Galena is a picturesque city in the beautiful Jo Daviess County in the state of Illinois. Founded in 1826, the city derives its name from the iron deposits found in the area. When the Lead Rush slowed down in the 21st century, the city transformed itself into a popular tourist destination. With more than a thousand buildings listed under the National Register of Historic Places, Galena is known as “The City that Time Forgot”. It owes its charm mainly to the beautiful 19th century architecture, with restored homes now serving as elegant accommodations and interesting attractions for visitors. Galena was home to America’s 18th President Ulysses S. Grant.
When to Visit
The city has four very distinct seasons, with very hot summers and biting cold winters. The months between May and October see a great number of weekenders. While the crowds can be overwhelming to some, others enjoy the sense of energy that it gives the city. Accommodation rates tend to get more expensive during weekends so if you’d like better deals and fewer crowds, try coming on a weekday. Tourists are also lured to the city by several festivities like The Great Galena Balloon Race, a festival and hot air balloon race held in the middle of June. The Galena Arts Festival held every July and the Country Fair in October also draws interest because of the variety of arts and crafts. And while winters can be bitter, it transforms Galena into a scenic wonderland especially during the luminaria held on the last Saturday before Christmas. Book your Galena Hotels with Reservations.com.
There’s no shortage of attractions in this historic city. Start with the city’s Main Street, a beautiful collection of 19th century stone and brick buildings that house quaint shops and restaurants. If you want to take postcard-worthy pictures of the city nestled in the hills, you can do so from Grant Park located just across the Galena River. Aside from stunning views of the city, the park also features some war trophies and a statue of the late president. Ulysses S. Grant’s Home is also worth a visit, being preserved in its original state complete with the original furniture. The Linmar Gardens overlooks Downtown Galena from atop a hill. This privately-owned garden features a sunken garden, a waterfall and some sculptures.
Things to Do
Galena offers plenty of activities for everyone. The city’s Main Street alone offers plenty of opportunities for antique shopping, art appreciation and exquisite dining. Galena’s countryside and the river provide great venues for hiking, biking, boating, fishing and camping. When you come during winter, you can also enjoy snowboarding and skiing. There are also ten outstanding golf courses that cater to all skills levels. If you want to be a little less active for the day, there are wineries and vineyards that you can visit for wine tasting and tours. And when you get tired of all the outdoor activities and tours, you can spend a day of pampering in any of the world-class spas in the city.
Being a historic city, Galena has a number of interesting museums that you can visit. The Galena & U.S. Grant Museum features exhibits of Civil War memorabilia and famous paintings like the “General Grant on the Battlefield” and “Peace in the Union”. The Old Market House dates back to 1846 and served as the city’s center of community life during its golden days. The DeSoto House Hotel showcases videos about Galena’s history in its Quiet Room.