And how Galena is fighting to keep it alive
If you think about small-town America, what comes to mind? Probably tree-lined neighborhoods (maybe with white picket-fenced houses), friendly folks quick with a wave, and cheerful little stores and shops. And while the first two can still be found all over the nation, that last one is becoming a bit of endangered species.
Most cities – big and small – have the main street (even if it’s not called Main Street), but these days most of the mom-and-pop shops have disappeared. In many instances, they have been replaced by chain stores or big-box retailers. And that’s if there are any businesses left; thanks to online shopping, some physical stores are now harder to come by. Fortunately, a town like Galena, Illinois, is keeping the tradition of Main Street alive and well.
Welcome to the Helluva Half Mile
Currently, Galena’s population is only around 3,000, but at one time it actually rivaled Chicago for the liveliest city in Illinois. Though things have changed in the last 150 years, Galena can still boast a thriving downtown, modeled in part after the one in the Windy City. Chicago has its Magnificent Mile, and Galena has its Helluva Half Mile – and naturally, it’s located on Main Street.
The Helluva Half Mile is a dream for upscale shoppers, souvenir hounds, or anyone else who loves visiting actual small businesses. There are more than 125 spots to check out, and the best part is that all of them are unique to Galena. You will not see any of those familiar chain stores you will find almost anywhere else.
Another thing you will notice on Galena’s Main Street is the lack of fast-food restaurants that are ubiquitous across the country. What you will see are one-of-a-kind eateries serving fresh and delicious food, often with locally-sourced ingredients. There are also places perfect for a date night, including spots to grab a drink and listen to some music.
The history you can touch
Another way Galena’s Main Street is reminiscent of the heyday of quaint downtowns is that the majority of these businesses are housed in buildings that date back to the 1800s. Renovations have been made, but the bones of many of the structures have remained in place since even before Ulysses S. Grant called Galena home.
Don’t forget about the rest of Galena
While Main Street is a must-see when coming to Galena, there are tons of other things to explore as well. There are numerous buildings around town any history buff would want to visit, including the Dowling House, which is almost 200 years old. There are also spectacular natural attractions, a world-class magic show, renowned golf courses, and much more.
Come see Galena’s vintage Main Street for yourself
If you live in a big city and are looking to experience some small-town charm or just want to get a little glimpse of days gone by, Galena is the perfect destination. And Vacation Galena can put you up in one of our luxury cabins. Centrally located, these cabins are just minutes from downtown and everything else Galena has to offer. Plus, they have tons of room, so they can easily accommodate several friends and family members.
If you’re thinking about your spring or summer trip, you can check to see which dates are available and book your reservation.