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9 Reasons to visit Galena Country this winter

Whether you look at winter as a time for an outdoor adventure to embrace the elements or a call to head indoors for cozy relaxation and family downtime, Galena Country offers the perfect winter escape. From a couple’s retreat to a family vacation, from skiing to sleigh rides, from a Winter Carnival to wine tastings, here are 9 reasons winter is the best time to visit Galena Country.

Chestnut Mountain Resort

1. Skiing & Snowboarding at Chestnut Mountain Resort

It doesn’t matter if you’re an avid skier or a novice, you should hit the slopes during the winter at Chestnut Mountain Resort. Chestnut’s over 220 rolling acres and 475-foot vertical drop are home to 19 ski trails and a 7-acre terrain park, The Farside, featuring over 25 rails and structures. With two quad lifts, four triple chair lifts, two conveyor lifts, and one surface lift, you won’t be waiting in line to get back to the peak.

2. The Nordic Center at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa

For other winter activities, Nordic Center at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa has a 1.5-mile skating pond for that authentic outdoor ice skating experience. Or maybe a winter wonder sightseeing expedition is more your style? You can explore the snow-covered countryside when you cross-country ski or snowshoe over the Center’s 7 miles of groomed trails. And for the kids, there’s nothing more fun than sledding over their golf course at the famous 18th hole. All equipment is available for rent from Fever River Outfitters.

3. Winter Carnival Weekend at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa

Take advantage of the long Presidents Day Weekend and come for Winter Carnival Weekend at Eagle Ridge. The Nordic Center activities will be available plus an assortment of carnival fun, including balloon glows, pony rides, wine tasting, ice-turkey bowling, snow painting, live music and more.

4. Nature Reserves

The Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation works to protect the land near Galena. Casper Bluff is one of the areas under their protection and worth a visit if just for the scenic views of the Mississippi. The real star here is not the view but, rather, the archaeological finds found on this 85-acre site. Fifty-one burial mounds from the Aiken Mount group, a culture that lived nearly 3,000 years ago, rest on these grounds. On select winter dates, they light up the night with a luminary hike via snowshoes or skis, complete with bonfire. For other parks and trails, check out this link. For a peaceful trek through the countryside, visit the Galena River Trail. The trail is perfect for families going cross-country skiing or a snowshoe hike with views of the Galena River and bluffs.

5. Shopping

Shop Galena’s Main Street. With more than 125 independently-owned businesses, offering everything from crafts to vintage clothing to fine chocolates, this shopping excursion is sure to keep you warm. The purchase you make for yourself or a loved one at one of these specialty shops will be something you’ll find nowhere else. The towns of Elizabeth and Stockton offer even more boutique stores to pique your interest. Visit Sweet Alice’s for some sweet treats, Nature’s Treasures for new home or garden decor, or how about Elizabeth’s Grand Antique Mall for that unique treasure!

6. Cozy Dining 

Whether you’re looking for farm-to-table, like One Eleven Main, fine dining, like Goldmoor Inn, or just a really good sandwich, Galena Country offers amazing dining establishments with a full range of culinary choices. There’s breakfast with ambiance at Stella’s Cafe & Catering, great ethnic options, such as Campeche Restaurant, or romantic dinners for two at Fried Green Tomatoes or Log Cabin Steakhouse, two iconic Galena restaurants. From fine dining to intimate cafes and coffeehouses, personal service, fine food and good wine, including locally-produced wines, reign in Galena Country.


7. Wine, Beer, and Spirits 

Galena Cellars offers more than 40 varieties of wine. Stop by their Main Street tasting room, located in a historic 1840s granary building. Massbach Ridge Winery also offers visitors the ease and accessibility of a tasting room right in downtown Galena. Ask to sample their St. Pepin, displaying “a whiff of citrus and cuts with a spray of green apple.” For beer lovers, Galena Brewing Co. offers a full microbrewery experience from tours to tastings to dining and live entertainment and Pecatonica Beer Tap House is hoppin’ (pun intended) with seasonal brews and great company. But if a martini or shot of whiskey is more to your liking, visit Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. for daily tours and tastings of the premium spirit of your choice – whiskey, vodka, gin and more – produced right in downtown Galena.

8. Cozy B&B’s

Named the B&B Capital of the Midwest, Galena Country is proud to offer a variety of warm and intimate places to stay. Check into a historic 1800s bed & breakfast right in town, such as Abe’s Spring Street Guesthouse, and you’ll be just steps away from Main Street. Here you’ll get all the conveniences of home, complete with breakfast in the morning, dessert and coffee at night and your own key to the house. Other B&Bs, such as The Felt Manor Guest House, is situated in the hills, offering a beautiful view of Galena from above. And all of these private residences and inns offer their own style of historic charm, breakfast and personalized service, along with great suggestions of where to go and what to do in the area.

