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The 20 Best Things to do in Galena, IL

Ski Resort

Galena is found in northwest Illinois. It is a perfect destination for a family vacation, chilling out with friends, or a weekend getaway. It has scenic landscapes, unique architectural structures, and historic sites. You can also visit the Dowling House, Chestnut Mountain Resort, and Old Market House. Therefore if you are planning to tour this city, here are the 20 best things to do in Galena, IL.

Old Market House

20. Touring the Old Market House to Learn About its History

The Old Market House was built in 1845 using the Greek Revival Design. It was constructed to serve the farmer's interests and be a community hub. You will learn that the Old Market House was the capital during Galena's Golden Era. It is where the community would meet to discuss significant issues affecting the city. It was home to vendors who were selling their wares. People would come to this market to shop, catch up and learn the latest gossip. This Old House Market underwent reconstruction in 1955 to gain its previous glory. Illinois Historic Site Preservation Agency now manages it.

(P.T) Murphy Magic Theater

19. Enjoy Magic Shows at the (P.T) Murphy Magic Theater

You must visit this theater if you love and enjoy watching magic shows. The Murphy Magic Theater is found in downtown Galena. It is a private theater that has a capacity of 24 seats. According to Trip Advisor, the theater has various intimate magic shows. P.T Murphy runs the theater and is the owner. He is a master magician known for mischievous humor and sophisticated magic acts. This makes the shows appealing and mysterious to the audience. The magic shows runs for an hour without intermission. The performances are suitable for children who are 13 years and above.

Bird watching, Hiking, Walking at the Casper Bluff Water and Land Reserve

18. Bird watching, Hiking, Walking at the Casper Bluff Water and Land Reserve

The Casper reserve covers 85 acres of land. It has two important archeological sites, the Effigy Mound and the Aiken Mound Group. These sites present evidence of the early civilization of Native American Sites. The reserve has various bird species making it the perfect place for bird watching and photography. The reserve has a spectacular view of the Bluffs of the Mississippi River. It also has a beautiful trail where you can hike as you enjoy the breathtaking views. You can take a leisure stroll around the reserve. Also, it has an ample picnic area where you can relax or eat lunch.

Exploring the Dowling House and the Role it played in the 19th century

17. Exploring the Dowling House and the Role it played in the 19th century

The John Dowling house dates back to 1826. It is the oldest and most gorgeous house of the 19th century. Its unique architecture dates back to the 1900s, and at some, it was the only trading center in Galena. You will notice the house is made of limestone, and you will also view the primitive living quarters of this house. This house used to host the fur traders who liked visiting Galena. You will also learn about the challenges the fur traders faced.

Sculpture Park on West Street

16. Viewing unique signs, quirky assemblages, and artworks at the Sculpture Park on West Street

This sculpture park has dozens of steel sculptures all over the park. It covers two acres of land in a beautiful environment surrounded by trees, flowers, and trails. According to Westreetsculpture, the sculptures were created by John Martinson. You will enjoy viewing the various contemplative quirky assemblages, unique signs, and artwork. You will also see the giant tinker toy and two large 40-foot towers. As you stroll along the wooden paths, you will come across the on-site studio of John Martinson. You can also buy some of his sculptures at this studio.

Linmar Gardens

15. Exploring the spectacular views of Linmar Gardens

The Linmar Garden covers three and a half acres of land. It has a beautiful landscape and is curated to ensure you enjoy a tranquil space as you relax. It features various individual gardens like the Sunken Garden and Four Seasons Garden. As you visit the four seasons, you will see a 20-feet waterfall and various sculptures by John Martinson. In the Sunken Garden, you will view beautiful flowers and a fountain making it a perfect spot for reflection. This garden also features a bell tower, eclectic sculptures between the flora, and hand-built terraces.

14. Touring and Learning the History of the Elihu Benjamin Washburne House

The Washburne House boasts of unique Greek-Revival architectural design. It has a rich history of famous individuals that occupied the house. Ulysses S. Grant, at some point, stayed in this house. However, the most popular individual to occupy this house was Elihu Benjamin. He was an advisor to the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. You will see the towering pillars and front portico as you explore the house. It was an architectural aficionado of the Greeks. The house has beautiful surroundings full of trees and a fresh breeze.

Galena Centre

13. Viewing the Mueller Collection, Historical File, and Photographs at the Galena Centre

The Galena center's main objective is to promote and celebrate arts in the region. It was also meant to inspire and educate the public on the importance of art in a community. It showcases high-quality art at various events at the center. Therefore as you visit this center, you will view various exhibitions of regional artwork. You will also view the Muller collection, Historic Alfie, and Photographs at this center. The center hosts various artistic performances and events like the Youth Arts Festival.

Galena History Museum and Viewing Exhibits

12. Exploring the Galena History Museum and Viewing Exhibits

The Galena History Museum was established to promote and preserve the culture of Galena. The museum has various educational programs and offers cemetery walks to enrich you with its history. According to Galena History, the museum was originally Daniel Barrow's mansion. The museum has an exhibition space of more than 6000 square feet. It also offers presentations on how Galena became a lead mining area. You can visit the gift shop in this museum and buy historical books and souvenirs. If you like history, spare some time and visit this museum.

Enjoying Signature martinis, wine, and beer at Ms. Kitty's Grape Escape

11. Enjoying Signature martinis, wine, and beer at Ms. Kitty's Grape Escape

The Grape Escape is a retro bar that serves famous signature martinis, wine, and beer. It also serves nachos, sandwiches, and burgers. It is located in downtown Galena making it convenient for visitors. The interior has a combination of ancient and modern to attract more visitors. You can also enjoy menus such as seafood platters, mozzarella wraps, salsa, nachos, and a warm bruschetta. This bar is known for its martinis all over Galena. You will also enjoy live music if you visit on Saturday or Friday.

