Top 10 Things to Do on a Budget in Galena | Midwest Living
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Top 10 Things to Do on a Budget in Galena

Though known for its shopping, Galena’s historical sites, tours and scenery charm without costing much on a Midwest weekend getaway.
Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site. Photo courtesy of Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
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Wooded Wonderland. Photo courtesy of Robert Keeling.
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Galena Trolley Depot Tours. Photo courtesy of Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
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Mississippi Palisades State Park.
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Biscuits and gravy at Otto's Place Cafe and Lounge.
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1) Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic State Although Ulysses S. Grant was born in Ohio, he made Galena his home during the 1860s, prior to his service as a Civil War general and his term as the 18th president. Costumed interpreters lead tours of his handsome brick Italianate house, still furnished with original pieces such as Grant’s favorite chair. (815) 777-3310; granthome.com

2) Effigy Mounds at Casper Bluff Land and Water Reserve The Mississippi River bluffs around Galena are home to 51 Native American burial mounds and a 112-foot-wide Thunderbird effigy mound believed to be 1,000 years old (it’s the only one of its kind in Illinois). Download a map to explore the mysterious grounds on your own, or reserve a spot on a guided tour. (815) 858-9100; jdcf.org/casper_bluff.aspx

3) Galena Trolley Depot Tours Get a discount coupon for a one-hour peek into Mississippi River history on an old-fashioned trolley. (815) 777-1248; galenatrolleys.com

4) Mississippi Palisades State Park Follow in the footsteps of Native Americans along the bluffs of this multiuse park at the confluence of the Mississippi and Apple rivers. Wooded bluffs give way to fern-filled ravines on the 15 miles of trails. (815) 273-2731; dnr.illinois.gov

5) Wooded Wonderland Country Store Handcrafted furniture, jars of honey and homemade jam, and antiques pack this retro mercantile. The real draw, though, is picking organic blueberries from July through September. Tours of the native prairie and the on-site sawmill are also available for a small fee. (815) 777-1223; woodedwonderland.com

6) Old Market House This 1845 Greek Revival building served as Galena’s city market for 65 years. Now, it showcases changing history exhibits. (815) 777-3310; illinois.gov

7) West Street Sculpture Park A path winds through this 2-acre park dotted with a dozen oversize sculptures. Some pieces repurpose everyday items like cheese graters, wrenches and other “junk;” our favorite closely resembles a giant Tinker Toy. If you’re lucky, artist John Martinson will be working at his on-site studio. Admission is free. (815) 777-9591; weststreetsculpturepark.com

8) Annie Wiggins Ghost Tour “Widow Wiggins,” the owner of the B&B Annie Wiggins Guest House, dresses in late-1800s costume to share gossip and ghost stories on these eerie evening excursions. Bring a flashlight and be prepared to do some walking. The May through October tours are $12 per person, reservations required. (815) 281-0408; anniewiggins.com

9) Otto’s Place Cafe and Lounge At this Galena landmark, homey breakfast fare like biscuits and gravy ($6.50) or corned beef hash ($10) is served all day. The lunch menu expands to include salads, sandwiches and a few surprises like the BHT plate ($7.50), a Mediterranean-inspired combo of babaganoush, hummus and tabouli. Dinners on Friday and Saturday nights consist of a short but impressive list of appetizers and entrees. (815) 776-0240; ottosplace.com

10) The Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel The mood is more Americanized Irish than authentic, but the amenities and accommodations are pleasant. Each guestroom bears the name of a county in Ireland and boasts prints from master artist Roisin O’Shea, along with microwaves and mini fridges. Downstairs, Frank O’Dowd’s offers live music to enjoy with pub grub like shepherd’s pie, burgers, and fish and chips washed down with the requisite pints of Guinness. Rates start from $89 and include breakfast. (815) 776-0707; theirishcottageboutiquehotel.com

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