Visitors to Galena, Illinois will find staying in a Galena bed and breakfast to be the best way to experience everything the area has to offer. There are a number of bed and breakfasts in Galena where you can enjoy a one-of-a-kind stay in a unique property. There are bed and breakfasts near Downtown Galena, however many of them are just outside town, occupying the former mansions of steamboat captains and mine owners who built gorgeous homes in the beautiful hills surrounding Galena.
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When you are ready to head out and start exploring, start at the Old Market House. This 1845 Greek Revival building is now being operated as the Galena Welcome Center. The helpful staff at the welcome center will be able to guide you as you set out to explore the museums, historic attractions, galleries, restaurants and natural attractions in the Galena area. Even though Galena is tiny, there are plenty of reasons to visit. The town has a number of well-preserved historic buildings right in downtown, and there are a variety of interesting historic sites in the area. Galena has a thriving arts scene. You can peruse locally crafted goods at several galleries and shops around town, and may even want to take a workshop at the Artists’ Annex while you are in town. Numerous shops offer one-of-a-kind goods that you won’t find elsewhere, perfect for those who like to bring home a special gift or souvenir from their travels.
Visitors who are interested in the history of Galena might want to book a tour of historic Galena on Galena Trolley Tours. The tour will take you past Galena’s oldest house, the Dowling House, as well as the Ulysses S. Grant home, and the Belvedere Mansion. If you prefer to go it on your own you can visit each of these sites yourself.
Galena’s historic main street looks much like it did years ago, In fact, upwards of 75% of the town’s buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the historic buildings house more than 125 interesting, one-of-a-kind shops, art galleries, local restaurants and bars. There’s enough shopping and dining to fill more than a few days during your visit. Main Street doesn't shut down at night either. You’ll find local breweries such as the Galena Brewing Company, hosting live music and serving up award-winning brews, giving you plenty to do into the wee hours if you’d like. If you are looking for even more fun activities while staying in Galena, the town of Dubuque is only 15 miles away.
Summer has the nicest weather and Galena sees the most visitors during the warmer months. July is the warmest month with highs averaging in the mid 80s . Fall is also a popular time to visit as the weather and temperatures are typically quite nice until Halloween. It’s the perfect time to enjoy outdoor activities in the area if you don’t like the heat. Winter and early spring can see severe low temperatures and frequent snowstorms. If you aren’t looking to ski, it’s best to avoid visiting during these times as it’s one of the coldest areas in Illinois and temperatures can often reach single digits during January, Galena’s coldest month.
Galena is a town with an interesting past that draws those interested in history. The town is named for a rare mineral, a form of lead, that was found in the area. These lead mines and the town’s location right along the Mississippi caused Galena to be established as a significant trading stop between the metro areas of St. Paul and St. Louis. Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas both stopped in the town when they were campaigning for political office. Perhaps most significantly, Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States lived in Galena for a short time, and often returned for visits. Visitors to Galena can tour his former home. The town was a booming mining town for several years. The historic downtown is largely intact, with some of the streets and sidewalks dating back to the mid 1800s.
Galena is set in an area of rolling hills along the Mississippi River. The natural beauty and terrain of the area lend itself to a number of outdoor activities and pursuits.
Casper Bluff is a nice place to go on a hike or bike ride and offers some of the best Mississippi River views in the Galena area. The paths wind through more than 50 burial mounds and cover approximately 85 acres. Just outside Galena, the 40-acre Horseshoe Mound Preserve is one of another one of the most scenic places in the area. You can see three different states on a clear day and enjoy panoramic views of the town of Galena.
Both the Galena River and, of course, the MIssissippi offer plenty of activities for water lovers. Kayak, canoe, and stand up paddleboard rentals are available in town. Thunder Bay Falls is a gorgeous waterfall just 10 minutes from downtown, and no rigorous hike is required to enjoy it - you can see it from the parking lot!
Bike rentals are also available, including e-bikes for easily traversing the hilly trails in the area. In the winter, you’ll have easy access to Chestnut Mountain Resort which offers skiing and other winter sports. In the summer, the resort offers bike riding, ziplining and even river cruises.
