Fun things to do in Galena

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    Main Street looking west
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Galena

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    Visit Bench Street

    by Toughluck Written Feb 20, 2009

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    It's up hill one block from Main Street. No stores, but a variety of styles are here also. It's more open with fewer buildings built up against each other. Here you'll have a chance to compare church architecture.

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    Grant Park in Galena

    by deecat Updated Sep 11, 2007

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    Even though you will not find Grant Park in Galena as a tourist attraction in any of the literature, Jill and I really enjoyed it and thought it quite worthwhile to visit.

    Photographs:

    1. Mickey standing by the arbor in Grant Park.

    2. From the footbridge across the water, I took this photo of the approaching Grant Park that is lettered in the lawn.

    3. Grant's Statue in the park that is named after him.

    4.The Old Fountain that was recently refurbished in Grant Park.

    5. Obelisk in Grant Park that honors the Soldiers of the Civil War.

    There is also a Gazebo, gardens, a nice pavilion, a Fountain, picnic tables, many benches,a playground, and plenty of flowers and green grass. What a joyful spot on a warm day.

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    Wine Tasting in Galena

    by deecat Updated Sep 11, 2007

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    Mickey's first request of our trip was to go "to the wine job next to the flood gates". She is hosting Thanksgiving for her large family this year, and they have requested the delicious Cranberry Bog Wine. She was speaking of the Gallena Cellars Vineyard and Winery as our destination.

    They have a Vineyard that is located six miles Northeast of Galena which is open until November Mon-Thursday from 12-8 and on Friday through Sunday from 11-8. They also give tours on Monday through Friday at 2: p.m.; Saturday at 2, 4, and 6 p.m.; and on Sunday at Noon and at 2 p.m. 4746 Ford Road

    The Winery [where we visited] is located on Main street near the flood gates. They have a multitude of wines and giftware galore.

    Mickey purchased her four bottles of Cranberry Bog Wine, and I purchased one bottle of Reisling. Of course, we had to taste them before we purchased them! It was a fun time. They are open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m.; Sunday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.

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    Belvedere House & Gardens

    by deecat Updated Sep 10, 2007

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    BE SURE TO VIEW ALL FIVE PHOTOGRAPHS

    On my third visit to Galena, I finally was able to visit the Belvedere Mansion and Gardens.

    This is an Italianate style home as it has a well-defined, asymmetrical blocks of various elevations. The roofs are low pitched with ample overhangs for supporting brackets. It has the typical square, off-center belvedere [thus, the name]. The front bay window is common.

    The home was built for J. Russell Jones who was a young steamship owner who became the ambassador to Belgium. This home was built in 1857.

    Our tour included the assistance of two tour guides; a man for the downstairs, and a woman for the upstairs and the rest of the downstairs.

    It cost $10.00 for this tour, and it was worth the money.

    My personal favorite in the home was the Green velvet drapes that have been purchased [they were the ones used in the movie, "Gone With The Wind"

    I always learn something new when I go on house tours. This time, I was introduced to the "Coffin corner" which is a indented place in the stairwell that was used to make it possible to move a coffin without making marks on the walls. Today, it is used as a place to store a vase or other decorative piece. I also saw for the first time a hall clock that was made with only two legs. It leans against the wall; it is bolted to the wall.

    This home cost $30,00 in 1857. The owner only lived there for four years; it stood empty for 30 years. It has a several owners since that time. The present owners have opened it to the public on certain days. They have furnished it with items from collections they have purchased.

    The portion of the house where the "inside workers who were female and not married" stayed did not have heat when Jones lived here. I found that fact quite revealing of the attitude of the times.

    I would highly encourage you to take this tour of this wonderful Italianate Home.

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    Old Market House

    by deecat Updated Jun 11, 2007

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    The Old Market House was a public building that was the center of the community's life during Galen's "Golden Era." Today it serves for a Grant Exhibition and Information Center.

