique Mall for that unique treasure!

 

7. 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 ambience 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.

 

8. 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.

 

9. 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 an 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, are 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.

 

10. 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. Other annual events to look forward to are the Mardi Gras Weekend, St. Patty’s Day Weekend (town comes alive with a 5K run, parade and pub crawls) and Wine Lovers Weekend, the largest indoor wine tasting event where you can sample from more than 300 vendors. 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.

2019 is heating up!

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, #GetToGalena 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.

 

Beyond the Barn Tour

Ever wonder what it would be like to live on a farm? Now you can explore multiple working farms during Galena Country’s Beyond the Barn Farm Tour every year in June.

Get an up-close look at the milking process, including how cows are fed and how robotic self-milking stations are the new norm. Explore family farms passed down from generations and see a tractor up close. Learn about high-tech equipment used to plant and harvest a field of corn or soybeans. This tour is a must-do for anyone interested in farming, farm lifestyle and learning about where food originates.

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.

6 Gifts (and more) For Dad in Galena

Let’s talk about Dad, the guy who does so much and is always there to embarrass us. 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. Well, break free from the boring. It’s time for new traditions. Give him a gift to make the most of his time away from work and Galena Country in Illinois is the perfect way to do it.

Galena Country not only has the perfect gifts but also experiences that you can enjoy together. 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 and to thank him for all he has done.

1. A Refreshed Wardrobe

Keep Dad up-to-date on the freshest apparel trends with multiple clothing stores and boutiques found on Galena’s Helluva Half Mile, such as The Cotton Club, Galena Tees and Max Mitchell.

2. Brews and Burgers

#GetToGalena and enjoy a meal with Dad, one he’ll always remember. We recommend starting at Durty Gurt’s Burger Joynt before heading to Galena Brewing Co. Durty Gurt’s has awesome burgers served with hand-cut, seasoned or sweet potato fries – come hungry! After dinner, head to Galena Brewing Co. to treat dad to a delicious beer flight before committing to a specific pint. Before you leave, purchase a growler of Dad’s favorite Galena brew to take home and enjoy.

If he’s a real burger aficionado, try the recent Best Burger contest winner in Galena Country. It’s Small Town Saloon in Elizabeth!

3. 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 Fan Zone for licensed jerseys, shirts and limited edition team hats. Another great option is For Bare Feet. They offer the largest selection of licensed sports socks made in the USA. We know. Socks tend to be a boring traditional gift. But trust us. Dad will totally rock team socks!

4. Balding Solutions

Hats! Whether he embraces his receding hairline or not, a hat is a perfect gift for a balding or non-balding dad. It is a multi-purpose gift for protecting against the sun while serving as the perfect accessory for the finishing touch of an outfit. Take Dad to Celebrity Hats to find his perfect fit!

5. Sweet Tooth

Give Dad a gift he can sink his teeth into… candy! We’re talking homemade fudge, hand-dipped caramel apples, salt water taffy and the world’s best malted milk balls. Galena’s Kandy Kitchen has been cooking up sweets since 1974. In addition to producing small batches of fine handmade confections, they allow customers to scoop at their own leisure from jars of colorful hard candy and name brand treats.

And if Dad has an affinity for chocolate-covered strawberries and delicious cupcakes, try Sweet Alice’s in downtown Stockton. All corners of Galena Country are sugar sweet!

 

6. A New Jeep

Kidding. Dads are great but let me be a bit more reasonable. Galena Jeep Rentals in Elizabeth, the heart of Galena Country, offers the perfect opportunity for him to experience the outdoors while riding in style. Who knows? A little taste of a 4-door Jeep Wrangler tour might result in an impulse, new family purchase.

(And more…)

We’ve now come to the part where new traditions are born.

Spend the day kayaking the Galena River. Bring your own or rent from Fever River Outfitters and launch downtown, just steps away from the Helluva Half Mile. Build up a sweat with a paddle down to the Mississippi River or take it easy and float along the coast of Galena’s shaded River Trail. A day on the water is best spent with good company and Dad will enjoy the quality one-on-one time.

If golfing is more Dad’s style, he’ll be happy to know Galena Country has some of the best courses in the Midwest. A round or two on these award-winning courses and Dad will think he’s ready to go pro. Take time to explore 18 holes or multiple courses. Family time is of the essence and Dad will appreciate every minute of it.

Whatever you choose to give or do for Dad on Father’s Day, make sure he has the day he deserves and, above all else, let him know you love him.

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.

6 Adventurous Ways to Enjoy Fall

  • Explore the Galena River

    Rent a kayak or canoe from Fever River Outfitters for a up-close experience!

    Plan your Trip
  • Cruise the Mississippi River

    Book a cruise on the Riverboat Twilight or Chestnut Mountain Resort's Mississippi River Cruises.

    Plan your Trip
  • Scooter to The Vineyard

    Rent a scooter from Fever River Outfitters and hit the backroads. Stop at Council Hill Station for some music, then tour Galena Cellar Vineyards & enjoy the views!

