Taken in a pasture in a little town just outside Galena. The night sky in Galena on moonless nights is nothing short of spectacular. On this night I was the only one out except for a bunch of coyotes and owls. Pre dawn hot air balloon takeoff on Lake Galena. This was an early Fall flight with ideal conditions. The sound of a hot air balloon in the morning silence is always exciting. A pair of raccoon's out playing on a late Winter day. They are usually in a deep slumber this time of year but with the mild temps they came out for a visit. A dead White Oak Tree just outside of Galena on a clear night with the Milky Way in the background along with a meteor. If you ever get to Galena Illinois on a clear moonless night you have to spend time viewing the night sky. #blue Charles,
I spent 6 months tracking bobcats and sitting in a blind waiting to get a shot of one. I played a distressed rabbit call, bobcat in heat and a few other calls to attract the cat. I had it on trail camera so I knew it was around but getting one in daylight is extremely difficult for a novice like me. After 6 months of freezing in a blind I was rewarded with 10 seconds of the cats presence and 3 pictures. This was taken in the back yard of a Galena resident who allowed me to use her porch as a location for my blind. The cat walked behind me and that was the last I saw of this magnificent animal. It is very difficult to coax a cat out into the open for pictures. They always use heavy cover and often they come out but you never see them. I estimated this cat at about 20 pounds. A male cardinal perched on a stump in my backyard during a snow storm. Is there anything like a cardinal in snow? A pair of hot air balloons glowing on Lake Galena. The ice was 3 feet thick when I took this picture. Galena on the Fly Hot Air Balloons is a must for anyone visiting the Galena area. You will be glad you did it! Mom and a kit getting ready to take the plunge. I was hidden and able to watch this red fox family frolic on a daily basis. These are very social animals as a young family. It was very sad when they split up at the end of the Summer to go their own ways. The Great Galena Balloon Race features an evening glow which is a spectacular opportunity to get some interesting images. I tried to imitate a mouse and this was the response from the Mama fox. I get this look from my wife once in awhile. Andy Williams at Galena on the Fly has some of the most beautiful scenery for his balloon. If he knows I am taking pictures he will use gas to get the balloon to glow which makes an amazing difference in the image. If you to Galena a balloon ride with Andy is a must. A black capped chicadee on a snowy day perched on a stump. An amazing sunrise balloon flight on Lake Galena. I was fortunate to be standing on a levee facing the right direction to capture the incredible colors. A red fox on a cold winter day taken close to a den site where they will have kits in a few months. Moving quickly these raccoon's are quick and agile and nothing to mess with. Pound for pound this is one of the strongest animals in North America. This is how I found the fox den that I watched for a month. I noticed the little one sticking its head out as I was driving by and I kept going back until I was able to identify the exact location of the den. A red fox on a cold winter day. I spotted this one close to a den location that is used every year for birth. The foxes are starting to pair up to mate. A red bellied woodpecker perched on a snow covered stump in my back yard next to the bird feeder. In Winter I can go through so much seed I have to take on a second job. A state threatened Henslows Sparrow singing on a flower. These tint secretive little birds are rarely seen because they live in grassland prairies. They will get up and sing in the morning and at dusk which is always a good time to look for them. Sparrows are among the most diverse birds and many of them are very handsome birds. A hot air balloon over Lake Galena in the Galena Territory. If the wind conditions are light and the lake surface is calm it can be a great photo opportunity. It helps to know the pilot and owner (Andy Williams) who tells me exactly where to go. The balloon rides (Galena on the Fly) are a must for anyone visiting Galena. A family of red foxes I had the pleasure of watching for a month in a remote area just outside Galena. I found the den by accident just after the kits were born. Storm clouds rolling over a soybean field in Galena. The storms on this day produced 4 tornados. A Winter evening balloon launch on Lake Galena. The ice on the lake was 3 feet thick which is thick enough to drive a tractor trailer across. A view of the milky way with lights in the distance from downtown Galena. The milky way on a clear moonless night is incredible. I stayed up the entire night to watch the Lyrid Meteor Shower on Wednesday. An early Fall afternoon flight with calm lake conditions. The birds are nesting turkey vultures that always take flight when the balloon starts to lift off. Many of