vacation to galena

Spoil Dad in Galena Country this Father’s Day

Let’s talk about Dad! We love him more than he knows and, every year on Father’s Day, we shower him with gifts and adoration. Traditionally, it’s socks, ties, and tools that make Dad smile on Father’s Day. It’s time for new traditions… break free from the expected and surprise Dad with the gift of a Galena Country getaway!

Credit: @samaratoby

Galena Country not only offers one-of-a-kind gifts to purchase for Dad but also experiences that you can enjoy together and create special memories. From kayaking and golfing to the plethora of gift shops along Galena’s Helluva Half Mile, you’ll be able to give Dad nothing less than the best to thank him for all he has done. Book your accommodation now to secure the surprise!

Relax and Recharge

The best way to get Dad to relax and become acclimated to the slower pace is to take him on a scenic, historic drive along Stagecoach Trail Road as you enter Galena Country. This road follows the original stagecoach route between Galena and Chicago. The gently curving and hilly two-lane road, originally established in the mid-1830s, flows across the scenic country landscape and is steeped in history. Drive through the towns of Nora, Warren, Apple River (with the option to take a detour to Apple River Canyon State Park), Scales Mound and end in the renowned town of Galena.

Reconnect with nature 

Now that you’re both relaxed, it’s time to get active and enjoy the outdoors! Take Dad birding at the Valley of Eden Bird Sanctuary in Stockton, featuring more than 100 bird species and 6.6 miles of mowed trails on 409 acres. Notable Illinois species of conservation concern include the Henslow’s sparrow, bobolink, red-headed woodpecker, and northern harrier. Explore the many other parks and trails throughout Galena Country too.

A new perspective 

Give Dad a new perspective with a thrilling experience at Long Hollow Canopy Tours! Zipline together through the trees at Tapley Woods at speeds up to 40 mph! This 2.5-hour tour begins with a UTV ride through the woods and finishes with a rappel or quick jump from the trees! What fun!

Float among the clouds

Is ziplining not high enough? Is a Hot Air Balloon ride on his bucket list? Galena On The Fly will take care of that! Liftoff in one of the largest hot air balloons in the country. Drift above the rolling landscapes of Galena Country while taking in views of Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin from your 3,000-foot high perch.

Pedal it out   

Is that too high? Okay… what about renting a couple of bikes from Fever River Outfitters and cycling along the beautiful Galena River Trail just steps away from downtown Galena? It features towering bluffs and beautiful views of the Galena River. If you complete the 8.8-mile stretch, you will reach Chestnut Mountain Resort, another outdoor playground! Take the chair lift to the top of the mountain where you can enjoy a refreshing drink while overlooking the Mississippi River, before exploring the array of activities that are available, such as segway tours, mini-golf & disc golf, river cruises, an alpine slide and more!

Reel in memories 

If Dad just wants to float down the river and have you listen to “when I was your age” stories… grab a tandem kayak from Fever River Outfitters and get a-floatin’ down the beautiful Galena River. Nothing beats a good bonding session while fishing! Fine-tune your fishing skills with a guided fly fishing experience with Galena Fly Fishing Outfitters or spend the day picnicking and fishing at Apple River Canyon State Park.

Golf Par Excellence 

Challenge Dad to a round of golf on one of Galena Country’s scenic Golf Courses! Can you believe there are nine to choose from? Remember to let him win and then celebrate his winnings with a glass of wine at one of the four award-winning wineries.

Peek into the Past 

Does Dad love to tell stories about the good old days? Galena Country is steeped in history and has many a story to tell! Tour the home of Ulysses S. Grant, visit the oldest house in Galena called the Dowling House or spend time at the Apple River Fort State Historic Site, where one of the battles were fought during the Black Hawk War. A really unique experience is a visit to the authentic 1897 Old Blacksmith Shop, featuring working forges and tools and equipment from its 100-year history. Watch sparks fly during a live demo and chat with the historian on site.

Shop for Fan Gear

What’s Dad’s favorite team? Whether it’s the lovable losers, winners, or that team only Dad cheers for… the gear to get can be found downtown on Galena’s Helluva Half-Mile. Check out Country Crafts & Sports for sports memorabilia, and Fan Zone for licensed jerseys, shirts, and limited edition team hats. Another great option is For Bare Feet, who offer the largest selection of licensed sports socks made in the USA. Yes, we know… we told you to steer away from the usual socks and ties, but trust us, he will totally rock these team socks! While you’re at it, keep Dad up-to-date on the freshest apparel trends with multiple clothing stores and boutiques found on Galena’s Main Street, such as The Cotton Club, Galena Teesand Serendipity.

