The Best Things to Do in Galena, IL
There is never a shortage of things to do in Galena, IL.
This charming downtown city has emerged as a tourist attraction known for its rich history and beautiful architecture. Galena’s historic downtown district retains its visage dating from the Civil War era, but now the lovely historic buildings are home to boutique shops, fantastic restaurants, art galleries, tasting rooms, and more!
Galena is often the destination for a weekend getaway for those wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of Chicago, but the proximity to the city also allows for a great day trip. There’s plenty of things to do in Galena, IL that you won’t find anywhere else. Below are some of the reasons why you should visit Galena and have an unforgettable vacation with us at Farmers Guest House.
For more exciting things to do in Galena, IL, download our free Galena travel guide!
Learn About History
You could spend your entire vacation learning about the many aspects of Galena’s history and still have more to discover! This city is filled with museums, historic sites, and gorgeous 19th-century buildings—so many, in fact, that 85% of Galena’s buildings are in the historic district, which is itself on the National Register of Historic Places. Below are some of the ways you can discover Galena’s history:
- Learn more about Galena’s history during the 19th Century boom times and the rise of the Industrial Era at the Galena & U.S. Grant Museum
- Explore what life was like for Jo Daviess County settlers in 1832 at Apple River Fort State Historic Site
- Stroll through the mansion at gardens at Belvedere Mansion, which is considered the finest mansion in Galena
- Browse several of Grant’s artifacts from Galena’s Golden Era at the Old Market House State Historic Site
- Step inside U.S. Grant’s home and witness where the president resided after the Civil War at the Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site
- Take one of the many tours available—whether it is a walking tour, self-guided, or on a trolley, you’ll gain a unique insight into Galena’s past.
Shop and Stroll Down Galena’s Main Street
Main Street in downtown Galena, Illinois, is the hub of local businesses, including jewelers, art galleries, boutiques, and more. With over 100 shops, boutiques and galleries on Main Street, there’s something for everyone. It’s a great place to spend the day, shop, and find the perfect souvenir gift while enjoying the beauty of this historic town.
- Browse handcrafted jewelry, USA Cactus shirts and clothing, and other collectibles at Earth’s Treasures
- You’ll find many unique gifts and collectibles at Gabby’s Gifts
- Shopping for a chef or looking to add spice to your kitchen? Pick up a bottle of balsamic or collection of spice mixes at Galena Garlic Company
- Pick up a unique Galena souvenir at Gateway to History
- Popular among locals and visitors alike, Poopsie’s sells toys, games, books, and anything else you can imagine!
- You’ll find great, local items, and just about anything you could wish to cook your next gourmet dish at the Grateful Gourmet!
- Enjoy boutique items for your wardrobe as well as home decor at Main Street’s Simply Elegant Boutique
- Set in a beautifully restored historic building, Honest John’s Trading Post sells great gift items and a variety of high-quality shoes for strolling on Main Street.
- Discover award-winning sauces, dressings, and seasonings you won’t find anywhere else at Galena Canning Company. Be sure to visit this local store for unique ingredients or great gift ideas!
- The perfect spot to gather things together for a picnic in Grant Park, Galena River Wine & Cheese is a locally owned gem that features wines, cheeses, snacks, and gourmet foods perfect for a special vacation meal.
Food & Drink
With nearly 30 different restaurants to choose from just steps from our historic bed and breakfast, you’ll find a wide variety of restaurants in downtown Galena, IL to choose from. Whether you’re in the mood for something casual or you’re after a fine dining experience, any of these restaurants will satisfy your cravings. There are also several fantastic wineries and breweries with tasting rooms and bars in downtown Galena. Many establishments also have live music on the weekends. Of all the great options you’ll find as you wander down Main Street, here are a few of our best recommendations!
- Take an entertaining tour of the distillery or just enjoy a sample of the award-winning spirits and the luxurious bar at Blaum Brothers Distillery. A top attraction in Galena!
- Grab a locally crafted brew at Galena Brewing Company
- Tour a beautiful winery
- A casual Italian dining experience awaits you at Vinny Vanucchi’s, which boasts an authentic Italian cuisine and wine shop
- As Galena’s oldest and longest running eating establishment, Log Cabin Steakhouse is a fantastic place to enjoy delicious steaks in the heart of downtown
- With an atmosphere that transports you to a Paris Bistro and a menu featuring French and German specialties, dinner at Fritz & Frites is a unique and delicious experience
- Enjoy Chicago-style pizza and other tasty pub menu items at Gobbie’s Sports Pub & Eatery, which features large TVs, bar games, live entertainment, and a beer garden
- Durty Gurt’s is a burger joint known for its outstanding, creative burgers, its fish ‘n’ chips, and other casual dishes for a homey dining experience
- Discover delicious Japanese cuisine with a focus on seafood at Little Tokyo
Galena has many beautiful outdoor attractions. These range from natural features like rushing waterfalls and rolling hills to ones sculpted by human hands, like carefully tended gardens. Below are just a few of the ways that you can enjoy the natural beauty of Galena!
- Make a hike to a breathtaking waterfall at Thunder Bay Falls
- Spend a day fishing, hiking, or swimming at Apple River Canyon State Park
- Here in the winter? Try your hand at skiing!
- Stroll along the banks of the Galena River when you follow the Galena River Trail
- Pack a picnic and visit a local park
- Go birdwatching at Casper Bluff
- Enjoy the scenery from the back of a horse when you go horseback riding
- Take a quiet walk through the beauty of Linmar Gardens
- Play a round of golf at one of Galena’s local courses
This is just a glimpse into what your experience at Galena could hold! There is so much that happens in this town, on a daily basis as well as periodically with events and festivals. For even more local information, be sure to download our Vacation Guide.
Figuring out what you want to do during your Galena vacation might take some time, but when it comes to deciding where to stay, your choice is easy: Farmers Guest House! Our inn has a long-standing tradition of greeting guests which began over 150 years ago, in 1867, as the Farmers Home Hotel.
A stay at Farmers Guest House is an experience in Galena’s history. From the rooms named after the wives of Civil war generals to elegant decor, our inn is the perfect balance of authentic Galena charm and modern luxury. If that isn’t enough to convince you, guests of Farmers Guest House enjoy an incredible complimentary breakfast in the mornings.