Escape to Galena - Illinois' playground for LGBTQ travellers looking to unwind

In partnership with Enjoy Illinois


Embrace the cold climes this winter with a trip to Galena, Illinois, which is positively brrr-imming with things to do.

Located just three hours north west of Chicago, the historic allAmerican town is fast becoming a go-to destination for LGBTQ travellers.

Whether you enjoy exploring the great outdoors, or hibernating inside with a partner, Galena has you covered.

Adventure seekers and winter sports enthusiasts won’t complain about a shortage of thrills and spills. Chestnut Mountain is one of several ski and snowboarding resorts in the region, featuring more than 19 runs and 25 rails, but the real magic happens during Fantastic Friday — a weekly event during January and February — when the slopes stay open until midnight.

For a slower pace, drop down a gear with cross-country skiing on the beginnerfriendly Galena River Trail or the on-site routes at The Inn at Irish Hollow, 500 acres of rolling countryside.

Ice-skating, sledding and snow-shoeing, meanwhile, are the activities du jour at nearby Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa. Alternatively, go off-piste and re-enact some of your favourite scenes from Frozen in the snow.

If you attract funny stares, just tell them to “let it go…” However, if staying inside is more your thing, book into one of the many spas in the area, such as Stonedrift Spa, Galena Day Spa or Studio One Spa & Salon, where you can relax and recuperate with aromatherapy, a hot-stone massage and a smorgasbord of other deluxe treatments.

Once you’ve been pampered and preened, enjoy some retail therapy in downtime Galena — voted one of America’s best main streets – home to 125 independently owned shops and restaurants, be it sweet toothsoothing candy stores or local boutiques.

When you hear your wallet scream “No more!”, relax with a glass of wine in the Galena Cellars tasting room on main street, or head to the Galena Cellars Vineyard and Winery, just six miles away, to take in the Instagram-ready views and learn about their 30-year tradition of family wine-making.

There are more than 40 varieties to taste! For those who prefer craft spirits, hop to Blaum Bros Distilling Co for a first-hand look at how they make their range of vodka, bourbon and gin.

Galena also provides plenty of food for thought when it comes to its dining options, be it comforting cuisine or a romantic meal for two. Elegance is the order of the day at One Eleven Main, an upscale, but unstuffy, eatery with a farm-to-table selection of locally sourced ingredients.

Serving country inn realness, Otto’s Place is a great pitstop for homely meals, perfect for breakfast and lunch, while Fried Green Tomatoes hits the spot if you’re after Italian/American cooking.

Post-dinner drinks and live entertainment await at Miss Kitty’s Grape Escape, a wine and martini lounge bubbling with a vast drinks menu and live music.

When it comes to resting your head, Galena has a number of LGBTQ-welcoming spots, including The Aldrich Guest House, a gay-owned, five-bedroom B&B.

Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S Grant once roamed its halls, so you’ll be in good company.

Elsewhere, check into the Jail Hill Inn, which Trip Advisor named the best B&B/Inn in the US and second in the world last year.

It’s a six-suite, fourstorey building atop a hill. Offering a little bit of everything for LGBTQ visitors, surely it is only a matter of time before Galena becomes known as Gaylena.