    Plan your Trip
  • Ride the Trails

    Ride the miles of trails through the hills and woods of the Galena Territory on horseback with the Shenandoah Riding Center!

    Plan Your Trip
  • Soar above the treetops

    Take to the skies in a Hot Air Balloon with Galena On The Fly!

    Plan Your Trip
  • Zip through the autumn forest

    Zip, repel and scale your way through the woods with Long Hollow Canopy Tours!

    Plan your Trip

Jo Daviess County shines in the Fall, the brilliant colors among the rolling hills of our Driftless landscape are enchanting. We’ve highlighted 6 adventurous ways to enjoy Fall!

  1. Rent a canoe or kayak from Fever River Outfitters for an up-close experience with nature.
  2. Book a cruise on the Riverboat Twilight or Mississippi Explorer Cruises at Chestnut Mountain Resort for views from the water.
  3. eBike to the Vineyard on the backroads of Jo Daviess County. Stop at Council Hill Station for some live music and then on the the vineyard for a tour and tasting. Fever River Outfitters will pick you up, so have another glass!
  4. Ride the miles of trails through the Galena Territory on a trail ride with Shenandoah Riding Center. If you come in October make sure to come back at night for their Fear Forest, a spooky walk through the woods!
  5. Get a bird’s eye view of the fall foliage from a hot air balloon with Galena on The Fly. Great photo ops and a look at our Driftless Region from above.
  6. Try Northwest Illinois’s newest attraction, Long Hollow Canopy Tour! Zip through the trees, repel, hike and cross the suspension bridge for the ultimate adventure!

There is so much to do in our most popular season. Check our Events Calendar to see what’s going on in Galena & Jo Daviess County during your stay!

Share your adventures with us on social media @EnjoyGalenaCtry!

 

Navigating galena.org

The new galena.org offers an easy-to use layout that helps the visitor to Galena and Jo Daviess County in NW Illinois. We’ll take you through the highlights that make it easy for you to plan your trip and find the fun once you get here! Use your desktop computer, tablet or smart phone to easily navigate the site.

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The first thing you’ll see when you open galena.org is the top navigation bar across the top of the homepage.

Explore:

  • Use this to view our Interactive Map to find businesses in the area you are traveling or view Jo Daviess County at a glance to get your bearings.
  • Get a complete directory of Businesses under the category you are searching. This section breaks it down and makes everything easy to find.
  • Read and view our online magazine, The Galena Country Journal, featuring local business owners. Find new editions seasonally! More info below.
  • Get updated and current information on our destination on our blog, The Insider’s Guide to Galena & Jo Daviess County.
  • Businesses have submitted their printed brochures, download and print from our Online Brochure Rack if you love to have paper in hand!
  • Get a the feeling of the county under the FAQs section and view videos to learn more.
  • Sign up for our current sweepstakes to win a trip to Galena & Jo Daviess County!

HORSE-LIVERIES

Things To Do:

  • This section breaks down everything you need to find fun in Galena & Jo Daviess County! From our Events Calendar to see what’s happening while you’re here to our Cuisine section to fill that craving with the local flavors.
  • What’s it like here in the Fall? Click The Seasons to see!

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Places to Go:

  • We’ve put the spotlight on the communities of Jo Daviess County. Antique shopping in Elizabeth? Find out where to eat, shop and stay as well as an overview of the community. Going to a wedding at Oak Hill Weddings? Find out what’s around you by clicking Apple River!

Where to Stay:

  • Our lodging properties are unique and many are one-of-a-kind! We’ve broken it down by the type of lodging you are looking for, plus you can click a community under Places to Go to find one in the area you’re planning to stay.
  • Colorful, large photo galleries, business info including website and social media channels make it easy to connect to a business and make a choice. Click the “Book Now” tab when you’ve made a decision for a quick link to their reservation page!

Plan Your Trip:

Meetings:

  • Bus tours and meeting planners can use this section to find lodging, restaurants and attractions that accommodate large groups.

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Tie The Knot:

  • Brides and grooms can find the resources they’re looking for when planning their wedding in Galena and Jo Daviess County!

You’ll also see our “Where to Start” buttons on the home page that help you find what you need fast!

Our next section is the Galena Country Journal, our online magazine. The first issue features history in the area with a look into the landscape, attractions and historical activities. Nancy Breed of the Galena & U.S. Grant Museum tells us about the Driftless Area and what put Galena & Jo Daviess County on the map. Wendy Heiken talks about living in a historical bed & breakfast and tells us about the reenactments that take place in Jo Daviess County. Amelia Roth has built a business on highlighting the colorful stories of the area with Amelia’s Ghost Tours, Vineyard Tours and Pub Crawls.

As you scroll down you’ll see boxes featuring our blog, the packages offered by businesses in the area and our Events Calendar. You’ll also see our Instagram feed @enjoygalenactry and a link to our digital Activity Guide. Page through to get even more ideas!

The Explore Jo Daviess County links to a map that gives you a great perspective of where the communities are located in relationship to the Mississippi River, the rest of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Using the Events Calendar:

You’ve booked your trip! Once you get here use our Events Calendar to find the fun activities happening during your stay!

