visit galena

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.

Follow Historic Wheels on Stagecoach Trail through Galena Country

Tired of the highway? Hop off Highway 20 and take the Historic Stagecoach Trail Road through Galena Country instead! This gently curving and hilly two-lane road, originally established in the mid-1830s, flows across the scenic country landscape and is steeped in history.

Credit:@johnposhepny

What’s the story behind it?

This road follows the original stagecoach route between Galena and Chicago. The stagecoach became the predominant mode of overland public transport for passengers and mail in the mid-1800s. The vehicles were called stagecoaches because they completed their scheduled routes in stages, traveling from stop to stop where tired horses could be exchanged for fresh ones and passengers could sometimes eat, rest or sleep overnight.

It lasted only a few decades, but this period in the mid-1800s had a significant impact on the region, as settlements were linked, mail was managed and the groundwork was laid for future transportation systems. As you drive along this historic path, think of the first travelers and what it must have been like. You will be traveling at a much a higher comfort level no doubt. Take in the beautiful countryside dotted with cows, enjoy the architecture and see what you can find in the local stores as you stop to stretch your legs along the way. Snap some pics and be sure to tag them with #GalenaCountry.

Nora

Take the W. Galena Road/Stagecoach Rd. exit off Highway 20, drive through Lena, Waddams Grove and continue to Nora… where Galena Country begins. Nora, once a bustling railroad community (after the Stagecoach era) is now a small village with a population of 112. A popular local hangout in this village is the Nora Bar.

Warren

This town was named after Warren Burnett, the son of Alexander Burnett who was the founder in 1843. The town of Warren began to flourish when the Old Stone Hotel was built in 1851. It served as a stopover along the crossing of two major stagecoach routes and hosted prominent visitors such as Ulysses S. Grant. Today, the former hotel serves as the Warren Community Building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A great annual Christmas event that takes place in this building is the Festival of Trees.

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 the Pecatonica Valley. The town of Warren hosts the oldest County Fair in Illinois, dating back to 1860, held in late July/August every year and the Annual Warren Pumpkin Festival in September.

Apple River Canyon State Park

As you head towards the town of Apple River, there is a 6.5-mile detour, that’s worth it… turn left onto N. Canyon Park Rd. which will lead you to the Apple River Canyon State Park. Discover incredible limestone bluffs carved by the Apple River, deep ravines, springs, streams and plenty of wildlife. This park is ideal for outdoor activities and camping in the summer. In the fall, this park puts on an impressive show of color bursts.

A little history to this area… Millville (1838) is a village that was established in Apple River Canyon but no longer exists. It became an important rural service stop along the Stagecoach Trail since Millville had a blacksmith. In 1853–54, the Illinois Central Railroad bypassed Millville, relegating it to backwater town status.

Apple River

Head on back to Stagecoach Trail where you will turn left to continue to 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 is a gourmet gas station! It supplies zero-ethanol fuel for your vehicle and delicious fuel for your belly! Enjoy freshly baked bread, pizza, burgers, smoothies and more! Coming soon is a brand-new Wellness Center and Bistro that will be attached to the market.

Scales Mound

Upon reaching the area of Scales Mound, the road becomes West Stagecoach Trail Road. Turn left onto N. Elizabeth Scales Mound Road for a detour to the town of Scales Mound, where 90% of the town buildings are on the National Historic Register. Just north of here is Charles Mound. At 1,235-feet, it is the highest point in the entire state of Illinois. (Note: it is on private land and not open to the public). Scales Mound has a fitting motto… “At the Top of Illinois.”

If you prefer to skip the town of Scales Mound, continue on Stagecoach Trail Road until you get to W. Council Hill Rd. on your right, where you can take a detour to an interesting place called Council Hill Station. Travel on W. Council Hill Road to North Hill Road where you will take a left. This is a unique and historic 1850s general store and railway station which has been transformed into a watering hole and music venue. Ruins of a woolen mill, barn, and silo can also be found on the property.

From here, as you continue on North Ford Road to get back to Stagecoach Trail Road, you will pass the Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery. This is a great stopping point! Here you can relax on the comfortable wrap-around deck of the charming farmhouse turned tasting room, and soak in the gorgeous views of the vineyards. If you don’t have enough time on your hands, you could wait until you reach Galena, where they have a tasting room downtown. How convenient!

