Being from the Midwest, you learn when the best times to get outside, enjoy the nice weather, and soak up your Vitamin C are. The start of summer tends to be when there’s a noticeable difference of activity outdoors. This July get outside in Galena country and let the warmth soak into you while you explore the beautiful land and history that makes Galena what it is today.
EMBARK THE PARKS
Parks are one the easiest and cheapest ways to cure the boredom of summer days while enjoying the great outdoors. Many of Galena’s parks are located near the river or somewhere with beautiful views, making them all the more appealing to get to.
For a fun day full of plenty of different activities, head over the Galena’s Recreational Park on the Galena River. With a swimming pool for the whole community, a playground, and seven different pavilions to set up in, it’s the perfect place for the whole family. The park is also home to a skateboard and BMX park, softball fields, horseshoe pits, shuffleboards, basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, and even a croquet field. This park will be sure to keep everyone you go with busy and having fun in the beautiful outdoors.
If you want to experience more of the river than what Galena’s Recreational Park can offer, head over to Depot Park. This park gives you access to the Galena River with a boat dock and ramp for your trailer, as well as parking so that you can leave your car in a safe place. This is the perfect park to bring your poles and some bait and fish your day away while enjoying the outdoors. Along with the water possibilities this park offers, it is also the trailhead of the Galena River Trail. With picnic tables and open fields, you can come here and eat a quick breakfast before pedaling off down the trail.
The Galena River Trail runs through Grant Park, so make sure you stop by. This park features a beautiful pavilion with tables, a gazebo, and a fountain to relax at and enjoy the scenic beauty of the Galena River and the historic downtown district. With a pedestrian bridge crossing the river, Grant Park gives you easy access to all the shopping opportunities that downtown Galena has to offer. This park is also home to a playground, basketball courts, as well as historic cannons and monuments, giving families the perfect mix between playing, learning, and exploring.
OBSERVE THE NATURE PRESERVES
The Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation is a county wide nonprofit that has a mission of preserving land for both people and wildlife. With at least eight preservation sites along the Mississippi and in Jo Daviess county, there are countless opportunities to see natural wildlife.
JDCF Safaris is the perfect excursion for the adventurer and nature lover. The preservation site offers guided explorations across wilderness that still holds the memories of Native Americans and the first European settlers in Jo Daviess County. If you go on this guided exploration, you are bound to see several rare birds, Native American archaeological sites, hills of exposed lead that settlers used to farm, the river, woodlands, and prairies. This is the place to head to if you are interested in the history of Galena as much as you are the nature and wildlife surrounding it.
Sitting on 409 acres of land, the Valley of Eden Bird Sanctuary is the newest addition to the lands preserved by the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation. With over 6 miles of trails and more than 100 bird species, this sanctuary will help fulfill that bird watching itch. The prime viewing season for most of the birds is between April and August. You may even see some notable species while you’re hiking around such as: the Henslow’s sparrow, a bobolink, or a red-headed woodpecker. Unfortunately, the Bird Sanctuary doesn’t allow dogs, so this would have to be an experience for those with only 2 feet.
Horseshoe Mound is the perfect place to bring your whole family. With 40 acres of land on top of a hill, this nature reserve will give you stunning views of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois from atop the mound. With lookouts and viewing scopes all around the mound, there isn’t a spot in the distance that you won’t be able to see. Along with the amazing views, there are also ways that you can learn more about the geology of the land that makes up the mound. With reading plaques scattered over the 40 acres, learning about the local geology while hiking will be easy.
Hike along the scenic Mississippi River Bluffs on trails that wind their way over 85 acres of preserved land at Casper Bluff. This reserve is also home to the only known thunderbird effigy in Illinois. This thunderbird effigy is 1,000 years old and has a wingspan of 200 feet. The thunderbird was believed to be a supernatural being of power and strength. As a free destination, Casper Bluff will be perfect to hike and see authentic history surrounding the local area.
Galena is full of unique experiences – you only have to look to find them. With several different varieties of uniqueness, there is sure to be a different favorite amongst each person you bring along.
Spending a day at Chestnut Mountain Resort will keep you constantly moving and experiencing adrenaline pumping activities. Starting with the Alpine Slide, a 2,050 ft tailored track winding to the bottom of the hill, you will feel an adrenaline rush while careening down to the bottom of the hill. After you ride the slide, take the scenic life back to the top of the mountain and head over to start your Segway tour. The Segway tours are guided excursions through the 220 acres of wooded areas. If you’re at least 14 years old, you’ll be taken off the beaten path for 75-90 minutes. Once you’re finished riding around and grabbing lunch, head to the Soaring Eagle Zipline. Experience the same land you just rode with an eagle’s perspective of the Mississippi River Valley, the mountain, and the surrounding area.
Chestnut also offers bike rentals from 8 a.m. until dusk. Take these bikes throughout the mountain and figure out the best places to explore.
Have you always wanted to go horseback riding but never found the time or the place? Look no farther than Shenandoah Riding Center. They will take you on a guided trail ride through 40 miles of picturesque Galena territory. Group and private rides are both available upon request and reservations are strongly suggested. Rider’s must be 8 years old or older as there is no double riding on any of their horses. Helmets are provided for everyone’s safety and long pants and closed-toe shoes are recommended. There are two options for a ride: The Beginner Ride at $45 for 45 minutes of riding and instructions prior to taking off, the Intermediate Ride that lasts for 75 minutes with some instruction at the beginning for $75 a person. Experience the outdoors on horseback, the way that people did before we had cars.
Hoof It Goat Trek is almost what you think it is. Heading to this unique family owned land will take you on an adventure that you didn’t think was possible in Illinois. Bring the laughter and the fun, and they will help you experience the joy of walking with goats throughout the native prairies and forests of the area. You will be with a guide who knows the area and knows where goats will be if they aren’t following behind you. There are three options to experience a trek with goats. The normal goat trek simply allows you to frolic with the animals while hiking along the trails. The next option is a goat trek with a bonfire. You will still be frolicking with the baby goats, however afterwards, you get to experience a bonfire under the night sky while potentially bottle-feeding baby goats. Smores are provided by Hoof It and there is the option of getting pizza delivery or bringing your own food to grill on the shared grill. You should also bring your own drinks to the bonfire. The last option is called Porch Play. This is perfect for people who struggle walking long distances but still want to play and see the goats. Hang out under their covered porch and have a relaxing meet and greet with all the goats around. This is also the perfect alternative for rainy days.
Galena is has become quite the hidden golfing gem. With 10 courses throughout the town and picturesque views from each one, there is a new course to conquer each time you go out.
Two of the main locations for golfing are the Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa and the Woodbine Bend Championship Golf Course. With three 18-hole courses and one 9-hole course throughout their resort, you can easily spend a whole weekend there just playing their courses.
Chestnut Mountain Resort offers mini golf that anyone can play. Putt your way to victory in this 18-hole course right on the beautiful mountain. It’s open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. and only costs $5 for adults.
Chestnut Mountain Resort also has a disc golf course sprinkled throughout their mountainous acres. The 9-hole course offers challenges for each level of golfer while letting you explore the unique landscape of the mountain. This course is also $5 to play on and you can rent discs from Mountainside Outfitters in case you are missing one or two types.
With so much to do outdoors in Galena, there is no reason for anyone to be inside claiming boredom this beautiful July.