Illinois

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.

Cozy Drink Spots in Galena Country

‘Tis the season to wrap your hands around a warm cup of comfort!

We’ve rounded up some toasty ‘hot spots’ where you can relax and thaw out.

Big Bill’s Sandwich Shop & Coffee Bar, Galena
Savor a steaming cappuccino, sip on a Chai Tea Latte or indulge in a Hot Chocolate topped with cream at this full-service coffee bar. They expertly roast their coffee in small batches – try their brew of the month and take some home with you!

Blaum Bros. Distilling Co., Galena
Visit this local craft distillery for a tour behind the scenes and then treat yourself to a Hot Toddy made with Bourbon, honey, fresh lemon juice and hot water before heading back out into the cold!

Elle & Becks., Galena
This unique spot features a Coffee & Gelato within the confines of a lifestyle boutique that offers the latest in fashion, accessories and home ware. You can even take their delicious coffee home with you!

E-Town Coffee Co., Elizabeth
This cozy spot offers freshly ground coffee, espresso and other warm drinks. Enjoy a tasty sandwich and browse local art on display and choose a bottle of wine from the wide selection of wines.

Frank O’ Dowds Irish Pub, Galena
How about an Irish Coffee in an authentic Irish pub? This pub was designed and handcrafted in Ireland itself. Together with your coffee, the live entertainment and good Irish cheer is bound to warm you up in no time!

Galena Cellars and Massbach Ridge Wine Tasting Rooms, Galena
Warm up while sipping on a glass of mulled wine (Gluhwein) at one of these local tasting rooms situated on the Helluva Half Mile. Browse many award-winning wines to enjoy at home.

Kaladi’s Coffee Bar, Galena
Make yourself comfortable in this family-owned coffee shop. Enjoy an afternoon pick-me-up or delicious hot chocolate as well as a selection of delicious baked goods and sandwiches! Please note this is a cash-only establishment.

Mean Bean Roasters, Galena
Think custom gourmet coffee! Here you have the option to custom design a personal coffee blend and label. Choose up to five different mouthwatering flavors to create your own individual and unique blend. Enjoy a warm cup of freshly brewed java, made locally by fellow coffee lovers.

Stella’s Café & Catering, Stockton
After “striking a pose” in front of Stockton’s famous downtown murals, warm up with Stella’s famous Caramel Macchiato! Housed in the W.E. White Building, listed on the National Historic Registry, Stella’s is known for its beautiful original tin ceiling and artful ambiance.

Thriving Thistle Market, Apple River
Situated on the famous Stagecoach Trail in Apple River, lies this little gem! Not only is it a gas station, but here you will find wholesome nourishment too! Grab a Bullet-Proof coffee (coffee with butter and coconut oil blend), while you fill up with gas for your travels!

Now that we’ve got you all nice and toasty… you are ready to explore more of GalenaCountry! These dining options will take care of your hunger when the times comes and they will have cozy drinks to keep you going too!

Tag us in your cozy drink snaps and use #GalenaCountry so that we can share the warmth!

Naughty gifts for the naughty list this year – shop Galena Country!

Shopping for someone who’s been put on the naughty list? Check out this list of Galena Country favorites that are sure to carry what you’re looking for.

Head to Noty Kity and shop sexy lip balms, body lotion, lingerie, massage oils, accessories and more! If you want it, Noty Kity can get it! The staff is focused on providing the best and largest variety of products and the highest level of customer service and satisfactions.

Nothing says naughty like a “whiskey made me do it” t-shirt from Blaum Bros Distilling Co. Visit the gift shop, pick up a comfy tee and some tasty spirits for that special devil in your life. While there, check out the guided tour. This is not a standard 5-minute talk but, rather, a full sensory experience. Touch, taste and feel the ingredients that make Blaum Bros. spirits unique!

Looking for the perfect stocking stuffer? Pick up a few gift certificates from Miss Kitty’s Grape Escape. Throw in a bottle of Kouzabel wine as a delicious bonus. Enjoy a savory martini while you shop and don’t miss the outstanding appetizer selection and sinful desserts.

Does your special someone prefer money over presents? Give them some cash to double at Nancy’s Slots in East Dubuque! This Gaming Cafe provides a relaxing and comfortable place to play slots free from noise and distractions of a crowded bar or busy restaurant. Who doesn’t like walking away with more cash?

Pic credit: Poopsie’s

Poopsie’s has everything that is ‘beyond the ordinary’… sure to suit those who make it to the naughty list. Find just the right gift to match their personality. Unique games, funny books, contemporary crafts, home accessories, one-of-a-kind art and so much more can be found in this fun store!