In addition to enjoying nature in the gorgeous hills and the banks of the Mississippi River, and shopping your heart out along main street, Galena has many other fun things to do. Linmar Gardens overlooks the historic downtown and consists of a 3.5 acre garden with guidee tours of the plants available twice daily. The West Street Sculpture Park is an outdoor sculpture park featuring an eclectic collection of steel sculptures by artist John Martinson, spread over two acres.
The Galena Winery is an award-winning, family-owned winery situated on the farmland outside of Galena. Visitors can take a vineyard tour and learn about how Galena Cellars wine is produced. There’s a Tasting Room in downtown Galena if you’d like to try the wine without devoting a day to touring the vineyards
While a variety of cuisines are available in Galena, Midwestern comfort food is the star of the local restaurant scene. Try the Log Cabin Steakhouse, Galena’s oldest and longest running restaurant, for some of the best beef in town. Fried Green Tomatoes and Fritz & Frites are other popular local restaurants while Little Tokyo is the town’s first Japanese restaurant and is certainly worth trying, especially if you like sushi.
While visiting Galena, make sure to try some of the locally produced alcohol. Blaum Bros. Distilling Company is relatively new to the scene, and distills whiskey, vodka, gin, moonshine and more. Galena Cellars wine is available on menus around town as well, or in their tasting room on Main Street.
When you are looking at vacation rentals for your Galena getaway, you may be overwhelmed by the choices. Booking a small, guest house or bed and breakfast truly is the best way to experience Galena like a local and enjoy a one-of-a-kind stay. From the friendly innkeeper who will greet you at check-in to unique, individually curated guest rooms and a gourmet breakfast spread crafted from local ingredients, there are numerous reasons to choose to stay at a local bed and breakfast. In Galena, many of them occupy Victorian mansions and expansive homes that once housed Galena’s most wealthy residents. You’ll start your day by mingling with other guests in the dining room, marvel at the home’s charming features and relaxing amenities throughout the day and tuck into a comfortable bed at night in your Galena Bed and Breakfast.
While staying at a bed and breakfast in Galena, you can expect an indulgent, relaxing stay with numerous amenities to make your visit special. On site parking is standard, as is central heat and air conditioning. To help you stay connected, WiFi is available as a standard. Many of the area bed and breakfasts have oversized jetted tubs, or tubs for two, luxury linens, and fireplaces in guest rooms or common areas. In addition to a delicious breakfast, some Galena bed and breakfasts offer an additional snack hour in the afternoon. For example, the Jail Hill Inn hosts a daily Wine and Cheese reception for guests.
Chicago O’Hare is the main arrival airport for the Galena area. Dubuque Regional Airport is approximately 23 miles away in Iowa and offers some regional connections through American Airlines as well as charter flights. There are no bus or train services to Galena, and taxi service isn’t common or affordable, so a car rental would be advised. Once you reach Galena, the downtown area is easy to explore on foot, but most of the bed and breakfasts in town are located on the outskirts. A few are situated within walking distance of downtown. Parking in downtown is typically free but can be a bit hard to come by in the high season.
Whether you are looking for a galena bed and breakfast downtown, or one that offers the scenery of the outskirts, you’ll find a bed and breakfast to suit your needs.
The Goldmoor Inn is consistently ranked as one of the best bed and breakfasts in Galena, IL. The home has the unique distinction of offering views out over the Mississippi River from the property. It’s also quite near Chestnut Mountain Resort, so it’s a nice place to stay if you are coming to ski. The Belle Aire Mansion Guest House is another property that, while still convenient, is a bit removed from downtown. The home is set on 8 acres and features only three rooms, so there’s plenty of privacy. The Cloran Mansion Bed and Breakfast offers year-round comfort in a beautiful historic home and is also not far from downtown.
The Steamboat House occupies an 1855 home in a convenient location just one block away from Main Street. You’ll be walking distance from both the Ulysses S. Grant Home and the Chicago Athenaeum museum. Farmers Guest House is another fabulous Galena bed and breakfast, which is also in this area, a short walk away from main street’s shops and restaurants.
Both Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses Grant hung out at the Aldrich Guest House, and today the 1845 home lives on as one of the best places to stay in Galena.
For nature lovers, Hawk Valley Retreat is one of the best bed and breakfasts you can choose in Galena. The property is just 8 miles away from downtown, and occupies 10 secluded acres with a pond, walking trail and fabulous panoramic views.