Stockton IL

Guys Getaway: Top Must-Do Experiences

Relax and recharge with the guys.

Whether you’re prepping for a guy’s trip, bachelor party, solo getaway, or a father-son vacation, here are a few experiences you don’t want to skip on your trip to Galena Country.

Outdoor Adventure

Home to twenty parks and trails, Galena Country offers hiking, biking, and cross country skiing opportunities for all levels of skill. For those interested in cycling, the Galena River Trail is 8.8 miles (one way) of hard-surfaced trail showcasing views of the Galena and Mississippi Rivers. Beginning in downtown Galena, the trail officially ends at the intersection with South River Road at Aiken. Users may continue on lightly traveled South River Road to reach the base of Chestnut Mountain Resort. The resort offers free chair lift rides for cyclists wishing to visit the resort restaurants or amenities at the top of the slope.

Bird enthusiasts will want to check out the Valley of Eden Bird Sanctuary in Stockon. Featuring more than 100 bird species and 6.6 miles of mowed trails, you’ll get exercise and birding all in one! Photography aficionados, journey to Horseshoe Mound Preserve in Galena and Gramercy Park in East Dubuque, both starring incredible views of Galena Country.

Long Hollow Canopy Tours is a thrilling group experience, zip lining through the trees at speeds up to 40 mph! This 2 1/2 hour tour begins with a UTV ride through the woods and finishes with a rappel or quick jump from the trees! Take your adventures to the water with a canoe or kayak and voyage down the Galena River. Paddleboards, bicycles, and e-bikes are also available to rent at Fever River Outfitters.

On the hunt

Spend the day hunting pheasant with experienced guides at River Valley Hunting in Scales Mound. Choose from one of five courses or a tower shoot! Fine-tune your fishing skills with a guided fly fishing experience through Galena Fly Fishing Outfitters. While in Scales Mound, grab a cold one and bite to eat at the South Side Hornet Pub & Grille or head over to Warren and check out Pecatonica Beer Company Tap House or Hixters Bar and Grill.

Hit the greens

Nine amazing courses to choose from, not sure where to start out? Try warming up on one of two 9-hole courses at Lacoma Golf Course (feel free to complete the full 45 while you’re there). Work up to the world-championship level courses and take on The General at Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa. Quench your thirst in East Dubuque at Millennium Bar & Marina or dine with a view at Timmerman’s Supper Club.

Order a round

Tour the Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. and kick back in the leather tasting room – it’s pretty incredible! Craft beer lovers, check out Galena Brewing Co. for a flight, bite and tour. You’ll likely leave both places with new bar stock, apparel and great memories!

Hit the town

Main Street Galena is loaded with remarkable shops, restaurants, and nightlife. From haunted pub crawls and tours to a magic theater and live music, everyone is sure to have a great time!

Stay a while

Whether you’re interested in a Resort with amenities or lodging in the heart of town, Galena Country has something to accommodate a couple of guys or your whole clan. Start planning the 2019 guys getaway today!

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

A mouth-watering tradition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winter Holidays in Galena Country

There’s something special about the holiday season. Maybe it’s the sense of wonder and amazement looking at the beautiful light displays, or the smell of hot cocoa and a fire burning in the fireplace. Or maybe, it’s the sentiment of gift-giving, family and traditions.

There’s no better way to cultivate those special feelings about the holidays, than a trip to Galena Country. Whether you’re on a family vacation, romantic getaway, or want to start a new tradition with friends, it’s the perfect addition to a wonderful holiday experience. Enjoy these wonderful events and activities during your ‘Christmas in Galena Country’ stay!

Galena

Dinner Date with History: SOLD OUT (Progressive) Sat., Nov. 10, 2018, 5-8 p.m. Join the members of Best of Galena as they open their Bed and Breakfasts for this annual event. Your evening will include appetizers, main course, and desserts, which will each be served at a different location. A wonderful opportunity to visit three different locations, meet new friends and start off your holiday festivities. Reservations required. To reserve tickets and for more information, contact Lorraine via email at info@belleairemansion.com.

Nouveau Weekend: Nov. 16-17, 2018. Calling all wine lovers and epicureans of all levels! Join us as we celebrate the French-inspired tradition of Nouveau previewing a sampling of the vintage from the fall harvest.

Shop Small Galena Country: Nov. 23-25, 2018. The weekend is kicked off with Friday Night Lights, including extended shopping hours, free parking, and free gourmet hot cocoa. Team up with your best shopping crew and #GetToGalenaCountry for some retail therapy on the #HelluvaHalfMile.

