10 Favorite Things About Jo Daviess County Series – #1

Molly’s Ten Favorite Things About Jo Daviess County

We asked local mom, teacher and business owner, Molly McGovern-Mensendike to share what she loved about Jo Daviess County!

1. Hands down, we have the best views of hills and greenery with historic downtown architecture tucked into the hillsides. I need to stop myself sometimes to take it all in and not overlook it with my busy lifestyle. In my opinion, the best view in Jo Daviess County is scenic overlook, just outside Elizabeth. I don’t think I’ve ever driven by when there wasn’t someone stopping to take a picture.

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2. I teach at one of the best public schools in Illinois, River Ridge CUSD 210. Our teachers and staff care about our students and provide them with the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in their careers and as citizens. The schools in Jo Daviess County are THE best in my opinion. The small-town feel with the highly educated teachers and staff makes for incomparable educational opportunities for our students in Jo Daviess County. Tootin’ my own horn here!

3. The interesting people of Jo Daviess County are friendly and unique. I’ve only known the townspeople to be friendly and wave as you go by, even when they don’t know your name. Take a cruise down a country road and you’ll see what I mean. AND, there are so many artists and musicians, too. I love to drive through downtown Galena and hear the music being played in the small park and see the artists working in their storefront windows.

4. The rural area provides the inhabitants and visitors an abundance of produce and baked goods at local farmers’ markets. A great example would be the produce crates that Groezinger Produce Farm provides upon request. The Elizabeth Farmer’s Market is on Friday night so you can pick up your needs as the weekend begins. I like to get my pumpkins and corn from Dittmar Farms at this one!

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5. Geocaching. This is an activity that all, young and old, can enjoy. Download the geocaching app, and watch the video of how it works. Then, wherever you are, you can geocache. I find it works well if I have been running a ton of errands and want to reward my patient kids with an activity! It takes a bit of navigation and some searching!

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6. You cannot comprehend the magnificence of Galena’s Halloween parade unless you have experienced it. My favorite part is the blowing of the hot air from the hot air balloon baskets driven through the parade. Oh, the warmth they bring…

7. Country Fair weekend in Galena that coincides with the Autumn Craft Fair in Elizabeth at River Ridge High School is my favorite of all the fall weekends. I have nostalgic memories of growing up in Galena and experiencing the caramel apples at the fair. The crisp apples and the crisp fall air are two things that bring comfort to my soul.

8. For a small town, Stockton’s 4th of July celebration is my favorite. The chicken that is grilled at the park is well worth the wait. There’s always a great band with afternoon music and a fabulous show of fireworks at dusk. This is my family’s go-to spot to celebrate Independence Day!

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9. Restaurants, restaurants, restaurants. I may be a little biased as I have a brother for a chef. I of course love his restaurant, Stella’s Café and Catering, with the ambiance of the historic building and the homemade soups and breads, the fresh salads and homemade dressings. Yum! My all-time favorite place for steaks (the only steak I ever eat without A1 sauce) and Bloody Marys is Galena’s Log Cabin Steakhouse. If you dine there, you MUST get the saganaki as an appetizer. Elizabeth’s Small Town Saloon is a great lunch destination for a burger and a beer. Their spicy ketchup is to-die-for. I mean, I crave this stuff like I were nine months pregnant.

10. The small towns in Jo Daviess County are full of activities and festivals. Galena’s Living Windows and the lighting of the luminaria really make Christmastime magical. All in all, I make it a point to try something new. For instance, this year, Elizabeth is hosting the Midwest Garlic Fest and I am dying to try it out!

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Molly McGovern-Mensendike was born in Galena, IL and currently resides in Elizabeth, IL with ties to all of the communities in Jo Daviess County. She opened Savvy Scavengers with her mom in November of 2006 in Galena. It’s a “boutique for the eclectic woman’s style offering clothing, shoes, purses, and jewelry.” They like to think of it as a place where both a mom and daughter can shop together. They’ve expanded their business to include another location in Stockton, IL and opened Stockton Floral & Gifts, along with Sweet Alice’s candy shop. In addition to these entrepreneurial pursuits Molly teaches high school English at River Ridge where her students “are forever engrained in her heart.”

Stay tuned for more favorites in our blog series!