In the northwest "Prairie State" or Illinois lays the charming and quaint city of Galena. The town was once a thriving mining community and is named after the mineral galena that several tribes of Native Americans mined long before the colonisers came in. The mineral established the mining economy of the town. However, now the city is known for its unspoilt and well-preserved collection of the buildings from the 19th century. Galena Historic District, a 581-acre area, filled with the architecture and structures from the 1800s is even listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city provides opportunities to enjoy year-round outdoor recreation with its rolling terrain and the stunning Mississippi River.
Along with all this, you will incredibly delicious local food with farm-to-table experience in many places in the city. The town is filled with world-famous hotels and resorts to make your stay even more worthwhile. Galena is very popular among travellers from all over the world for all the right reasons. Here are some of the best things to do in the lovely city of Galena.
Visit the Famous Ulysses S. Grant Home
Located on Bouthillier Street, Ulysses S. Grant Home was the former home of the historical figure Ulysses S. Grant. He was a Civil War General and the eighteenth President of the United States. The Grant Home built in the year 1860 was designed by William Dennison and was given to General Grant as a badge of gratefulness for his remarkable help during the war. It has since been conserved as a memorial open for public. It is a famous historical monument and has been listed on the National Register of Places and designated as a National Historic Landmark. The house still has furniture from the 1860s and even the decor that belonged to the Grant family once along with several other artefacts. You can take guided tours of the building, and the interpreters will tell all the historical significance of the Grant Home and General Grant himself. If you are a history buff, this place is a must for you, and if you are not a history buff, this place will not disappoint you.
Stunning Architecture of The Elihu B. Washburne House
Built in 1845, The Elihu B. Washburne House is located on Galena's 908 Third Street. The house was created for the local politician and a prominent lawyer of Galena, Elihu B. Washburne. It is a fantastic example of Greek-Revival architectural style. In 1973, this architectural wonder was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The house is open for the public, and you can take organised or self-guided tours of the house. Visit the Elihu B. Washburne House to see the magnificent architecture and the rich of this house.
Birdwatching and Hiking at Casper Bluff Land and Water Reserve
Casper Bluff Land and Water Reserve is a prominent Native American archaeology centre which severs sweeping views of the stunning Mississippi River. You can also enjoy several outdoor activities in the beautiful grounds such as hiking, walking, running, biking, sightseeing, and so much more. Birdwatching is particularly popular here; you can spot many different species of birds which makes it an excellent spot for birdwatchers. Visit this place to enjoy the incredible views of the countryside and waters while hiking and birdwatching, among other activities.
Stop at the Dowling House
Dowling House is the oldest house in Galena. This early nineteenth-century architecture styled home was built by John Dowling in 1826. You can attend a guided tour of the house to know much more about its history and significance. The knowledgeable guides will also tell you about the different paranormal activities and ghost stories that have happened in the house. Visit the Dowling House to step back in time and know about all the ghosts in it.
Learn History and Culture at Galena - Jo Daviess County Historical Society
The Jo Daviess County Historical Society was established in 1938 to teach the general public about the Galena and Daviess County's material culture and history. Their mission is "Sharing stories unique to Galena and the Driftless." The museum now has exhibits and displays showcasing the life of Ulysses S. Grant and the Civil War. It also has various unique and quirky artefacts such as letters, Ulysses S. Grant's cigar butts, his boots, and much more. The old Italianate mansion's architecture is stunning and worth gazing at. You can take self-guided tours of the premises. The tour starts with 3-D holograms and holographic introductions from Ulysses S. Grant and his wife. After the introduction, you can check out the museum yourself. There is a gift shop on the premises as well where you can buy exciting gifts and souvenirs.
Take a Breath of Quietude and Serenity at Grant Park
Grant Park is located on the way to the Grant House, and it is a beautifully landscaped park featuring a pavilion, a gazebo, a fountain, a pergola, and much more. The park offers sweeping views of the Grant River and the city. The tranquil and calm environment of the park with the shade of beautiful old trees and benches facing the river is perfect for taking a breath of quietude and serenity.
Step Back in Time at The Old Blacksmith House
The Old Blacksmith House is a historical blacksmith house that is still working and is also a museum open for public. The historical building of the house is located at the far end of the business district. You can watch the skills and expertise of the blacksmiths that volunteer their time so that people can witness the craft firsthand. You can even buy some of the finished handcrafted items from the gift shop. Visit the Old Blacksmith House to step back in time and watch the craft in front of you.
Fantastic Views from Horseshoe Mound
Perched in the countryside of Galena at the eastern gateway, Horseshoe Mound is a preserve open for public, and it offers numerous recreational activities to the visitors such as hiking with stunningly incredible views of the city and the river. The vista points provide panoramic views in multiple. Visit the Horshoe Mound to enjoy a good hike with fantastic views.
Stunning Clicks at River Bend Gallery
River Bend Gallery is owned and operated by the photographer Geoffrey Mikol in Galena. The gallery is full extraordinarily splendid clicks by Geoffrey, who is an inspiring young man with Down Syndrome who does not let his diagnosis define himself, and instead shines through with his talent. His photography of nature will win over heart. Visit the River Bend Gallery to see the astounding pictures of the local area of Galena through photography.
