Last updated: 01:00 PM ET, Fri December 25 2015

Opinion Home | Far-Sighted Field Notes

  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | December 25, 2015 1:00 PM ET

    A Weekend Getaway to Galena, Illinois

    A Weekend Getaway to Galena, Illinois

    Photos by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

    Weekend getaways are my favorite form of relaxation. Unlike weeklong, hyper-planned trips, there's not a lot of scheduling, reserving or packing involved. And that in itself is relaxing. I especially like the prospect of a destination near enough to drive to, but far enough away to open a whole other world.

    Galena, Illinois totally fits that bill. Just two and half hours outside of Chicago in northwest Illinois, this historic river town has been a popular Midwest retreat for decades and my personal jam for years. So I was thrilled to be invited to the lovely grounds of the Goldmoor Inn for a recent Galena weekend getaway a few months back.

    When my husband and I rolled up onto the steep hill where the inn sits, we both exhaled. The building looks like a castle overlooking the Mississippi River. A fountain flows in front and two long cabins and three cottages dot the property’s verdant 21 acres. Located a few miles from downtown Galena, Goldmoor is almost like a small fairytale town by itself, beckoning across the river valley.

    Climbing up a double staircase to our suite, we were greeted with a large room appointed with a four-poster bed, two-person whirlpool, kitchenette, fireplace and homemade cookies. Named the “Arthur Suite” (a room fit for a king) we immediately sank into the luxury and debated about whether we would ever leave.

    But I was anxious to explore the extensive grounds, so while my hubby gobbled cookies and lounged, I took a walk.  Starting at the top of the hill, I gazed at the rolling hills below. An equestrian center is situated right below Goldmoor and horses trotted around the fields. A gazebo and small patio takes up one side of the estate and I strolled past them and the two cottages. A blanket of grass and wild flowers covered the rest of the landscape and I sat in an Adirondack chair, soaking up the sun. There's a serene feel to the area and I felt like I was walking through a private, lush forest.

    Back inside, we decided to head to town for shopping and lunch. Downtown Galena is filled with cute shops and restaurants as well as historic sites. The cobblestone streets of downtown Galena are edged with 19th century architecture and loads of charm. The town is known for antiques but I prefer the crystal shops that sell quartz crystals that reflect Galena's mining days. I scooped up Amethyst, Tiger's Eye and Lapis Lazuli at Earths Treasures.

    My husband loves to stop by Root Beer Revelry and buy old-fashioned root beer and cream soda in unusual flavors like butterscotch and black cherry and we both enjoy browsing Beyond The Horizon for Asian scrolls, dream catchers and folk art.

    After lunch at Durty Gurts Hamburger Joynt, which features toilet stools in the doorway and the town's best burgers and alcohol-shake concoctions, a stop by the Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site is essential. Presidents Grant and Lincoln both frequented Galena and the Italianate house was presented to Grant in 1865. He visited the house occasionally after his election in 1868. All the furnishings are original and the guided tour gives interesting details about the life of the Civil War hero and president.

    Back at the inn, we sat by the fireplace and made dinner plans. The Goldmoor Inn restaurant offers fine dining open to the general public so we opted to stay at the inn and not to go back down the hill to town. The restaurant overlooks the Mississippi and serves up classic dishes like beef Wellington and grilled salmon. We were still slightly full from lunch so we shared pasta pomodoro with sun-dried tomatoes and watched the sun set over the river.

    In the morning, we nibbled on the breakfast included with the room, featuring fruit, yogurt, eggs, sausage and English muffins. The horses were galloping around their fields as we drove off and the sun glistened off their shiny manes. It was hard to leave the beauty and relaxation but we always make one last stop before leaving Galena.

    On Main Street, in downtown Galena, the candy-striped awnings of the Great American Popcorn Company screamed out to me. The family-owned shop supplies handcrafted, gourmet popcorn in 300 flavors and a free bag for every three bags you buy. I roamed through the aisles and selected cherry cheesecake, Memphis BBQ and spicy hellfire and damnation for the ride home.

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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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