Galena 

Arriving at the southeast corner of Galena marks the end of the Stagecoach Trail Road. The trail ends near the 1854 John Westwick Foundry. Ironically, 1854 is the same year that the railroad came through and the old stagecoach line began fading away.

As the Stagecoach Trail Road enters Galena, it rapidly transitions into Field, Claude and Meeker Streets. Just after the bend in Meeker Street, turn left onto N. Main Street. This historic Main Street is a major attraction in the area and has been dubbed the “Helluva Half-Mile.” It’s lined with more than 125 independently owned stores housed in beautifully preserved buildings that date back to Galena’s days as a booming 1800s lead-mining town. Steeped in history, 79% of the town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Grab a bite to eat at one of Galena’s renowned restaurants before you check in to your accommodation. Check out the official visitors guide for ideas on things to do and sites to see, such as historic sites, outdoor activities, tours, art galleries/studios, and more!

What is ‘Galena Country’?

Explore the 11 unique locations that makeup #GalenaCountry with this adventure-filled, 4-day itinerary!

Credit: @EnjoyIllinois

Day 1

Plan to have lunch in Stockton. With fun features for the whole family, this is the perfect spot to get out and stretch your legs. Fill up on a juicy burger at JJ & Freddies, shop at Savvy Scavengers and bag-your-own candy at Sweet Alice’s. Stroll the town to find memory-making opportunities with the artistic murals and the Kidstown wooden playground!

Learn something new at the Stockton Heritage Museum, featuring N-scale model trains and Kraft Foods’ history (Fun fact: Kraft started in Stockton, Illinois). Take in magnificent views heading to Apple River for an outdoor adventure! Fuel up at Thriving Thistle Market and stock up on organic goodies and fresh-made smoothies for a picnic lunch. One is sure to find plenty of delectable items to enjoy now and later! Journey along to Apple River Canyon State Park with a picnic lunch and camera! Unplug and enjoy each other!

After exploring, cruise Stagecoach Trail and head towards Scales Mound. Stop into Pat’s Country House Grocery for last-minute essentials, snacks, and yummy treats! Follow the route to Galena and check into lodging to rest up or drop off suitcases and explore Main Street for live music performed by local musicians in one of the many entertaining pubs.

Day 2

Elizabeth: Arrive early, come hungry and ready to shop! Be sure to stop by the Scenic Overlook on the way! Start the morning off with a breakfast sandwich and coffee from E-town, followed up with treasure hunting at Common Cents Resale, Elizabeth Grand Antique Co., Three Sisters Sweet Shop and Jane Marie Boutique. Be sure and make time to check out the Apple River Fort State Historic Site and Chicago Great Western Railway Depot Museum to experience a bit of history.

Take a break and indulge in a tasty lunch at Cajun Jack’s before heading to Hanover for a beautiful hike at Wapello Land & Water Reserve. For the drive back to Galena, consider following Blackjack Road for a scenic pit-stop at Chestnut Mountain Resort, an all-seasons resort, with zip-lining, alpine slide, mini-golf, segway tours, boat rides, and winter sports!

East Dubuque is calling! Delight in dinner at Timmerman’s Supper Club, nestled among the bluffs of the Mississippi River, the food and views offer a memorable experience for the family or romantic dinner for two. Head back to Galena for an epic magic show with P.T. Murphy!

Day 3

Breakfast in Galena: Some local favorites include Otto’s Place, Dillon’s, Paradise Grill and Victory Cafe. Hit up the HelluvaHalfMile for an incredible shopping experience with more than 125 independently owned stores. Get your history fix with a tour of Grant’s Home, the Elihu B. Washburne House, and The Old Blacksmith Shop. Sight-see the streets of Galena via trolley to further discover the beautiful homes and views that are often raved about.

Enjoy lunch at Green Street Tavern in the Historical DeSoto House Hotel before continuing to Warren for a beer tasting at Pecatonica Beer Company and Tap House. To further extend the scenic adventure, swing back onto Stagecoach Trail and make way towards Nora. A small community with a hoppin’ bar! Kick back and enjoy a refreshing beverage and appetizer before journeying on to the next stop!