River Bend

10. Touring the River Bend

The River Bend Gallery is must visit if you like décor and art. Geoffrey Mikol runs the gallery. It opened in 2016 and has been showcasing Geoffrey's spectacular photographic talents. However, with time the gallery has added winning works of other artists. As you visit this gallery, you enjoy seeing various photographic artwork. The pieces include note pads and puzzles of photographic art featuring various themes. You can also buy a piece of artwork to take home with you to decorate your house.

Belvedere Mansion and Viewing the Lavish Interiors and Lovely Chandeliers

9. Touring the Belvedere Mansion and Viewing the Lavish Interiors and Lovely Chandeliers

The Belvedere Mansion is the finest historic building in Galena. It dates back to 1857 when it was built. This Italianate mansion has twenty-two rooms, which you might think was constructed recently. It is well preserved to ensure you experience the life of the various generations that lived here. You will see different features of the mansion, such as the lavish interiors with original period pieces. The highlight of your visit will be descending or ascending the staircase as you admire the various chandeliers. The mansion is open to visit any day between May and October.

Horseshoe Mound Preserve

8. Enjoying Paranomic Views and Hiking Trails at the Horseshoe Mound Preserve

This preserve is found on the Galena eastern gateway. It has an excellent outdoor recreational facility. According to JDC, it was opened in 2014 and has various viewing scopes and gathering area. The preserve has hiking trails to help you navigate the environment. You will also experience the panoramic view of the Galena and the distant views of Dubuque and Bellevue in Lowa. There are stone stations where your children can enjoy solving puzzles using the various clue of the stations.


7. Touring the Galena Brewing Company for Beer tasting

This brewing company serves twelve delicious brews. It has also won awards such as Uptown Brown Ale, Dark Oatmeal Stout, and Anna Belle's IPA. The brewery was the first brewery to be built in Galena. It has a mouthwatering pub menu, and dishes are made with local ingredients. Kathy and Warren Bell own this brewing company. As you tour this brewery, you learn how the beers are processed. Also, you will get to sample various beers, and tours happen on Saturday and Friday. The pub serves menus such as chicken wings, wraps, salads, and sandwiches.


6. Enjoying the Various Popcorn at the American Popcorn Company

This company is a quaint shop and sells delicious popcorn, including the famous Caramel Corn. Dave Lewis founded the company in 1994. The popcorns in this company have fifty flavors. The popular flavors include Kitchen Sink, Spicy Italian, Cheezy Caramel, Cheddar, Bacon, and French Vanilla. As you visit this company, you will enjoy the various flavors and be given a gift hamper. You can enjoy mouthwatering treats such as handmade chocolates, candies, and homemade fudge. You can also enjoy their specialty, the ice-cream popcorn.


5. Touring the Blaum Bros. Distilling Company to Taste Various Gin, Vodka, and Whiskey

You must pass by this distillery to enjoy their various drinks if you enjoy drinking. It is family owned and was founded in 2013 by Blaum Bros. The distillery produces high-quality spirits such as gin, vodka, and bourbon. This distillery has daily tours that cover visiting the distillation area, tasting room, cocktail bar, and barrel room. The distillery has a gift shop and various memorabilia products to take home. You can enjoy their whiskey and Galena Reserve.


4. Enjoying Tasting at the Galena Cellars Winery and Touring the Vineyard

The Galena Cellars Winery is family owned and has been there for three generations. This winery has been producing wine for more than 40 years. According to Galena Cellars, the company was founded in 1985. The first production in this winery was five thousand gallons of wine. As you tour this winery, you will learn a brief history of the vineyards; you will visit the bottling and barrel room. You will also see the tasting room where you taste the various wine samples. It has a small gift shop where you can buy a bottle to take home and enjoy.

shoe smith

3. Watching Live Demonstrations of Forging at the Old Blacksmith Shop

This blacksmith shop dates back to 1897. It has workable forges, tools, and outdated equipment. You can visit the shop and learn about the history of forging, how to forge, and the importance of forging in Galena. Visitors also watch live demonstrations of forging by the blacksmiths. You can also buy souvenirs like jewelry and swords at the shop. The shop is open from May to October, from Monday to Friday.

Ulysses S Grant House

2. Touring the Home of Ulysses S. Grant and Learning its History

This home belonged to Ulysses S. Grant, and he was a former Civil War General. He was also the 18th president of the U.S. This home dates back to 1860, and William Dennison was the architect behind the design. As you tour this house, you will see the furniture and belongings of the Grant Family. These items date back to the 1860s. The home was donated to Ulysses S. Grant as a gift for his service during the civil war. Since then, it has become a memorial for the people of Galena.

Ski Resort

1. Enjoying Skiing and Swimming at the Chestnut Mountain Resort

If you enjoy swimming and skiing, you must stop at this resort. The Chestnut Mountain resort covers 220 acres of land. The resort has nineteen snowboarding trails that are up to 3500 feet. According to Travellens, these trails cut through solid rocks, creating challenging courses for skiers. It also has a 7-acre terrain park known as the Farside. This place offers two pipes, plenty of rails, and jumping levels for all snowboarders. It also has a 475-feet vertical drop for adrenaline individuals. Also, the resort has delectable restaurants, bars, cafes, an indoor swimming sauna, and whirlpools.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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