I once saw a cute meme that said, “The ‘earth’ without ‘art’ is just ‘eh.’” Perhaps that’s why the art scene in Galena just makes sense.

This frozen-in-the-1800s town offers wide-eyed visuals and experiences of all sorts that leave guests stammering for words to explain to others when they return home. With its Ulysses S. Grant heritage, trolley tours, stunning scenery,

Segway and Fat Tire rides, 1800s architecture, immaculate golf courses, breweries, distilleries and wineries, the Helluva Half Mile shopping experience and more fun to discover at every turn, it’s the kind of place that leaves you planning for your next visit before you’re done with the current one.

Then there’s the art.

Galena’s re-birth in the 1960s and ‘70s flowed from a vibrant art scene that lead to preservation and eclectic lodging and shopping. Today, it’s still a significant part of the lifeblood here with galleries, events, hands-on activities and culinary choices that showcase not only quality art but also diverse mediums and something for all tastes.

The Galena Center for the Arts has emerged as a jewel not to be missed. It offers dazzling standing exhibits plus special exhibits that features the finest art in the tri-state area. If you see a live performance on the schedule, get tickets. Immediately. They sell out because they’re that good. You should also check out the Songwriters Showcase each month.

Whether you’re in the market now or want to know what’s available for future purchases, check out the galleries on the Helluva Half Mile, such as Outside the Lines Art Gallery, River Bend Gallery, Chicago Contemporary Art, Mangelsen~Images of Nature Gallery, Skidmore Art Gallery and Pinder Pottery. You can even grab some supplies at Ink & Stamp with Sue.

Nearby, revel in the works of Hello Galena! (see story on page 36), Stone House Pottery & Gallery, West Street Sculpture Park, Galena Clayworks and the Grace Episcopal Arts Council’s Parish House Gallery.

Looking for something lively? Try some of the amazing events and standing shows in the Galena area, such as Twenty Dirty Hands Pottery Tour, Market Square Arts Festival, Galena Festival of Performing Arts, Galena Cellars’ Fall Harvest & Art Festival, Northwest Illinois Art Fest and Northwest Illinois Jazz Fest, ARRT Along the River, Mark Twain & The Laughing River and performances by the Women of Courage & Commitment. Travel the ARRT Scenic Art Loop or enjoy any of the Paint & Pours and Corks & Canvases held at various locations each month.

Tie it all together by sampling the culinary art of Galena area restaurants. These exclusive dining experiences offer distinctive twists on favorites by area chefs plus new recipes that will have your taste buds screaming for more!

That’s what the Galena area is all about–looking, touching, feeling and creating memories.

It’s not just a bucket list destination. It’s colorful, creative, emotional and inspirational. That’s why it’s the best place to vacation, get married, honeymoon or just get away for re-energizing or romancing a significant other.

Chris Hamilton

President & CEO of VisitGalena.org