With highly-rated public schools, a sparse yet suburban feel, and tons to see and do, the Galena, Illinois area is one of the best places to live in Jo Daviess County. Home to young professionals and retirees alike, Galena is known for its historic architecture, its natural beauty, and has blossomed into a tourist destination that attracts nearly a million visitors a year!
Ruhl&Ruhl Realtors can help you find homes for sale in the Galena, IL area if you’re considering making the move! Continue browsing this page to see available Galena area real estate and learn more about what the city has to offer.
The Galena, Illinois area comprises Galena and the Galena Territory. The city is named for the mineral galena, which was in the ore that formed the basis for the region’s early mining economy. It’s located in northwestern Illinois near the Mississippi River and the Wisconsin and Iowa borders in Jo Daviess County and is home to one of the most stunning drives in the U.S. along the western edge of the state. The 550-mile-long Great River Road follows the Mississippi River and offers breathtaking views, historic communities, and a wide variety of restaurants and small shops scattered throughout (and that’s exactly where you’ll find Galena!).
This area is also extremely unique. The glaciers of the ice age that flattened out most of North America as we know it today never touched northwestern Illinois or immediate areas to the north and west of the area. Because of this, the hills, valleys, and bluffs in this Mississippi River Valley are still intact, making it one of the most scenic areas in the Midwest! The area is home to an array of bluffs, picturesque meadows, rolling terrain, and gorgeous views for miles. Privacy, recreation, conservation, agriculture, nature, and wildlife are central themes throughout this region. There are farms, farmettes, and rural subdivisions scattered throughout too, making it a place with a little bit of something for everyone.
The spectacular red-brick buildings that make up the region are usually the first things that people notice when they visit the area. The community was once the center of a booming mining town and most of the buildings have remained unaltered. In fact, 85% of the area’s buildings are actually in a National Register Historic District. These historic buildings are now filled with more than 125 boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, and bars.
Often referred to as both “Grant’s Galena” and “The Land That Time Forgot,” the area draws in families, young professionals, and retirees who are interested in living in a small, historic, and tight-knit town. And while the area looks almost exactly the same as it did at the close of the Civil War when General Ulysses S. Grant came home here to enjoy some of the wildest festivities imaginable, it still offers updated residential areas, tons of job opportunities, and a low cost of living. It is both walkable and bikeable and attracts many artists, too.
Galena has more than a dozen museums and historic sites, some of which include The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design, the Chicago Great Western Railway Depot Museum, and the Galena History Museum. There are art schools, sculpture parks, and nightly entertainment by performing art groups. Galena’s art galleries are actually a very important piece of local culture and theatre groups like Galena Trolley Depot Theatre and the Main Street Players Theatre Co. help bring the community together.
The Galena area has also received national praise! Not only was it included on MSN’s list of 9 Charming Towns Across America to Visit This Fall, but it was also included on the 18 Most Charming Small Towns Across America by Woman’s Day Facebook fans, and is one of 15 contenders in Budget Travel’s America’s Coolest Small Towns contest.
Living in Galena offers a mix of wide-open spaces and suburban living. From the rural areas to larger suburban areas, many folks find it’s exactly what they’ve been looking for. Many beautiful homes and buildings in the French Colonial and Victorian styles of architecture were created during its early days due to steamboats and lead mining, but don’t worry, there are modern homes in the Galena, Illinois area that are available, too! You’ll also find that many weekenders from Chicago actually keep second homes in the area as well, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, as it’s been voted as one of the Best Places to Buy a House in Illinois for multiple years.
When it comes to getting around, there are two airports: the Dubuque Regional Airport, which services commercial airline traffic, and the Rockford’s Northwest Chicagoland Regional Airport, which provides service to domestic locations. The nearest International airport is in Chicago which is about 150 miles away. There are also tons of public transportation options and a variety of different bus routes. It’s centrally located to shops and restaurants that are easily accessible to all ages.
Have you ever considered owning your own recreation area? There are many properties in the Galena area that offer ponds, creeks, and beautifully manicured trails. Conservation areas like Casper Bluff, Wapello, and Horseshoe Mound offer rural park sites and historical significance, too. While you’re searching for homes in the Galena, Illinois area, make sure to check these out to help you make your decision.
When it comes to finding things to do that are outside of your own personal paradise, you can rest assured that the Galena area hosts dozens of major events a year. Galena is home to the Galena Art Center and the Galena Arts and Recreation Center. Turner Hall, a 19th-century building on Bench St., has been restored to serve as a performance venue and a popular wedding site.
