Galena, IL Getaway – A Photoblog

With four children/teens, life has been busy.  This past weekend, however, we found ourselves in the unique situation of being “home alone” as all four kids were attending a winter retreat.  Long anxious to explore the surrounding areas outside of Chicago, we took off – our destination Galena!  Please enjoy the photoblog of our weekend away.

According to Forbes Magazine, Galena is “…one of America’s prettiest towns.”  I would have to agree.  We were surprised by the rich history of this town and so much more.

We found beautifully preserved brick buildings dating back to the 1800s and strolled on streets also tread upon by President Ulysses S. Grant, our 18th president.  Rumor has it President Lincoln also graced the town with his presence.  See below for additional information.

Main Street in Galena is one of the most fun Main Streets we have ever wandered through!  Along with being steeped in history, the town has worked hard at protecting its historical feel by avoiding large, name brand companies.  Instead, you will discover countless unique, family owned shops with friendly, chatty owners and staff.  The only exception we noticed was a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.  But seriously, it’s chocolate.  I’m not about to complain.  Here were a few of our favorites:

Galena Canning Company – (Along with all of Chef Ivo’s goodies!)  We traipsed into the Canning Company to escape the cold (it was January, after all), but honestly, it was the advertisement for Apple Cider Donuts that really enticed us.  The only time of year we get to enjoy those special donuts is November/December, when we go hunting for our Christmas tree.  They are delicious!

I’m almost embarrassed to confess that we exited the Galena Canning Company (albeit an hour later) having never even tasted a donut.  How is that possible? Well, it may have something to do with the infinite number of samples the store offered!  I have never, ever seen so many samples in one shop before.  Truly, there were samples for every Jelly, Jam, Fruit Butter, Spread, Dressing, Oil, Dip, Salsa, Hot Sauce…the list goes on.  I tried my hardest to get to them all, but it was impossible!  This place is definitely worth the visit and don’t be surprised if you end up wanting to buy out the store.  Quick hint:  Make sure to try the Sweet Potato Butter!  Wow!!!

Great American Popcorn Company:  Their website is right!  You really are warmly greeted by the owner Dave Lewis when you walk in the door.  We felt like we were being welcomed by an old friend, and were immediately offered samples of anything we wanted to taste.  “If you aren’t eating something, you aren’t doing it right!” were the words that followed us around the store.

With over fifty unique flavors of popcorn in the store at a time (I won’t even attempt to start naming them) the thought was rather intimidating but we did our best.  This is definitely a store we plan to return to with our kids!  They would love it.  Since they weren’t with us, however, we made sure to take advantage of their “Four bags for the Price of Three” special and bring some home for friends and family.  Dave…we will see you again SOON!  Thanks for the delicious popcorn.

Chocolaterie Stam:  All right.  It’s fairly obvious already how much I love chocolate, but let me tell you, this place was amazing!  My favorite two things were a Cream Filled Marzipan Chocolate as well as Chocolate Covered Apricot.  They were out of this world and I seriously contemplated opening my own Stam’s store so I could have unlimited access to these.  Yes, they were that good.  The staff was super friendly, and everything else we tried (during multiple visits) was excellent.  This place is not to be missed!

Devour  Cafe:  This was a quiet, friendly place to stop in and warm up with a nice cup of coffee.  Tell me that seating space in the back isn’t fantastic?!

Unfortunately, we only visited a handful of places along Main Street and did not get to them all.  There were way too many fantastic choices but quite honestly, this gives us a great reason to return!  Won’t you join us?

One last thing before I go.  One of the best parts of our experience here in Galena was our beautiful accommodation!  After doing quite a bit of research and interacting via email and telephone with several options, we chose a quaint bed and breakfast about 7 miles away from downtown Galena called the Goldmoor Inn.  This was such an amazing place I will be dedicating a whole blog post to it.  Be sure to look for it in the next few days.

PS:  There are many things I did not have a chance to even touch upon, like visiting President Grant’s Home, or exploring Maggie Black’s beautiful Art Gallery/Interior Design shop featuring a young artist of candleholders who started off 6 years ago when he was 11!  And then there was our experience at the Mangelsen Images of Nature Gallery.  What unbelievably gorgeous photography!  Thomas Mangelsen is obviously a highly skilled, unbelievably patient, and profoundly passionate artist/photographer. His work is insanely breathtaking and his ability to capture God’s creation is stunning.  I would return to Galena just to visit his gallery again.

And if you search really hard, you may even find a spot to buy Chocolate and Raspberry Dessert Gemelli (yes, here we go with the chocolate!) or Sombrero Hat Pasta along with a hundred other extraordinary colors, shapes, and sizes.

Please do visit Galena and make sure you take the time to speak with the locals.  They are extremely friendly, helpful, and have an abundance of stories and history to share.  I think you’ll love it!

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