On the Galena River in northwest Illinois, this town’s century-old buildings now house shops, galleries, wineries and restaurants. Beyond Main Street, find water sports, golf and other active outings.

By The editors of MidwestLiving.com

What to do

Amelia's Galena Ghost Tours Entertainment includes ghost tours, haunted pub crawls, vineyard visits and dinner theater. ameliastours.com

Blaum Brothers Distilling Company Tour the distillery and taste products like the devilishly good Hellfyre, a vodka with hot peppers. blaumbros.com

Dowling House The 1826 limestone structure, Galena’s oldest residence, is furnished with authentic artifacts. belvederemansionandgardens.com

Casper Bluffs Self-guided tours of the 85 acres reveal burial mounds, a 1,000-year-old Thunderbird effigy mound and migrating birds. jdcf.org

Fever River Outfitters Rent kayaks, canoes or stand-up paddleboards to float down the Galena River, or get bikes or electric bikes to explore the area. Activities can be combined with a yoga class. feverriveroutfitters.com

Fever River Outfitters

Galena and U.S. Grant Museum Peer into an 1830s lead-mine shaft and measure yourself against a life-size photo of President Lincoln. galenahistorymuseum.org

Galena Cellars Winery and Vineyard A restored 1840s granary downtown has a wine-tasting room and wine patio; head 7 miles east of Galena to the vineyard for 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 on tours. 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

Great Galena Balloon Race Watch pros race hot-air balloons at dawn and in the evening, listen to live music, and check out tethered balloons at Eagle Ridge Resort (June 19–21, 2020). greatgalenaballoonrace.com

Long Hollow Canopy Tours Six ziplines and a 140-foot sky bridge provide adventure through the forest about 10 miles southeast of Galena. longhollowcanopytours.com

Long Hollow Canopy Tours

Massbach Ridge Winery and Tasting Room The downtown location pours a variety of estate-made wines; drive to the vineyard 25 miles southeast of Galena for vineyard and winery tours. Massbach Ridge Winery on Facebook

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 of the Mississippi, rock formations and wooded ravines. dnr.illinois.gov

Mississippi Palisades State Park

Old Blacksmith Shop Take a tour and shop for Galena-forged items at the 1897 space with working forges and smiths. galenahistory.org

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

P.T. Murphy Magic Theatre The venue’s intimate size (24 seats) makes the audience part of the act. ptmurphy.com

Shopping More than 100 boutiques line historical Main Street and side streets. Look for trendy garb and gifts at The Neighborhood Trading Company, and toys and treats for furry friends at New Earth Animals.

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 the 1843 Greek Revival-style home of Elihu B. Washburne, a congressman who advised President Lincoln. illinoishistory.gov

Where to eat

Durty Gurt’s Burger Joynt The friendly staff sling some serious burgers; be prepared for the irreverent vibe (sassy signs, toilet seating in the foyer). durtygurtsburgerjoynt.com

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

Fried Green Tomatoes Dine on creative Italian dishes, like wild mushroom and kale ravioli. 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 and spaetzle; for Frites, there’s escargot and baked Brie. fritzandfrites.com

Fritz and Frites

Little Tokyo Come for big plates of Japanese cuisine, including sushi, tempura and their signature steak teriyaki. littletokyogalena.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 This spot 9 miles south of Galena offers Mississippi River views and family-friendly activities. Zip down a 2,050-foot-long alpine slide, glide on the Soaring Eagle zipline, tour via Segway or take a cruise along the Mississippi. chestnutmtn.com

The Cottage on Lake Galena Fireplaces in the living area and bedrooms make for a cozy stay in this log cottage. The porch and outdoor hot tub take advantage of views. scenichideaways.com

Cloran Mansion Bed-and-Breakfast Modern comforts come wrapped in historic charm at the 1880 Italianate Victorian. The popular Tower Suite features a two-person whirlpool tub under a cupola. cloranmansion.com

DeSoto House Hotel The Main Street lodging, in a brick building that dates to 1855, offers 55 spacious rooms with Victorian décor. desotohouse.com

Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa Outdoor enthusiasts will find golf, horseback riding, bicycling, kayaking, foot golf and hot-air balloon rides on the 6,800-acre property. Lodging includes 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 with miles of trails, the inn has five opulent cottages plus two suites in a historic 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. But the inviting Frank O'Dowd's Irish Pub and Grill was designed and made in Ireland. theirishcottageboutiquehotel.com

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

For information visit visitgalena.org

Advertisement