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Galena Trip Guide

On the Galena River in northwest Illinois, this town’s century-old buildings now house shops and restaurants. Beyond Main Street, find water sports, golf and other active outings. Check out our guide for what to do, where to eat and where to stay.

What to do

Amelia's Galena Ghost Tours Entertaining guides lead bus tours past Galena's greatest haunts. Things get real at The Ryan Mansion, where visitors head into the library for ghost-hunting instruction. ameliastours.com

Blaum Brothers Distilling Company Tour the distillery at the town's sole maker of hard liquor, and prepare for some serious taste testing. Hellfyre, a vodka infused with hot peppers, is devilishly good. blaumbros.com

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. jdcf.org

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 the area. feverriveroutfitters.com

Fever River Outfitters

Fever River Outfitters

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). galenahistorymuseum.org

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. galenacellars.com

Galena's Kandy Kitchen Saltwater taffy fills wood barrels, and handmade chocolates dot this family-owned shop known for Pecan Georgies—homemade caramel with pecan halves dipped in chocolate. galenaskandykitchen.com

Galena Trolley Depot Narrators introduce visitors to Galena’s historical sites and homes. galenatrolleys.com

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. greatpopcorn.com

Massbach Ridge Winery and Tasting Room The downtown location pours a variety of estate-made wines; drive to the vineyard 27 miles southeast of Galena for vineyard and winery tours. Massbach Ridge Winery on Facebook

Mississippi Explorer River Cruises Tour guides detail the history of the river, its wildlife and geology. chestnutmtn.com

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. dnr.illinois.gov

Mississippi Palisades State Park

Mississippi Palisades State Park

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. illinoishistory.gov

Rocky Waters Vineyard South of Galena in Hanover, the winery makes Wild Turkey Blush and Tower Red. Check out the view from the deck. rockywaters.net

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. 

Main Street.

Downtown Galena

Ulysses S. Grant Home A tour of the 19th-century Italianate house gives insight into post-Civil War life in Galena and Grant’s life. granthome.com

Washburne House See how the 1845 Greek Revival-style home of Elihu Washburne, a congressman who advised President Lincoln, reflected the owner’s success. illinoishistory.gov

Where to eat

Embe Eatery and Lounge The candy bar martinis taste like dessert, but that didn't stop us from ordering hot rum-soaked bread pudding, too. embegalena.com

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. friedgreen.com

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. fritzandfrites.com

Fritz and Frites

Fritz and Frites

One Eleven Main Beer-cheddar fondue makes a great starter for an evening of upscale American fare—from burgers to walleye. oneelevenmain.com

Otto’s Place Cafe and Lounge Breakfast all day means indulging in treats like banana bread French toast. ottosplace.com

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. vinnysgalena.com

Where to stay

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

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. scenichideaways.com

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. eagleridge.com

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. goldmoor.com

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. irishhollow.com

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. theirishcottageboutiquehotel.com

Jail Hill Inn The six lavish suites inside this masterfuly restored brick building (once the county jail) include Kohler rain showers and plush turkish cotton bathrobes. jailhillgalena.com

For information: Greater Galena Marketing Initiative visitgalena.org; Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau galena.org

 

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