the balloon occupants think these are bald eagles and the pilot/owner Andy Williams plays along. A male cardinal on a snowy pile of logs. A pine siskin in the back yard of our townhouse in Galena. Pine Siskins are odd little winter birds that only show up in great numbers once every 3 or 4 years. I am not sure what causes the eruptions but I sure do love to see them. Storm clouds and sunsets produce some of the best colors. On this day we had very intense storms that produced several tornados. After spending almost 20 minutes trying to figure out why all the orioles, bluejays, grosbeaks and goldfinches were in one tree seemingly very alarmed I spotted the culprit! An Eastern Screech owl that was amazing. What a great experience. A red headed woodpecker at his nest hole. These birds have become somewhat scarce in Illinois. They are always a visual treat to see. A barred owl hunting over a creek at dusk. This owl grabbed a fish right in front of me but the shutter speed was too slow to get a decent image. Barred Owls are opportunistic feeders that will dine on fish, snakes, chipmunks, squirrels and other birds. They are complete masters of disguise but they have a very distinct call that gives them away. A shot of Andy Williams in his hot air balloon drifting over Lake Galena at dawn. I got up every day he flew for an entire year to get a few decent shots. Hot air balloon shots require luck and patience. Unlike the previous shot I used a green light to highlight the old abandoned wheat mill off stagecoach road in Galena. Please let me know if you like it. I do not normally shoot landscapes but I thought the soft light might add interest to the image. A curious chipmunk peering out of a log in my back yard in Galena. When I am birdwatching at home I never know what will pop up. The largest morel mushroom I have ever picked. It was in perfect condition all by itself on the forest floor. Morels usually grow together so it is strange to find a huge blond sitting all alone. This year was very successful for this tasty treats. I have been eating them every day for the last 2 weeks. With an ice cold beer this is one of life's greatest treats. Taken from another hot air balloon with myself as the sole occupant. Andy Williams who owns the pictured hot air balloon will make the balloon glow if he knows I am taking photos. If you can catch the balloon glowing it always looks more dramatic. A prairie ringneck snake found under a large piece of bark. These are beautiful little snakes with orange and yellow colors on the underside. I found 4 of them under the peeled bark in one location. I love the fierce look of these birds. They will not back down from anything except a human being with a camera. This was taken on the Mississippi River near Palisades Park. A large red tailed hawk on the forest floor looking for a mouse that he just missed. This hawk was huge and allowed me to get very close to capture a few images. I love when they cooperate. An early morning shot on Lake Galena with a fisherman in the foreground. Their is nothing like a hot air balloon drifting across the foggy lake on a beautiful morning. The Mom was out hunting and the other kits were off playing when I snapped a couple of quick shots of this little one sound asleep right outside the den. I retreated quickly and it did not even notice me. A colorful late Winter Eastern Bluebird. These cheerful little birds will always come down on the ground when the snow melts to grab the little bugs that start to hatch on warm days. I never get tired of watching them. A pair of fox kits waiting for Mom to come home with food. They would sit on top of a bluff and roughhouse and growl at each other until Mom returned. I never got tired of watching them and considered it an amazing treat to watch the family grow up. It was very sad when the little ones dispersed in the Fall. One day I went over to the den to see them and they were gone. Taken at Millers Landing across from Palisades Park. In the late Spring Bald Eagles start to migrate through looking for areas of open ice to fish. In cold Winters they are always common around open water. They always strike me as huge birds when I get close to them. Mom grooming one of her kits. The behavior of the little ones when Mom returned was very sweet. I could tell when she was 10 minutes away by the way they started carrying on and looking around. I always wondered if she did not have some type of call to communicate that she was coming because they always knew well before I did that she was around. A female red fox that had 5 little ones. I spent a month watching her raise the little ones and never got bored. These are beautiful, interesting creatures. A bluejay and yellow shafted flicker argue over nothing. They are both great looking birds. A wood duck profile taken right along the Mississippi River. These are some of the most colorful birds in North America. They are notoriously tough to get close too. An early evening shot of the balloon glow that precedes the Great Galena Balloon Race each year over