9. Nightlife and Festivals

When night time comes and you want to know where to go… enjoy live music venues, such as The CornerstoneMiss Kitty’s Grape Escape, Galena Brewing Company and Frank O’Dowd’s Irish Pub & Grill. For family fun, make it a night out at P.T. Murphy Magic Theatre, an intimate 24-seat theatre where the magician dazzles his audience with optical illusion tricks and a mischievous sense of humor. Experience fine dining and exceptional entertainment in a unique Supper Club atmosphere at Amelia’s Under the Lamplight Dinner Theater. Annual events to look forward to include Holiday Fire in the Sky, Night of the Luminaria & Living Windows, Galena Whiskey Weekend, Java, Chocolate & Champagne Stroll, Galena Goes 50’s, and Wine Lovers Weekend. Check out even more events here.

Bonus tip: 

For the history buffs out there, some historic attractions are indeed open in the winter! Keep warm in the Ulysses S. Grant Home, learn all about the history of Galena Country at these museums, and make sure that you stop by the Old Market House in Galena where you will find the largest collection of Ulysses S. Grant memorabilia in the world! It also happens to be the Galena Country Welcome Center where you can gather some more information on what to do in the area.

Book your accommodation and start planning your winter escape using this helpful visitors guide.

6 ways to Unwind in Galena Country

We all need a little R&R now and again. In fact, most of us probably don’t get enough time to ourselves to re-charge those batteries. Here are a few top ways to refresh with a retreat to Galena Country. 

Spa Day

There’s nothing better than spending the day relaxing, sipping champagne, and being pampered. Treat yourself to a relaxing spa day at one of these incredible spa and wellness centers:

If you’re interested in something a little more intimate, consider booking a stay at a lodging property that offers on-site massages. Check out: Jail Hill Inn, Goldmoor Inn, Farmer’s Guest House, the Inn at Irish Hollow, Aldrich Guest House, Le Fevre Inn and Resort, and Lamberson Guest House.

Baaaa-Maste

Whether you’re into outdoor yoga, indoor yoga, or even yoga with goats, we’ve got you covered! Check out all of Galena Country’s options for a fun and fit experience. Original Goat Yoga, Galena is perfect for animal-loving groups looking for an unforgettable activity. For more traditional yoga enthusiasts, check out Awake 4 Yoga for pop up, private, and group yoga.

The Great Outdoors

Unplug and reconnect with nature by spending some time outdoors. With incredible terrain, Galena Country offers many opportunities to explore! A serene walk or hike on one of the 20 parks and trails, a leisurely bike ride along the Galena River Trail, or peacefully paddle your way down the Galena River. All are great options to relax and disconnect from the stresses of everyday life.

Libations

Taste and tour your way through the county at alluring wineries, a distillery and craft breweries. Consider booking a wine tour or take a scenic drive to explore the lush landscape of the driftless region. If you’re interested in live music at a local establishment, or perhaps a sports bar, check out these ideas for pubs and nightlife.

Golf

Nothing beats a relaxing round on one of Galena Country’s eleven golf courses. The rolling hills of Northwest Illinois provide a memorable and unique golfing experience. Check out Woodbine Bend’s links-style golf course, Lacoma Golf Club in East Dubuque, Galena Golf Club and The General at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa.

Cozy up and Relax

While exploring the corners of Galena Country, be sure to pick up some of your favorite beverages to bring back to your room. Sit back, relax with a glass of wine while taking a bath or reading a good book.

Galena Country is rich in offerings for a relaxing time with your friends, family, or by yourself. Start planning your retreat with a stress-free browse through the visitor’s guide and booking your stay.

9 ways to experience Galena Country on a budget

In Galena Country, an awesome getaway doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many opportunities to experience local food, nature, history, special events, and even shopping that are perfect for any budget. Get to Galena Country for an affordable and amazing adventure!

Explore the Natural Wonders of the Driftless Area

Whether you want to hike and bike or just observe the beauty of nature, Galena Country has many beautiful locations where you can enjoy the outdoors for free! Check out: Horseshoe Mound Preserve, Apple River Canyon State Park, Casper Bluff Land & Water Reserve, Galena Gateway Park, Wapello Land & Water Reserve, and Galena River Trail.

Discover Local Works of Art

Being surrounded by beauty, it’s only natural that Galena Country would be home to an abundance of talented artists. Take in the creativity of local artists by visiting art galleries, sculpture parks, pottery studios, and more! Don’t miss: West Street Sculpture Park, Outside the Lines Art Gallery, River Bend Gallery, Skidmore Art Gallery, Chicago Skyline Art, Mangelsen Images of Nature Gallery, Galena Center for the Arts, Scenic Art Loop, and the Stockton Murals.