The area is also home to several historic sites owned by the State of Illinois including the Old Market House, the Ulysses Grant Home, and the E.B. Washburn Home. The Galena/Jo Daviess County Historical Society also owns a number of historical sites including the Galena and U.S. Grant Museum and the Old Blacksmith Shop. They are building a new museum building at the site of the Stillman Mansion property and so many of these organizations offer fun, exciting events throughout the year. Close proximity to Dubuque, Iowa also offers access to more entertainment that includes two casinos, and additional shopping and dining.
In the fall, make sure to check out the annual Halloween Parade, which draws thousands of onlookers every year, or, hike or bike your way through parks and trails surrounded by prairies, forests, and effigy mounds.
Check out the Winter Carnival, hit the slopes at Chestnut Mountain Resort, or strap on some snowshoes to hike with goats at Hoof It Goat Treks! If you’re a history buff, keep warm at Ulysses S. Grant’s Home and learn all about his life and why he lived in Galena.
Enjoy a day of fishing from one of the beautiful lakes, rivers, and creeks, or grab a bird guide and some binoculars to explore the many bird species in the many scenic and natural environments that surround the area. Don’t miss out on the Great Galena Balloon Race at the peak of high summer, either.
For an area that offers a natural playground for outdoor activities, whether you want to go all-in or take it slow, the Galena area offers tons of ways to enjoy the fresh air. Whether you’d like to take yourself on a shopping spree, golf at one of the 11 courses in the region, or zipline your way through the trees, you’ll never have trouble finding something to do this season.
This unique and small town tucked away in the hills of northwestern Illinois is a masterpiece that mixes a vibrant downtown with an incredible lifestyle and an amazing historical perspective that just can’t be beat.
Whether you’re working in Galena or the Galena Territory, you’ll find plenty of available jobs in just about every industry. The main industries in the area are hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, construction, transportation, and real estate (we know about that one firsthand! If you’re looking for a real estate career, check out our careers page).
Thriving small businesses (with above and beyond customer service), schools, respected and awarded healthcare professionals, fitness facilities, and more; Galena, IL is the perfect place to find a new job and new home to settle into. The general feel for the area is, “when business prospers, we all prosper.” It is a warm and welcoming area that is readily inclusive to all who want to move a business here, start a business here, or find their new career here.
The top 5 employers in the Jo Daviess County area are:
If you’re looking for additional employment opportunities, head to the local chamber of commerce for more information.
Are you interested in seeing a property in person? Contact the experts at Ruhl&Ruhl and let us show you around! Stop in or give us a call at:
Galena, Illinois is often referred to as “The Town That Time Forgot” because, in part, 85% of Galena’s buildings are in a National Register Historic District. Even the scenic beauty of the surrounding hills and valleys are a testament to being untouched by time. The Glaciers that flattened most of North America during the ice age did not encroach on Northwestern Illinois, including the Galena Area.
In the late 1600s the French established trading posts in the area. Eventually, the Upper Mississippi Lead Mine District was established in the early 1800s by the U.S. Congress, which paved the way for the industry within the City of Galena.
Galena Territory was established in 1975 and was officially 6,800 acres or 10 square miles. To preserve its natural beauty, more than a third on The Territory is maintained as natural habitat providing a variety of recreational options that include a 225-acre man-made private lake for fishing and boating and 24 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding.
Residents in the Galena Area are surrounded by beautiful landscapes and historical buildings. Living in the area is lovely when you’re surrounded by such extraordinary things. It also helps that you will find everything you need right on Main Street in Galena, Illinois.
Main Street: Galena’s historic Main Street curves past almost 100 19th-century storefronts. Galena looks much as it did during the time of the Civil War, although now the historic red brick buildings are home to charming boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. Galena is also known for its cozy lodgings with quaint bed and breakfasts dotting the picturesque hillsides surrounding the town. Shop, eat, stay, all on Main Street! View more things to do in Galena here.
Chestnut Mountain: Boasting an impressive array of amenities, accommodations, comforts and activities, Chestnut Mountain is a choice Illinois travel destination. Conveniently located near historic Galena, nestled neatly among the hills overlooking the Mississippi, it’s the perfect base for exploring all the greater tri-state region has to offer.
Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa: Tucked among the Galena Territory’s 6,800 rolling acres of pristine woodlands and open countryside, Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa offers “country elegant” hotel accommodations and rental homes and villas only minutes from the quaint shopping and dining of Galena, Illinois. Eagle Ridge Resort is a gateway to boundless adventures and activities, from four award-winning championship golf courses and the luxurious Stonedrift Spa to tennis, boating, fishing, riding and even hot air ballooning.
Shenandoah Riding Center: The Shenandoah Riding Center is a first-rate equine facility with a top caliber staff. Its location in The Galena Territory makes it unrivaled for scenic trails and tranquil beauty. From seasoned equestrians to beginning horse enthusiasts of all ages, they have something to offer for everyone!