Galena is a characterful town set on the Mississippi River and is filled with handsome red-brick mansions built in its mining heyday. There's a lively downtown core to discover and plenty of Civil War history to soak up.
Things to do in Galena
Downtown Galena is lined with antique stores, fudge shops, pancake houses, galleries and studios. Pinder Pottery is a favourite, offering DIY classes and workshops. If you love wine, visit the Galena Cellars tasting room. You can also tour the vineyard, located just outside of town.
Historic buildings like the 19th-century Dowling House showcase Galena's lead-mining boom. You can also visit the grand Ulysses S. Grant Home. It was built by local citizens as a gift for the famous Civil War general who went on to become the 18th president of the United States. Take a tour of the house to see its beautiful period furnishings.
There's plenty on offer for nature lovers, including scenic kayaking trips on the Mississippi. For the best views in town, head up Horseshoe Mound to capture sweeping views of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. Alternatively, soar high over the Illinois countryside on a hot-air balloon ride over the Illinois countryside.
The Apple River Fort State Historic Site offers a glimpse at life in 19th-century Galena. It often hosts historic re-enactments featuring costumed actors and Civil War props. Don’t forget to visit the Old Blacksmith Shop, which features a working forge.
Getting around Galena
The best way to get around downtown Galena is on foot, while horse and carriage rides are a novel way to explore the area. Rental cars let you explore Jo Daviess County at your own pace. The drive to Chicago takes around three hours.