Four Reasons to Visit Galena

Our local experts list four reasons to visit this idyllic river town, including activities like Long Hollow Canopy Tours and a stay in the historic Jail Hill Inn.

in Regional Getaways, Road Trips
August 22, 2018

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Located just three hours west of Chicago, this historic town is ideal for an Illinois getaway. From charming boutiques to romantic inns and beautiful views, here are four reasons why Galena makes for an amazing trip.

For the History

Galena was once the home of Ulysses S. Grant, and today guests can tour his old residence and steep themselves in American history. In fact, 85% of Galena’s buildings are in a National Register Historic District. Must-visit spots include the Grant HomeThe Galena & U.S. Grant Museum, and the DeSoto  and Washburne Houses.

For the Charm

Due to the city’s no "chains" ordinance, Galena’s primary shopping, dining, and drinking district maintains a unique ambience with an interesting array of antique shops and boutiques. Make sure to make the steep climb one street up to Bench Street, as there’s historic and architecturally fascinating buildings galore. And nothing beats a stay at the romantic Jail Hill Inn — set inside a 135-year-old building atop a hill overlooking the Galena countryside.

For the Tipsy Tastings

Why not tour a gorgeous country vineyard on your trip? Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery  offers an hour-long tour that first covers the history of the winery before you visit the vineyard to see the 22 grape varietals they grow. Craft spirits more your thing? Blaum Brothers Distilling Company has gained some momentum in the craft spirits world with its bourbon, gin, moonshine and other spirits. Make a stop here and get a first-hand look at their distilling process.

For craft beer enthusiasts, there's one brewery in town — and it's a good one. Galena Brewing Company offers tastings, brewery tours, and a sizable brewpub menu, plus a gift shop and live entertainment every weekend.

For Activities That Let You Savor the Views

If you’re feeling active, book a rafting trip, hit up the nearby ski resort, or try the 40-acre Horseshoe Mound, known for its winding bike trails and scenic views all the way to Iowa and Wisconsin. Plus, there’s a bunch of fun activities to be found along the Galena River, such as kayak and canoe rentals, riverboat cruises, and yet another beautiful path for hiking and biking.

But maybe the best view the northwest Illinois landscape is from above. In nearby Elizabeth, you can soar above the trees on a 2.5-hour guided tour with Long Hollow Canopy Tours. Outfitters such as Galena on the Fly will take you even higher on hot-air-balloon rides. If you want to enjoy the majesty of the air but keep your feet firmly planted, the annual Great Galena Balloon Race in June has more than 20 balloons on display with live entertainment and more.

Where to Stay in Galena

Aldrich Guest House is an intimate B&B that dates back to a time when both President Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant roamed the halls.

The Jail Hill Inn is a charming option set inside a 135-year-old building atop a hill overlooking the Galena countryside.

If you prefer on-site activities to complement your accommodations, then make sure to check out Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa.

Article by Amber Holst of Concierge Preferred

More Ideas for Your Galena Getaway

Recommended Reads
A Break from the Big City

Plan your trip from the city by reversing the course in Road Tripping from Galena to Chicago. Bring your best friend along to stay in the pet-friendly cottage at Cloran Mansion — one of the spots in our list of Dog-Friendly Getaways.

A Romantic Road Trip

Starting in Galena, head south for a spin with your significant other with Six Romantic Spots Along the Great River Road.

An Outdoor Adventure

Enjoy hiking, kayaking and more in Galena and the surrounding region with our guide to Seven Natural Wonders of Northwest Illinois.

A Weekend in Wine Country

Enjoy the fruits of northwestern Illinois with a trip to enjoy an Illinois Wine Country Weekend

A Haunted Getaway

Plan a Haunted Getaway in Galena and learn the town's spooky yet charming history with a guided ghost tour.

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