Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Profile of a Place: Galena, IL

Galena, Illinois, is a picturesque place serving tourists searching for a taste of clean fun and nostalgia. The town boasts of its historic ties to the thriving trade on the Mississippi, well before Chicago became the gateway to the West, with lovely streets filled with lovely stores selling lovely things. Tourists thrive in Galena, where nostalgia rules pocketbooks. Unlike many tourist traps, however, Galena does not rely on the young and reckless to fund their service economy. Families, groups of mature women, and motorcyclists make up the majority of the visitors. Confectioneries, wineries, house tours, jewelery stores, antique houses, museums, parks, art galleries, and restaurants cater to the well to do searching for a taste of Midwestern refined living. Grant's Home is a mandatory stop on the Galena circuit and is the cheapest find of all as it is run by the State of Illinois. A mere $3 donation gets you to see quite a few original pieces of the Grant family, including one of the most famous portraits of our 18th president. The tour was small, but the historical associations of the house made it well worth the trip. This is in contrast to another historical house and tourist attraction, the Belvedere House. The impressive mansion has seen a variety of owners and uses, and the current owners have opened the House to the public to showcase their impressive collection of period furniture, art, and MGM salehouse finds such as The Curtains from the famous film "Gone with the Wind". Although the history of the house has been recorded quite well, only the largest pieces of furniture are original to the house. The pieces are incredible, however, including a priceless Tiffany chandelier (no pictures in the house, unfortunately) with matching sconces.

I cannot speak to the quality of the food and spirits this jewel of Jo Daviess County as I am too poor to indulge in such things. Food and housing is quite expansive in the area; we ended up staying in Dubuque, Iowa to defray the cost of our own get-away. But to put things in perspective, the Belvedere Tour puts you back $9 a person and a milkshake is $4 a pop (and you can get a real float in traditional flavors such as Green River for $5).

Galena brings some rustic charm to the weekend vacation however constructed for the vacationer.

1 comment:

  1. Ummmm Crystal, you sound like a brochure.... just say'in! ^.^