Utvalgt getaway: Galena, Illinois
Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site. Photo courtesy of Galena/Jo Daviess County CVB
If not for the modern-day goods sold in the retail establishments, you might think Galena was frozen in time. The six-block Main Street boasts striking examples of various architectural styles, ranging from French Colonial to Greek Revival, and a whopping 85% of the town is a national historic district. General Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th U.S. President, lived here briefly before leaving to head the Union troops in the Civil War. Upon his triumphant return, the town presented him with an elegant mansion. That house and other restored historic homes are open to the public. There's much more here to fascinate the history enthusiast: the Old Market House and the Historical Society and Museum, housed in a stunning Italianate home. Before its Civil War glory days, Galena was a booming lead-mining town. Today, you can descend underground into the Vinegar Hill Lead Mine. But don't stay down there too long, or you won't get to enjoy the rolling hills and lush valleys of this charming getaway, which also offers fine dining, numerous bed and breakfasts, golfing and antiquing.
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Take a long deep breath and kiss your stresses good-bye: this lovely, year-round resort town offers a laid-back atmosphere that lets you slowly unwind. Beach buffs can don their swimsuits and head for one of several beaches on seven-mile-long Geneva Lake, which also offers a plethora of water sports. Leisurely cruises on restored historic yachts and replicas of paddle wheel steamers carry passengers past stately lakefront summer mansions, including some Victorian estates. Landlubbers can take a self-guided hike around the perimeter of the lake, which stretches some 21 miles. Laid-back, however, doesn't mean there isn't plenty to do. Choose from museums, a water park for younger kids, the world's largest refracting telescope at Yerkes Observatory, entertainment at the Belfry Music Theatre or greyhound racing. Winter is even quieter but no less filled with fun. Head to The Mountain Top, a popular family ski spot, or choose from horseback riding, skating, ice boating, hayrides or sleigh rides. Whatever time of year you go, Lake Geneva will charm you.