20 Amazing Things to do in Galena, IL with your Family

Galena, a small town in northwest Illinois, is home to some stunning historic tourist sites and architectural gems. It was once a major riverboat and mining town near the Mississippi River, surrounded by rolling hills and farms. While the fall in demand for lead contributed to its protracted decline, it is currently a famous tourist destination in Illinois, owing to its abundance of well-preserved historic sites and attractive ancient structures. Below are the best things to do in Galena IL.

Visit the Famous Ulysses S. Grant Home

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Image credits: Visit Galena

Visiting the famous Ulysses S. Grant Home is one of the things to do in galena, IL. The Ulysses S. Grant Home, one of Galena’s most prominent attractions, is located just over the river from the city center. The elegantly furnished mansion was granted to the courageous general in 1865 for his role in the Civil War.

Built in 1860, the historic home features some appealing Italianate architecture, with balustraded balconies extending out over a pretty porch. Even though Ulysses S. Grant only resided here for a few years before becoming President in 1869, the National Historic Landmark is well worth a visit for the insight it provides into the legendary figure of General Grant. 

Birdwatching and Hiking at Casper Bluff Land and Water Reserve

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Image credits: Enjoy Illinois

Casper Bluff Land & Water Reserve is an archeologically significant location with sweeping views of the Mississippi River bluffs and a variety of outdoor activities like walking, hiking, bird watching, and sightseeing. The Aiken Mound Group and the Effigy Mound are two archeologically notable Native American sites in the 85-acre region. The reserve is home to a variety of bird species and offers spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.

Stop at the Dowling House

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Image credits: Visit Galena

John Dowling erected Galena’s oldest house in 1826, and it is a remarkable example of early nineteenth-century construction. The mansion was made of limestone and supplied with modest dwelling accommodations for the many fur traders that frequented the neighborhood. It is possible to take guided tours of the mansion to learn more about its history and architecture. Take a trip back in time to learn about the problems faced by fur traders.

Take a Breath of Quietude and Serenity at Grant Park

Grant Park, directly over the Galena River from the historic district, is a great place to relax. It has beautifully groomed grounds with majestic monuments strewn about, providing excellent views of Galena, IL. The lovely park, which is named for Ulysses S. Grant, features a magnificent monument of him and several fascinating cannons used during his Civil War operations. Various plaques and displays line the park’s pleasant paths and attractive flowerbeds, teaching you all about the park’s rich history and many monuments. On top of that, there’s a charming pavilion and fountain, as well as a basketball court and playground. A footbridge connects it to the historic center, making it an ideal picnic area.

Step Back in Time at the Old Blacksmith House

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The Old Blacksmith Shop is a real blacksmith shop from 1897, replete with operating forges, antique tools, and equipment. Guests can learn about Galena’s forging history, how it functions, and its role in the community. During the season, students may also see live demonstrations by experienced blacksmiths as they run the forges. A well-stocked gift shop sells handcrafted jewelry and intricate fireplaces made by the foundry’s blacksmiths. From May to October, the Old Blacksmith Shop is open Friday through Monday.

Fantastic Views from Horseshoe Mound

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Image credits: Visit Galena

Horseshoe Mound, located in the Galena countryside near the eastern gateway, is a public preserve that offers a variety of recreational opportunities to tourists, including hiking with breathtaking views of the city and river. The vista spots also provide panoramic views in a variety of directions. Visit Horseshoe Mound for a great trek with spectacular views. 

Stunning Clicks at River Bend Gallery

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Image credits: Visit Galena

In Galena, photographer Geoffrey Mikol owns and operates River Bend Gallery. Geoffrey, an outstanding young guy with Down Syndrome who does not allow his diagnosis to define him and instead shines through with his skill, has a portfolio full of extraordinary photographs. His natural photos will win you over. Visit the River Bend Gallery to discover stunning photographs of Galena’s surrounding region.

Golfing in Galena

Golfing in Galena is one of the things to do in galena, IL. Galena is one of the greatest golfing destinations in the Midwest. In the city, there are numerous golf courses and resorts. Woodbine Bend Golf Course, Lacoma Golf Course, Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, and the Galena Golf Club are some of the top golf courses in Galena.

Skiing with Impressive views at Chestnut Mountain Resort

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Image credits: Visit Galena

Chestnut Mountain Resort features snow-covered slopes and a snowboarding terrain park. Considering its proximity to Galena, it is also a popular tourist destination with a variety of winter and summer outdoor activities. As of 1959, the resort included pleasant caf├ęs, ski shops, a large lodge and an indoor pool and hot tub area. During the summer, there is a mini-golf course, zipline, and various scenic hiking and mountain bike trails to explore. With 19 routes for guests to ski and snowboard down, the snowy slopes are the major reason that everyone comes. In addition, the terrain park descends about 150 meters in total, including halfpipes, jumps, and rails.

Stop By the West Street Sculpture Park

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Image credits: Visit Galena

The West Street Sculpture Park is a two-acre outdoor park with over a dozen massive welded steel sculptures by John Martinson. The park also features meditative artworks, strange signage, bizarre assemblages, two large 40-foot towers, and a giant tinker toy. The park’s winding wooden walkways make exploration simple, and maps are provided for those who want to take a self-guided tour of the grounds, where inscriptions designate works of art and sculpture. In addition, the park has an on-site studio where John Martinson does his works, some of which are for sale.

