enjoy the great outdoors of great rivers country

Travel along the Mississippi through Galena and the Quad Cities for a winter wonderland of adventure. Go for an afternoon of ice skating to get the fun started. Or enjoy snowboarding, skiing, sledding, snow tubing and more. Then slow it down with a hike on the Great River Trail. Outdoor fun awaits in Northern Great Rivers Country.

Make sure to check with attractions ahead of time for up-to-date operating hours, travel policies and health and safety information.

  • Day 1: Galena

Kick off a dreamy winter getaway in the charming small town of Galena. The best way to start the day is with a hearty breakfast, so stop by Otto’s Place for incredible brunch options like banana bread french toast, egg tacos and breakfast mac and cheese. Get an adrenaline rush at Chestnut Mountain Resort, a picturesque ski and snowboarding park overlooking the Mississippi River. It’s fit for all types of snow sports enthusiasts from amateurs to professionals. The resort itself also features an array of amenities for those who want to take in the breathtaking views atop the hills the rest of the day.

Next, stroll along Historic Main Street which is filled with more than 125 quaint boutiques, galleries, wineries and old-fashioned confectioneries where you can stock up on treats to enjoy all season long. Great American Popcorn Co. creates small batches of popcorn in over 350 unique flavors like butter pecan, bacon & cheddar and amaretto almond. Just on the other side of the street, Galena Canning Company offers a huge variety of award-winning sauces, jams, syrups and more. If you’re on the hunt for even more delicious options, grab takeout or dine-in at Vinny Vanucchi’s, known for its delectable traditional Italian fare and wine shop filled with imported selects. 

Discover one of Illinois’ most beloved wintertime activities – eagle watching – at Mississippi Palisades State Park in nearby Savanna. There, you can marvel at majestic bald eagles soaring and diving for food during their annual migration along the Mississippi River. 

For even more family-friendly outdoor adventures, check out the Nordic Center at Eagle Ridge Resort, which offers a wide array of winter sports like sledding, ice skating and cross-country skiing. Eagle Ridge Resort also features a luxurious spa for those needing a little relaxation and the opportunity to warm up. Galena is also home to The Inn at Irish Hollow, a secluded B&B that sits on 500 acres of lush farmland and boasts one-of-a-kind themed cottages.

  • Day 2: Quad Cities

Continue your winter getaway in the Quad Cities, known for the Great River Trail that runs 62 miles from Savanna to Rock Island along the Mississippi River. Rock Island also features the Black Hawk State Historic Site, which has six miles of marked hiking trails that can often be used for cross-country skiing. 

If there’s one food the Quad Cities area is known for, it’s its mouthwatering pizza! Quad Cities-style pizza is cut in long, thin, rectangular strips and typically features crumbled Italian sausage, a zesty tomato sauce and loads of mozzarella cheese. Partake or pick up one of these famous local pies at Harris Pizza in Rock Island and Frank’s Pizza in Silvis.

You and your crew can discover even more bald eagles as they gather in the wooded bluffs to spend the winter (typically from December to February). Unique eagle watching locations in the Quad Cities area include Locks & Dam 15 in Rock Island, Sylvan Island in Moline and the Hyatt Place East Moline/Quad Citiesideal for families and couples to check in for the night.

  • Day 3: Quad Cities & Andalusia

In the morning, head to the QC Coffee & Pancake House in Rock Island, a popular local eatery offering delicious menu items created by an award-winning chef. Think country fried steak skillet, cinnamon rolls and a grown-up grilled cheese sandwich. End your getaway on a high note at the Snowstar Extreme Sports in Andalusia – an outdoor winter fun park featuring Alpine skiing, snowboarding and a snow tubing hill. You’ll get an adrenaline-filled day the whole family will enjoy.