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Ask a Local: Galena, Illinois

by Our Editors
Galena, Illinios Thunder Bay Falls

From unique local business to art galleries, museums, theatre, scenic tours, farm to fork restaurants, and spectacular adventures in nature, there is truly something for everyone in this fascinating part of the USA.


If you want to know what makes Galena such a special place to visit, ask a local—and that’s just what we did. Join us as we explore this beautiful and exciting part of Illinois with LGBTQ individuals who live, work, play, and create here. Illinois is filled with many wonderful things just waiting to be experienced and enjoyed. From unique local business to art galleries, museums, theatre, scenic tours, farm to fork restaurants, and spectacular adventures in nature, there is truly something for everyone in this fascinating part of the USA.


LGTBQ Galena, Illinois Locals, Carolyn and Angela
Tell us about yourself and what you do for a living?
My wife and I own a Private Chef and Custom Catering Company named Life’s a Feast (www.lifesafeastllc.com). We do a lot of corporate catering and, of course, weddings, as the Galena area is a huge destination wedding location. But our true passion is private cheffing. With the tourism in the Galena area, there are lots of homes that you can rent in Galena proper, but 6.7 miles east of Galena is the The Galena Territory (www.thegalenaterritory.com) and Eagle Ride Resort and Spa (www.eagleridge.com). The Territory is 370,000 acres, nestled in rolling hills and woodlands. There are 3 major golf courses, a spa and an owners club that all rentals have access too, with an outdoor and indoor pool, workout area, and recreational area. We offer what we call ‘Dinner and a Show,’ where we come into your rental home and prepare a custom menu for you and your guests, allowing guests to have a ‘restaurant’ experience without having to choose a designated driver or pay for a cab to and from town.

How long have you been living in Galena?
We moved from The Bay Area 10 years ago to Dubuque (12 miles west of Galena, on the other side of the Mississippi) and then to the Galena side 8 years ago.

What influenced your decision to move here?
It was 2008 and the economy just tanked and we were looking for a new location to open our business. The Tri-State Area, where Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin all meet at the Mississippi was an area that was not effected by the economic downturn and no one was offering the services we offer—not to mention the cost of living is 1/4 of what it costs to live in California. This area, known as “the driftless area,” reminds us of Northern California with it’s rolling hills, woods, and vast farmland. It is peaceful and beautiful.

What are your favorite places to go for a cocktail and/or dinner?
Depends on what we are in the mood for. If we are looking for a Miller High Life and the laid back local crowd, we will go to The Paradise (www.paradisebargalena.com) on Main Street. If we want a good craft beer and to watch a game, Galena Brewing Company (www.galenabrew.coms). Now if we want a martini, we would head to Miss Kitty’s Grape Escape (www.grapeescapegalena.com). As for dinner Fritz and Frites (www.fritzandfrites.com) for Alsacian cuisine and The Log Cabin (www.logcabingalena.com) for the quintessential Midwestern supper club experience and mighty good lamb chops!
Canova’s (www.cannovas.pizza) is our go to for casual Italian cuisine.

What cultural attractions are a must see for visitors?
Established in 1826, Galena is the oldest city in Illinois. A large portion of the city of Galena (www.visitgalena.org) is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Just driving into town, you get a sense of stepping back in time. For history buffs, Galena is heaven. Home to 9 of the 10 Union Army generals, plus the birthplace of the 18th President of The United States, Ulysses S. Grant. Take a tour of the Elihu B. Washburne House and the Old Market House (www.granthome.com).

A friend is coming to Galena for the first time, Please describe the perfect weekend.
Arriving on Friday night for a dinner at Fritz and Frites (www.fritzandfrites.com), then home for a fire pit and a nightcap. Awake Saturday morning for a hearty breakfast and off to drive the backroads to the local wineries for some tasting of the local fare. A quick stop at The New Diggin’s General Store and Bar (www.newdiggs.com) for some of Lou and Kelly’s BBQ and music. If we are lucky we can catch the beautiful sunset over the Mississippi River from the top Chestnut Mountain and The Sunset Grille (www.chestnutmtn.com).

What are the best places to truly enjoy the natural beauty of the area?
The Galena area is part of “The Driftless Area,” a region that stretches from southwestern Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa, and the extreme corner of northwestern Illinois. This region escaped the flattening effects of glaciation during the last ice age. This means, you experience a region noted for it’s majestic bluffs, steep wooded ridges, deep river valleys, and rolling hills. The flora and fauna of the region are more similar to New England and the Great Lakes than of the typical flatlands of the Midwest. Scales Mound, which is 11 miles from Galena, is the highest elevation in the state, at 1,235 feet. You are surrounded by the natural beauty of the area. Throughout the Summer and Fall, motorcycles traverse the winding back country roads. Local and state parks are located up and down the Mississippi River and give way to stunning vistas of the area. A short drive down highway 84 takes you to Mississippi Palisades State Park. There are beautiful hiking trails and the majestic views of the Mississippi River. It is truly stunning.

What is your favorite time of year in Galena and why?
Autumn. Because there is something magical about small towns blanketed in fall colors, the crispness in the air, and nutty caramel apples, of course.

What’s one souvenir to bring back for friends or family?
A bottle of handcrafted Bourbon from Blaum Brothers.

Please finish this sentence: Don’t leave Galena without…
Viewing the Mighty Mississippi from atop a bluff.

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