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"Second Most Visited City in the State of Illinois" Top 5 Page for this destination Galena by deecat

Galena Travel Guide: 82 reviews and 191 photos

Grand Old City: Galena

The term Galena is Latin for "lead sulfide", which is appropriate for the name of this city since all the wealth that was here came from the mining of lead. The Native Americans called Galena and the area around it "Manitoomie" meaning "Sacred Ground" or "God's Country". I can certainly see why.

Because of the mineral treasure found in the late 1600s, fortunes were amassed and "architectural masterpieces sprang up in Galena". About this time, it was one of the busiest Mississippi River ports between St. Louis and St. Paul! It was not long-lived. The town's fortunes declined, and progress bypassed Galena.

Then, in the 1960's, Galena was rediscovered, and most of its 19th-century buildings were restored. That is fortunate for all of us who love beautiful architecture. Preservation is still strong in Galena; hopefully, the beauty will be maintained.

Galena is the county seat for Jo Daviess Count and second only to Chicago as the most visited city in the state of Illinois.

The antique shops that used to abound are no longer here. The shops over the last 20 years have changed with the times, and it is not a good thing, in my eyes. I hope this conscientious community does not let commercialism get out of hand. It's the rich heritage stretching back many centuries that is really important rather than Chinese-made items sold in many of the 100 plus shops.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Historic, Great Architecture, Wonderful Restaurants
  • Cons:Crowded on weekends, especially in summer
  • In a nutshell:A Lovely Old Town With Historic Buildings
  • Last visit to Galena: May 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (39)

Comments (32)

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Mar 3, 2016 at 4:12 AM

    Hi, Dee! Your pages have always been a source of inspiration for me. Thanks a lot for your insights and advice.

  • Mar 3, 2012 at 9:29 PM

    Lovely page! I would love to come here and see those Mansions, enjoy the ice-cream parlour, see the flood-gates and visit the Bird shop, and so much more to see and do. Sounds like you had a great time!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Jul 5, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    Me again, coming back after several years for another look at your fine Galena tips. I used to go camping at Mississippi Palisades State Park but have never been to Galena. I still have a book about Blackhawk that I was given for my 12th birthday.

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Nov 17, 2010 at 2:19 PM

    Dee, fantastic and comprehensive page about Galena. It looks like your really enjoyed the restaurant scene of this lovely city. The photos of the Belvedere House are indeed fabulous.

  • jillzi's Profile Photo
    Jul 19, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    History, architecture, good food, shopping...what a place. Didn't you and Jill stay in Galena on your last trip together? How sad. But how great that you have your lovely memories of this great old town.

  • Jun 10, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    Looks like you all had fun here. What a sensational town to visit if you love history. However, it seems to offer much more with lovely architecture, great shopping, and excellent food.

  • starship's Profile Photo
    Apr 9, 2010 at 7:51 PM

    Just love this page---excellent descriptions and great information in each & every tip! The history & architectural charm is reason enough to visit, but the hotels & restaurants are very appealing too! Another 5-star page!

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Feb 26, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    The victorian buildings are absolutely charming. My kind of place Dee with all the lovely history. I so enjoyed all the information. You always take such great care in making sure you provide as much of information as you can. Excellent page~

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Nov 22, 2009 at 8:15 AM

    Hello, Dee! I see why it is a popular destinaton for travelers! Your pages always make interesting reading!

  • sourbugger's Profile Photo
    Nov 11, 2009 at 5:49 AM

    lovely page - how close is grant to hero worhip, i wonder ?


“Yesterday is a cancelled check; tomorrow, a promissory note; today is the only cash you have; spend it wisely. Kay Lyons”

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