Stargazing

Escape to the countryside to experience the night sky as you’ve never seen it before — it’s nature’s free light show! Travel tips: Book your stay nestled amongst nature, watch for meteors on the mound, camp under the stars, take the scenic route for a late-night drive!

Immerse yourself in history

What does General Ulysses S. Grant have in common with Kraft cheese? Both are parts of Galena Country’s fascinating history that you can learn about at museums and historical state sites! Must dos: Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site, Elihu B. Washburne House State Historic Site, Apple River Fort State Historic Site, Desoto House Hotel self-guided tour, Stockton Heritage Museum, The Old Blacksmith Shop.

Time Travel Tour

Grab some brochures from the Welcome Center, and check out the Historical Room in the Galena Public Library before strolling down Galena’s historic Main Street that is “frozen in time.” Nearly every building you’ll pass has a fascinating background and story to tell! Download: Galena Tours App

Amazing Annual Events

Galena Country features epic events all year long! Before planning your trip, check out the calendar of events to plan for a unique and authentic local experience! Full of infinite opportunities, from cemetery walks to hot air balloon races to incredible parades and magical holiday festivities. There’s always something to discover in Galena Country! Travel tip: Check out the spring and summer sidewalk sales event!

The Real Deal

Skilled musicians can be found sharing their talents in restaurants, bars, and even out on Galena’s Main Street. Pay a visit to The Cornerstone, Miss Kitty’s Grape Escape, Galena Brewing Company, and Council Hill Station.

Take a Scenic Drive

There’s no shortage of scenic routes in Galena Country! Explore the back roads and experience some of Illinois’ best (and breathtaking) views! Recommended routes: historic Stagecoach Trail, Family road trip, and U.S. Hwy 20.

Window Shop Until You Drop

Galena’s historic Main Street features more than 125 independently owned businesses for your eyes to explore. Window-shopping is best done in the early morning or late evening when the shops are closed. Make a list and come back during business hours to complete the treasure hunt! 

Let the planning begin with a browse through the visitor’s guide and booking your stay.

6 Ways to enjoy the outdoors in Galena Country

Galena Country’s rolling terrain along the Mississippi River creates a natural playground for outdoor relaxation, whether you want to go-go or go slow. Here are some fresh-air fun ideas.

Credit: @tatserur

1. Alpine Slide, Boat Cruise, Segway Tours and more

Chestnut Mountain Resort is situated on a wooded palisade overlooking the Mississippi River and offers an array of outdoor activities! Race down 2,050 feet of the terrain-tailored Alpine slide track to the banks of the Mississippi. Soar high above the mountain peak on the Soaring Eagle Zipline for an awesome perspective of the river. Enjoy a Mississippi River Cruise to learn about the surrounding wildlife and history of the area. Go on an adventure off the beaten path on a Segway Tour over 220 rolling acres of mountain terrain or take in the beauty of the mountain by bike along the trails. The Mini Golf & Disc Golf courses offer hours of fun and challenges all levels.

2. Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, and E-biking

Fever River Outfitters allows you to explore Galena Country via land or water by offering a wide selection of rental equipment such as kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, electric bikes, and road bikes. Enjoy the freedom of exploring on your own, or opt for a guided adventure. Nuts Outdoors supplies a full fleet of electric fat tire bikes for you to explore Galena Country’s hilly terrain with ease.

3. Ziplining Through The Trees

Find your wild at Long Hollow Canopy Tours. Glide through Tapley Woods on 6 zip lines, rappel down platforms and cross the 140-foot sky bridge. The tour begins with an enjoyable UTV ride through the trees to the first platform. Reach speeds up to 40 mph and heights of 75 feet. The course gets progressively longer, starting with shorter zip lines and ending with 3 zip lines over 700 feet long. Guides will share their knowledge on the plants and animals of Northwestern Illinois during your tour!

4. Goat Trekking

Reconnect with nature and with some really fun companions at Hoof It Goat Treks! While walking through native prairie and forest, baby goats (kids) will keep you company and play around you as you walk the paths. If you’re not up for a walk, enjoy a play date with the goats on the porch instead, or bottle-feed the kids (when applicable) before relaxing beside a bonfire under the stars!

5. Hiking, Birding, Fishing and exploring Parks & Trails

Hike or bike your way through parks and trails surrounded by breathtaking sights and rich history of prairies, forests and effigy mounds in Galena Country. Enjoy a day of fishing from one of the beautiful lakes, rivers, and creeks or grab a bird guide and binos to explore the many bird species in their natural environment.

