Getaway to Galena

When you tell people you’re spending the weekend in the quaint little town of Galena, particularly when it’s at a historic bed and breakfast, particularly when it’s at a historic bed and breakfast with your mom and your brother, particularly when it’s at a historic bed and breakfast with your mom and your brother in one room with two beds and hardwood floors so beautiful and old that they creak every time you step on them, well, no one knows how to react.

A view of a road flanked by red brick buildings.

In fact, we didn’t know how to react either. Sometime in the middle of the weekend, Adam and I looked at each other and said, How did this whole weekend come to be, anyway?

A view of a house along the road with trees at the back.

We remembered the back-and-forth e-mails of I’m-traveling-this-weekend-and-you’re-busy-next-and-looks-like-we’ll-have-to-go-near-Thanksgiving-will-that-work-for-you-and-when-did-we-become-people-who-are-busy-with-stupid-things-EVERY-SINGLE-WEEKEND-and-well-this-whole-thing-is-really-far-away-from-now-so-whatever-we’ll-worry-about-it-later, but we didn’t remember how they’d started to begin with.

Rolling meadows with couple of livestocks freely grazing.

I guess it must have started with Mom, who has been wanting to go out to Galena, to go antiquing, she said, which is something all three of us like now, even though at least two of us didn’t growing up, and, after we kids had arranged to have Friday off work and Mom had booked a place to stay, we drove three hours through farms and fields and sleepy little towns until we reached the top of northwest Illinois, where, oh boy, antiquing is exactly what we did.

An image depicting the insides of an antique shop.

Just in case one of you out there is reading this now and thinking, Oh gosh, how cute, they go for a peaceful little weekend of quiet antiquing, let me clarify: that woman I call Mom who was leading things? She is serious about shopping, people. I don’t know how she does it.

Antique shops along the road.

After we’d covered downtown Galena and a mall just outside the town, we were headed north, to Hazel Green and Cuba City, Wisconsin, with stops along the way.

An image of a table with various items on it like bottles , papers, books, and stuff.

In Cuba City, I bought seven white (but dirty) Staffordshire plates that have rims like flower petals for a whopping $3 total, and Mom bought a plate for $5, and I bought a picture for $12, and Adam bought a chocolate amaretto truffle, I think, for $1, and, all of this coupled with the soft pretzel Mom came out of the gas station with, and we were doing very well.

Two persons eating comfortable in a cafe.

Antiquing makes you hungry, though, and by the time we headed back to Galena for lunch, well, let’s just say that our meal at the Green Street Tavern inside the state’s oldest operating hotel, the DeSoto House — a veggie burger, fish n’ chips, toasted pitas with roasted pepper dip and sweet potato fries — was fabulous.

A tray of delicious food, placed on top of a checkered napkin.

Then, just like that, we were on our way to Iowa, a decision, I’ll admit, that was pushed largely by me and my I-want-to-say-I’ve-been-to-all-50-states attitude, but, come on, we were a half hour from the border, and I’d never been and, I swear, the antique book said there were some shops there. Since we couldn’t make it to the town Mom had originally planned, we settled for Dubuque.

An image of a bridge taken from the front of a vehicle.

OK, so have you ever been to Dubuque, Iowa? No? Let’s just say I won’t be the one pushing to return.

The view of the Mississippi river while passing the bridge.

I have, however, seen the Mississippi River now.

A view of Galena taken from the back of the car, while leaving this beautiful place.

[More to come, including details about the. best. meal. we had in Galena and, honestly, in a very long time anywhere. Stay tuned!]

Want to see all the photos I took?

Places mentioned in this post:

About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home,, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

18 thoughts on “Getaway to Galena”

  1. I love your “must see all 50 states”. Can you believe that I haven’t been to Michigan yet? Its like an hour (maybe?) from Chicago and I’ve been here for 3 years and haven’t been. SOON. I used to have a map of the world with a bunch of push pins in it. That would be fun to have again.

    I think I would have fun with antiquing, especially fun kitchen stuff.

