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Galena (Illinois)

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Galena [17] is a city in Northern Illinois 16 miles east of Dubuque, Iowa and 163 miles west from Chicago. It is known as "The City that Time Forgot" for its rich 19th century heritage. Named after the local iron deposits, the city was founded in 1826 and was a major port on the Mississippi River. Its fortunes changed in the 21st century as demand for lead dropped, but in the 1980s, the city reinvented itself as a tourist destination. Today, 3,600 residents form a community that is rich in history, claiming the home of the 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant. More than a thousand buildings in Galena are listed in the National Register of Historic Places by the U. S. Department of the Interior. Many of the elegantly restored homes are now bed & breakfasts or open to the public for tours. Galena has become the third largest tourist attraction in Illinois next to Chicago and Springfield

Stores and restaurants on Main St.


Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°F) 27 30 45 59 72 81 84 82 73 63 45 28
Nightly lows (°F) 9 14 25 36 46 57 63 61 52 39 27 16
Precipitation (in) 1.1 1.3 2.3 3.3 3.7 4.6 3.3 4.4 3.6 2.5 2.6 1.6

Check Galena's 7 day forecast at NOAA

The name Galena comes from the word for lead sulfide, and indeed the very reason for the town's early growth was the abundant lead found in the area, mined since the times of the Native Americans. Galena grew to be the most important river port north of St. Louis (despite only being on a small tributary of the Mississippi) and in its heyday rivaled Chicago in size and importance. During the Age of Railroads, however, the town passed up a Chicago-Dubuque rail line in order to "keep the sanctity of the port", a decision that began Galena's decline. Floods and The Great Depression took their tolls as well, but soon enough people began to move back and restore the beautiful 19th century heritage. Now Galena has reinvented itself as a tourist destination, taking in its commercial and presidential history, beautiful setting among the hilly driftless region, and ample opportunity for outdoor recreation, becoming a popular weekend destination for Illinoisans, Iowans, and Wisconsinites.

  • Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 720 Park Avenue, +1 877 464-2536 (), [1]. Mon-Fri, 8am to 5pm.  edit
  • Old Market House Galena Welcome Center, 123 S. Commerce Street, +1 888 942-5362, [2].  edit

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

The vast majority of visitors to Galena arrive by car. Galena is intersected on the west end by US-20 (between East Dubuque and Chicago), which runs concurrantly with IL-84. IL-84 branches off north of Galena to become WI-80 to Platteville. From Chicago, take I-90 west to Rockford and follow US-20. From the south (such as Springfield or the Quad Cities), take IL-84 north along the Great River Road until it intersects US-20 north of Hanover. There is ample free parking throughout the city.

By plane[edit]

There are no major airports near Galena. Dubuque Regional Airport (IATA: DBQ, ICAO: KDBQ) is a small airport 23 miles away in Iowa, servicing American Airlines flights from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago and charter services. You will need to rent a car or take a taxi to reach Galena.

Despite the city's prominence as a northern Illinois tourist destination, there are no interurban bus or train services.

Get around[edit]

Map of Galena and environs

Galena is only two miles long, so the most convenient way to travel is to park and walk through town. However, be advised that there is a fairly steep bluff between Bench and Prospect streets, which may make northwest foot travel from downtown difficult. Most parking is free, although parking spaces in the downtown area (Bench, Main, and Commerce streets) fill up quickly. There is also a large pay lot on the south bank of the Galena river west of Grant Park. A few companies offer trolley services that stop at significant places in town, which can also be chartered.

  • Galena Trolley Tours, 314 S. Main Street, +1 815 777-1248, [3]. $Varies.  edit
  • Tri-State Trolley, 4349 Industrial Park Dr, +1 815 777-0820, [4]. $15 adults, $10 children (5 and under free).  edit

See[edit][add listing]

A Bridge over the Galena River
  • Main Street is a beautiful collection of colorful stone and brick buildings occupied by restaurants and mom and pop stores.
  • The Galena/Jo Daviess County Museum, on Bench Street, is housed in a 19th century Italianate mansion and features plenty of Agricultural history, Old Galena trinkets, and Civil War memorabilia. The centerpiece is a huge painting by Thomas Nast entitled "Peace in the Union," upstairs.
  • Ulysses S. Grant's Home probably appears much like it did in the 1860s and 1870s, as much of the original furniture has been placed throughout the house. He only lived here for a short time, though; a year before the Civil War and a few years afterwards before he moved to the White House.
  • Grant Park is across the Galena River and has nice views of the town nestled into the hills. There's a gazebo, a statue of Grant, and some war trophies, including one of the first cannons to fire on Fort Sumter.
  • The Washburne House is an 1843 Greek Revival home open for tours. Learn about the U.S. Congressman who would become the friend and adviser to both Lincoln and Grant and later be appointed ambassador to France.
  • The Old Market House, just west of the river, was opened in 1846. It's had a colorful history, holding vendors stalls, jail cells, and city offices. Today it often features local history exhibits, including one about (who else) Grant.
  • Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design is located in an old brewery building. The museum exhibits include contemporary design, photography, sculpture, and other artwork such as weaving. The museum is headquartered in Chicago with a branch in Schaumburg.