Brews and Burgers

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, grab a burger served with hand-cut fries from Durty Gurt’s Burger Joynt before heading to Galena Brewing Co. for a refreshing beer flight or pint! Before you leave the brewery, purchase a growler of Dad’s favorite Galena brew to take home and enjoy. In the mood for pizza instead? Head to Wally’s Pizza in Warren which is conveniently located next door to Pecatonica Beer Company Tap House. If he’s more of a spirits kinda guy, treat him to a tour and a tasting at the Blaum Bros. Distilling Company. Click here for other dining options.

For even more ideas on what to do and see, check out the Galena Country Travel Guide! Whatever you choose to give or do for Dad on Father’s Day, remember to tell him that you love him! Every moment is a memory in Galena Country… a family tradition in the making.

Faith Based Itinerary – Three Day Visit to Galena Country

Plan a trip to Galena Country and connect spiritually through a tour of some beautifully designed churches built in the 1800s! Appreciate the history of the area by exploring museums, historic sites, and discover the beautiful campus at the nearby Sinsinawa Mound.

DAY ONE

Arrive in Galena, perhaps by lunchtime, and enjoy a light meal at the Historic DeSoto House Hotel. After lunch, head up to Bench Street to visit some historic churches in Galena just 4 blocks apart.

The First Presbyterian Church (1838) is the oldest Protestant church building in the Old Northwest Territory; featuring local limestone, Belgian stained-glass, and original pews/furniture. Next, stop by the First United Methodist Church (1859) and visit the church that Ulysses S. Grant attended while living in Galena. It’s the oldest Methodist church in Northern IL, contains 12 historic stained-glass windows, and an 1880’s Moline Pipe Organ. Finish your church tour on Bench Street at St. Michael’s Catholic Church (1863), designed by the area’s most prominent religious leader, Father Samuel Mazzuchelli. It is a Romanesque Revival style and has no pillars due to the wooden trusses.

Check into your lodging and freshen up for your evening dinner at one of many great restaurants along Main Street.

DAY TWO

Option 1
Enjoy your morning breakfast and the head to Sinsinawa Mound for a guided tour of two exhibits, the Mazzuchelli Museum & Heritage of the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters. Your guide will take you into the Queen of the Rosary Chapel featuring biblical stories told in exquisite stained glass. Finish your tour with a buffet lunch in the dining room, allowing time to visit the Book & Gift Gallery, where you’ll find delicious homemade baked goods and many other treasures.

Make your way back to Galena to explore Historic Main Street, rich with shopping opportunities, or enjoy a mid-afternoon narrated trolley tour. Dinner possibilities might include overlooking the Mississippi River Valley at Chestnut Mountain Resort or dinner and a show at Amelia’s Under the Lamplight Dinner Theater.

Option 2
Start your morning at Sinsinawa Mound and if you choose to skip the buffet lunch, you might like to head over to East Dubuque for a meal at Timmerman’s Supper Club. Revel in delectable food and an incredible view as you dine among the bluffs along Mississippi River backwaters.

Journey back to Galena for a tour of the Galena & U.S. Grant Museum featuring the history of local geography, mining and riverboat booms, general commerce, and Galena’s war-time related items. After the tour, take in the 19th-century charm with a leisurely stroll along Main Street before dinner.

DAY THREE

Top off your trip to Galena with a visit to the Ulysses S. Grant Home (a National Historic Landmark), learn about the Grant family and appreciate the time-period design and furniture. After your tour, head back over to Main Street to further explore before heading back home. Enjoy shopping, an early lunch, tastings, or a trolley tour. Wherever your faith-based adventure takes you, there are memories to be made in #GalenaCountry!

Take the scenic route – fall colors in Galena Country

The air is cool, with just a little nip to let us know a new season is at hand. The leaves are tinged with red, brown and gold as they slowly desert their branches to create an attractive mosaic of color below. What better way to watch this transformation of nature called fall, than to take a drive through Galena Country.