Venture back onto the beautiful Stagecoach Trail, pass through Galena and connect onto Hwy 20 towards Menominee, another ‘small town with a hoppin’ bar.’ JM’s Tap makes the must-visit list, offering local craft brews and incredibly delicious pizza.

Day 4

Enjoy locally roasted coffee and a delicious breakfast sandwich at Big Bill’s in downtown Galena before a little shopping and wine/spirits tasting. Begin the leisurely trip home with lunch at Small Town Saloon in Elizabeth. (Vegan’s…get excited about the Impossible Burger!) Might as well stock up on apple cider donuts at Dittmar Farms Orchard station while in town.

Last stop to complete the tour of Galena Country – Woodbine. Search for specialty gifts at Nature’s Treasure’s and check out the unique Woodbine Glass Museum & Gift Shop. Stop for a round of golf at Woodbine Bend, at the very least, indulge in the fish fry! (Did you know that Galena Country is home to 10 golf courses?)

There it is, 11 wonderful Galena Country locations included in one itinerary. Switch it up and try new things each visit, with so much to do, it’s always an adventure! Start planning a trip today by contacting the Welcome Center at galena@visitgalena.org.

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 museumshistoric 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!

Dining out during the Holidays in Galena Country

 

Holiday Meals: A Quick Guide to Dining Out
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and in Galena Country, we celebrate the season with fireworks, caroling, a magical walk on Main Street and festive gatherings with family and friends. Perhaps on Christmas Eve, preparing traditional holiday dishes to serve on Christmas Day. But if you prefer to skip hours of labor in the kitchen then head out instead, here is a quick guide of restaurants that are open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day:

Christmas Eve 

Almost Paradise Bar & Grill-Open regular hours
Culver’s-Open until 3 p.m.
Green Street Tavern at DeSoto House– Open until 7 p.m.
Dillon’s Pizza & Tavern-Open 6 a.m-Midnight
Durty Gurt’s Burger Joynt-Open until 3 p.m.
Galena Brewing Company-Open 11 a.m-3p.m.
Gobbie’s Sports Pub & Eatery-Open until 3 p.m.
Happy Joe’s Pizza Grille-Open 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Little Tokyo-Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Market House Restaurant-Open until 3 p.m.
McDonald’s-Open until 3 p.m.
Otto’s Place-Open until 1 p.m.
Paisano’s at Eagle Ridge– Open regular hours
Subway-Open until 9 p.m.
The Grape Escape – Serving food until 1 a.m.
Victory Café-Open until 2 p.m.
Woodlands at Eagle Ridge-Open regular hours

Christmas Day

Almost Paradise Bar & Grill
Chestnut Mountain Resort
Paisano’s at Eagle Ridge
The Grape Escape – light appetizers

Dig in, and enjoy the holidays in Galena Country!

Insider’s guide to vacationing with your dog in Galena Country

Who’ll let the dogs in?

Are you looking to plan a pet-centric holiday in Galena Country? Don’t know where to start?… no worries, we’ve sniffed out pet-friendly spots for you. Fur’real!

Accommodations

First… you need to find a place to rest Fido’s furry head. Here’s a list of pet-friendly bed and breakfasts, hotels and vacation homes where he’ll feel like the top dog.

A Great Escape
Augustus Chetlain Home and Log Cabins
Belle Aire Mansion Guest House
Country Inn & Suites, Stockton 
Cloran Mansion & Antonio’s Cottage
Felt Manor Guest House
Galena Log Cabin Getaway
Galena Escapes
Galena Reservations Inc.
Goldmoor Inn
Grant Hills Motel
Le Fevre Inn & Resort
Marcotte’s Family Motel
Peaceful Pines
Quality Inn East Dubuque
Rosebud Rentals
Stoney Creek Inn

Outdoor Fun

With its scenic surroundings and spectacular views, many pet-parents flock to Galena Country with their four-legged sidekicks for a much-needed getaway to nature!