Golfing in Galena
Galena is one of the best places in the Midwest to golf. There are several golf courses and resorts located in the city. Some of the best places to go golfing in Galena are- Woodbine Bend Golf Course, Lacoma Golf Course, Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, and the Galena Golf Club.
Skiing with Impressive views at Chestnut Mountain Resort
Spanning over an area of about 220 acres, Chestnut Mountain Resort is a popular tourist attraction in the hills near Galena. It is a mountain and skiing resort overlooking the grand Mississippi River. The resort has challenging courses with over 19 ski snowboard trails. You can also enjoy zip lining with breathtakingly impressive views of the rolling peaks and the magnificent waters. The resort also provides pleasant accommodations with various great amenities such as an indoor swimming sauna, bars, whirlpool, and more along with fantastic cafes and restaurants to replenish you after skiing. Visit the Chestnut Mountain Resort to experience the incredible views and adrenaline rush. Do not forget to watch a sunset or sunrise from the hills; there is nothing like it!
Stop By the West Street Sculpture Park
West Street Sculpture Park is a natural space covering an area of over 2 acres. The park has more than a dozen large sculptures sculpted by John Martinson. The sculptures are spread out over the beautiful land. All the sculptures have their unique names and description given on the map that you can pick up at the entry. You can take a self-guided tour of the sculpture park and enjoy these sculptures and the beautiful green space.
Visit the Belvedere Mansion
Belvedere Mansion is a 22 room Italianate architectural style mansion that was built in 1857. Inside the estate, you can see the original furnishings and beautiful antiques along with stunning interior. You can see the impressive craftsmanship of woodwork throughout the mansion. There are landscaped gardens outside the mansion that are well maintained and lovely. Make sure to attend a guided tour to know more about the history of the house and all its artefacts and interiors.
Eat at Fried Green Tomatoes
Fried Green Tomatoes is a trendy restaurant in Galena that serves delicious Italian-American food along with its award-winning wine menu. However, the historical building of the restaurant was once owned by the grandfather of the General Grant and was a Leather and Finding Store. Now the restaurant makes really good use of the building and serves mouth-watering food in its brick-&-stone setting. Do not forget to try their mile-high meatloaf, fresh sea scallops, and just a plain fillet.
Visit the Old Market House
The Old Market House was constructed in 1845 during the "Golden Era" of the city as a town hall and a space for farmer's market. This Greek Revival style building now hosts various exhibits, events, and other things such as a farmer's market. The building's exhibits contain the artefacts and memorabilia showcasing the local history.
Attend a Magic Show at P.T. Murphy Magic Theater
Run by Master Magician P.T. Murphy, P.T. Murphy Magic Theater is a private theatre with 24 seats where you can attend magic shows. It is located in the Downtown Galena and is a top-rated attraction among tourists and locals alike. Catch a magic show at P.T. Murphy Magic Theater to get blown away by magic and showmanship of the master magician of Galena.
Eat Friday Fish Fry Like a Local
A usual serving of Fish Fry includes pieces of fried fish served with some type of salad such as coleslaw or potato salad, best enjoyed with a chilled glass of beer. Friday Fish Fry is a traditional local dish enjoyed by the locals and tourists. Some of the best places to eat this conventional meal are- Galena Green Street Tavern, East Dubuque Taste Country Roadhouse, Stockton JJ & Freddies, and Hanover Charlie's Place.
Drink Wine at Galena Cellars Winery & Vineyard
Galena Cellars Winery & Vineyard has been producing wines for more than 40 years in Galena. This family-owned and operated winery and vineyard produce over 60,000 gallons of wine in a year. You will find 40 varieties of wines made from 22 different types of grapes. Attend a guided tour of the winery and vineyard to know more about the process of making wine. Do not forget to visit the tasting room to sample the most excellent wines of the estate.
Drink Crafted Spirits at Blaum Bros. Distillery
Located in the heart of Galena, Blaum Bros. Distillery is a craft distillery that produces spirits that include gin, rye, bourbon, whiskey, vodka, and more. The distillery offers daily guided tours and tasting for the visitors to see the process of making the spirits and then taste the alcohol afterwards. The tour guides are knowledgeable and friendly and will answer all of your questions.
Stay at the Jail Hill Inn
Located only one block away from the Galena Historic District, Jail Hill Inn is a small deluxe inn that offers a luxurious stay with impressive views of Galena and its lovely countryside. The hotel's four-story brick building is over 135 years old and was a county jail before its renovation in 2015. It provides an ample amount of amenities to make your stay as grand and comfortable as possible. Stay at the Jail Hill Inn for a perfect getaway filled with luxury and comfort.
Galena has everything that a perfect travel destination needs. What are you waiting for? Visit Galena and do not forget to tell us your favourite thing from the list and make sure to do and see all these things when you visit this charming, picturesque city.