Galena rolls out the red carpet for group tours.

Main Street shopping, Galena, Ill.
Main Street shopping, Galena, Ill.

Located in northwestern Illinois, Galena was the hometown of Ulysses S. Grant, the Union Civil War general and U.S. president. The area offers many experiences to package into a memorable tour.

“Galena Country is a place where groups can relive history, appreciate the area’s natural landscape and experience a vibrant historic Main Street with over 125 shopping and dining possibilities,” said Jay Allen, sales director for Greater Galena Marketing, Inc. “We are a great fit for all groups — with a variety of attractions, activities and lodging options that will make a stay memorable.”

Rose Noble, president and CEO of Greater Galena Marketing, Inc., said Galena’s attractions and suppliers are open to working with groups.

Downtown action

Galena’s downtown has a frozen-in-the-1800s look, with many shopping, dining and entertainment options.

“A lot of senior groups are looking for shopping and dining opportunities,” Noble said. “Main Street in Galena offers great shopping and amazing food.”

The half-mile downtown district along Main Street holds more than 125 unique shops and restaurants, all located in architecturally distinctive buildings from the early 19th century. Photography buffs have a field day.

Artisans are willing to open up their studios for group tour demonstrations and workshops, such as crafting pottery and jewelry.

History comes alive

Grant became commander of all Union armies in 1864 during the Civil War. Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general, surrendered to Grant in Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865, signaling the end of the Civil War.

Gen. U.S. Grant and Civil War reenactors, Galena, Ill.
Gen. U.S. Grant and Civil War reenactors, Galena, Ill.

Grant received a hero’s welcome when he returned to Galena after the war. A group of citizens presented the general with a furnished brick house on Bouthhillier Street. The Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site is now a museum that includes much of the furniture used by Grant and his family.

Ulysses S. Grant was elected the 18th president of the United States in 1868 and re-elected in 1872. A President Grant reenactor will meet with groups to talk about Grant’s life and lead walking tours.

Hourlong guided tours of Galena & U.S. Grant Museum, located in an Italianate mansion, relate area history. Tours must be reserved. The first part of the tour covers the city’s history, while the second goes into Grant, Abraham Lincoln and Galena’s role in the Civil War.

Part of the museum is a 30-foot-deep shaft from an authentic lead mine, one of the town’s early industries.

Groups can also tour the museum’s Old Blacksmith Shop, located downtown on Commerce Street. Blacksmiths demonstrate how they create one-of-a-kind objects using fire, ore, bellows, hammers, anvils and other smithing tools.

Galena Trolley Co. offers narrated trolley tours through the city’s historic area. Operators can select a one-hour, nonstop tour of Galena’s historic district or a 2½ -hour tour of homes that includes admission to the U.S. Grant Home, Belvedere Mansion and the Dowling House.

Tri-State Trolley offers private one-hour tours as well as 2½-hour private group tours. The 2½-hour tour includes admission to the U.S. Grant Home and Galena History Museum.

Haunted Galena

Several companies provide insight into the city’s ghost legends.

All About a Ghost Tour, Amelia’s Galena Ghost Tours and Haunted Galena Tour Company share the area’s history, mystery and haunts in walking tours. For a group, Haunted Galena Tour Company can provide a sit-down presentation of its ghost walk.

Matthew’s Haunted Pub Crawl and Amelia’s Haunted Pub Crawls present both kinds of spirits.


Visiting groups will not go thirsty in Galena.

At Massbach Ridge Winery, set in the hills near Elizabeth, groups can tour the vineyard and winery. A tasting room is located on Main Street in Galena.

Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. in Galena offers tours on how it makes its handcrafted whiskey, vodka and gin. Tours typically last about 45 minutes and culminate in a guided tasting.

Galena Brewing Company brews 12 beer styles on Main Street and offers tours of its facility. The beers bear interesting names, such as Uly’s Dark Oatmeal Stout. Uly is short for Ulysses S. Grant, Galena’s most famous citizen.

For more information, call Greater Galena Marketing, Inc. at 815-776-9200 or go to