Galena Trip Guide | Midwest Living

Galena Trip Guide

On the Galena River in northwest Illinois, this town’s century-old buildings now house shops and restaurants. Beyond Main Street, water sports, golf and other active outings await.
Main Street.
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Fritz and Frites
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Golf at Eagle Ridge.
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Mississippi Palisades State Park
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What to do

Casper Bluffs Self-guided tours of the 85 acres reveal burial mounds, a 1,000-year-old Thunderbird effigy mound and migrating birds, making it an ideal early-morning spot for history-lovers and nature fans. (815) 858-9100;

Fever River Outfitters Rent kayaks or stand-up paddleboards to float down the Galena River, or get bikes, electric bikes or motor scooters to explore area trails.  (815) 776-9425;

The Galena and U.S. Grant Museum Peer into an 1830s lead-mine shaft, measure yourself against a life-size photograph of President Lincoln, and view the Vicksburg flag (hand-sewn by women supporting Civil War troops). (815) 777-9129;

Galena Cellars Vineyard and Winery A restored 1840s granary downtown has a wine-tasting room and wine patio; 7 miles east of Galena, the vineyard holds tours and tastings. (800) 397-9463;

Galena's Kandy Kitchen Salt water taffy fills wood barrels, and handmade chocolates line up behind glass at this family-owned shop known for Pecan Georgies—homemade caramel with pecan halves dipped in chocolate.

Galena Trolley Depot Narrators introduce visitors to Galena’s historical sites and homes. Choose from one-hour tours, two-and-a-half-hour tours that stop at three homes and 60-minute ghost tours. (815) 777-1248;

The Great American Popcorn Company The selection of unique flavors includes Freakin’ Hot, Louisiana BBQ, Kitchen Sink and Cinnamon Toast. Sweets for sale include jellybeans, chocolates and fudge.

Massbach Ridge Winery and Tasting Room The downtown location pours estate-made wines; go to the vineyard  27 miles southeast of Galena for vineyard and winery tours. (815) 291-6700; Massbach Ridge Winery on Facebook

Mississippi Explorer River Cruises Tour guides detail the history of the river, its wildlife and geology. (815) 777-1320;

Mississippi Palisades State Park About 30 miles southeast of Galena, the 2,500-acre park caters to picnickers, campers and hikers. Fifteen miles of trails lead to overlooks with bird’s-eye views of the Mississippi, rock formations and wooded ravines. (815) 273-2731;

Old Market House The former city market, built in 1845–46, serves as a visitors center and displays 1,500 artifacts related to Ulysses S. Grant. (815) 777-3310;

Rocky Waters Vineyard South of Galena in Hanover, the winery makes Wild Turkey Blush and Tower Red. Check out the view from the deck. (815) 591-9706;

Shopping More than 100 boutiques line historical Main Street and side streets. Look for Kenyan soapstone artwork at Beyond the Horizon, dinner-party fare at Galena River Wine and Cheese and Galena Garlic Company, and artistic clothing at Earth’s Treasures. 

Ulysses S. Grant Home A tour of the 19th-century Italianate house gives insight into post-Civil War life in Galena and Grant’s prepresidential years here. (815) 777-3310;

Washburne House See how the 1845 Greek Revival-style home of Elihu Washburne, a congressman who advised President Lincoln, reflected the owner’s success. (815) 777-3310;

Wooded Wonderland Country Store and Sawmill Pick organically grown blueberries July to September, and browse handmade furniture and antiques.  (815) 777-1223;

Where to eat

American Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor Keep an eye out for the black-and-white awning to find the old-fashioned specialty dessert shop. (815) 777-3121

Fried Green Tomatoes Dine on creative Italian dishes like a smoked Gouda-Gorgonzola mac and cheese with sausage. And don’t overlook the namesake appetizer. (815) 777-3938;

Fritz and Frites The split-nationality menu consists of French and German favorites: Fritz fans can load up on schnitzel, sauerbraten, sausages and spaetzle; on the frites side, there’s escargot, baked Brie, pâté, quiche and mussels. (815) 777-2004;

One Eleven Main Beer-cheddar fondue makes a great starter for an evening of upscale American fare—from burgers to glazed duck breast. (815) 777-8030;

Otto’s Place Cafe and Lounge A sunny interior and bottomless coffee perk up any day, as does breakfast all day; try banana bread French toast or sweet potato hash. (815) 776-0240;

Perry Street Brasserie A European master chef uses organic products in a menu that changes monthly; dinner might include Iowa pork loin medaillons with apple relish. (815) 777-3773;

Vinny Vanucchi’s Little Italy House specialties like Nana Lu’s meat lasagna were inspired by co-owner Deb Coulter’s grandmother, who always seemed to have a pot of sauce on the stove. (815) 777-8100;

Where to stay

Chestnut Mountain Resort Warm-weather activities include an alpine slide (a sled that goes down 2,050 feet of track), the new Soaring Eagle zipline, disc golf, mountain biking and a one-hour Segway tour. Winter brings skiing and snowboarding on 19 runs. (815) 777-1320;

The Cottage on Lake Galena Fireplaces in both bedrooms and the living area make for a cozy stay in this log cottage. The porch and outdoor hot tub take advantage of lake views. (608) 723-7099;

Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa Outdoor enthusiasts come for golf, horseback riding, bicycling, kayaking and hot-air balloon rides. Accommodations include 80 rooms in the inn, as well as 200-plus villas and homes.  (800) 892-2269;

Goldmoor Inn Indulge like royalty during a stay in suites, cabins and cottages. Some rooms overlook the Mississippi, and the two-story turret suite sets the mood for romance. The inn also serves some of the finest meals in the area. (800) 255-3925;

The Inn at Irish Hollow On a 500-acre property 9 miles from Galena, the inn has five opulent cabins and three rooms in the main building that was once a general store. (815) 777-6000;

The Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel The spacious rooms, some with patios and whirlpool tubs, don’t feel particularly Irish. However, the warm and inviting pub does. (866) 284-7474;

For information: Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau (877) 464-2536;


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