Galena Country is known for their small town, historic charm – but you haven’t experienced all it has to offer until you visit in September when the onslaught of fall colors begins to explode throughout the quaint town. There are plenty of paths to walk, drive, and bike, as well as parks to lounge and hike in to experience the beautiful fall foliage.
For a Relaxing Fall Day in Town
Staying within Galena’s city limits will still give you a plethora of places to experience the changing leaves that fall offers.
Pair a day of shopping with the beginning of fall by exploring Galena’s Helluva Half Mile©. The Helluva Half Mile© consists of 125 shops and restaurants along Galena’s historic Main Street. From candy stores and ice cream shops to spas and wine tastings, this stretch of shops has a nook and cranny for everyone in your entourage. Experience the colors that fall offers intermingled with the historic 1800s architecture to give yourself a fall day filled with nostalgia from a time you’ve never experienced.
Right across from historic Main Street and the Helluva Half Mile© is Grant Park. When you want a break from the shopping and walking, head across the bridge into this beautiful park. Sitting on the bank of the Galena River, this park has a gazebo, fountain, and pavilion with tables to take a break and relax at. Surrounded by trees, this gives you a beautiful view of the most historic part of Galena bordered by the river. Grant Park also has a play lot and a basketball court to keep the kids entertained on this pit stop.
Make your way to the Eastern edge of Galena to experience Horseshoe Mound. Preserved by the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation, Horseshoe Mound will give you one of a kind views. With a central gathering place, this is the perfect place to have a midday Fall picnic. Follow up your picnic by following one of the trails intertwined through the Mound to get panoramic views of Galena, Bellevue, Dubuque, and the Mississippi River. If you aren’t up for the hike, there are several scenic outlooks and viewing scopes near the gathering area that will give you amazing views of three states at once. Surrounded by the kaleidoscope of fall leaves both on the Mound and in the distance, Horseshoe Mound will let you experience the best that Fall has to offer.
For a Rewarding Excursion in Historic Places
Dip your toes in the history of Galena Country by taking a drive to some of the most beautiful off-the-beaten-path places in the surrounding area. The historical preservation makes this drive worth every minute – oh, and so do the stunning views.
Drive yourself into another world when you take the Stagecoach Trail. Originally established in 1830 to connect Galena with Chicago, the two-lane road gives you a scenic route full of hills and valleys dotted with farms and dairy cows. With trees lining both sides of the road, it will feel like you’re driving through a canopy of Autumn colors that is sure make you fall even more in love with this season. With one of the highest points in Illinois, there’s no shortage of places to stop to capture the beautiful rural backroads of this state.
Right off the Stagecoach Trail lays a small village called Apple River. Stopping here, you will be immersed in 19th-century charm throughout your entire experience in this village. Surrounded by the fields of soybeans and corn, it gives off the rural Midwestern vibe that you’ve been experiencing throughout the Stagecoach Trail drive. But within the town itself, there is an aura of authenticity to the 1800s with a one-room schoolhouse, a white steeple church, and a Country General Store. Take in the sights and nostalgia that this village elicits while enjoying a colorful Autumn day off the beaten path.
Just 6 miles north of Apple River village lays Apple River Canyon State Park. Located in a canyon that used to be home to Millville, a historic town that was washed away during the flood of 1892, this State Park gives you 360-degree views of beautiful Fall colors. With five different trails throughout the park, this leaves plenty of opportunity and experiences to view the ever-changing Fall leaves.
For Adrenaline Junkies Looking for Steep Rewards
Fall is all about relaxing and enjoying your time with what nature is offering you, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a day full of adrenaline while exploring some of the best views that Galena has to offer? Take a chance and head toward the twists and turns of this day.
Many tourists wouldn’t look twice at Blackjack Road on a map or in person, but that’s exactly why this is such a colorful route throughout the Fall. This is a 15-mile rural road from Galena to Savanna that follows the Mississippi River. Twisting and turning through the rural areas near the river, this road has several scenic pullouts that offer views of the Mississippi River Valley while you’re under a canopy of trees that are bursting with the reds, oranges, and yellows of Autumn.
Nestled among the twists and turns of Blackjack Road is Chestnut Mountain Resort. With an array of activities, from the Soaring Eagle Zipline to the Alpine Slide, miniature golf, and disc golf, they have several ways you can experience the fall weather and colors while being active. However, the best way to the view all the Fall colors is by heading to Sunset Grille and sitting on their 1,400 square foot outdoor deck that overlooks the Upper Mississippi River Valley. Basking out under the Fall colors enjoying your favorite drink is the perfect way to enjoy Autumn.