If your pooch likes to ruff it, he’ll love the nature preserve hiking trails where he can climb, scamper and in some cases, even swim. If he’s more of an ambler, pick up a picnic basket from Galena River Wine and Cheese for yourself and some treats from New Earth Animals for Fido… then head to one of the parks for a leisurely stroll. Don’t forget to check the leash laws.

Apple River Canyon State Park
Buehler Preserve
Casper Bluff Land & Water Reserve
Chestnut Mountain Resort Trails
Galena Gateway Park
Galena River Trail
Gramercy Park
Grant Park
Horseshoe Mound Preserve
Schurmeier Teaching Forest
Wapello Land & Water Preserve
Winston Tunnel State Natural Area

Pet-Friendly Stores

Shopping with your pup, how doggone fun does that sound?! Throw a leash on Fido, remind him to put on his best behaviour and hit Galena’s Helluva Half Mile. This historic main street, boasts more than 125 independently-owned storefronts. Many welcome pets, which we’ve listed below…

At Home in Galena 114 S. Main Street
Beyond the Horizon 125 S. Main Street
Carlotta’s Studio 120 N. Main Street
Country Crafts & Sports 113 S. Main Street
Dream Catcher  204 S. Main Street
Dreams Boutique 122 N. Main Street
Earth’s Treasures 102 S. Main Street
Ethyl’s   225 S. Main Street
Eureka  305 S. Main Street
Fever River Outfitters 525 S. Main Street
For Bare Feet 120 S. Main Street
From Head to Toe Sportswear 302 S. Main Street
Gabby’s Gifts 117 S. Main St
Galena Garlic Company 311 S. Main Street
Galena Tees 119 N. Main Street
Gustafson & Grey, Ltd. 301 S. Main Street
Honest John’s Emporium 108 N. Main Street
Honest John’s Trading Post 130 S. Main Street

La Vie en Rose 115 N. Main Street
Maggie Black 116 S. Main Street
New Earth Animals 224 S. Main Street
Peace of the Past 217 N. Main Street
Petals & Primitives 111 S. Main Street
Poopsie’s 403 S. Mains Street
Red’s Iron Yard & Wholesale Barn 308 S. Main Street
Rustic River Finds 109 N. Main Street
Simply Elegant Boutique 200 S. Main Street
Serendipity of Galena 108 S. Main Street
Something Special 109 S. Main Street
Strawberry Lane 103 S. Main Street
Union Leather 221 S. Main Street
Vignettes of Galena 107 N. Main Street
Wild Bird Unlimited 206 S. Main Street
Wooden Wardrobe 208 N. Main Street
You Gotta Be Kidding 119 S. Main Street

Treat your best friend to a yummy treat from New Earth Animals for his pawsome behaviour on your shopping trip. Bon A-pet-treat Fido! Maybe you can pick out a new outfit for him at the same time?

Art Galleries/Studios

Does Fido have an artistic streak? Okay, maybe you do? Fur-tunately, these galleries and studios on Main Street welcome pets:

Mangelsen Images of Nature Gallery 421 S. Main Street
Outside the Lines Art Gallery 101 S. Main Street
Pinder Pottery 236 N. Main Street
River Bend Gallery 313 S. Main Street
Skidmore Art Gallery 319 S. Main Street

Skidmore Art Gallery offers thirsty four-legged travelers a refreshing drink just outside the gallery. Speaking of drinks… by this time the thirsty human should need one after a long day of exploring. Stop in at Miss Kitty’s Grape Escape for a specialty martini, glass of wine or a beer with Fido at your side. If you’re hungry, they serve appetizers, sandwiches and more. Tip: The local VFW in Hanover will allow your pooch to sit at the bar with you too!

Spa Day

It’s time to pamper your pooch with a rub down, a paw-dicure or a full makeover! Doggie Do’s & New Earth Animals Grooming will take great care of your furry friend. While you wait, why not treat yourself to a spa treatment of your own at one of Galena Country’s full-service spa’s. If you absolutely MUST visit a few places that do not allow pets, Doggie Do’s also offers a daycare service where Fido can meet other four-legged travelers and exchange travel stories.

Bone-us Outing

Award winning wineries that welcome pets? Hot diggety dog – let’s go! Enjoy a delicious glass of wine with a scenic view. A great time for you and Fido to paws and reflect!