Fathers Day Weekend. An early morning discovery on a bush in our backyard in Galena. I had never seen one of these before and I have never seen one since. They are very large moths that blend in perfectly with their natural habitat. A red headed woodpecker on a snowy day in Galena. A November sighting of a doe with a large buck in rut that stayed just out of view in the treeline as they almost always do in hunting season. This big buck never one came out in the open. At first I did not see him until the rack started moving in the brush. Galena has some monster whitetail deer. A beautiful coyote in its Winter coat. They are gorgeous animals but tough as nails from having to fight every day. They lead very tough lives. The Mother Fox out hunting for the kits. During child rearing you can often see her out hunting to satisfy the never ending appetite of her little ones. I think red foxes are some of the most beautiful animals in North America. Galena is a great place to see wildlife. I found a red fox den and watched the family for a month. What a treat to see the way a female fox works to take care of her little ones. I loved the times she would be out hunting and the kits would raise hell until she came back. As close as I have ever come to being in a tornado. The colors were awesome and I remember thinking the funnel cloud was seconds away. This storm later spawned a tornado in Hanover right outside of Galena. Taken from above at dawn on a Fall day with mist drifting over the lake. Once I got over my fear of heights it was breathtaking. A displaying male wild turkey struts its stuff. These birds are spectacular when they are breeding and seeking mates. They are very skittish and tough to photograph. The males get all puffed up and try to outdo each other almost like the human male. A Bald Eagle perched on top of a muskrat house on the backwaters of the Mississippi River. An old abandoned wheat mill that dates back to the 1830s at night under a clear sky with a last second flash of a blue light.
Comments are much appreciated both good and bad. I liked this early Fall shot because of the shadow on the trees in front of the balloon. Another hot air balloon picture on a fog shrouded Lake Galena. An Eastern Hognose snake in natural habitat. These harmless snakes will flatten their head to intimidate a potential threat and if all else fails they roll over and convincingly play dead. They look like puff adders with attractive colors but they are completely harmless. They eat mainly toads in Summer. A small fox taking a siesta just outside the den they called home. It looks so peaceful and relaxed in this picture. Another hot air balloon shot showing a reflection on the lake in mid summer. Boats create ripples on the water and ruin the reflection which drives me nuts. Ahh, the stupid things that cross my mind when taking pictures. Can you imagine praying that a boat will not come along in a situation like this? A hot air balloon getting ready to lift off on snow covered lake galena. Summer is not the only season for hot air balloons. It was snowing when I took this picture. i went to a quarry on the edge of Galena to capture this meteor from the Lyrid Meteor Shower that peaked on Wednesday night. Galena has dark sky locations that allow you to view the milky way with only your eyes. The dark area at the bottom are the walls of the quarry. My wife yelled out praying mantis so I came running to find a katydid perched in a beautiful purple flower. I rarely see these beautiful insects so I hauled out my camera and took a few shots. I wish I had a bit more light on the insect which was a beautiful neon lime green. A hot air balloon drifts over a native wildflower prairie on a hazy overcast day with a large turkey vulture flying through the frame. A large barred owl getting ready to hammer a bullfrog in a marsh. I watched this bird for 15 minutes as it sat in a tree protecting its young. It finally started looking down and I could tell it was about to hop down so I opened the shutter and this was the final image before he landed on the frog. You have to look closely but you can see the frog in the picture. The shots after this are kind of gruesome. These are nocturnal birds that are seen in daylight in Spring when they are feeding the young ones. A red winged blackbird chasing a bald eagle near the eagle nest just outside of Galena. You have to admire the courage of the blackbird. The largest wild snake I have ever seen crossing a road. This was a monster bull snake that was all of 7 feet in length. I always have my camera which was fortunate. A shot of downtown Galena with the sun setting behind the church. This shot was taken from Horseshoe Mound which is the 2nd highest location in Illinois. A female mother fox had just captured a chipmunk to take back to her hungry kits at the den. I watched this fox family for almost a month after I discovered the den location. A big storm was quickly approaching as I sat on a scenic overlook in Galena. You can see the rain approaching in the distance. When