Thursday, May 02, 2013

US Hwy 20: Galena, IL

The weather was beautiful yesterday, so I postponed my chores and explored instead. I can report that Galena, IL, is a truly charming town, due in large measure, I believe, to its topography.

With its namesake river -- and a substantial levee -- to its front, there is an expansive green space and natural border which is very pleasant to walk or just look at.

With a fairly steep and substantial hill to its rear, the town feels like it is protected -- even watched over -- by some large, striking structures atop the rise.

The net effect is that the town is nestled -- even cocooned -- in a comfortable, walkable and quiet space. Most important of all, it seems to me, is that this topography has prevented the typical sprawl that so many small towns suffer from. All of the big stores are out on the highway, in a shopping center about a mile away. They're readily available, but not interfering.

As a result, the old Main Street runs a delightful few blocks, featuring an aesthetic variety of brick buildings. As far as I could tell, they are all old, original buildings, well preserved and maintained. There's some foresight, discipline and diligence of the townsfolk to be admired here.

Although most of the parking spaces are occupied, there's very little actual traffic. The assortment of shops indicates that tourism is a major driver, but the town is not touristy. There are many of the usual establishments for a town like this -- e.g. trolley tour, ghost tour, souvenir shops, etc. -- but they are part of the background, not the lead story.

There are numerous boutique inns, and a selection of good restaurants. There are a number of gourmet and wine shops, a few art spaces and many small, historical buildings and features, each with their own entertaining story.

The combination local and U.S. Grant museum is worth a look, featuring a good collection that's well designed.

Grant was once a local store clerk here, before becoming president and everything in between. His modest house sits on another hill across the river.

All considered, I give Galena strong marks as a place to visit. It makes for an excellent place of repose in the middle of a long trip, and worth consideration as a long weekend destination.

I'm glad I explored it yesterday, because the cold, wind and rain caught up with me today. I've gotten my chores done, and enjoyed some time hanging out with Happy. We still have the entire park to ourselves, and she has enjoyed playing "loose dog" -- her version of "keep away" -- which seems to be the only game she knows how to play!

Despite a continued forecast for bad weather, I plan to stay here tomorrow… Stay tuned!

Click here to see exactly where I am posting this from on Google Maps.

1 comment:

Tom Massey said...

I like the looks of this place.