Galena is nestled in the rolling hills of northwest Illinois. It became a bustling town in the early 1800s with the discovery of lead (“Galena” is Latin for lead sulfide), and mining became its first industry. Situated on the Galena River, just a short distance from the Mississippi River, Galena was the largest port between St. Louis, Missouri and St. Paul, Minnesota by the mid-1880s.
More than 85 percent of the town is on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of the buildings along Main Street were here when Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president of the United States, lived in Galena. It’s a charming and authentic portrait of American history. If Grant and Abraham Lincoln were to visit Galena today, they would find little changed from that period. Retail selections have evolved over the years, but Galena has held onto its hospitable and friendly nature.
Galena and the entire Jo Daviess County area is known for its natural beauty. No other location in Illinois offers such beautiful hills and valleys, which have been here since the time of the glaciers. Many areas are protected and preserved, so you can see wildlife prairies, bald eagles and effigy mounds created by Native Americans.
Today, Galena is a top destination in Illinois and the Midwest. It’s known for its charming bed and breakfasts as well as Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa, which has four golf courses. Its General Golf Course has earned critical acclaim as one of America’s top 100 greatest golf courses. Besides golf, you can kayak or paddleboard on the Galena River. The more adventurous can take a Segway tour at Chestnut Mountain or a hot air balloon ride operated by Galena On The Fly. Galena and Jo Daviess County boast four wineries with award-winning vintages. Many of the restaurants are destinations unto themselves, with signature entrees and desserts.
Galena is the start of Illinois’ Great River Road – your 550-mile adventure along the Mississippi River. Selected as one of National Geographic’s “500 Drives of a Lifetime,” this drive tells the story of American history and the people and places that helped shape our nation. Follow the route through quaint towns and visit historic museums, landmarks and scenic vineyards – all set against the sweeping beauty of the Mississippi River.
Featured Video Journals
Experiences in Galena, Illinois
Official Galena, Illinois Travel Site
Official Galena Travel Site
Great Rivers Country Regional Tourism Development Office