 

Pic credit: Galena Canning Co.

Does the naughty list qualifier have a potty mouth? Galena Canning Company has just the gift for them… Chef Ivo’s locally made hot sauces! Sample the old-fashioned jams, jellies, salsa, BBQ sauces and more while you’re there!

Lets hope that next year, ‘they’ll be good… for goodness sake!’

Shop Galena Country – Thrift in the Driftless

Steeped in history, Galena Country is the perfect setting for antique treasure hunting. Admire ornately carved legs of an antique coffee table or, perhaps, a funky lamp with a hand-molded base. Though many items have lost their luster, they stand with glory and pride intact.

Red’s Iron Yard & Wholesale Barn offers a unique thrifting experience in Galena. The Barn stores hundreds of metal items waiting to be customized into a piece of art. The Yard, located downtown, showcases cast iron, yard décor, weather vanes and even whiskey barrels.

There’s also The Galena Antique Mall, located on Highway 20, just two miles east of downtown Galena. This mall includes more than 55 dealers selling antiques, collectibles, jewelry, furniture and vintage toys.

Galena’s historic Main Street, also known as the Helluva Half Mile, is home to Grammy’s Attic and Gustafson & Grey Ltd. These stores feature antiques, fine jewelry and unique finds.

Bookworms enjoy sifting through 30,000 quality used books at Peace of the Past! These books are surrounded by other interesting finds, including vintage advertising memorabilia and retro furniture. Speaking of retro, Tin Pan Alley carries pieces that span centuries, including art deco, mid-century modern and primitives.

Explore Elizabeth for exciting antique gems! Located just a few miles outside of Galena, Elizabeth is known for antiquing. Check out Common Cents Resale. They pride themselves in keeping the shop fresh by treasure hunting for product throughout the country. Here, you will find a large amount of furniture as well as art pieces, ornaments, crockery you name it!

While perusing new, used and antique furnishings at A Bushel and a Peck, stock up on local, and uber tasty, homemade and homegrown products. The Shop on the Hill’s antique selection fills the entire first floor of a Victorian home.

Elizabeth Grand Antique Co. promises to keep one occupied for hours on end with its 28,000-sq. ft. antique mall. Touch a piece of history at every turn and imagine the life lived at the time of its creation.

Need a bit more of a thrift fix? Check out Sullivan’s Antiques in Hanover, which offers antique and vintage furniture as well as a little bit of rock-n-roll! Antiques Etc. is a 100-year-old farmhouse in Stockton, showcasing ever-changing collections. Dusty’s Closet Antiques in Warren, welcomes shoppers to explore their 1856 brick house full of beautiful antique furniture, vintage collectibles and small gifts. Treasures await!

Japanese TV show shoots Illinois special, features Galena, IL

Jo Daviess County raised its tourism profile with a Japanese television program called Tabi Salad. In September 2016, the TV celebrity travel show filmed a visit to Illinois, including Galena in part two of the series. Tabi Salad is a 90-minute weekend morning show featuring a 20 minute travel segment. The Illinois Office of Tourism partnered with Connect Worldwide Japan Co., Ltd. and secured Illinois for their 4 part overseas travel show. The Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) worked with the Illinois Office of Tourism for this special road trip.

The team traveled from Chicago to Galena, IL; enjoying the views on US Hwy 20. Upon arrival the host, Ms. Aoi Yoshikura, tells viewers, “Here you will find the old-fashioned mid-western town of Galena, a 19th century mining town with a quiet pace of life where you can escape the busy city. With the old buildings just as they were, it looks like a nice place to live. It takes you back in time and you get a feel for the way America used to be.”

Ms. Yoshikura enters the charming bed and breakfast, Farmers’ Guest House, commenting that “the owner is lively and cheerful and greets you like an old friend.” She also enjoyed the accommodations, the “cute, country-style rooms, great for relaxing,” and the homemade cherry danish is a “real taste of Mid-America.”

The travel show takes viewers to a relaxing mud & charcoal facial at the Stonedrift Spa at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, before heading downtown for dinner at Log Cabin Steakhouse. The petite host enjoyed their specialty, hand-cut Allen Bros. steak, “so big, everything is big here! So tender and delicious and I ate the whole thing!”

Ms. Yoshikura took to the skies in a hot air balloon with Galena on The Fly, enjoying the panoramic views of Jo Daviess County. The footage from the balloon is stunning.

Viewers of Tabi Salad can find travel information here at galena.org!