6. Golfing 

Galena County is one of the Midwest’s premier golf destinations. Choose from 11 different courses for a memorable golf experience. Picturesque nine-hole layouts and challenging, world-class championship courses provide the perfect fairway to suit your level of play. If you need to brush up on your skills… take up a state-of-the-art golf lesson with Nathan Studtmann Golf!

For more outdoor activities, popular attractions and lodging options, browse the official Galena Country visitors guide.

Meet the Illinois Makers of Galena Country

Are you up for handcrafted? Illinois is a land of pioneers and a fair share of them are found in Galena Country!

The Illinois Made program is an Illinois Department of Tourism initiative. It showcases Illinois makers, creators and artisans – the craftspeople, artists, family-owned businesses, small-batch breweries, distilleries, foodies, and farmers that make Illinois thrive.

Eshelman Pottery – credit: EnjoyIllinois.com

Each maker has a captivating story to tell, whether it be a rich history, unique origins, or a pioneering spirit. Meet the Galena Country makers and creators who are proud to be recognized as Illinois Makers:

Blaum Bros. Distilling Co.

After the brothers quit their day jobs (Mike worked for the Department of Defense; Matt dabbled in nuclear medicine), the Bros. settled in Galena, a town steeped in distilling history, and took their passion for good booze to a higher level. Blaum Bros. has quickly become a popular tourist attraction in Galena. Read more

Dittmar Farms and Orchard

Owned and operated since 1854 by the Dittmar family, this farm specializes in sweet corn, pumpkins, and apples. The pumpkin patch started when they decided to have an annual pumpkin party, now it is famous for offering U-pick pumpkins for five to six weeks in September and October. They also offer hayrides, handmade donuts, a corn maze, and lots of family fun. Read more

Eshelman Pottery

Each piece, from cups to plates to serving dishes, is inspired by Paul Eshelman’s vision of bringing everyone together around a dinner table. His works reflect an artful expression of every day, bold, innovative, austere and practical; or as Paul deftly segments on his website masthead – Eat, Drink, Serve, Pour, Arrange. Read more

Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery

With craftsmanship in mind and family at the root of this Galena winery, Galena Cellars has taken home Winemaker of the Year Award by Grape Growers and Vintners Association, along with many other notable mentions. Keeping to the tradition of the tannin, the third generation of Lawlors are currently learning the art of wine as their parents did, making sure the business remains close to home. Read more

Galena Canning Company

After moving to Galena in 1993, Chef Ivo noticed that in this wonderful old town, no one was making Grandma’s old-fashioned canned goods and after many people asked him to bottle his sauces, salsas, and jams, he decided to give it a try! After selling his goods at fairs and markets, the demand grew and grew, and now Galena Canning Company is a flourishing business winning many awards! Read more

Pinder Pottery

Joe Pinder says that he did not make a conscious decision in high school to have the dream of making pottery as a profession. On his first day of pottery class in college, he made a life-sized sculpture of one of his gym shoes, while other classmates made pinch pots. He has always enjoyed a challenge and does not want to make the ordinary or simple. Joe never thought he would make functional pottery and believes potters should not make items in the same way as they are made by manufacturing companies. This is the reason for his unique color and texture. Read more

River Bend Gallery

As a person born with Down syndrome, Geoffrey has found a special connection with photography as a means of expressing himself. His artwork, often technically difficult, catches elusive light that the eye sees but that cameras often miss. After graduating from Community College, Geoffrey decided that he wanted a full-time career as an artist. In the spring of 2016, River Bend Gallery was launched on Galena’s famous Main Street, housing his entire photography collection. Read more

Rocky Waters Vineyard & Winery

The Spahn family are proud to have created one of the many wonderful and unique attractions to be found in the Mississippi River bluffs region. Area natives Jared & Phyllis Spahn purchased 112 acres of land just outside Hanover, Illinois in 1994 and planted a vine nursery with 3,600 grape cuttings in 1996. They had visited wineries and vineyards in California and those trips inspired them to create their own in Northwestern Illinois, where the natural beauty rivals and may even exceed that of Napa Valley. Read more

 

*A portion of the above text is from the Illinois Office of Tourism website.*

Restaurants catering to Special Diets in Galena Country

Finding Gluten-free (GF) and vegan (V) dining options in Galena Country is easy! Let us prove it to you with this drool-worthy list of establishments that will supply options for your dietary requirements.

Credit: One Eleven Main

Big Bill’s Sandwich and Coffee Shop, Galena GF+V
This full-service coffee bar is in the Historic Logan House building and offers gluten-free bread options so that you can enjoy their yummy sandwiches! Try the vegan hummus sandwich and vegan almond milk latte.

Cajun Jack’s Bar & Grill, Elizabeth GF
Enjoy gluten-free options such as their Rib-Eye Dinner, Tacos or Baked Fish in a unique dining atmosphere. Be sure to snap a selfie with the shark hanging out front!

