NEW YORK (Money magazine) -
Mansions by turn Italianate, Greek or Gothic Revival, or Queen Anne. Antique stores, fancy boutiques, studios where artists produce paintings, pottery and stained glass: Galena's charms seem disproportionate to its size.
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|Where to stay ||Anne Wiggins Guest House |
|Where to eat ||Perry Street Brasserie |
|Don't miss ||Mississippi Palisades State Park |
But Galena is one those cities that in its heyday was one of the country's biggest. The discovery of rich veins of lead in the 1830s brought thousands to this small valley in the northwest corner of Illinois -- America's original mineral rush.
Galena became the richest port on the Mississippi River, and a good many steamboat captains, who knew every mile of the river, also settled here. They, like the industrialists, built homes commensurate with their prosperity.
But for all the handsome houses, Galena isn't merely a parlor town. There is hiking through Apple River Canyon State Park and along the river bluffs at Mississippi Palisades State Park.
Winter brings a convocation of bald eagles. Terrence Ingram has studied them for 40 years and, on some Saturdays in February and March, leads excursions to their favorite haunts ($50; 815-594-2306; eaglenature.com).
SUNSET SITING Lookout Point at Mississippi Palisades State Park, about 30 minutes south of Galena.
SLEEP, EAT The seven rooms at Annie Wiggins Guest House kill softly with fine linens, extra pillows and pillowtop queen beds so high they often require a step; some feature a fireplace or oversize soaking tub. Proprietor Wendy Heiken leads ghost tours through town and gossip soirees in the parlor ($95 to $175; 815-777-0336; anniewiggins.com).
Tiny Perry Street Brasserie prepares delicious, seasonal meals every day, often with local ingredients (dinner for two, $80; 815-777-3773; perrystreetbrasserie.com).