Fergedaboudit Vineyard & Winery
Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery
Massbach Ridge Winery
Rocky Waters Vineyard & Winery

Whelp, guess it’s time to go home, but one thing is clear… you’d be barking mad not to visit Galena Country with your fur babies. It’s the pawfect getaway, to say the leashed.

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.

Explore #GalenaCountry and strike a pose in Stockton!

Hit the road and cruise out to Stockton, Illinois to find these beautiful murals waiting for your epic selfie.

 

The first mural to embrace historic downtown Stockton went up in 2016. Find at the corner of Front & Main St.

Next up is an ode to our native settlers, with this colorful mural of an American Indian by artist Chris Shannon. Find it right on Main St.


This one might not have as much detail, but there is something beautiful in the simplicity of its large singular rose. Find it right on Main St.


The newest mural to go up in Stockton is this stunning floral design. Find it on the side of Beautifully Berkeley, 101 N. Main Street

Run the Galena River Trail

Our intern, Ally explored the Galena River Trail and beyond! Here is a recount of her adventure… 

Raise your heart rate, get a good work out and find mental serenity in Mother Nature. What better way to distract yourself from your own heavy breathing and running fatigue than the scenic trails and country roads found in Galena Country?

The Galena River Trail is located just steps away from the hustle and bustle of Galena’s Helluva Half Mile. Tucked away in the woods lining the Galena River, this serene 8-mile trail is the perfect place to reconnect with nature. It’s mostly flat terrain, which makes cycling and running a breeze.

In fact, running seems less horrific when you get to experience one of the best views of Galena. As I explored the trail, the diversity of scenery and people with dogs, bikes and grand kids who passed me was fascinating. With two knee surgeries and my personal preference, this trail is especially perfect for me because it is flat. No hills or inclines, just a nice, relaxing path to get those steps in.

As I walked, calmness came over me. There are spots on the trail with great views of the river but also with stretches of lush greenery and timber. For runners who might need a quick break or breather, there are benches perfectly located throughout the trail. Each bench is surrounded by a unique collection of colorful plants.

I didn’t make it to the end of the trail but I plan to ride my bike to the end next time. The trail follows the Galena River all the way to the backwaters of the Mighty Mississippi. Lush marshland plants and river species of all sorts call this beautiful landscape home and the trail continues to the bottom of Chestnut Mountain Resort.

From there, I plan on riding the ski lift to the top of the “mountain” to enjoy a light meal and drink at Sunset Grille. From the top, I’ll also be able to take in the view of the Mississippi, with sights of Iowa and Wisconsin in the distance. The best part about taking the lift is that I can load my bike and ride up to the top for free.

Another unique feature about the Galena River Trail is the landing and boat launch. With picnic tables, it’s the perfect spot for a quick lunch with a view of the Galena River and downtown Galena. Not a runner? Anyone can use the landing for kayaks, canoes, paddle boats and as a great fishing adventure launch.

Speaking of Chestnut, they’ve got some great wooded trails worth exploring. With more than 143 acres, their grounds are perfect for family hikes, solo runs or endurance mountain biking and hiking. I decided to check out the trail by foot and stayed close to the main lodge. The front desk was helpful in providing guidance on which trails led where, so I chose the Yellow Trail Loop. It starts in the woods and ends at North Grandview Pointe. More on that in a minute.

As I began my hike, I heard what sounded like machines. A few seconds later, a group of Segways zipped by. They all seemed to be having a lot of fun and it was definitely something I wasn’t expecting to see. I learned later that Chestnut offers guided Segway tours. How cool!

After the group was out of sight, it was just me and my thoughts. I couldn’t believe how the trails reminded me of paths I have hiked in upper Michigan and Wisconsin. The thick canopy of trees was just what I needed but the best was yet to come. As I approached the end of my trail, I noticed the beginning of one of the best views I have ever laid my eyes on. I’m talking about the panoramic view of the Mississippi River that was waiting for me. My trail ended in an open, grassy knoll overlooking the river valley. I don’t know if it was the sheer surprise or the timing of the sun beginning to set but I suddenly found myself breathless, completely lost in the moment. It was an experience I will never forget and one I hope you can find on your own journey to Chestnut Mountain Resort.