Holiday Kick Off: Sat., Nov. 24, 2018. Enjoy the garland-draped shops along Galena’s Main St. and watch as Santa is escorted to the Old Market House by carolers and festive floats! Start of Santa’s Arrival: 5:30 p.m., Lighting of Tree: 6 p.m.

Holiday Fire in the Sky: Sat., Dec. 1, 2018. Live Carolers, hot cocoa and a fireworks display will take over the Galena River levee during this holiday celebration. 3:30-6 p.m. – Attend a pre-party celebration at The Elks Club. This family-friendly gathering and will include kids activities and live music by the Wundos. 6 p.m. –  Music on the Galena River levee. Sing along to Holiday music as fireworks fill the sky!

Night of the Luminaria & Living Windows: Sat., Dec. 8, 2018, 4-7 p.m. The streets, stairs, and sidewalks of Galena will be lined with nearly 5,000 candle-lit luminaries. Experience Living Windows as the storefronts come alive with holiday vignettes, sure to bring a smile to any Grinch. Stay tuned to learn how to vote for your favorite Living Window with a chance to win a free overnight in Galena!

Dinner at Desoto House Hotel: Sat., Dec. 8, 2018, 5-10 p.m. While the town is aglow with luminaries and ‘living windows’, enjoy a dinner by candlelight in the hotel’s courtyard where you will be enchanted by white twinkling lights and magical decorations. A special menu will be offered with live entertainment by Tony Sconyers

 

Galena Festival of the Performing Arts Christmas Concert: Sun., Dec. 9, 2018, 2-4 p.m. After enjoying the Luminaria spectacle on Galena’s festively decorated streets on Saturday night, settle in for a fun-filled Sunday afternoon of Celtic music and charm – a lovely way to usher in the holiday season!

Breakfast with Santa: Sun., Dec.9, 2018, 9 a.m.-noon. For big kids and little kids… bring a list for Santa and enjoy Rudolph, Frosty, and a helpful elf while enjoying an extensive breakfast buffet. Santa arrives at 9 a.m. and leaves at noon. Reservations are highly recommended.

The Generals Christmas Ball: Sat., Dec. 15, 2018, 7-11 p.m. Formed in 1961, The Galena Generals portray the nine Civil War Generals from Galena. This fundraiser offers dinner, dancing and fun in the historic confines of the historic Desoto House Hotel. Period music provided by the Americana Band and stories by The Generals themselves. Meal of Stuffed Pork Chop and Mixed Vegetables. Period Dress Welcomed.

Christmas Carols & Cookies: Sat., Dec. 21, 2018, 7-10 p.m. Warm up with Galena Cellars as you enjoy the sounds of Christmas accompanied by seasonal holiday wines and delicious cookies! Pianist and talented soloist Lannette Calhoun will host the evening that is sure to bring you Christmas cheer. Come sing along to your favorite holiday songs and enjoy a glass of your favorite Galena Cellars wine!

New Years Eve…DeSoto Style! Dec. 31, 2018, 9:30 p.m.–Midnight. Ring in the new year with Travis Hosette and the music of “Sinatra.” Dance and party all the way to 2019! Enjoy a cash bar, Hors d’ oeuvres, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. Reservations are highly recommended.

Take a tour! 
Tri-State Trolley will be offering 45 min. Night of the Luminaria tours at 5, 6, 7 and 8 p.m. for $16. Sat., Dec. 8.
Enjoy a romantic, Night of the Luminaria heated shuttle bus tour with Amelia’s and a candlelit tour of the historic Ryan Mansion for $18. Shuttle Departs right behind the Desoto House Hotel. Tours run on the hour beginning at 5 p.m. and finish with a guided candlelit tour of one Galena’s most famous homes, the Ryan Mansion.

Mistletoe Stroll Holiday House Tour: Sat., Dec. 15, 2018, 1-4 p.m. Join Best of Galena as they open up their Bed and Breakfasts! Experience Galena’s finest Bed and Breakfasts. Tour their parlors and dining rooms, which have been decked out for the holidays and enjoy a couple of tasty treats – they may even share some recipes!

Tip: Plan a romantic dinner for just the two of you, try One Eleven Main for farm-to-table or Fritz & Frites for an intimate setting with a European flair.