it finally arrived it was a monsoon for 30 minutes. There were several tornados that touched down in the area on this day. I am starting to really appreciate the power of these storms. An old grain mill from the early 1800s this abandoned building is one of the most photographed locations in Galena. I decided to photograph it on a moonless clear night with the Milky Way in the background. The faint lights on the building are from a car in the distance. A beautiful milk snake inside of a log. These are striking snakes that I love to find. They are always hiding under something. A summer evening balloon launch across a calm lake with no boats around to destroy the reflection. I watch the wind direction forecast all day and talk to the pilot prior to launching so that I am in the right position if an opportunity presents itself. I have so much fun photographing hot air balloons in the season. Galena on the Fly owner and pilot Andy Williams is the best of the best! Rat Snakes or Pilot Snakes as they are called often live in trees as this one did. I walked up on it one time when it was halfway out of its hole about 8 feet up in the tree. I will post another photo that shows the snake curled up inside the hole. After this incident I spent much of my time looking up as well as down for snakes. I have seen many of them up in trees as a result of this. This snake was probably 4 or 5 feet in length. They can climb straight up the side of a stucco building. Another shot of the A mushroom hunter never shares their spots. Lets just say this is somewhere in Galena. I love to photograph and more importantly eat these delicious mushrooms. The season is quickly approaching and I will be there when they start to come up. There is nothing like morel mushrooms and wild asparagus with ramps. If you decide to look for them make sure you wear plenty of tick spray. A displaying male tom turkey in the early morning sunlight. In Spring these birds are very active. I would love to get a shot on one on a snowy sunny day in late March. The color of the feathers when they display is incredible if you have the right sunlight. An adult cedar waxwing on a juniper tree. The adults have the thin red band on the wing feathers which is where they get the name cedar waxwing. Taken from the basket of a second one man balloon. Watching Andy's balloon go up at dawn on a beautiful Fall day is a beautiful thing. From the levee of Lake Galena I tried to incorporate the hot air balloon as part of a landscape scene rather than the focal point. The lake was like glass on this day which is very rare. Depot A nice early Fall evening balloon launch with a little wave action that distorts the reflection. I love it when the balloon comes down close to the surface of the lake. A gobbling and very loud male turkey in the Spring trying to attract a mate. A ginseng plant on the forest floor containing both ripe and unripe berries. It is still a bit early for ginseng but poachers will soon be in the woods to harvest the valuable roots. The shiny leaves and red berries make it a perfect target for unethical collectors. In Illinois a ginseng plant must be 10 years old before you can harvest it and you must have a license. As you might have guessed ginseng is very rare in Illinois and every other state where it exists. The little green dots are lightning bugs. I have never seen that many in one place at one time in my life. The winds were calm which helped a great deal. A rat or pilot snake curled up inside a den 8 feet up in a tree. I could almost bank on this snake every time I went to this location. It was always very close to the tree hole which leads me to believe it had an abundant supply of food nearby. A beautiful patch of morel mushrooms surrounding several dead elm trees. This little delicacy of the forest floor is only available for 2 weeks in the Spring. I was not looking for them when I stumbled on this sight but I sure was happy I found them. Morels are pure heaven on the dining room table. A large bull snake found in the woods while searching for wild mushrooms and ginseng. These are aggressive snakes that hiss when they feel threatened which always makes the hair on my neck stand up. They are non venomous and harmless. They help farmers by killing off large numbers of rodents. A threatened hognose snake that looks scary but is truly harmless. Many people mistake these snakes for timber rattlers but they do not have the elliptical shaped eyes. Timber Rattlers are much larger with thick stocky bodies. Spring Tom Turkeys stroll through the grass in Galena. This is a small beautiful getaway for people looking for a peaceful trip! The bridge connects the parking area to the main shopping street of Galena.. It falls under the tri-state region of Illinois-Iowa-Wisconsin..
There are some amazing places to eat and a shopping street to stroll and have fun.. Must visit Poopsies (shop with some funky stuff) and Great American Popcorn Company (store with a zillion flavors of popcorn)..
Waiting for snow for some fun activities!!
photo by

