Since coronavirus put a bit of a damper on our 2020 travel plans, we decided to plan a local vacation in Galena, IL. Galena is located about 3 hours outside of Chicago and is a serene and peaceful place to get away.
We had a great trip and were able to spend some time outside in nature, visit wineries, and also got dressed up to dine al fresco and explore the town. Galena really does have something for everyone!
Here is my weekend guide if you’re planning to visit Galena, IL:
Where to stay: Since we planned our trip over Labor Day weekend, places booked up pretty quickly. We rented a home on the Galena Territory at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa. The house we booked was the perfect place away from everyone. It had floor to ceiling windows with views of trees and nature.
Sights to see: Thunder Bay Falls is a beautiful place to walk around or fish at. It was so calm and peaceful to watch and hear the sounds of the waterfall. There is parking available so you don’t have to do a ton of walking to see this beautiful attraction.
The Mighty Mississippi River is a close drive from town and has beautiful scenery. We first picked up coffee and tea from Elle & Becks in town and then drove out to see the river.
Get out on the water: If you’re visiting Galena in the warmer months, you might want to go out on the water and rent paddle boards, kayaks, canoes, pedal boats, or a pontoon boat. We went kayaking on Lake Galena, where there was barely anyone around us (I love some peace and quiet). If you’re staying at Eagle Ridge, your stay should include a 2 hour daily rental of kayaks, but you can find more information on rentals here.
Wine tasting: There are great local vineyards to sip on some wine at, as well as tasting rooms right in downtown Galena. We visited Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery and were able to walk around the vineyard and enjoy live music on a Saturday. Everything was spaced out too! Their Rosè Spritzer, Wine Slushie, and White Sangria were all great. Something to note – they also have a tasting room downtown with a cute outdoor patio area.
More wine tasting: Not too far from Galena are a few other wineries. The two that we visited were Massbach Ridge Winery in Elizabeth, IL and Rocky Waters Vineyard in Hanover, IL. We had such a great time at both and were able to sit outside with our tastings and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Where to eat lunch: Looking for something casual in town? Try Durty Gurt’s for a burger and fries. We didn’t get drinks there, but they did have some fun Rum Buckets on the menu.
Picnics are perfect in Galena since there are so many places to sit outside. We packed picnics twice during our stay. There are local shops to buy cheese, meats, and snacks at. We went to Galena River Wine & Cheese (they also have great craft beers and a big wine selection)!
Where to eat dinner: If you’re looking for a delicious meal and a night out, I highly recommend Fried Green Tomatoes. The food was delicious and we enjoyed the Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra music that was playing outside. We had the Aperol Spritz and Blackberry Mojito to drink, both were great! You also have to get the fried green tomatoes for an appetizer (I mean, it’s in the name).
Where to shop: The town is filled with so many small businesses. You can easily spend hours browsing through all of the different stores. We especially enjoyed the clothing boutiques, apothecary shop, pasta store, and cheese/wine shop.
If you’re looking for a relaxing and quiet getaway, I highly suggest Galena, IL. Chicagoland locals, it’s even close enough for a nice day trip. This was the perfect place to come during coronavirus because there were many socially distant activities to enjoy!