To celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary, Kyle and I knew exactly what we wanted to do (minus hop a private jet to the Maldives). We wanted a staycation in the town we love to live in. My parents, aka Nani and Papa, took our two little ones for three days so we could explore, relax, and take in a few beautiful summer days as husband and wife. Every thing we did that first week in June can be enjoyed well into fall and a few things year-round. Since we always choose to spend free time downtown Galena or finding new places to explore around the area, I wanted to share our hometown itinerary to inspire more to do the same.
Day One: Pedal to the metal
We had been wanting to bike the Galena River Trail in it's entirety (8.0 miles one way) FOREVER. If you know us, we are not very good at just kicking back and relaxing (hence where Clara and Henry get it). So we kissed the kids goodbye and hit the trail on a blue-sky, sunny Wednesday. The ride was smooth changing from gravel road to paved sidewalk and open road. When we reached the base of Chestnut Mountain our plan to hitch a ride on the chair lift was stunted when we found out it was shut down for the week. So we put down our kickstands and hiked up Old Main to the resort.
A well earned couple of cold Blue Moons, a delicious shrimp taco platter, and a sweet stray cat met us at Sunset Grille Restaurant. When we arrived it was around 2:00 so there was no one but us enjoying the view of the hills and the Mississippi River. If you're able to make an afternoon or day of your trail ride, a stop at Chestnut Mountain is a must. You can dine, play a round of mini golf, soar on a zip line and even ride down the mountain back to your transportation by the Alpine Slide. Unfortunately, the slide was also closed for the day, but we walked off our meal hiking back down the hill.
Our ride back took a little less than an hour and our ride there was just over an hour with a couple of quick water breaks. If you choose to pack a meal or even a book, you can enjoy the countryside and Galena River views on a few benches along the first 3.5 miles from Depot Park. We chose to shop local and pick up some dinner to grill at Tammy's Piggly Wiggly before heading back home. We call home the Galena Territory; an area of our county boasting beautiful rental properties. If you're visiting Galena (or want a staycation away from your own home) check out a few of our favorite cozy rentals:
Miss Murphy's (Bed & Breakfast)
The Nest at Palisades Cabins (Savanna, IL)
Day Two: Let's hit the water
After sleeping in longer than either of us could remember doing in a long time, we booked a canoe rental for the day. A day spent floating on a canoe on a gorgeous summer day as a couple or with friends is always a good time in our book. Galena River Outfitters were great hosts as they dropped us off about two miles outside of downtown Galena where we paddled, floated, sipped and laughed for about five hours. I especially loved that near the end of our paddle we were floating along the Galena River Trail we had rode less than 24 hours earlier. I love seeing views from different angles or modes of transportation!
The river was the perfect level for an afternoon canoe float with no one else around the entire time. You can also rent stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, and bikes for the day or a couple hours. Any amount of summer fun in the sun on the water works up an appetite. You can choose from various packages and options for your water or land adventure.
We washed up and headed back downtown to Main Street Galena for live music at Miss Kitty's Grape Escape. I dare you not to have a good time at Miss Kitty's. All are welcome and there seems to be a little something for everyone to sip on and bites to enjoy. Our menu choice was delicious thin crust pizza as the main course paired with two Moscow Mules, and for dessert a warm chocolate chip cookie brownie. There may have a been a few other cocktails enjoyed somewhere in there! The atmosphere, service, food & beverages made for the perfect way to wrap up our day.
Day Three: Swing away with me
Our final day of our staycation was June 3, our actually anniversary. Kyle and I agreed that the day wouldn't be the same without spending some of it with our kids; the result of our love and marriage. My Mom wouldn't let us get them until we enjoyed brunch on her at our favorite brunch spot Otto's Place. Located on the East side of Galena across from the Visitor's Center, Otto's Place has a breakfast and lunch menu you cannot leave off any trip itinerary to Galena. Owner, Megan Carter, and her staff truly make you feel like you are dining in the Cheers of Galena. You can't go wrong with any item on their menu, but I chose the Sweet Potato Hash and Kyle had the Country Benedict (thanks again, Mom!)
The "froggy pool" as we call the GTA Owner's Club Pool is where we spent the afternoon splashing and
floating as a family. Clara kept asking when we were going to our wedding! I'm not sure how we still had energy after that but Kyle made sure we did so he could carry out his anniversary surprise. He booked us private Swing dance lessons with Adam Kieffer, owner of Adam's Dance Connection in Dubuque, IA. I've known Adam for about 7 years, but we had not gotten to make time as a couple for this fantastic experience. Adam did an excellent job making us feel at ease learning new steps, teaching us about dance and music, and giving us an experience we will come back for in his studio.
Once again we worked up an appetite. When on the East side of Dubuque, especially where we were in the Millwork District, there's so many amazing options. We couldn't pass up a chance to go to a favorite spot of ours from when we lived in Dubuque, Copper Kettle. Take it from us, if all you get from there is their cheese curds you will leave a satisfied customer!
We concluded our staycation with hearts (and bellies) full! We're so blessed to live in an area where there is so much to see and enjoy surrounded by people who truly love sharing their passions with locals and visitors alike. If you can, make it a point to seek out at least one new experience in the Galena area or wherever you call home this summer. You may think you have done it all, but you may just be surprised what's waiting for you to find!