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Things to do with kids in Galena Illinois

shops, trails, shows, and parks

by Kristen

My family lives about 30 minutes from Galena, Illinois and we love taking day trips to Galena! We go to Galena multiple times a season.   There are so many fun activities for kids in Galena, Illinois. Including many outdoor activities.   Here is a list of 11 places we LOVE to take our kids to in Galena, Illinois!

Galena, Illinois, is located in the Northwest corner of Illinois, just right before you reach the Mississippi River, about a three-hour drive from Chicagoland. It’s a historical town and once had a bigger population than Chicago. It is the home of President Ulysses Grant.

Galena, Illinois, is primarily a tourist town. It has a quaint downtown and many cabins, hotels, restaurants, and golf courses. It also has many outdoor activities and festivals throughout the year.

Galena Trolly Tours

All three of my kids have been obsessed with Danial Tiger’s neighborhood at one time or another. They loved being able to go on a trolly ride! One fall day, before the pandemic, the kids had a day off school, so we took them to Galena for a trolly tour. This was a historical tour, and it was fascinating. My kids enjoyed this!   Make sure you locate the Dowling house (the oldest house in Galena), the Belvedere mansion, and the Ulysses Grany museum, the 18th president of the united states, when you are on this tour.

Chew Chew Cookies 

Chew Chew Cookies is an adorable cookie shop with a vast working train for the kids to see! This is a must-stop if you’re taking your kids downtown to the shop!   The cookies are delicious; your kids will want to look at the trains.

Chew Chew Cookies is located in downtown Galena. While walking downtown, see some civil war monuments and old architecture.

I recommend spending an afternoon seeing the following three places together.   They’re all land preserves in Jo Davis County. During the pandemic, my kids received great joy from simple outdoor places to visit and see.   The three places in Galena have pretty views and are worth visiting.  

Thunderbay falls 

Thunder bay falls a manmade waterfall, but beautiful and fun to take kids to. You can get a close-up view!

Horseshoe Mounds 

Horseshoe Mound Preserve is a park you can spend about an hour at. There are trails, breathtaking views, and little activities for kids along the way.  You will be able to see Iowa from this spot!

Casper Bluff Land and Water Preserve

Another Preserve with easy trails for kids and beautiful views.

Mini Golf

Little General Miniature Golf. You can also find Miniature Golf at Chestnut Resort.

Hoof it 

Hoof it -Galena is a unique experience that I highly recommend! You get to take an hour-long hike with goats! My kids LOVE this hike! Kids can hold goats on a leash, walk with them, pet them, and feed them. If you have small kids, I highly recommend doing this!  My kids loved going on goat treks!  You can also find goat yoga in Galena.

West Street Sculpture Park- check out some

Galena Recreation Park 

My kids love this playground! It is huge! After all the playgrounds were closed last year, it’s incredible how much joy they get from checking out a new park! You will also find a basketball court and the Galena pool open from June through august.  I highly recommend Galena Recreation Park!  Grant park is also an excellent place for walking, and you will see a cool gazebo.   You will get to see the nearby attractions from downtown from this park.


Taking the trolly tour above will teach you about the Galena River.   The Galena River is shallow and calm, perfect for taking kids kayaking. There are a few kayak rental places in Galena, a great place for kayak beginners!  You can also canoe down the galena river.

Galena Center for the Arts- there is also a show at the Galena Center for the arts.  Kids might also enjoy a Galena ghost walking tour.


Chestnut Resort is fantastic for skiing during the winter, but they also have fun activities during the summer and fall. You can do a ski lift ride, go on their trails, ride bikes, play disc golf, play mini-golf, go on zip lines,  and slide down their alpine slide!  During the winter, you can hit the slopes, and go cross country skiing.

Winston Tunnel Trail 

Winston Tunnell Trail is an AWESOME trail for families with kids! I love it because there is plenty of adventure for kids but no scary cliffs. Winston Tunnel Trail is a trail on an old railroad, it is excellent and beautiful, and you will also see some incredible wildlife.

Great American Popcorn Company- this is a family-owned shop that also sells ice cream and other goodies.

Galena is located in the northwestmost corner of Il, near Iowa and Wisconsin.  Did you visit any of these destinations in Galena, Il?


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