Nestled in the Mississippi River Valley, the cosy, small town of Galena strikes the perfect balance between historical allure and modern-day style. Here are just nine reasons why you won’t be able to resist its charms…
1. Fabulous & Friendly
Known as the ‘town that time forgot’, Galena has stepped back into the limelight recently as one of the friendliest towns in the world. Condé Nast Traveler recently published the results of its annual Readers’ Choice Survey and declared Galena as not only one of the friendliest places in the United States, but in the world. The town came second on the domestic list and 14th on the global list, with a score of 87.9 out of 100. The town was one of only four from the United States to make the top 20 internationally. Readers provided feedback such as: “When I want to treat myself or lift my spirits — I visit Galena.”
2. Historic Gems
With more than 85 per cent of the city listed on the US National Registry of Historic Places, it’s easy to step back and imagine what life was like in years gone by in Galena. The town’s Main Street – named ‘Best Main Street in the Midwest’ – curves past almost 100 19th-century storefronts. Galena looks much as it did during the time of the Civil War, although now the historic red brick buildings are home to boutiques, art galleries and restaurants.
3. Vivacious Viniculture
The Lawlor family proudly offers tours and tastings of more than 40 award-winning wines at Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery. Take a vineyard tour and then kick back with a glass of wine on the veranda. Galena Cellars also has a tasting room on Main Street that is housed in a beautiful brick 1840s grain storehouse.
4. Tempting Treats
Galena has to have one of the largest number of chefs per capita in the Midwest. The region is home to a fabulous range of friendly bistros, supreme chop and steak houses, an assortment of cafés, specialty coffeehouses and diners. Check out the traditional treats at American Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor or the delicious in-house brews at the Galena Brewing Company.
5. Spectacular Spooks
Learn all about the spooky side of this historic town on Annie Wiggins’ Ghost Tour. Carrying her lantern, the widowed Annie guides you through Grants neighbourhood in her tattered mourning gown and veil and shares chilling tales along the way. The tour begins at the Annie Wiggins’ Guest House on Park Avenue, continues to Bouthillier Street, makes a pit stop at the cemetery and then heads back to the guest house.
6. Big Screen Style
The backdrop provided by Galena and Jo Daviess County regularly welcomes international film crews. The area recently served as the perfect studio for film crews from Fuji Television in Tokyo, MSNBC in New York City and Univision in Chicago.
7. Small Screen Style
An episode of the popular television show Check, Please! was recently filmed at Galena’s Log Cabin Steakhouse on Main Street. This restaurant’s reputation has been built on serving the biggest and best hand-cut wet aged beef. The legendary menu features an awe-inspiring 34-ounce Porterhouse, one-pound New York strip and a 32-ounce prime rib – and served charred and bursting with flavour.
8. Purple Feet & Paint Brushes
This Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery and the Galena Cultural Arts Alliance’s annual Fall Harvest & Art Festival features wagon rides, geode-cracking, amazing food and plenty of wine. Many Galena Cellars wines utilize Illinois-grown grapes from the Upper Mississippi River Valley Area Viticulture Area – the largest designated AVA in the world.
9. Brilliant Beers
Grab your dancing shoes and spruce up your wiener dog: each year Galena comes to life with its annual Ocktoberfest celebrations. The event features non-stop live music, polka dancing and lessons, wiener dog races, a parade, a beer stein endurance contest and plenty of German-style food and beer.