Cannova’s Pizzeria, Galena GF
This cozy Italian restaurant serves delicious gluten-free pizza options! Nothing like a great wine to go with your pizza… there is a good selection!

Culvers, Galena GF+V
Who doesn’t love fast food? Culver’s offers gluten-free buns, soup, shakes, and sides! There are also a few vegan sides that can make up a meal.

Durty Gurt’s Burger Joynt, Galena GF+V
You’ll love the décor in this fun restaurant! The burgers are just as exciting! Gluten-free buns are available and vegan veggie burgers (yup, no eggs or dairy) – remember to hold the cheese and mayo!

Elle & Becks, Galena GF+V
This is a unique lifestyle boutique where you can shop for the latest in fashion, accessories, and homewares as well as get your gelato and coffee fix! Vegans can enjoy dairy free, dark chocolate gelato and milk alternative lattes!

Embe, Galena GF
A cozy spot situated on Main Street! They serve the best gluten-free cream of mushroom soup with artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes!

E-Town Coffee Co., Elizabeth GF
Enjoy an assortment of tasty sandwiches for lunch substituting with gluten-free bread. Browse local art on display and buy a bottle of wine while you’re there.

Fried Green Tomatoes, Galena GF+V
A wide variety of gluten-free and vegan options are listed on the menu at this restaurant, as well as great award-winning wines.

Fritz and Frites, Galena GF
European-style bistro serving French and German classics for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.

Galena Brewing Company, Galena GF
Nothing fried and nothing grilled in this brewpub. They are famous for their baked chicken wings and guess what… they’re gluten-free! Wash them down with a New Grist gluten-free beer.

Galena Juicery & Meal Prep, Galena GF+V+DF
Looking for Delicious gluten-free or vegan smoothie? This is the place to be! Locally sourced whole fruits and vegetables, as well as super greens that are grown on site,  are the main ingredients!

Generals’ Restaurant at the DeSoto House Hotel, Galena GF
Dine in the oldest operating hotel in Illinois! Their menu features many house-made specialties as well as hand-cut steaks and seafood with gluten-free options. Try their delicious gluten-free desserts!

Gobbie’s Sports Pub & Eatery, Galena GF+V
Featuring an outdoor patio, plenty of TVs to catch the game, live entertainment and Karaoke! A favorite for vegans is the Mediterranean wrap with no cheese and Italian dressing!

Goldmoor Inn, Galena GF+Dairy Free
Enjoy the elegance and refinement of fine dining overlooking views of the Mississippi River. They offer a dedicated gluten-free and dairy-free menu with outstanding options. Delicious meals such as GF& DF wild caught 1/3lb prawns and cold-water Baby Maine Lobster Tail or GF Cured and grill Pork Belly are available.

Green Street Tavern & Restaurant at DeSoto House Hotel, Galena GF
Serving anything from hand-cut steaks to seafood to sandwiches, this restaurant features an outdoor patio and a great dedicated gluten-free menu. All of this, within the oldest operating hotel in Illinois.

Little Tokyo, Galena V
Some great vegan options at this Japanese restaurant include avocado sushi rolls, sweet potato, and veggie rolls, pineapple fried rice sans egg and add tofu, vegetable tempura, and miso soup.

Market House Restaurant, Galena GF+V
A family-run restaurant serving homemade food! Enjoy one of their yummy sandwiches on gluten-free bread or indulge in a vegan Portabello sandwich or vegan impossible burger!

One Eleven Main, Galena GF
This restaurant has forged special partnerships with local and regional farmers, utilizing locally-sourced ingredients. They offer a gluten-free menu that even has gluten-free pasta on it, oh and you have to try the Flourless Chocolate Cake! Bonus… they serve gluten-free beer too.

Otto’s Place, Galena GF+V
Situated opposite the Old Train Depot alongside the train tracks, this restaurant boasts beautiful views of downtown Galena. Otto’s offers gluten-free bread for any of their sandwiches and for vegans, they have veggie burgers!

Pudgy’s, Galena GF
A family-run hot dog joint serving authentic Chicago Style Hot Dogs… with the option of a gluten-free bun!

Silver Spoon Restaurant, East Dubuque GF
Located on the beautiful Mississippi River backwaters, this restaurant serves elevated comfort food and provide gluten-free options.

Small Town Saloon, Elizabeth V
Featuring an outdoor deck, this restaurant offers a farm-to-table menu including Impossible Burgers… mmmm… yum!

Subway, Galena GF+V
Just want a quick take-out? Subway offers gluten-free buns as well as wraps. They have vegan options too. Quick and tasty!