Galena River Trail Picnic Area

For those more interested in road running, I have a few suggestions. After my hike at Chestnut, I drove the more scenic route home, exploring the country roads between Galena and Hanover. It was filled with scenes straight out of a movie with everything from immaculate horse ranches to classic red barns and historic cemeteries to old farmhouses. The winding back roads of Galena Country are well worth exploring with a long run or bike ride.

  • Irish Hollow Road will lead you by babbling brooks, hidden train tunnels and limestone cottages covered in vines. It’s a setting pulled straight out of a Thomas Kinkade painting.
  • Pilot Knob Road winds by endless fields of prairie grass and climbs up and down bluffs on its way to Casper Bluff Land & Water Reserve.
  • Devil’s Ladder Road has a few tight curves with limited vision for vehicles but if you’re a runner up for a challenge, it warrants some of the best views of Galena Country farmland you’ll ever see.

For even more road running ideas, check out the Galena Geo-tag on Map My Run.

Those who have conquered the trail by foot, a post-run recovery and one of the spas in Galena Country is an option. A relaxing massage is a great way to reward oneself for hard work and effectively treat sore muscles to prevent injuries.

Barefoot Adventures in Galena Country

Our intern, Ally, jumped in with both feet as she experienced Galena Country mostly barefoot! Here is a recount of her adventure… 

“I can’t keep my foot in my mouth any longer about my time at Apple River Canyon State Park. It was a muggy morning but Pine Trail was completely shaded, which made for a nice, cool hike. There are a variety of trails, but we chose this one as it was only 1 mile and the sign promised some things along the way. We buckled up our fanny packs and entered.

It was quiet and peaceful as we made our way through the trail. You realize why it’s named Pine Trail when you see a host of beautiful pine trees lining the walkway. After storms rolled through a few days prior, the timber was lush and filled with beautiful plants and flowers.

Once we found the river, I ditched the shoes and went barefoot. The mud felt sweet between my toes and it made the experience feel extremely natural. The water was off the trail a little but the natural bluffs carved away by the river are a must-see. Before I knew it, we were sitting on the edge of the trail, resting in the grass and listening to the sweet sounds of nature.

It was just what the doctor ordered – a decent dose of sunshine and relaxation.

To add to my natural, holistic foot adventure, I stopped by Sacred Sole and Massage. Most people cringe when I tell them I was getting massaged by someone’s bare feet. I set them straight right away because not only was the massage the most amazing one I’ve ever had but the woman was also even more beautiful. Inside and out, Theresa Young was so great that I had to give her a hug at the end of my session because it wasn’t just a massage. She informed me of why she practices the way she does, background information about the Fiji-style massage and made it a unique experience.

I do CrossFit, which puts a lot of stress and soreness on my body, and she said she massages 3-4 other CrossFitters who come to her regularly, which made me feel even more at home. So, whether you’re an athlete, parent, grandparent or anyone looking for a “not-too-soft” but “not-too-much” pressure massage, go to her!

What she does with her feet, I doubt anyone could do with their hands. Like I said, Theresa has me wanting to come back for more. And if you want to leave a session feeling brand new, choose Sacred Sole & Massage located in the heart of Galena’s Helluva Half Mile.

If you’re not into the idea of a massage from feet but you like the idea of being primped, foot massages and pedicures are another great option. Galena Country is home to top-notch spas, all specializing in a variety of pampering experiences. Treat yourself to an afternoon of bliss and book a spa foot treatment. Soon, it’ll be time to find the perfect pair of sandals to show off your new pedicure.

That’s right. Make it a shopping adventure and explore the Helluva Half Mile for the perfect pair of kicks. Honest John’s is just one of many shops who carry top-quality brands, including my favorite sandals, Birkenstock.

Other barefoot adventures in Galena Country include kayaking and canoeing. While you’ll want to wear shoes while loading your vessel in and out of the water, during your float, you might just find yourself kicking off those shoes and dipping them into the cool current of the Galena River. You can float all the way to the Mississippi River with your toesies hanging out.

So, quit tiptoeing around the idea and #GetToGalena Country to experience these barefoot adventures.”