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Galena (Illinois)

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Galena (Illinois)

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Stores and restaurants on Main St.

Galena [2] is a city in Northern Illinois.

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. Many of the elegantly restored homes are now bed & breakfasts or open to the public for tours.


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.

The quality of life in the Galena area is very good. It has quality schools, a public library, excellent medical facilities, and an abundance of cultural and recreational activities.

Get in

Galena is situated in western Jo Daviess County in the very northwestern corner of Illinois. It borders Wisconsin to the north and the Mississippi River lays just to the west. If coming from Rockford or Dubuque you'll probably take 20, while if coming from Wisconsin or Savanna, you'll probably take 84 (part of the Great River Road).

Get around

A car is the best way to get around, although most things are either downtown or in walking distance from downtown.


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.


Ulysses S. Grant's Home
  • StoneHouse Pottery & Gallery, 414 Spring, 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 Galena. There's a waterfall, sunken garden, flagstone pathway, and sculptures.
  • Galena Artists Guild hosts events like gallery walks throughout the year. The gallery on Highway 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 miles through hills, woods, and along creeks. The one-hour rides are offered daily year-round.


  • The Atomic Toy Company specializes in nostalgia, with wooden and tin toys sharing space with knick-knacks and slightly more modern electronic gadgets.


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.


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.


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, 815-777-0354, [3]. Also home of the StoneHouse Pottery & Gallery. Rooms from $94-$129.
  • Cloran Mansion Bed and Breakfast, 1237 Franklin St. Galena, 1 815 777-0583, [4]. 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.
  • Farmers' Guest House, 334 Spring St., 888-459 1847, [5]. 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., (815) 777 4200,[6]. 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 miles 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 miles south of Galena & 4 miles north of Chestnut Mountain. Established in 1991.
  • Goldmoor Inn, 9001 Sand Hill Rd, 800-255-3925, (Fax: (815) 777-3993), [7]. 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., (800) 717-2317, [1]. checkin: 4 PM; checkout: 11 AM. 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 & Packages Available. $105 - $155.

Get out

  • Dubuque is 25 minutes away, right across the river in Iowa.
  • Rockford is a large industrial city an hour and a half to the east.
  • Albany, IL, an hour and a half to the south, has some Indian Mounds, a smaller version of Cahokia.

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