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After just spending 3 days in Galena for the Night of the Luminaria and Living Windows, I can’t think of a better getaway. First of all, it is conveniently located just 150 miles west of Chicago (about 2 ½ hours from O’Hare). I-90 west to Route 20 West… that’s it.
Galena’s Main Street is ½ mile of antique stores, boutique shops, galleries, and restaurants. More importantly, you will not find any big-box retailers or chain restaurants. Main Street looks very similar to the way it did 100 to 150 years ago. Galena has over 75 homes on the National Register of Historic Places. A visit to President Grant’s home should be on your itinerary. You will get a real appreciation of how President Grant and his family lived. Grant and his family were given the home upon his return as a Civil War hero in 1865. The Belvedere Mansion is perhaps Galena’s crown jewel and is another must-see house.
For a small town, Galena has great food everywhere. On our first night (Friday) we dined at the Famous Log Cabin Steakhouse. The Log Cabin has been continuously opened since 1937. As a steak lover, I can say that their steaks rival some of the best steakhouses in Chicago. For breakfast the next morning, we ate at the Victory Café. The only thing you need to know about Victory is that it is where the locals go for breakfast. Good food with honest portions. Fried Green Tomatoes for lunch is a must… they do everything right. On Saturday night we ate at the Generals’ Restaurant at the DeSoto House Hotel. This was a treat for two reasons: 1) The food and service were outstanding; and 2) The DeSoto House Hotel is a living museum. The DeSoto House Hotel opened in April 1855. In 1856, President Abraham Lincoln gave a speech from its main balcony. Fritz and Frites Bistro was also another treat, for lunch or dinner…it is the perfect spot to eat! The food and the hospitality exceeded my expectations everywhere I ate!
Galena has a Microbrewery, a Distilling Company and four wineries. We toured the Galena Cellars Vineyard and Winery… www.GalenaCellars.com and also visited the Massbach Ridge Winery tasting room on Main Street to sample their local award winning wines.
Galena also has a vibrant nightlife with live music at a number of venues. Make sure to put Miss Kitty’s Grape Escape on your list of places to visit. Live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights.
If you are a skier, Chestnut Mountain Resort is a short 15 minutes from Main Street Galena. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the runs and the unbelievable views. I strongly suggest you visit their website for more details.
If you are looking for the perfect place to golf and relax, Eagle Ridge Golf Resort and Spa is the perfect choice! It is also the ultimate venue for weddings, special events and corporate events.
Galena’s Ghost Tours are very popular. They also have a Trolley Tour which includes a one-hour narrated historical and architectural tour showcasing over 90% of Galena’s Historic District. The Trolley Tour is highly recommended to take at the beginning of your stay because it gives a wonderful overview of Galena, IL. The tour will help you determine which sites and attractions are of most interest.
Galena is all about the Bed & Breakfast. We had the privilege to stay at the recently renovated and opened Lamberson House… www.LambersonGuestHouse.com. This B&B was perfect in all aspects. First, it was located just 250 steps above Main Street (you can also drive down if you don’t want to tackle the steps). It has a magnificent panoramic view of Galena. Proprietors Michelle and Brian Heurung have made the Lamberson Historic house a first class B&B experience. The beds, pillows, towels, and shower would compete and win against any 5-star hotel. This B & B is beyond clean…it is impeccable! For breakfast, Michelle prepared what can only be described as an award winning meal. Michelle and Brian opened their home to us and made us feel like family, we walked away feeling like we have forever friends. They are the benchmark for the proper B&B experience!
Chris Hamilton, President and CEO of VisitGalena.org, Rose Noble, Marketing and PR Executive, also of VisitGalena.org and the team at the Welcome Center are a great source of information and suggestions for your visit. They have a mini-museum of historic artifacts in their lobby that are worth the visit. Chris mentioned to me that the typical visitor to Galena returns 3 times per year. Given my personal experience and the amount of activities available, that number didn’t surprise me!
We are already planning a trip back to the beautiful town of Galena and look forward to spending even more time there! Galena is one of those special towns that continues to pull at your heart strings throughout the year and makes you long to go back!