Do[edit][add listing]

Ulysses S. Grant's Home
  • StoneHouse Pottery & Gallery, 414 Spring, +1 815 777-0354. Offers once-monthly "Glaze and Graze" deals, whereby participants can decorate their own three-piece dinnerware set and put it to use the next night at the Great Galena Cookery.
  • Galena Cellars, Winery, and Vineyard has two locations, a shop downtown and an actual vineyard 6 miles north of Galena. It's located in a beautiful setting and worth the short drive.
  • Linmar Gardens is a privately-owned garden on a hill overlooking downtown. There's a waterfall, sunken garden, flagstone pathway, and sculptures.
  • Galena Artists Guild hosts events like gallery walks throughout the year. The gallery on US Hwy 20 showcases local talent.
  • The Galena Country Fair takes place in October every year, where more than 100 artists sell arts and crafts.
  • Shenandoah Riding Center east of town, in the midst of the rolling hills, offers guided trail rides on over 40 mi (64 km) through hills, woods, and along creeks. The one-hour rides are offered daily year-round.
  • The Great Galena Balloon Race, Galena Territory, [5]. Hot air balloon race and festival in mid-June  edit
  • Bangles & Bags, 708 W Main Street. Galena outpost of Wisconsin costume jewelry boutique  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • The Atomic Toy Company specializes in nostalgia, with wooden and tin toys sharing space with knick-knacks and slightly more modern electronic gadgets.
  • Bangles & Bags. Fun and inexpensive costume jewelry boutique on Main Street  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

Enjoy Jo Daviess County's wide array of dining options. Our culinary artists offer exceptional dining experiences that will suit your mood, whether you're craving international fare, gourmet cuisine, comfort food, fast food or home-cooked local favorites. The region boasts a selection of intimate bistros, world-class steak and chophouses, eclectic cafés and traditional diners as well as specialties including Chicago-style pizza, fresh seafood and authentic ethnic cuisine, from Mexican and Italian to Greek.

  • Great Galena Cookery
  • Perry Street Brasserie A terrific "find" off the Main Street. Pricey - but worth the money. (Permanently closed per Google on 2018-11-16)

Drink[edit][add listing]

The rolling hills of northwestern Illinois

Stop in for a tasting and a tour at one of Jo Daviess County’s award-winning wineries or stay a while with a bottle of your favorite and some cheese and crackers.

  • Frank O'Dowd's Irish Pub, 9853 US Hwy 20 (Decatur St.) (inside the Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel), +1 815 776-0707, [6]. M-T 4PM-1AM, F-Su 11:30AM-1AM, closes at 12AM in winters S-Th.. Irish-style pub with live entertainment with an interior designed in Ireland.  edit
  • Galena Brewing Company, 227 N. Main St., +1 815 776-9917, [7]. W-M 11AM-11PM. Brewpub with six beers on draft (one is seasonal), featuring daily tours(3PM and 6PM, $5) and live music on weekdays (7:30PM).  edit
  • Galena Cellars Winery & Vineyard, 4746 N. Ford Road, +1 815 777-3330, [8]. May-October: Su-Th 11AM-6PM, F-Sa 11AM-8PM; April and November: Su 11AM-5PM, F-Sa 11AM-6PM. Third-generation winery ten minutes east of Galena. Two to three tours a day from April to November ($5). Also operates a tasting room and shop in downtown Galena (515 South Main St.)  edit
  • Gobbie's Sports Pub & Eatery, 219 N. Main St., +1 815 777-0243, [9]. Su-T 11AM-5PM, F-Sa 11AM-10PM. Sports bar and pizza diner with an outdoor patio.  edit
  • Green Street Tavern, 230 S. Main St. (inside the DeSoto House Hotel), +1 815 777-0090, [10]. Su-T 11AM-5PM, F-Sa 11AM-10PM. Casual dining and drinking in an old-style pub atmosphere.  edit
  • Miss Kitty's Grape Escape, 242 N. Main St., +1 815 777-0090, [11]. S-M 11AM-8PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM. Wine and martini lounge with a build-your-own Bloody Mary buffet on Saturday afternoons (11AM-3PM).  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Galena and Jo Daviess County’s unprecedented variety of quality lodging choices offer all the modern amenities expected by today’s traveler. Cozy, comfortable B&Bs; crisp, contemporary vacation rental homes; historic hotels, motels and nationally recognized resorts are all located in Illinois’ northwest corner.