Elizabeth

Christmas in Elizabeth: Sat., Dec. 1, 2018, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Celebrate an old-fashioned Christmas with the Village of Elizabeth. Tour the 1876 Banwarth House & Museum decorated for the season, check out the caboose and ten operating model trains at the Chicago Great Western Railway Depot Museum, ride a trolley and visit Santa. While you are there, partake in the living history demonstration at the Apple River Fort and participate in the Santa Dash! Enjoy a craft fair, live music, food and children’s activities. In cooperation with the Elizabeth, IL Chamber of Commerce annual event, “Christmas in the Village‚” the Apple River Fort State Historic Site will provide holiday atmosphere with seasonal music and host baked items and small home-made gifts sale at the Interpretive Center (311 E. Myrtle St.). Costumed history interpreters will also participate in interactive impressions and activities.

Tip: Get a latté or bottle of wine at E-Town Coffee and make sure there’s time to stroll through Elizabeth’s Grand Antique Mall.

Stockton

Living Windows: Fri., Nov. 23, 2018, 4-6 p.m. As part of the Shop Small Galena Country weekend event, Stockton’s store front’s will come alive with Living Windows! An event that is sure to get you into the holiday sprit! Come hungry and enjoy a pop-up dinner at Stella’s Cafe & Catering from 5-9 p.m. Reservations are recommended!

Stockton Christmas Walk: Fri. Dec. 7 2018, 5:30 p.m. Welcome the holiday season with caroling, Christmas tree lighting and the crowing of Little Jack Frost and Miss Merry Christmas. On Sat., Dec. 8, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., stroll from store to store and shop, visit Santa, explore the festival of trees, ride in a horse-drawn wagon and grab a bite to eat in downtown!

Tip: Stop into Sweet Alice’s for a treat then shop for gifts and holiday decor at Beautifully Berkeley Bouquets & Home. Warm up in Stella’s Cafe & Catering with a blooming tea and fresh bread.

 

Warren

Warren Christmas Walk: Enjoy the Festival of Trees in the charming & historic Warren Community Building (Old Stone Hotel), starting November 30 and ending January 6, 2018. Stroll through town to see the decorated snowmen contributed by local businesses and holiday decorations. Santa will arrive in a parade on Monday, December 3 from 5 – 7:30 p.m. Explore the town and sample the treats and refreshments provided by participating businesses, don’t forget to register for door prizes!

Tip: Stop in to Wally’s Pizzeria for a great meal in their charming Main St. diner and Pecatonica Beer Co. for a local brew!

More Ideas

Celebrate Independence Day in Galena Country

Independence Day celebrations in Galena Country means fun-filled days of activities for the whole family, mouthwatering BBQ’s and of course the sizzle boom and bang of spectacular firework displays.

Here’s your guide to navigating all of the fun leading up to and happening on the 4th of July!

East Dubuque – June 30

First to celebrate is East Dubuque. Take part in a wiffle ball, volleyball or beanbag tournament to work up an appetite. Cool down with a splish and a splash in the pool, grab some yummy food, an ice-cold beer and relax while you enjoy good tunes by Laura McDonald and the Barfly’s. At dusk, enjoy the sparkle in the sky as the fireworks are set off.

Hanover – July 3

This holiday celebration starts with the VFW’s traditional annual beef roast dinner and Main St. comes to life with activity as the parade makes its way through the crowds. Put your skills to the test by joining the canoe race down the Apple River and at dusk the fireworks light up the river. Finish the evening at the VFW with live music.

Stockton – July 4

Grown to be a “must-do” event in the area for its more than 50 years in existence, this celebration boasts more than 70 vendor booths. Kids are kept happy at the bounce houses, a science stage show, kiddie tractor pull, Bingo and more. The Lions Club Chicken Dinner is a favorite and the live music keeps everyone going. Pack in the swim bag to cool off in the pool between activities. The evening ends with a colorful burst of fireworks.

Galena – July 4

Want some exercise before you indulge in some delicious BBQ? Start your day with a workout! Join the Galena’s Buckhill Run/Chalk Walk which is a challenging 5K race.

Once you have recovered, make your way to Galena’s 4th of July Community Day for a fun day in the park. Grab a burger, quench your thirst at the beer tent and boogie to the live music.

The kids will be thrilled with bounce houses, games and face painting, along with activities for the entire family, including sand volleyball, a slam dunk contest and much more.

The fun doesn’t stop there… then it’s time for the 22nd Annual Galena Independence Day Celebration which kicks off with live music followed by the annual community parade down Main Street downtown Galena.

As you make your way to Grant Park for the grand finale of the day, stop by Green Street Plaza for a bite to eat, beverages and live music. At dusk, enjoy a spectacular fireworks display launched from Grant Park.