Thriving Thistle Market, Apple River GF+V
This gourmet gas station is located on the historic Stagecoach Trail. Examples of options they have include delicious gluten-free banana pancakes and vegan blended smoothies with almond milk!

Vinny Vannucchi’s, Galena GF
Serving classic Italian dishes, this family-owned restaurant offers a gluten-free menu full of variety. Being gluten-free doesn’t mean that you need to go without pasta when it comes to this restaurant!

Victory Café, Galena GF+V
This is a great spot for breakfast and you don’t have to go without toast – you can enjoy your egg on delicious gluten-free toast. A vegan option would include good old-fashioned oatmeal with fruit and brown sugar, served with hash browns and coffee.

Woodstone Restaurant at Eagle Ridge Resort, Galena GF
Boasting beautiful views of the tri-state region and of the General golf course, here you can enjoy gluten-free, wood-fired pizzas and a variety of gluten-free entrées.

Please Note: If you have celiac disease, or are severely gluten intolerant, we recommend calling ahead to see what practices the restaurants have in place in their kitchens to avoid contamination.

A lot of the accommodation establishments in Galena Country offer gluten-free and vegan options at breakfast time! Stay tuned for an upcoming blog that highlights these options.

Insider’s Guide to 4th of July festivities 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 thrill 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 Fireworks Family Event – June 29

Experience fun for the whole family with face painting, bounce houses, free admission to the swimming pool and delicious eats and treats. Try your luck at the raffle to win a 2019 CanAm side-by-side or $10,000! Stay and enjoy the show as fireworks light up the sky.

Elizabeth Freedom Fest – July 1

Enjoy live music by Ten Gallon Hat and tasty food and drinks, while the kids have their faces painted and endless fun on the bounce houses. The highlight of the event happens at 7 p.m. when the U.S Army Golden Knights parachute jump into Terrapin Park. The night ends with a spectacular firework display. Come dressed to show your patriotism, awards will be presented to ‘best-dressed.’

Head back to Elizabeth on July 4th to experience the Fourth of July at the Apple River Fort! Enjoy games and dancing, listen to speeches, toasts, and petitions, try Election Cake, and more!
Bring blankets and a picnic lunch. Water, lemonade, and desserts will be available courtesy of the Fort.

Hanover Days – July 3

The holiday celebration begins with the VFW’s traditional annual beef roast dinner. Explore Main Street as it comes to life with activity, food carts open at 5 p.m., and the parade starts at 6 p.m. Try your skills with the canoe race down the Apple River, and at dusk, the fireworks light up the river in a beautiful holiday tradition. Finish the evening at The Hangover Tap with live music.


Stockton – July 4

Celebrating for more than 50 years, this event is a ‘must-do!’ Treasure hunt in more than 70 vendor booths while the kids burn off some energy in the bounce houses. Experience a science stage show, kiddie tractor pull, Bingo and more! The Lions Club Chicken Dinner is a favorite, along with live music and swimming! The evening ends with a colorful burst of fireworks.

Galena – July 4

Join in on the fun at Galena’s 23rd Annual Galena Independence Day Celebration featuring live music, delicious eats and treats, and the spectacular parade down Main Street. Make your way towards Grant Park to find a place to watch as fireworks light up the sky!

The fireworks will launch from Grant Park at dusk! If you prefer a high vantage point, book a 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.

Let the planning begin with a browse through the visitor’s guide and booking your stay.

Family Road Trip to Galena Country

“Are we there yet?” The greatest part of a family road trip isn’t arriving at your destination, it’s the little memories made along the way! Gather the gang, get behind the wheel and get to #GalenaCountry!

U.S. Route 20 or U.S. Highway 20 is an east-west highway that stretches from The Pacific Northwest all the way to New England and it’s the longest highway in America. It also happens to travel through Galena Country… the best place to enjoy a family road trip.

Credit: @natalie_dickinson

But first, breakfast

Just off highway 20 heading west towards Galena is the charming town of Stockton! Enjoy a delicious homemade breakfast at Stella’s Café which is housed in the beautiful W.E. White Building. Listed on the National Historic Registry, the building is known for its beautiful original tin ceiling and artful ambiance, so don’t forget to look up!

Strike A Pose!

After breakfast, it’s time to strike a pose in front of Stockton’s beautiful murals found just steps away from Stella’s. These family shots are sure to receive loads of likes on Insta! Grab some homemade candy from Sweet Alice’s for the road and take note of the cute Alice in Wonderland theme in the store.

Burn energy and cool off

If the kids need to release some energy, Kidstown Playground is the perfect place to be! If it’s a scorcher of a day… take a dip at the Stockton Park Pool.

Take a piece of Galena Country home with you!

