I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me almost 35 years of living in Illinois to truly explore one of its travel gems, Galena. Not only is it a scenic and short drive from Chicagoland, it also is a gorgeous place to unplug, unwind, and enjoy the beauty of the Midwest. One of the absolute BEST parts about visiting Galena? You will have a blast either with or without kids. Here are my picks for four “must do” Galena activities:
Get to know grapes
Yes, I’m serious…you CAN take your kids to a winery. Your dog is welcome too, as long as you stay away from the vines and keep Fido on a leash. Or if they are at home being well cared for while you get some time away, explore vineyards through their informative tasting rooms and tours. I highly recommend enjoying some local artisan cheese in addition to the delicious wine in the courtyard or on the expansive porch of Galena Cellars. You can also visit their downtown location if you are looking for wine themed gifts and trinkets to browse while sipping on some of the best reds and whites in the area.
Eat your heart out
One of my favorite things about traveling is trying out the local cuisine. No trip to Galena is complete without a stop at Fried Green Tomatoes, where you will find the best service and tastiest dishes in the area. The De Soto House Hotel, Illinois’ Oldest Operating Hotel, is a great place for a bite or drink while shopping on Main Street, or for an upscale meal at either Generals’ or the Courtyard Restaurants. I would skip Vinny Vanucchi’s and instead head to Cannova’s for delicious Italian meals.
Take a ride
Learn all about Galena’s history, including its close ties to US President Ulysses S. Grant, aboard one of Galena’s Trolley Tours. It is a great way to take in the area and let someone else do the driving along the long and winding roads. There are tours specifically geared towards history buffs and those who are looking for a bit of spooky fun. Depending on weather conditions, you can also take a hot air balloon ride over majestic Jo Daviess County. You can also rent bicycles, kayacks, paddle boards and other types of sporting equipment (even snow shoes and cross country skis if you are brave enough to handle the cold) to explore the area.
Play all day
There are a variety of different fun activities for visitors of all ages. Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa is a perfect spot for those who love the links, as well as those who would prefer to spend the day at the spa. If you are looking for something more fast paced, head over to Chestnut Mountain Resort any time of year. During the winter the slopes can be a heart pounding challenge, and they provide thrills even in the summertime when alpine slides are set up. The resort is also home to “The Soar Eagle” zip line and a min-golf course. Finally, if you want to bring the fun home with you, a trip to Galena isn’t complete without a visit to its popular toy shop, Poopsies, that has the perfect gift for everyone on your list.
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