If you prefer a good vantage point, be sure to book your space at the DeSoto House Hotel’s Rooftop Party. Spend the evening atop the oldest operating hotel in Illinois. This top spot offers prime views of the Galena firework display. Enjoy burgers, brats, hot dogs, beer, wine and more while jamming to your favorite tunes.

 

Henry’s Favorite Things About Jo Daviess County

For our “Favorite Things” series we asked local artist of Stoned Art Studio, Henry Matthiessen III, to share what he loves about Jo Daviess County!

Driftless-Region

 

1. The Driftless Area scenery is just stunning. I’m very fortunate to be living and have my studio on top of one of the hills amongst it.

 

Henry-Matthiessen

2. Having access to and being able hang out with many of the artisans sprinkled through out Jo Daviess County. They inspire and mentor me as an artist.

 

Sharing

3. The sharing that takes place among the folks living here.

 

Mississippi

4. Access to the Mississippi River. (photo taken at the Mississippi Palisades State Park)

Elizabeth

5. The experience of small town Elizabeth, Stockton, and Warren. (photo taken in Elizabeth, IL)

 

Wineries

6. Having all the wineries in the area.

Henry has lived in Jo Daviess County for about two years, but has been visiting from the Chicagoland area for over 30 years. Stoned Art Studio has been established for 5 years…it’s a combination of his artwork and landscape photography. His studio on Snipe Hollow Rd. has been constructed from reclaimed, old barn steel¬†and¬†100 year old boxcar doors are planted in the walls. Post and beams, tongue and groove from an old locomotive shed, etc. Henry is moving his art and landscape photography into this space from his basement studio, to be ready for his open studio events on weekends.¬†

Studio

Henry has been involved in the development of the NW IL Art Festival and the All River Road Talent art tour (ARRT). The next tour will be held Saturday, November 7, 2015. Artists of all ages and art styles come together to showcase their talents by opening their studios to the public. Take a country drive, visit with artists and tour their studios. Please call the individual studio for specific hours. Some will be open Saturday and Sunday.

All photos are from Henry Matthiessen III, follow him on Instagram and Facebook!

10 Favorite Things About Jo Daviess County Series – #1

Molly’s Ten Favorite Things About Jo Daviess County

We asked local mom, teacher and business owner, Molly McGovern-Mensendike to share what she loved about Jo Daviess County!

1. Hands down, we have the best views of hills and greenery with historic downtown architecture tucked into the hillsides. I need to stop myself sometimes to take it all in and not overlook it with my busy lifestyle. In my opinion, the best view in Jo Daviess County is scenic overlook, just outside Elizabeth. I don’t think I’ve ever driven by when there wasn’t someone stopping to take a picture.

scenic overlook_text
2. I teach at one of the best public schools in Illinois, River Ridge CUSD 210. Our teachers and staff care about our students and provide them with the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in their careers and as citizens. The schools in Jo Daviess County are THE best in my opinion. The small-town feel with the highly educated teachers and staff makes for incomparable educational opportunities for our students in Jo Daviess County. Tootin’ my own horn here!

3. The interesting people of Jo Daviess County are friendly and unique. I’ve only known the townspeople to be friendly and wave as you go by, even when they don’t know your name. Take a cruise down a country road and you’ll see what I mean. AND, there are so many artists and musicians, too. I love to drive through downtown Galena and hear the music being played in the small park and see the artists working in their storefront windows.

4. The rural area provides the inhabitants and visitors an abundance of produce and baked goods at local farmers’ markets. A great example would be the produce crates that Groezinger Produce Farm provides upon request. The Elizabeth Farmer’s Market is on Friday night so you can pick up your needs as the weekend begins. I like to get my pumpkins and corn from Dittmar Farms at this one!

groezinger produce basket_text

5. Geocaching. This is an activity that all, young and old, can enjoy. Download the geocaching app, and watch the video of how it works. Then, wherever you are, you can geocache. I find it works well if I have been running a ton of errands and want to reward my patient kids with an activity! It takes a bit of navigation and some searching!

geocaching_text

6. You cannot comprehend the magnificence of Galena’s Halloween parade unless you have experienced it. My favorite part is the blowing of the hot air from the hot air balloon baskets driven through the parade. Oh, the warmth they bring…

7. Country Fair weekend in Galena that coincides with the Autumn Craft Fair in Elizabeth at River Ridge High School is my favorite of all the fall weekends. I have nostalgic memories of growing up in Galena and experiencing the caramel apples at the fair. The crisp apples and the crisp fall air are two things that bring comfort to my soul.