Visit the Belvedere Mansion

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Image credits: Library of Congress

Visiting the Belvedere Mansion is one of the things to do in galena, IL. Belvedere Mansion is a 22-room that was erected in 1857 in the Italianate architectural style. Visitors can find original furnishings and exquisite antiques, as well as lovely decor inside the mansion. You may find the woodwork of exceptional quality throughout the home. In addition, outside the mansion, there are well-kept and beautiful manicured gardens. Attend a guided tour to learn more about the house’s history as well as its artifacts and interiors.

Eat at Fried Green Tomatoes

Eating fried green tomatoes is among the things to do in galena, IL. Fried Green Tomatoes is also a fashionable Galena restaurant that provides delectable Italian-American cuisine and an award-winning wine list. The restaurant, on the other hand, was once General Grant’s grandfather’s Leather and Finding Store. Now, the restaurant makes excellent use of the space, serving delectable meals in a brick-and-stone setting. In addition, don’t miss out on their mile-high meatloaf, fresh sea scallops, or a simple fillet.

Visit the Old Market House

Image credits: Visit Galena

The Old Market House was built in 1845 as the city’s municipal hall and includes beautiful brickwork and a Greek Revival architecture. It now accommodates a range of exciting exhibitions and cultural activities, as well as the former core of this picturesque town. The edifice previously held farmers’ market stalls, which helped pay for its upkeep. Residents would also buy and sell their goods at the market square in front of it. Visitors can learn about Galena’s unique history and legacy through the Old Market House’s artifacts, artwork, and displays. In addition, it is located in the center of the commercial sector, directly west of the Galena River.

Attend a Magic Show at P.T. Murphy Magic Theater

The P.T. Murphy Magic Theater, located in the heart of historic downtown Galena, provides a variety of intimate magic shows. Master Magician P.T. Murphy also personally runs P.T. Murphy’s, which is recognized for its skilled sleight of hand and wicked sense of humor, which add to the show’s mystery and attraction. In addition, the magic performance is appropriate for all ages, from 13 and up, and lasts around an hour with no intermission.

Galena Cellars Winery & Vineyard

Image credits: Visit Galena

It has been almost 40 years since Galena Cellars Winery & Vineyard began making wine, and the vineyard and winery are still owned and run by the Galena family. Galena Cellars, which the Lawlor family owns, also has established a three-generational tradition of excellence. In a typical year, they produce approximately 60,000 gallons of wine, consisting of 40 distinct wine varietals created from 22 different specialty grapes.

Guests can sample a glass of wine in one of three tasting rooms located throughout the estate. Galena Cellars Winery & Vineyard also offers private and public tours of the winery and vineyard and wine tastings, and cheese and chocolate pairings. Private vineyard tours last around one hour and include a brief history of the farm, an in-depth look at the winemaking process, and a thorough tour of the vineyard, wine cellar, barrel and bottling room, and sensory wine tasting area.

Stay at the Jail Hill Inn

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Image credits: Visit Galena

The Jail Hill Inn, a tiny premium inn located only one block from the Galena Historic District, provides a magnificent stay with stunning views of Galena, IL and its surrounding countryside. The four-story brick building that houses the hotel is more than 135 years old and served as a county jail before being renovated in 2015. Ample amenities are provided to ensure that your stay is as pleasant and comfortable as possible. Stay at the Jail Hill Inn for a relaxing and luxurious escape that is close to everything.

Visit the Linmar Gardens

Linmar Gardens, a privately owned three-and-a-half-acre garden that has been tastefully manicured and curated to create an isolated and tranquil spot in which to rest in nature, is nestled on a hillside overlooking Galena, IL. A few of the Linmar gardens include the Four Seasons Garden, which features a 20-foot waterfall cascading down a natural bluff and an array of one-of-a-kind sculptures by local artist John Martinson, and the Sunken Garden, which is the centerpiece and serves as the foundation for an African-American Baptist Church.

The Sunken Garden, with a spectacular fountain and a variety of flowers, is ideal for reflection. In addition, along with meandering walks, hand-built terraces, water features, fountains and streams, and quirky sculptures strewn among the flora, the gardens include a bell tower from a Galena firehouse, a fake lead mine complete with Galena ore, and a false lead mine complete with Galena ore.

Visit the Thunder Bay Falls

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Image credits: Only in Your State

This thrilling excursion at Thunder Bay Falls, dubbed the most magnificent waterfall in the state from every angle, is a must-do for anybody visiting the area. It takes only a few minutes to walk from the highway to the lovely and tranquil Thunder Bay Falls. You can also appreciate the artificial hidden gem in Galena for what it is: a brief yet breathtaking experience that will liven up your getaway. Whenever you are passing through the area, snap a lot of photographs to retain as a memento of your journey. In addition, those searching for a quick hike can make use of the nearby trails, which will lead them to Apple River Canyon State Park.

Visit Galena Center for the Arts

In a welcoming environment, the Galena Center for the Arts was established to honor regional artists and arts, inspire and educate the public about art’s relevance in today’s society, and honor and educate the public about the importance of art in today’s society.

It also includes a large exhibition space for special exhibitions, a regional artwork gallery featuring photography exhibits from the historic Alfie Mueller collection, a performance venue with a variety of artistic performances and educational spaces, and a performance venue with a variety of educational spaces. In addition, Galena Center for the Arts hosts a range of unique events throughout the year, including The Art of Craft and the Youth Arts Festival.

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