Bed and Breakfasts

  • Abe's Spring Street Guest House, 414 Spring St, (toll free: +1 815 777-0354), [12]. Also home of the StoneHouse Pottery & Gallery. $94-129.  edit
  • Cloran Mansion Bed and Breakfast, 1237 Franklin St, (toll free: "+1), [13]. Experience the luxury of fireplaces and whirlpools for two. Lounge in the soft robes provided while watching a complimentary video from our extensive collection. Enjoy all of the amenities including TV/VCR/DVD, CD stereo, private baths, mini fridge with complimentary beverages, candies, candle lights and more. DSL Wi-Fi available for guests. $99-$225.  edit
  • Farmers' Guest House, 334 Spring St, +1 888-459 1847, [18]. Galena's only 19th century restored inn located 2 1/2 blocks from downtown's restaurants, attractions and shops. 9 rooms including Annie Lloyd's Cottage - deluxe whirlpool fireplace suites.
  • Galena Log Cabin Getaway & Adventure Creek Alpaca Farm, 9401 W Hart John Rd, +1 815 777-4200,[19]. See a working alpaca farm and stay in one of 12 authentic hand-made log cabins on 45 lovely acres. Walk along Adventure Creek running through the middle of the property. Visit the largest wetlands in Jo Daviess County east of the Mississippi River. Hike along 2 mi (3 km) of trails. Keep your eyes open for the Hines Emerald's an endangered species that you might see here. And when the stars come out, view them without any light pollution. Children are welcome but no pets. Each cabin has room for 4 - a new queen bed downstairs and a new full bed upstairs on the loft. Enjoy a fireplace, satellite TV with 180 channels, CD/DVD player, 4 cu ft refrigerator, microwave, central air and furnace. Behind a closed door is a full bathroom with a Kohler double whirlpool with a skylight overhead so that you can enjoy the awesome night sky. 4 mi (6 km) south of Galena & 4 mi (6 km) north of Chestnut Mountain. Established in 1991.
  • Goldmoor Inn, 9001 Sand Hill Rd, +1 800-255-3925, (Fax: +1 815 777-3993), [20]. The Goldmoor Inn and Aaron's Cottages and Cabins are high atop the bluffs overlooking the majestic Mississippi River. Grand deluxe cottages, elegant log cabins and deluxe suites provide guests with exceptional amenities.
  • The Steamboat House Bed and Breakfast, 605 S Prospect St, (toll free: +1 800-717-2317), [14]. checkin: 4PM; checkout: 11AM. Historic 5 room Bed & Breakfast Mansion in Galena, IL. Experience luxurious suites with private baths and fireplaces or relax in our billiards room and breathtaking gardens. Guests will enjoy delicious breakfasts served in our formal dining room with antique crystal and sterling silver, complimentary evening wine hour, free Wi-Fi and private parking, seasonal specials and packages available. $105-155.  edit
  • Tierra Linda Bed and Breakfast (TierraLinda), 826 S Rocky Hill Rd, 1-815-777-1234, [15]. checkin: 4:00 pm; checkout: 11:00 am. Dog friendly bed and breakfast on 11 acres located 5 miles South of Galena. Renovated farm house with only two rooms, very peaceful and quiet. Private lake with sandy beach. Dogs can run free of leashes. $125-$145.  edit
  • Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Galena, IL, 11334 Oldenburg Lane, Galena, IL 61036, 815-777-2400, [16].  edit

Get out[edit]

  • Elizabeth is 20 min southeast on US-20, featuring a replica of a fort used to repel natives in the Black Hawk War
  • Scales Mound is 20 min northeast along the Old Stagecoach Trail. Ninety percent of the village is recognized as a historic district.
  • Dubuque is 25 min west on US-20, right across the river in Iowa. It is the oldest city in Iowa and features the Smithsonian-affiliated National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.

Routes through Galena
Dubuque ← Junction N WIS-35.png  W noframe E  StocktonRockford

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