  • Click the Calendar tab at the top of the page.
  • Choose the month of your visit for an overview of events.
  • Want a piece of paper to hold in your hands? You have two options!
    • Click the Print icon on the top right of the calendar.
    • Click the “Print Weekly Things to Do” for events happening Thursday to Wednesday each week.

Have any questions? Contact us!

 

Finding Fun for Kids This Summer!

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We all look forward to spending lots of quality time with the kids over the summer months, but sometimes you need help keeping them engaged and occupied. Whether it’s experiencing the rich history of Galena Country or running them ragged at the park, we’ve got some ideas for you!

Summer Camp:

  • Shenandoah Riding Center (Galena):¬†Horseback Riding Camp for riders of all skill levels¬†with opportunities in¬†five sessions of 1/2 day lessons. New this year is a sleepover camp July 18-20!
  • The Country Experience at Amstutz Farm (Elizabeth):¬†The Country Experience is a summer sleep-away camp for 7-12 year olds. A working farm where real-world work/play = confidence, respect, appreciation, joy. Read what Crain’s Chicago Business had to say about them HERE! (pictured)
  • Camp Casper with the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation:¬†With well over 900,000 known species, insects are the most diverse group of living things on Earth. They are pollinators, pests, predators, and prey, and they are the focus of Camp Casper 2016. With such a diversity of niches, behaviors, and life histories to cover, this is sure to be a fascinating year for Camp Casper. ¬†Two separate sessions open to different age groups. Older kids (ages 9-13) will attend on Monday through Wednesday while younger kids (ages 6-8) will attend Wednesday through Friday, June 21-24.¬†There is a fee attached to this program¬†and RSVP‚Äôs are required by calling JDCF at 815-858-9100 or emailing educator@jdcf.org.
  • Planetary Studies Foundation Summer Camp (Elizabeth): With programs like these it would be hard to choose…Living in the 1800’s, Space Week Astronaut Training, Cemetery & Genealogy Studies, Oceanography and Planet Earth & It’s Neighbors. For schedules, fees and registration click HERE!
    Learn more about the foundation, the museum and their special events HERE!
  • Galena Arts & Recreation Center (ARC): A valuable asset to the City of Galena and the surrounding communities, the Galena ARC offers several programs for school age children. Learn something new in the¬†Art Program or sign up the kids to spend the day at the pool with their Summer Camp!
  • Galena Territory Summer Program (Galena): Property owners and renters¬†can take advantage of summer programs at the Owners’ Club. Call Sue in the Recreation Department for details!
  • Camp Eagle at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa¬†(Galena): Book your stay at the Inn or choose from their condos and rental homes. There’s plenty to do as a family at the resort, but when you want to head to the spa,¬†hit the links¬†as a couple or take a romantic champagne cruise,¬†Camp Eagle provides activities and fun for kids age 4-12.

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Outdoor Fun:

  • Disc or Foot Golf: Try something new with foot golf at Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa or Lacoma in East Dubuque or¬†Disc Golf at Chestnut Mountain Resort.
  • Swimming Pools: Galena, Stockton, East Dubuque and Warren all have outdoor public¬†pools. The Galena Territory indoor and outdoor pools are open to property owners and guests.
  • Alpine Slide & Zip Line: Sled down the mountain towards the Mississippi River at Chestnut Mountain Resort! Check for special¬†passes and get unlimited rides! The Soaring Eagle gives you a bird’s eye view with panoramic views of the mountain, river and beyond!
  • Golf Lessons: Call up the pros for a private lesson at Woodbine Bend or Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa!
  • Paddle Board: Rent the equipment and get a lesson on paddle-boarding on the Galena River with Fever River Outfitters.

blacksmithshop_BradBasham

History Lessons:

    • Galena & U.S. Grant¬†Museum: View the hologram presentation before looking down into the real lead mine and then taking in the brand new Port of Galena exhibit.
    • Grant’s Home: Tour the home given to Ulysses and Julia Grant by the City of Galena.
    • Blacksmith Shop: Watch and learn from the ¬†blacksmiths as they forge items that are then sold in the gift shop!
    • Galena Public Library: Stop in to the Children’s Library for a quiet break!
    • Chicago Great Western Railway Depot Museum: Learn about the history and the influence the railroad had on Jo Daviess County.
    • Apple River Fort: Let the costumed interpreters show you the way of life for settlers back in 1832¬†when the Fort and the people in it held off¬†Blackhawk and his troops.

Try Something New:

  • Cooking Demonstration with Susan Steffan, The Breakfast Diva: Let the Breakfast Diva demonstrate some of her favorite recipes! Susan Steffan was a contestant on season 2 of Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship and her recipe was voted No. 1 by BedAndBreakfast.com! (Great for older kids!)
  • Magic Show with P.T. Murphy: “Galena’s #1 Attraction!” -Trip Advisor 2013, 2014. Witness the mysteries of an ancient art up close in P.T. Murphy‚Äôs private 24 seat theater located in the heart of historic downtown Galena.

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Have fun in Galena Country!