    It was constructed in 1845-1846; it's a Greek Revival structure that sheltered vendors and shoppers at one time. In 1947, ownership was transferred to the State of Illinois. In 1955, it was completely restored. Right now it is managed by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. They change exhibits frequently [except for the Grant exhibit]. They also have meetings here and do special events throughout the year.

    When it was a real Market House, the first floor was divided into 12 stalls which rented for $50.00 per year. A bell was rung to announce the opening and closing of the market.
    The second floor housed the surveyor's office and the city council chamber.

    I found it interesting that in 1846, two jail cells were built in the basement.

    Since City Markets ended about 1910, the old building started to deteriorate. Thankfully, the State of Illinois restored it.

    It is Free;however, donations are encouraged which goes toward maintenance.

    Open:
    Wednesday through Sunday from 9am-5pm April through October.
    Winter hours are Wednesday through Sunday 10am-4pm
    Closed Monday and Tuesday.
    Also it is totally closed mid-December through mid-March.

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    Vist These Great Old Structures

    by deecat Updated Jun 10, 2007

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    I decided to include four important structures that I feel are important to see in Galena into one tip.

    1. My all-time favorite home in Galena, the Belvedere Mansion at 1008 Park Avenue [815-777-0747] This was built in 1857 and is called an "Italianate/Steamboat Gothic Mansion" that has 22 rooms. It has been restored, and it is furnished with antiques [including pieces used on the set of "Gone With the Wind"!] It is open from Memorial Day-October Daily.

    2. Washburne House State Historic House at 908 Third Street, [815-777-3310]. Built in 1843, this is a Greek Revival home. Major additions were made in 1859 and 1860. The entire first floor has been restored. It tells the story of Elihu B. Washburne, the man who did the most to promote the cause of Ulysses S. Grant. Grant's election night news was received in the library via telegraph. Open ONLY ON FRIDAYS from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. May through October. Staffed by volunteers from the International Order of Questers, Galena Belles Chapter 1304.

    3.Galena Post Office and Customs House at 110 Green Street [815-777-0225]
    It was built in 1857-1859 from Nauvoo limestone and is a Renaissance Revival building. It's the second oldest continuously operating post office in the United States and the first to be named.

    4. Dowling House is located at 220 Diagonal Street [815-777-1250]. It is Galena's oldest as well as Illinois' oldest stone home. In 1826 it was a trading post for miners and residence that was furnished with primitives, artifacts, and antiques. It showcases Galena pottery. 30 minute tours are available.

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    Inside Grant's House

    by deecat Updated Jun 10, 2007

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    It's very rare to be able to take still photographs of such an historic home on the inside. I asked [as I always do if I could take photographs. I surprised when the tour guide said yes, as many as I wished; however, no video could be taken]. Wouldn't you just know it, there was a man who disobeyed. The tour guide warned him, but his reply was, "This camera takes both." He just kept on disobeying the rule. My friend ,Jill Martin, in her best "teacher voice" and with her best "teacher look" told him in no uncertain terms what the rest of us were wanting to say but didn't have the nerve to do so.

    What was most interesting is that the majority of the furniture in the home today is the original furniture that was there when the Grants moved into it.

    Photos:

    1. Grant's Library. Wish I could have been the wallpaper on the wall and heard all the talk that went on in this important room of the house.

    2. The home had four or five bedrooms, and this was one of them.

    3. The home's formal dining room.

    4. An original rocking horse of one of the Grant children in the smallest bedroom.

    5. Our guide showing us the kitchen and demonstrating how difficult it was for the cook at that time.

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    Ulysses S. Grant Home and Surroundings

    by deecat Updated Jun 10, 2007

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    It's important to know that a group of prominent Republican men purchased this home and furnished it; then they presented it to Ulysses S. Grant and his family as a gift.

    The home is an Italianate Bracketed style brick house that sits atop a knoll on Bouthillier Street.
    While Grant was living in this home, he was elected the 18th President of the United States in 1868. He served two terms as president, and during that time, he and his family visited this Galena home often. 1883 was the last time he visited this home; in 1885, Grant died of throat cancer.