8. For a small town, Stockton’s 4th of July celebration is my favorite. The chicken that is grilled at the park is well worth the wait. There’s always a great band with afternoon music and a fabulous show of fireworks at dusk. This is my family’s go-to spot to celebrate Independence Day!

Stellas_text

9. Restaurants, restaurants, restaurants. I may be a little biased as I have a brother for a chef. I of course love his restaurant, Stella’s Café and Catering, with the ambiance of the historic building and the homemade soups and breads, the fresh salads and homemade dressings. Yum! My all-time favorite place for steaks (the only steak I ever eat without A1 sauce) and Bloody Marys is Galena’s Log Cabin Steakhouse. If you dine there, you MUST get the saganaki as an appetizer. Elizabeth’s Small Town Saloon is a great lunch destination for a burger and a beer. Their spicy ketchup is to-die-for. I mean, I crave this stuff like I were nine months pregnant.

10. The small towns in Jo Daviess County are full of activities and festivals. Galena’s Living Windows and the lighting of the luminaria really make Christmastime magical. All in all, I make it a point to try something new. For instance, this year, Elizabeth is hosting the Midwest Garlic Fest and I am dying to try it out!

Savvys_text

Molly McGovern-Mensendike was born in Galena, IL and currently resides in Elizabeth, IL with ties to all of the communities in Jo Daviess County. She opened Savvy Scavengers with her mom in November of 2006 in Galena. It’s a “boutique for the eclectic woman’s style offering clothing, shoes, purses, and jewelry.” They like to think of it as a place where both a mom and daughter can shop together. They’ve expanded their business to include another location in Stockton, IL and opened Stockton Floral & Gifts, along with Sweet Alice’s candy shop. In addition to these entrepreneurial pursuits Molly teaches high school English at River Ridge where her students “are forever engrained in her heart.”

Stay tuned for more favorites in our blog series!

 

Family-friendly Tips

Traveling with kids is a great time to bond as a family and spend quality time together. Time is precious and you want to make sure your vacation is fun and action-packed. Here are some tips to help you plan the perfect getaway in Galena, IL & Jo Daviess County!

Where to Stay: There are options for every budget, here are some ideas to get you started. Use the Where to Stay tab at galena.org or our Activity Guide to find the right fit for you!

1. Country Inn & Suites (Galena): The indoor water park and complimentary breakfast make this a great option for families. Plus, Culver’s and Emmy Lou’s Diner are in the front yard! Stockton’s location is pet friendly and has an indoor pool!
2. LeFevre Inn & Resort: Feels like home in this comfortable resort. You’ll enjoy the outdoor pool, pond and panoramic views. Close to shopping in Galena, the Alpine Slide at Chestnut Mountain Resort & Horseshoe Mound Preserve.
3. Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa: High end amenities in the hotel or maybe a rental home or condo suits your needs. The indoor/outdoor pool, lawn chess and paddle boats make this a popular option.

ER Exterior 01

photo by UnPosed Photography

What to Do: Keeping busy, but not overdoing it is the name of the game! Use our Family Friendly Outdoor Recreation tab for more great ideas!

1. Rent a canoe at Fever River Outfitters to get up close & personal with the turtles in the Galena River.
2. Head out to the Shenandoah Riding Center for a trail ride through the beautiful Galena Territory.
3. Climb the rocks in the Gathering Circle, follow the clues along the trails and take in the views at Horseshoe Mound Preserve.

Photo Oct 02, 9 29 42 AM

What to Eat: Let’s face it, it’s vacation…sweets and ice cream make the day extra special!

1. Bugaboo’s (Warren, IL) Step back in time to an old fashioned Main St…indoors! Plan on lunch or dinner and then dig into an ice cream sundae. You may even see the barber shop in action!
2. Three Sisters Sweet Shoppe (Elizabeth, IL) Delicious, homemade cupcakes and treats, ice cream and charming decor. Sit on their outdoor patio and wave as the traffic goes by, enjoying small town life.
3. Great American Popcorn Co. (Galena, IL) Enjoy a sample when you walk in the door, then stock up on delicious popcorn mixes, candy & soda. Don’t forget an ice cream cone before you go…maybe Superman or Zanzibar Chocolate?

Dave Lewis-May2015_lowres

What to See:

1. Walk through the Planetary Studies Foundation Earth & Space Museum where you’ll see items from NASA, meteorites and fossils!
2. Tour the living history at Apple River Fort  State Historic Site in Elizabeth and learn the story of the Blackhawk War.
3. Watch the experienced blacksmiths forge custom tools at The Old Blacksmith Shop in Galena, IL.