Before you get started… take a stroll amongst historic cannons and monuments in Grant Park. This will definitely set the tone for the rest of your trip. With the heart of Galena as your backdrop, watch leaves dance their way to the carpeted ground and listen to the crunchy footsteps that you take. Cross the pedestrian bridge to downtown Galena and don’t forget to look back at the beauty left behind.

Ready to hit the road? Let’s go…

HelluvaHalfMile:

Head north down the historic Main Street of Galena, otherwise known as the HelluvaHalfMile. This main attraction is lined with more than 125 shops and restaurants, one after the next. There are no chain stores here. It’s all about the unique, local independent shops and beautifully preserved red brick buildings that date back to Galena’s days as a booming 1800’s lead mining town. Steeped in history, 75% of the town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Stagecoach Trail

At the end of Main Street, continue on to the historic Stagecoach Trail via Field St. This road follows the original Galena-Chicago stagecoach route, passing scenic farms and near the highest point of Illinois. This pleasant, winding drive will take you through valleys dotted with small farms and dairy cows.

The road, framed by a kaleidoscope of reds, oranges and yellows passes the Galena Cellars Winery & Vineyard, a great stopping point. Turn left onto Ford Road and follow the signs. Here you can relax on the comfortable wrap-around deck of the charming farmhouse turned tasting room, and soak in the gorgeous fall colors of the vineyards.

Council Hill Station:

Leaving Galena Cellars, turn left onto N. Ford Road and continue as the road veers to the right onto N. Hill Road, leading you to Council Hill Station on the right. This is a unique and historic 1850’s general store and railway station which has been transformed into a watering hole and music venue. Ruins of a woolen mill, barn and silo also sit on the property.

Apple River:

From Council Hill Station, journey onto W. Council Road. This road will lead back to Stagecoach Trail and the Town of Apple River. This town was established by the Illinois Central Railroad in 1854. Surrounded by dairy farms and corn fields, a must stop is the Thriving Thistle Market. This little gem offers freshly baked bread, pizza, burgers, smoothies and more! Most ingredients are grown in their own backyard.

Warren:

Continue traveling east on Stagecoach Trail until you reach the town of Warren, named after Warren Burnett, the son of Alexander Burnett who was the founder. Pop into Dusty’s Closet Antiques, a small- town antique shop featuring antique furniture, vintage collectibles and a small gift selection. Craft beer enthusiasts will love visiting the Pecatonica Beer Company. Enjoy a selection of cold brews and experience the regional flavors of Pecatonica Valley.

Apple River Canyon State Park:

From Warren, take Route 78 south and turn right onto E. Canyon Road. This road leads you to the Apple River Canyon State Park, featuring limestone bluffs, deep ravines, springs, streams and plenty wildlife. Brace yourself for a feast of fall colors. Step out, gather a heap of leaves and throw them in the air for the perfect Instagram shot.

Elizabeth:

Exit the park on Scout Camp Road traveling south. When you reach Highway 20, travel west towards Elizabeth and Galena. You will travel through beautiful country scenery as the road swirls and winds its way to Elizabeth. Sit back, relax and enjoy the view of the multi-color magic that surrounds you. Speaking of views… a perfect way to experience the wonders of fall is to overnight at The View Motel in Elizabeth. Soak up the beautiful countryside scenery that this motel overlooks. While you are here, visit the Black Hawk War landmark called Apple River Fort State Historic Site for an intriguing history lesson. If you are into antiques, don’t miss the Elizabeth’s Grand Antique Co., a 28.000 sq. ft., antique mall that is sure to have what you are looking for.

From here, your drive back to Galena is only a 15-minute drive, so make the most of the last bit of golden hues, vivid pinks, red and crispy earthen browns – a tapestry of fall.

Bonus – Blackjack Road: Just in case you didn’t get enough color under your belt, here is a bonus drive for you…

From Galena, take Route 20 eastwards and turn right onto Blackjack Road. This rural road twists and turns, offering breathtaking views, many of which are of the beautiful Mississippi River Valley. This is a perfect road for a motorcycle ride. There are many pull off spots for picture taking along the way. You will find Chestnut Mountain Resort nestled amongst the hills. This resort boasts an array of amenities, accommodation and activities, but the views are what are so impressive. Sit on their outdoor deck perched high on a bluff overlooking the Upper Mississippi River Valley – here you will find all of the fall color that your heart desires.

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!