Once you’re back on highway 20, heading west towards Galena, look out for Nature’s Treasures in Woodbine where you’ll find the most gorgeous items to remind you of your trip. Mom, you will love the organic gardening supplies, wind chimes, crystals and so much more!

Take your pick!

The kids are going to love this one! Stop at Terrapin Orchards, a U-pick strawberry and apple orchard offering a couple of hours of fun and loads of juicy and delicious fruit… mmmm!

History Lesson

Highway 20 takes you through the quaint village of Elizabeth. Time for a history lesson at the Chicago Great Western Railway Depot Museum. Watch the numerous model trains and railroads operate around the museum and step inside a full-size Milwaukee Road caboose.

Ice Cream Stop

As you depart the town of Elizabeth, there’s an adorable little candy store called the Three Sisters Sweet Shoppe. Stop for some refreshing ice cream and jump onto the giant pink chair for a great photo together… yes, the whole family can fit!

A Welcome Sight

As you continue your road trip on highway 20, notice the stunning views of wooded countryside interspersed with neat farmsteads and hilly terrain dotted with cows. This would be a good time to play “I spy”! You’ll soon reach the Long Hollow Scenic Overlook which offers breathtaking views of Galena Country’s rolling countryside… a sight for sore eyes! Don’t miss this opportunity for a great family photo!

Time Travel

Enter the town of Galena on highway 20 and take a turn onto the town’s Main Street (dubbed as the Helluva Half Mile). This street is frozen in time and steeped in history! It’s lined with beautifully restored 19th Century buildings which house art galleries, eclectic boutiques, and restaurants.

Wow the kids

Conveniently located at the beginning of Main Street is a kid’s happy place called Poopsie’s. This store is fun, funky and beyond the ordinary! The children can check out the toys, games, and books on one side of the store, while you explore the one-of-a-kind art, jewelry, home décor and other gifts on the other. Another fun toy/gift shop to explore is Gabby’s Gifts which is a little further on.

Watch Sparks Fly

Once you reach the end of Main Street, turn right and you will find the authentic 1897 Old Blacksmith Shop to your left. Treat the family to a live demo of a blacksmith forging metal the way they used to in the 1800s. The shop is also filled with original tools for you to inspect.

Say Cheese!

For rumbling bellies, there’s a delicious treat waiting for you at Galena River Wine & Cheese as you head out of Galena! Choose any type of cheese from their wide selection for a mouthwatering grilled cheese sandwich. Mom and Dad… pick out that bottle of wine to savor later on!

Mississippi Views

Have your family ever seen the Mighty Mississippi River? Hop back onto highway 20 traveling west and it will lead you straight to it! Stop at Gramercy Park in East Dubuque, a 10-acre city park overlooking the river. It’s also a natural heritage landmark, home to 26 ceremonial and burial mounds. Watch the sun go down at this beautiful site.

Dine at the water’s edge

A great way to end a fun day of family adventure is to head down to Millennium Bar & Marina, tucked away in a slough in East Dubuque. Here you can enjoy some home cooking at the water’s edge while you share your favorite memories of your road trip.

For more fun ideas on ways to entertain the family, check out the Galena Country Visitors Guide. Explore scenic overlooks, picturesque trails and cultural sites… making family memories one road trip at a time.

Escape to Galena Country on a Romantic Road Trip

There’s no better time to enjoy a scenic drive than right now. Beautiful year round, Galena Country offers breathtaking views, delicious food, one-of-a-kind boutique shops and priceless memories waiting to be made.

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Elizabeth

Traveling west on Highway 20 towards Galena, you will drive through the charming village of Elizabeth. Stretch your legs and enjoy a scrumptious breakfast at E-Town Coffee Co. Pick up a bottle of wine from their great selection for that sundowner later on, and browse the local art on display. Before you leave, grab a cup of E-Town’s locally roasted, freshly ground coffee for the road! Elizabeth is where the battle of the Apple River Fort took place as part of the Black Hawk War in 1832. An exact replica of the fort lies on Myrtle Street if you want to take a peek.

Long Hollow Scenic Overlook

As you leave Elizabeth, you will be treated to views of wooded countryside interspersed with neat farmsteads and hilly terrain. Who says Illinois is flat? Not here! A must-stop is the Long Hollow Scenic Overlook. The breathtaking scenery of Galena Country’s rolling countryside is quite something! Be sure to use this perfect backdrop to snap your selfies!

Tapley Woods

Traveling just a little further will take you into the Tapley Woods Conservation Area, home to the Long Hollow Canopy Tours. Driving through this area is a special treat in the fall! The forest crowds in close to the roadside and with low speeds and open windows, you can enjoy the sounds of birdsong and the buzz of insects. There are spots where the trail breaks clear of the woods and opens up to views of the hilly landscape.

