4 Reasons to Visit Galena

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Galena, Illinois. Photo Courtesy of Enjoy Illinois

Located just three hours west of Chicago, this historic town tops our list of getaway destinations in Illinois. Here’s why.

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 Home, The Galena & U.S. Grant Museum, and the DeSoto and Washburne Houses.

Charming Main Street

Main Street carries the nickname, “the Helluva Half Mile,” which is a clever play on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. 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.

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.

Activities to 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 and riverboat cruises. Looking for more ideas? Here’s a look at the best outdoor adventures in the Galena area.

Where to Stay

  • 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.

More to Explore

Looking for additional insight on the best things to do and see in Illinois? Check out the rest of my picks as a Local Expert on EnjoyIllinois.com. Be careful though, you may find yourself wanting to extend your stay in #AmazingIllinois #FOMO.

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