As I drove into Illinois’ Great Rivers Country, on Highway 20, the sights were already making me start to relax.
The rolling hills gave way to beautiful views full of trees starting to change to fall colors. My time in Galena, with its charming downtown, beautiful landscape, luxurious spas and delightful wine, left me so refreshed.
Relaxing in the Great Outdoors
We began our visit at Mississippi Palisades State Park where we found some truly breathtaking overlooks of the Great Mississippi and Apple rivers. The park is easy to navigate, with well maintained paths and scenic rest spots. We decided we were in the mood for some more fresh air so we hit the golf course at Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa. What a perfectly manicured course with interesting terrain and the most stunning views. From the 14th hole, Eagle Ridge’s signature hole, we could see three states: Wisconsin, Iowa and, of course, Illinois. After the round, we returned to the clubhouse for a wonderful hot stone massage.
Discover the breathtaking river views and all of the outdoor activities that Great Rivers Country has to offer.
Fantastic Local Food and Wine
When you think of visiting a destination for its wine, Illinois might not be the first place to come to mind, but we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Rocky Waters Vineyard and Winery. We sat in the tasting room overlooking the beautiful countryside and enjoyed 14 wines poured by the friendly wine maker himself. The glass of Pear Tree Blush tasted like a ripe pear and the winemaker explained that they have several fruit trees in their vineyard. By letting the fruit fall into the soil where the vines are, the fruit flavor becomes infused into the wine. Fascinating.
When we were ready to leave the vineyard for a bite to eat, we were greeted by phenomenal options downtown. For a small community, there is some really high caliber food.
Entrance to the Rocky Waters Estate Winery in Great Rivers Country
You really can’t begin to speak about Galena without mentioning the charming downtown where a whopping 85 percent of the buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. We hopped on one of the trolleys and found a gorgeous antique store with surprisingly affordable prices, and we got some fresh turtles and candy apples at the downtown Kandy Kitchen. What a remarkable place this downtown is.
We stayed at an equally charming boutique hotel, The Irish Cottage, which was built to look like an old-fashioned Irish Street. We really didn’t feel like we were in a hotel at all surrounded by the homey setting and friendly staff who delivered a basket of warm pastries to our door for breakfast in the morning.
Galena, Illinois, is a place I will definitely be returning to. It has rather upscale offerings but none of the usual pretention that often comes with that. If you’re looking to relax in a truly charming environment, I’ll see you there.
Explore the historic city of Galena on a fun Trolley ride