By Amber Holst of Concierge Preferred
If you need a little R&R and want to get away from the bustle of big city life, the quaint historic town of Galena is a must-do and tops our list of LGBTQ-friendly weekend getaways in Illinois. Here’s a look at where to eat, shop, and what to see while there.
If you’re planning for a romantic dinner out then we recommend One Eleven Main, it is one of the more upscale, yet still approachable, Galena restaurants. With a farm-to-table menu featuring locally-sourced ingredients, the menu here changes daily with offerings like bourbon cola-glazed roasted pork, pineapple red bell pepper barbecue ribs, and potato-encrusted trout with a spicy tomato caper remoulade. It’s all dependent on what inspires the chefs and what’s in season. Rounding out the bill of fare, many of the spirits, beer, and wine all come from places in Illinois.
If homey and charming is more your speed, then make sure to swing by Otto’s Place. With the look and feel of an old country inn set inside a classic red building dating back to 1899, Otto’s is a great spot for breakfast and lunch. Our favorites include the butternut squash, kale and smoked gouda frittata; bread pudding French toast; and corned beef hash. They also have a killer bloody Mary with housemade mix and all the right garnishes.
Don’t let the name fool you. While you’d expect Fried Green Tomatoes to be a cute country diner, it’s actually our go-to in Galena for great Italian-American cuisine. Housed inside a building once owned by Ulysses S. Grant’s father, this gem offers hearty steaks, great seafood, and a Wine Spectator-recognized wine list.
What’s better than seeing a gorgeous country vineyard up close? Getting to taste through a bunch of their delicious wines, of course. 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. You’ll then tour the cellars before returning to the tasting room to get six half-ounce wine pours chosen from the 40 wines they make on site. Their public tasting and tour combo costs $10 per person.
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. The $10, 45-minute tours take place daily and you’ll learn about the entire process and end with a guided tasting.
About 25 minutes from downtown Galena, A Bushel & A Peck country store is an antique-lover’s treasure chest. Here you can find vintage and reclaimed furniture, housewares and locally-crafted foodstuffs including honey, maple syrup, and cheese.
Galena Clay Works is a must-visit If you love handcrafted functional objects like bowls, dishes, and other beautiful pottery. This adorable studio in Galena’s “Old Town” district is the kind of shop you’ll definitely not be leaving empty-handed.
Aldrich Guest House is a gay-owned, five-bedroom B&B about five minutes from Main Street 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. The six-suite, four-story inn features rooms each boasting king size beds with luxe linens, fireplaces, and Kohler bathrooms with steam showers or massage tubs.
If you prefer on-site activities to complement your accommodations, then make sure to check out Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa. In addition to golf and spa services, Eagle Ridge is the area’s premier resort set over 6,800 acres. You’ll find well-appointed rooms and villas, award-winning restaurants, hiking and biking trails, fishing, kayaking, and even seasonal hot air ballooning.
Called “deliciously rustic” by the New York Times, The Inn at Irish Hollow is located on 500 rolling acres in the Galena countryside. Combined with its historic rooms or its private English-style cottages, the landscape could easily be mistaken for a European getaway. Irish Hollow is also known for its gourmet country breakfasts and dinners made with seasonal ingredients from its own organic gardens.
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