    In 1904, Grant's children gave this furnished home to the City of Galena as long as the town would keep it as a memorial to their father. In 1931, the city deeded the home to the State of Illinois.

    A few years ago, a new statue was completed of Grant's wife, Julia Dent Grant, which turned out to be quite controversial. It makes her look "dumpy and stern" [neither of these terms is a true picture of her]. Many townspeople want it removed or redone.

    They say that the home has about 100,000 visitors each year.

    Open:
    Wednesday through Sunday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. [November-February
    9 a.m.-4:45 p.m. [March-May]
    From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the Grant Home is open seven days per week: [9 a.m.-4:45 p.m.]

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    Galena Information Center

    by deecat Updated Jun 10, 2007

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    It is a must to stop in at the Galena Information Centerupon arriving in the town of Galena. First of all, it is a beautiful old Train Station which is architecturally grand. Then, it is filled with terrific information that you will need to see all the historic sites in the city. Also, they supply you with several maps of the town and the area. The map that we really used the most was the one that had an enlarged map of the historic downtown and used pictures to point out all the locations. Being a visual learner, it was most helpful.

    We also enjoy the Jo Daviess County map and information. The Center is very organized, and the people who work there are extremely well informed and helpful. We also enjoyed all the historic posters that surround the grounds.

    In addition, it is a grand place to park for the day. There is a huge lot for parking, and it only cost a few dollars for all day. There is a machine where you put in your money and receive a ticket which you place on your dashboard.

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    Grant Park

    by dlandt Written Jun 16, 2006

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    Grant Park lies along the river and is a very typical shady park except for the President Grant theme. We went there for a picnic, though I have to amit clean facilities were a welcome plus. The park is well groomed and orderly, welcoming to pets, and with enough lawn furniture to accomodate a battalion.

    I really have to be honest with the reader of this tip and say that Grant Park isn't all that spectacular, but if you are in Galena, the statues and obelisks and decorative cannon make the park well worth the walk. To get there, simply alk over the foot bridge.

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    The US Grant Home

    by dlandt Written Jun 16, 2006

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    Ulysses S. Grant was awarded a free house by the citizens of Galena. Today it is open to the public as a historical landmark. Consrvative compared to some of the mansions in Galena, it was, nonetheless, opulent for its time. The house is decorated not just with mementoes of the Grant family, but also mementoes of their travels. Numerous artifacts from their travels in Japan and the Middle East are on display here.

    The one thing I found interesting about the Grant home is that there is a kind of mlitary functionality to the home. Decorations are modest and in good taste.

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    Grant statue in Grant Park

    by sambarnett Written Apr 20, 2003

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    According to legend when Mrs. Grant first saw it she expressed a bit of displeasure with the placement of the former President's right hand. When the sculptor asked if something should be changed Mrs. Grant said, 'No, leave it as it is, but dear me, I've told that man 20 times a day to take his hand out of his pocket!'

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    The Ulysses S Grant Home

    by sambarnett Written Oct 4, 2002

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    Before reaching fame as a Civil War hero, US Grant was a store clerk in Galena. Local Republicans gave him this house after he won the 1869 presidential election. Docents lead tours of the house's lower level, while guests are free to visit the upstairs bedroom at their own pace. There's a small museum behind the house.

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  • Chestnut Mountain Resort

    by Jenilady Written Oct 4, 2002

    Overlooking the Mississippi River , Chestnut was ranked one of the top three midwest ski resorts by Windy City Sports readers. A full-service resort with 17 ski runs, 7-acre terrain park, half-pipe, two quad and three triple chairlifts, night skiing. Ski and snowboard lessons, children's ski & board program. Ski, snowblade and snowboard rental available.

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    Dowling House

    by Toughluck Written Feb 20, 2009

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    The oldest house still standing in Galena is the Dowling House, 1832. It was closed in the winter, so we didn't go in. It's been restored nicely.

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