Galena

Ahhhh, Galena! Such beauty and so much history! As you enter this town, you feel like you’ve stepped into a movie set. Frozen in time, the Main Street (dubbed as a Helluva Half Mile) is lined with beautifully restored 19th Century buildings which house art galleries, eclectic boutiques, and stores as well as restaurants. Nearly every scene offers a picturesque background you won’t forget. Stop in at the 1864 American Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor which features an old-fashioned fountain and original cabinets. Grab a refreshing ice cream and take a seat on a sidewalk bench to take in the sights and sounds of Galena. Directly next door to the ice cream parlor is Galena’s Kandy Kitchen. You can’t pass up the opportunity of purchasing some lip-smacking homemade candy for the rest of the drive!

Menominee

While you munch on that delicious candy, continue west to Menominee. This quaint village is located on the Little Menominee River near East Dubuque. J.M.’s Tap is Menominee’s hidden gem! This family-run restaurant specializes in homemade pizza and features all-you-can-eat Friday fish fry! Enjoy a hearty meal as you get to know the locals and share your Galena Country experience with them.

Everywhere you go in Galena Country turns into a classic road trip, packed with adventure and places to explore. There is no hurry, take your time and soak it all in. For more ideas on where to go and what to do, check out the online visitor’s guide.

5 Fun things to do with the Family in Galena Country

Fun for the whole family!

While there is much to do in Galena Country, you may plan your family adventures a little different than your girlfriends’ getaway. Check out these fun things to do on your family vacation in Galena Country.

Explore the great outdoors

Boasting incredible terrain for outdoor adventure, Galena Country offers many options for a variety of skill-level and ages. Children, toddler age and up may enjoy speeding down the Alpine Slide at Chestnut Mountain Resort and finishing off with a game of mini-golf onsite or at the Lil’ General. For those more ‘serious’ golfers, make plans to hit a-round on one of eleven gorgeous golf courses.

Taking a canoe or kayak down the Galena River is a wonderful way to explore Galena. Kayaks, canoes and other outdoor equipment is available for rent at Fever River Outfitters. Galena Country is home to twenty gorgeous parks and trails, a fun option for smaller children is Horseshoe Mound, featuring hidden treasures along the trails. Pack a picnic with a gourmet grilled cheese from Galena River Wine & Cheese, treats from Kandy Kitchen, and chips and salsa from Galena Canning Company.

Outdoor adventure in Galena Country is year-round. With Chestnut Mountain Ski Resort and the Nordic Center at Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa, there’s enough to keep everyone occupied for hours!

Historically Amazing

To say that Galena Country is ‘rich in history’ in an understatement. In fact, even the scenic routes to Galena Country are historical. Make an educational pit-stop on the way through Stockton and stop at the Heritage Museum, the original home of Kraft Cheese! Just a few doors down is Sweet Alice’s, where you’re sure to find something delicious for the family. Take some time to snap a few pictures in front of the murals around town!

Train lovers are going to delight in the Chicago Great Western Railway Depot Museum. Across the street is another important piece of history, the Apple River Fort State Historic Site. This is the location where Black Hawk and his 200 warriors attacked the hastily erected fort on June 24, 1832. His story and that of the early settlers are told.

Heading to Galena, a visit to the Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site is a ‘must-do’, along with an up-close-and-personal experience at the Old Blacksmith Shop. A trolley tour is an excellent way to ‘see the town’ and learn more about the historic homes and architecture that is adored by the community and visitors alike.

Exciting Events

The events calendar is loaded with incredible happenings! From hot air balloon races to civil war reenactments to magical holiday festivities, there’s always something to discover in Galena Country! Check out this video featuring summer events, and let the planning begin the digital visitor’s guide.

Lodging with flare

There are many great options for family-friendly lodging, but if you’re up for something more to keep the kids occupied, you may want to consider these properties. In addition to Chestnut Mountain Resort, Eagle Ridge Inn Resort and Spa offers lake views and activities, golf, swimming pool and more! Country Inn and Suites, Stoney Creek Inn, and Best Western are home to some excellent swimming options, while The Ramada and Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel feature swimming and a spa! We’re thinking of you, mom and dad!

Farm-Fun!

Agritourism offers the children a chance for hands-on experiences and fun for all ages. Seasonal favorites are Dittmar Farms and Terrapin Orchards, both featuring unique opportunities for incredible memory-making. We haven’t forgotten about the older kids, you know… the ones that you can enjoy a glass of wine with? Galena Country is home to four vineyards, all offering incredible views and delicious wine.

Parents, we’ve got you covered. Start planning today by browsing the digital visitor’s guide and booking your lodging. Questions? Email The Welcome Center at galena@visitgalena.org to help curate the best family vacation yet!