A quaint, historic destination that boasts all the accoutrements that accompany a Mississippi River location, Illinois’ Galena and Jo Daviess County may have a small population, but its meetings options pack a punch.
"It’s only a county of 22,000, and Galena only has 3,500 people, but you won’t find many sparsely populated destinations like ours with such an abundance of things to do," says Celestino Ruffini, director of sales & marketing for the Galena/Jo Daviess County CVB.
Besides the two largest properties, Eagle Ridge, which offers four award-winning championship golf courses and a prime location on Lake Galena, and Chestnut Mountain Resort (which actually offers skiing from Thanksgiving to St. Patrick’s Day), Galena itself boasts an interesting assortment of accommodation choices.
"Within the city of Galena is sort of a hodge-podge selection of branded hotels and privately owned hotels," Ruffini says. "There’s the DeSoto House Hotel, which is the oldest continuously operating hotel in the state of Illinois—many presidents have stayed there. They have a small amount of meeting space, but they have that historic punch, which is sort of what Galena is known for."
One interesting option is Irish Cottage, an independently owned property that was actually built in Ireland and shipped to Galena, where it was reconstructed.
Many groups take advantage of the area’s rural atmosphere for outdoor pursuits such as team building and activities that leverage the Mississippi River. (The western part of the county is located across the iconic river from Dubuque, Iowa.)
"There are different types of dinner cruises and ecological cruises," Ruffini says. "You can really immerse yourself in that ‘Mark Twain’ atmosphere. There’s a guy—well, he looks like Mark Twain—that lives here in town and does this great performance about Mark Twain and his life here along the river, and he also does programming about Galena’s history as well."
One of the most interesting program options, however, goes above and beyond the river, according to Ruffini, who says that many groups that stay at Eagle Ridge incorporate hot-air balloon rides over the territory—and the balloon company actually holds meetings in the sky.
Galena/Jo Daviess County CVB