Travel Guide to Galena and Its 5 Best Attractions

Explore the diversity of activities in Galena, IL, from alpine slides to wine tasting.

Hopper Editors - Oct. 26, 2017

Galena, Illinois, is a charming small town, and its rich history and American cultural significance makes it so much more than just a charming small town. Nine Civil War generals staked residency in Galena, including Ulysses S Grant who would go on to become the 18th President of the United States. The mansions are huge and opulent; the small businesses friendly and inviting. Located just three hours from both Chicago, IL, and Milwaukee, WI, Galena is a fun family road trip destination.

Learn all about the story at Ulysses S. Grant at the Grant Home

Photo by Tracey via Flickr.

The red brick Italianate-style Ulysses S. Grant Home was gifted to the then-Civil War general by a small group of Republicans in the area after his victory in 1865. Though he only spent eight years at the house, he visited it often and always cast his vote there. Visitors to the house can see the original furnishings from the time of Grant’s residency and learn lots more about the 18th President of the United States.

Ski, sled and hike to your heart's content at Chestnut Mountain Resort

Photo by Alan Light via Flickr.

Chestnut Mountain Resort features all of the basic amenities of any winter wonderland including sleigh rides, snowshoeing, and both downhill and cross-country skiing in the frozen months where snow layers over the 220 acres of skiable terrain. In the summer, the expansive land opens up a mountainous panoramic view with activities like alpine sliding, mini golf, disc golf and five miles of hiking and biking trails. This place is the premier ski resort in the Midwest and it knows it – that’s why there’s so much stuff to do.

Visit Galena Cellars Winery and Vineyard and check out the best Illinois can offer its wine fans

Photo by Illinois Wine via Flickr.

For those who didn’t think that Illinois was a wine state, here are a few numbers: 22 specialty grapes, 40 wine varieties, three tasting rooms, one family and innumerable awards. The Galena Cellars Winery and Vineyard has a sprawling vineyard on a secluded country hill with panoramic views of northern Illinois and offers countless bottles for any palate. Their country location also features a guest suite and guest house for groups on a girls’ weekend or family trips. Downtowners can also enjoy their Main Street Tasting Room in an industrial 1840s granary building right in the heart of Galena.

Get Franco-Germany for a night at Fritz and Frites

Photo by John Hagstrom via Flickr.

Where can you find escargot, citron et bière mussels and sauerbraten and wienerschnitzel in northern Illinois? Not many places. But Fritz and Frites is one. That’s right, Belgia-philes, welcome to your new home. This casual-elegant bistro is quiet, calming, charming and delicious! And their wine list? It’s great, too.

Live in historical luxury at the DeSoto House

Photo by Tracey via Flickr.

The DeSoto House Hotel is the oldest hotel in Illinois, having opened in 1850. In that time, as many can imagine, they’ve been witness to some of the most momentous periods of American history. As the town became a major mining and trade center, the hotel became the principal social and political hub. They threw a 2000-person reception party when Ulysses S. Grant returned after having won the north, and years later, rooms 209 and 211 became the future-president’s campaign headquarters. The world of technology continued to evolve and adapt to the needs of the hotel’s everchanging inhabitants. Now it stands as one of the great landmarks of Galena, itself weaved into the very fabric of its rich history. Each of its 55 rooms are appointed with modernity and comfort, all housed in a historic Victorian building right on historic Main Street.

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