Get an overview of this hotelHotel in Galena with free breakfast and indoor pool

Popular property highlights

Free breakfast
Free parking
Free WiFi
Swimming pool
Business center


Situated in Galena, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Grant Home, Washburne House Historic Site, and Belvedere Mansion. Old Market House and Old Blacksmith Shop are also within 1 mi (2 km).

Hotel Features

This hotel features an indoor pool, an outdoor pool, and a 24-hour fitness center. Free full breakfast, free WiFi in public areas, and free self parking are also provided. Other amenities include a spa tub, a 24-hour business center, and coffee/tea in a common area.

Room Amenities

All 42 rooms provide conveniences like refrigerators and microwaves, plus free WiFi and balconies or patios. Satellite TV, coffee makers, and free local calls are among the other amenities available to guests.

Languages Spoken

Best Western Designer Inn & Suites

Hotel Amenities

Hotel Amenities

In addition to an indoor pool and an outdoor pool, Best Western Designer Inn & Suites provides a spa tub and a 24-hour fitness center. Public areas are equipped with complimentary wired and wireless Internet access. A 24-hour business center is on site. A complimentary breakfast is offered each morning. This Galena hotel also offers tour/ticket assistance, coffee/tea in a common area, and complimentary newspapers in the lobby. Complimentary self parking is available on site.

  • Safe-deposit box at front desk 
  • Free long-term parking 
  • Coffee/tea in common areas 
  • Free RV, bus, truck parking 
  • 24-hour business center 
  • Indoor pool 
  • 24-hour front desk 
  • Free breakfast 
  • Tours/ticket assistance 
  • Spa tub 
  • Total number of rooms - 42 
  • 24-hour fitness facilities 
  • Free self parking 
  • Number of floors - 2 
  • Free WiFi 
  • Pool sun loungers 
  • Number of buildings/towers - 1 
  • Free wired Internet 
  • Outdoor pool 
  • Breakfast service 
  • Fireplace in lobby 
  • Free newspapers in lobby 

Family Friendly Amenities

  • Outdoor pool  
  • Indoor pool  
  • Free Wi-Fi  
  • Refrigerator  
  • Microwave  


Available in all rooms: Free WiFi

Available in some public areas: Free WiFi , Free wired Internet

Languages Spoken

  • English


Free long-term parking, Free self parking, Free RV, bus, truck parking

Room Amenities

  • Coffee/tea maker 
  • Balcony or patio 
  • Air conditioning 
  • In-room climate control (air conditioning) 
  • Phone 
  • Free local calls 
  • Microwave 
  • Refrigerator 
  • Daily housekeeping 
  • Private bathroom 
  • Free toiletries 
  • Hair dryer 
  • Bathtub or shower 
  • Iron/ironing board 
  • Blackout drapes/curtains 
  • Satellite TV service 
  • Free WiFi 
  • Number of bathrooms -  

Where to Eat

A complimentary full breakfast is served each morning between 7 AM and 10 AM.

Nearby Things to Do

An indoor pool, an outdoor pool, and a spa tub are on site. Other recreational amenities include a 24-hour fitness center.

The recreational activities listed below are available either on site or nearby; fees may apply.

  • Snowboarding nearby 
  • Golfing nearby 
  • Ski lessons available nearby 
  • Snowmobiling nearby 
  • Ski equipment rental shops nearby 
  • Hiking/biking trails nearby 
  • Snowshoeing nearby 
  • Kayaking nearby 
  • Downhill skiing nearby 
  • Cross-country skiing nearby 
  • Scooter/moped rentals nearby 


If you have requests for specific accessibility needs, please note them at check-out when you book your room.

  • Accessible bathroom 
  • Roll-in shower 

Hotel Policies


Check-in time starts at 3 PM


Check-out time is 11 AM

Payment types

Children and extra beds

  • Children are welcome.
  • Rollaway/extra beds are not available.
  • Cribs (infant beds) are not available.


  • Pets not allowed

You need to know

Extra-person charges may apply and vary depending on property policy.

Government-issued photo identification and a credit card or cash deposit are required at check-in for incidental charges.
Special requests are subject to availability upon check-in and may incur additional charges. Special requests cannot be guaranteed.
Please note that cultural norms and guest policies may differ by country and by property. The policies listed are provided by the property.
No rollaway/extra beds available
No cribs (infant beds) available

Hotel Name

  • Best Western Designer
  • Best Western Designer Galena
  • Best Western Designer Inn
  • Best Western Designer Inn Galena
  • Designer Inn
  • Best Western Designer Hotel Galena
  • Best Western Galena
  • Galena Best Western

Sorry, we seem to have had an issue loading our review content. Try again?

Top Positive Review

Top Positive Review

Top Critical Review