  2. Shannalee, I love your writing and the pics. It makes me so want to go somewhere. I just cannot sit still.
    We decided to drive back to Vancouver from Florida, yes drive and although it was long it was fantastice to stop at so many places along the way. I am itching for another trip.

  3. My mom is also serious about her antique shopping and passed that passion along to me. You’ve inspired me to reach out to her for an overdue antiquing reunion. Thank you. Lovely photos.

  4. AGH! reading your posts and looking at your pictures always makes me want to get out of this town! and then i tell myself no, trips are expensive and i have a lot going on in the next year and blahblahblah. and THEN you go to a little town in Illinois and i realize that getting out of this town doesn’t have to mean an extravagant backpacking trip in another country — it can just be a weekend getaway to a quiet place nearby to explore and relax and yes, eat. now the problem is finding a free weekend. i feel your pain when it comes to that.

    gorgeous post and i will email you soon to discuss our PW book signing plans! 🙂

  5. My sister-n-law lives in Chicago in the northern suburbs (& has an awesome little baking business by the way)……she goes To Galena all the time, with her girlfriends. It was fun to get a sneak peak into what it looks like!! Maybe someday! It’s not far from me in MN. -Chris Ann

  6. I’m cracking up that you made a trip to Dubuque! Yes, interesting place. Galena is just like I remembered it, but I would love to go back with antiquing in mind! How fun.

  7. Whitney, I sat down and counted up how many I’ve been to now, and looks like Iowa just tipped me over the halfway point. 24 more to go! You definitely should go to Michigan, by the way. It really IS so close. And go before it snows. Because gosh, lake-effect snow? Not fun.

    Celeste, I so know what you mean about not wanting to sit still. I love seeing new places and getting a change of geography! In awe of your long road trip, btw – Florida to to Vancounver, wow! But that is a great way to see a lot of states!

    Jennifer, A fellow antiquer! My favorite part is just seeing all these things that used to be in other people’s homes, from the type of rolling pins to the cake pans to tables…. fascinating. It’s like history.

    Jacqui, Ha – you are so sweet! You’ve had your share of beautiful weekend getaways in Michigan, which always look like so much fun! And can’t wait to see ya tomorrow night! Here we come, Pioneer Woman!

    Chris Ann, Send me the link to your friend’s baking business – I’d love to know more about it!

    Sue, Right? They have riverboat casinos and not a whole lot else. Poor Iowa – doomed to have that as its image in my mind now. But Galena was cute – is that anywhere near your grandparents, btw?

    Vicki, I actually thought of you when we were there – how random, right? I think you and Chris should do a weekend sometime – very fun.

  8. I adore Galena! Living a few hours northeast when growing up, it was a day trip we would occasionally make. I was pretty young for most of them, but I do remember a fantastic pottery store. In fact I think most of the potted pieces in my parents’ kitchen are stamped Galena on the bottom! Great walk down memory lane — thanks! Glad you enjoyed yourselves…



  9. I can’t believe those antiquing deals – I dunno what it is about the south east but I am NEVER able to find a good deal on antiques. I remember going to Boston once and spotting all kinds of gorgeously crafted furniture for a $15 here a $5 there and I nearly wanted to buy it all and ship it to myself down home.

    In Orlando their concept of antiques are McDonald Happy Meal prizes from the 80’s that they charge an arm and a leg for. True story.

  10. Susan, Thank you!

    Heather, I definitely saw a pottery place, but we didn’t get to go in. I wonder if it was the same one? Thanks for sharing your memory – it’s kind of fun to know we’ve shared a place like that!

    MC, Oh, that’s too bad! Our biggest secrets are going to small towns and large antique malls – better odds. 🙂 LOL about the Happy Meal toys. Should have saved mine!

    Kim, It was fun!

  11. Wonderful photos and great feedback about the area. Hopefully you, your mom, and brother found everything you were looking for! Come back again soon to see what else is new. From your friendly hosts for visitor information, the Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau


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