Galena Travel Guide

Once the home of Ulysses S. Grant, this city offers visitors a glimpse into 19th-century America with its redbrick buildings and interesting historical sites.

Visit Galena in Illinois to discover a rich history and learn about Ulysses S. Grant, the Civil War General who went on to become the 18th President of the United States. Tour the house where Grant and his wife lived before he started his presidency and see the holographic video of the two that welcomes visitors.

Start your exploration of the area with a visit to the Ulysses S. Grant Home Museum. This house was given to Grant and his wife Julia by the city of Galena when he returned home from the Civil War in 1865. A hologram of the couple greets visitors as they enter and for a small fee you can take a tour of the interior. See authentic furniture from Grant’s day as well as a number of national treasures.

Head downtown and take a walk past the facades of the 19th-century buildings in Galena’s downtown area. The building facades alternate between brick red and bright white in color. Grab a bite to eat or shop for souvenirs at one of the many family-owned shops and restaurants that line the street.

On the east side of the river, stroll through Grant Park. Here, you will find a statue of Ulysses S. Grant and a cannon that fired at the battle of Fort Sumter during the Civil War. Visit the park in mid-October during the Galena Country Fair. Over 150 vendors converge on Grant Park to sell handmade goods like birdhouses, jewelry and clothing.

To experience a piece of contemporary Galena, make a stop at the West Street Sculpture Park. The artist John Martinson built every sculpture in the collection, which is spread over a 2-acre (0.8-hectare) plot.

Galena is a 3-hour drive from Chicago. For those flying in, the Dubuque Airport lies 23 miles (37 kilometers) away in Iowa. To reach Galena from the airport, rent a car or take a taxi or shuttle bus.

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