places to visit near chicago

Rediscover Romance with a Getaway to Galena Country

©Orange Anchor Photography

Sipping on a glass of local wine. Feeling the stress of everyday life melt away during a couple’s massage. Snuggling with that special someone in front of a fireplace in your cozy bed-and-breakfast suite. These are just a few of the reasons you’ll fall in love with making Galena Country, the destination for your next romantic rendezvous.

Nestled in the corner of Northwestern Illinois, along the Mississippi River, Galena is a hidden gem that offers activities to suit couples of all kinds. Below, are eight reasons to start planning a getaway today.

1. Spa-aaaah. Nothing says relaxation like a cozy couple’s massage or even a pedicure for two. For example, you and yours can head to the Galena Day Spa for a couple’s massage, which comes complete with complimentary champagne and chocolates. There’s also the Stonedrift Spa at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, which offers a menu of couple’s treatments, including the marine mineral soak in the private couple’s spa suite. But your spa options don’t end there. Indulge Day Spa, Healing Touch of Galena Massage (where the therapist will come to you), Sacred Sole Massage & Bodywork and the soon-to-open Studio One Green Spa and Salon are also stellar options for a little R&R.

2. Tee for two. If taking in 9 or 18 holes is a favorite pastime for the two of you, grab the clubs and schedule a tee time at one of Galena’s 10 courses. From taking on The General Golf Course to professional lessons at Lacoma Golf Club there’s an option for every skill level. Or try out a fun-filled round of mini-golf at the Lil’ General, next to the Palace Campground. 

3. Quench your thirst. Taste and tour your way through Galena Country and explore four vineyards, two craft breweries and Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. Wine enthusiasts can experience lovely scenic drive to Fergedaboudit Vineyard and Winery, The Rocky Waters Vineyard and Winery, Massbach Ridge Vineyard and Winery, and pet-friendly Galena Cellars Vineyard and Winery, all pairing years of winemaking talent with breath-taking views of the driftless region. Craft beer lovers will enjoy the variety of locally made brews at Pecatonica Beer Company Taphouse and the Galena Brewing Company! 

4. Explore the backroads. Cruise along historic Stagecoach Trail to the Thriving Thistle in Apple River and a picnic at Apple Canyon State Park, or explore the winding corners of Blackjack Road to for a bite to eat and to watch the sunset at Chestnut Mountain Resort. Historic Highway 20 is no stranger to incredible views, head to Elizabeth for jambalaya and live music at Cajun Jacks, or to East Dubuque for dining with a view at Timmerman’s Supper Club.

5. Wine and dine. Make your meal for two special at one of Galena Country’s culinary fortunes. From American tastes to Italian to German, there’s a cuisine for every type of palate. Partake in an intimate dining experience at the ‘chef’s table’ at Goldmoor Inn & Dining, or for a sample of European-fare, try Fritz and Frites Bistro. Savor tastes like a prime steak and fresh scallops at Fried Green Tomatoes, or be welcomed like family at the Log Cabin Steakhouse, Galena’s oldest steakhouse. Taste a little bit of Italy at Vinny Vanucchi’s “Little Italy.” Or take in an intimate dinner at Woodlands Restaurant at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa overlooking the picturesque Lake Galena.

6. Shop around. Looking to do a little shopping on your getaway? Treasure-hunt along Galena’s Historic Main Street, where you’ll find more than 125 shops, galleries, eateries and attractions. From curing your sweet tooth at confectionaries, such as Chocolat’ 229 and Galena’s Kandy Kitchen, to finding something sexy at the Noty Kity, you’re sure to find something for keeping and for gifting. If antiques and home decor are your cup of tea, furniture, collectibles, old toys, repurposed jewelry, albums, art and potteries are a few of the items you might find at shops such as A Bushel and A Peck and Elizabeth’s Grand Antique Co., and Anchors and Arrows.

7. Reconnect with nature. Explore via kayak, canoe, or paddle-board along the Galena River, discover new scenic views on Galena Country’s 20 parks and trails, or cruise the Galena River Trail. Thrill seekers may enjoy speeding along a zip line at Long Hollow Canopy Tours or cruising down the Alpine Slide at Chestnut Mountain Resort. 

8. A romantic night in. Draw a bath and pop open that bottle of locally made wine! Galena Country’s award-winning B&B’s and Inns offer the perfect opportunity to snuggle up for the night. For something luxurious, check out the Jail Hill Inn, home to suites with gas fireplaces and steam showers or bubble massage tubs. The Inn at Irish Hollow offers luxury cottages on a 500-acre working farm in the Galena countryside. From resorts and hotels to B&B’s and vacation rentals, choose to lodge immersed in mother nature, amidst history, or in the heart of downtown Galena. What are you waiting for? Book your stay and let the planning begin with a browse through the visitors guide. 

 

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!

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.