Most people think Chicago is the only place in Illinois for an LGBTI getaway. But to limit yourself to just the Windy City means you are missing out on some of the best gems the state has to offer.
One of these jewels is Galena in the northwest, just a few hour’s drive from Chicago. Not only is the small town made up of adorable, well-preserved 19th century houses, it’s surrounded by lush countryside.
Natural and beautiful are just its aesthetic bonus points – it’s the gay-friendly attitude that makes Galena a real joy. With LGBTI-owned businesses and same-sex couples holding hands down the street, the only thing missing is you enjoying your time there.
Keeping yourself entertained
Galena might be small but it’s bursting with fun things to do. Nights out are easily catered for, with places like Miss Kitty’s Grape Escape offering live music, a diverse range of drinks and a welcoming attitude.
If your love of booze goes beyond tipples in bars, the Blaum Brothers Distilling Company is a must. Here you’ll find award-winning spirits crafted with amazing ingredients that caters directly for the discerning tastes of a connoisseur.
Though not everyone’s taste is quite as strong as those spirits, so Galena Cellars Vineyard and Winery will provide something a bit more sweet or dry. It’s the perfect excuse to explore the gorgeous vineyards and taste some of the 40 wines made there.
However, you can’t take in the true beauty of Galena just by just touring the drinks establishments. Missing out on the stunning countryside is a disservice to yourself. So, in order to take it all in at once, a hot air balloon ride will be just the thing for you (the balloons are rainbow colored too). Think sweeping landscapes and breathtaking sights.
Boutique so chic
Despite being mostly known as a fun historic town, Galena is an amazing stop for boutique shops. Downtown itself features more than 125 independent stores, restaurants and galleries.
Strolling down the streets and uncovering the nooks and crannies is the best way to discover some treats. Chatting to the locals will also help the location unravel around you.
But for more specifics, The Neighborhood offers amazing clothes and accessories, while Gabby’s Gifts is for grooming, home decor and, surprisingly, gifts! Though more handcrafted and cute objects are found in the Galena Clay Works. Those of an adventurous spirit can try Serendipity of Galena. They sell unique artifacts – a few of them gay as well.
Eat your way through Galena
All this exploring is bound to work up an appetite. Luckily enough, the residents of Galena know how to cook up a storm, whether you want an easy bite or a deliciously romantic meal for two.
A standout place for casual food is Otto’s Place. It’s a striking two-story building built in 1899, with a delicious menu of European treats. For more casual but American bites, the Market House Restaurant is one of the more popular places throughout.
Farm-to-table restaurant One Eleven Main will also get you a taste of local delicacies. They work with local farmers and artisans to get the best ingredients possible. So, you can imagine the taste of these brilliantly rich dishes.
Where to hideaway
If you’re looking for amazing places to stay in Galena, you won’t be disappointed. The town is filled to the brim with award-winning hideaways and cool hotels. In fact, the town is pretty much built from the ground up for romantic retreats and adorable escapes.
The Jail Hill Inn, for example, is one of the best B&Bs in the country – and owned by LGBTI people. The property sits atop a hill, giving gorgeous views of the surrounding area. But it’s the insides that are just as magical, with traditional rooms and luxury cuisine.
Otherwise, the Aldrich Guest House is a gay-owned property dating back to the Civil War. It boasts five unique bedrooms and is only a five-minute walk from downtown Galena. Making it as convenient as it is cute.
This article was sponsored by Illinois Office of Tourism.