10 Best Things to Do in Galena, IL

Galena, IL, USA
Galena, IL, USA | Photo by Keren Roeglin on Unsplash
Emma Rimsa

A small town with a big personality and an even bigger amount of historic charm: Galena is where the open, flat plains of northwest Illinois meet the hills. The town itself is filled with shopping, dining and first-class hotels. We pick the 10 best things to do while you’re here.

1. Galena

Bar, Bistro, Brasserie, Cafe, Cocktail Bar, Diner, Food Kiosk, Market

Galena’s Main Street has a quintessential small town feel while providing an abundance of boutiques, restaurants and antique stores to wander past and browse in. Make sure you pop into one of the great fudge shops here, for a sweet energy boost while you’re shopping.

2. Ulysses S. Grant Home

Building, Historical Landmark, Museum

Visit the former home of Ulysses S. Grant, built as a thank you to the general after his service during the Civil War. Knowledgeable tour guides will take you down the preserved halls of history, sharing stories of General Grant from his days in the Civil War to his days in the White House.

The DeSoto House Hotel

The DeSoto House Hotel is right in the center of Main Street and claims to be Illinois’s oldest operating hotel. It’s certainly got the provenance, as it has hosted numerous U.S. presidents and Civil War generals to stay in its time. The DeSoto remains decked out in its Victorian style décor, but combines it discreetly with the luxury of excellent modern day amenities.

Galena River Trail

The Galena River Trail is six lush miles of nature to explore when you feel like getting out of town for a while. Whether you need a brisk jog, a bike ride with friends, or just an opportunity to walk off your lunch in a more private setting, the beautiful River Trail has you covered.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes is a hot spot of Galena’s dining scene and there’s a side of history that comes with your meal. The building was once a leather store owned by Ulysses S. Grant’s father, Jesse R. Grant, in 1854. Now it serves up USDA choice steaks and fresh seafood to appreciate diners.

The Cornerstone

The Cornerstone is one of the best nightspots in town, and offers a full bar, live music, arcade games, and even open mics for when you feel it’s time for your big break. It sits in an area full of bars and restaurants, so you can make a night of it if you feel energetic.

Galena Cellars Winery & Vineyard

If you’re a wine lover, Galena Cellars Vineyard and Winery is a must. The vineyard is a short drive from the winery found in the heart of downtown Galena, so it’s a nice little retreat into the countryside, and besides: no journey is too unreasonable if wine is at the end.

Galena Canning Company

The Galena Canning Company is a quirky store that features rows and rows of award-winning sauces, spreads, dressings, oils, and seasonings, great for cooking or just eating out of the jar. The Canning Company not only offers an extensive selection but does it with a healthy dose of character.

Amelia’s Galena Ghost Tours

Amelia’s Galena Ghost Tours

For something a little spooky, Amelia’s Galena Ghost Tours offer a historical and paranormal journey through a haunted pub crawl, vineyard tours, or a shuttle bus ghost tour, depending on what kind of experience you’re looking for. Haunted Ghost Tours are a perfect way to learn more of Galena’s history while sharing ghost stories, and a few cocktails to take the edge off after.

Galena Trolley Tours

Tour the twists and turns of Galena in a trolley with the Galena Trolley Depot. The tour will take you to all of the top attractions and provide perfect photo opportunities. This company also offers haunted ghost tours; kids ride for free. It’s a perfect option if you love a good tour but could also use some time off your feet.

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