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!

 

Where Can I Sit Outside With a Cocktail?

A vacation really feels like a vacation when you can sit outside and relax with a cocktail. We’ve made a list of some great spots to enjoy the beauty of Galena & Jo Daviess County and some local cuisine!

 

Gobbies_outdoorphoto by Gobbies Sports Pub & Eatery

1. Gobbies Sports Pub & Eatery (Galena) Spacious and beautifully decorated courtyard where you can sink into one of their outdoor sofas and enjoy the weather!
2. Sunset Grille at Chestnut Mountain Resort (Galena) Panoramic views of the Mississippi River, savor the sunset while enjoying great food and drinks!
3. The Corner Tap (Stockton) Every Saturday from April through October they have a Steak Fry in their outdoor patio area. Look for live music updates and free Buffalo Wings on Friday nights!
4. The Cove Bar & Grill (Apple Canyon Lake) Overlooks the Midwest’s premier golf course, The General, and there’s a good chance you may catch sight of a hot air balloon!

The Covephoto by The Cove Bar & Grill

5.  Green St. Tavern in the DeSoto House Hotel (Galena) People-watch on the patio while taking a break from shopping on Main St.
6. Woodstone Restaurant (Galena Territory) Overlooking the Midwest’s premier golf course, The General, where you just might catch a hot air balloon flying overhead!
7. Mid-Town Marina (East Dubuque) Casual dining on the Mississippi River. Watch the boats coming and going and nearby wildlife.

Midtown Marinaphoto by Midtown Marina

8. JJ & Freddie’s (Stockton) Stop at the Gateway of Jo Daviess County on US Hwy 20 and grab a bite to eat outdoors, watching the activity of Stockton.
9. Campeche (Galena) Listen to live music and the bubbling fountain as you sip your margarita under the stars!
10. Vinny Vanucchi’s (Galena) The patio is nestled in the historic building’s courtyard next to a cobblestone road. Sit under the colorful umbrellas and enjoy the music of the street performers nearby!

Stargazing in Galena & Jo Daviess County

Mark Dierker_Bear Dancer Photography

photo: Mark Dieker of Bear Dancer Studios – “Orionid meteor over The Castle near Elizabeth, IL”

One of the first things you’ll notice besides the beautiful landscape of our Driftless Region are the dark skies overhead. Any time of year, on a clear night you’ll see the sky lit up and spot many if not all of the familiar constellations.

Aurora Lights in Illinois

photo: Shane Smith Photography – The Northern Lights from the Overlook in Elizabeth, IL

Galena & Jo Daviess County have wonderful lodging options where you can relax and enjoy the night skies like Hawk Valley Retreat and Cottages.¬† Rent a home or condo from Rosebud Rentals or take it easy around the campfire at Marcotte’s Family Motel.

You can also plan a night dining outdoors under the stars this summer. A few restaurants with outdoor seating to note are…The Sunset Grille in Chestnut Mountain Resort with views of the Mississippi River, The Cove at Apple Canyon Lake and Mid-Town Marina in East Dubuque. (Call ahead for summer hours!)

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Stargazing Circle at Horseshoe Mound Preserve

We encourage you to take advantage of one of our county’s treasures and go stargazing with Dr. Paul Sipiera and his wife Diane Sipiera of the Planetary Studies Foundation Earth & Space Museum.¬† Dr. Sipiera was a professor of astronomy and geology at William Rainey Harper College for 27 years and now resides full-time in the Galena Territory. His main research interest is in studying meteorites, which lead him to Antarctica seven times.¬† His writings have been published in Meteorite Magazine and Popular Science, as well as contributions to numerous scientific journals. He’s written over 29 non-fiction books for children. Diane has a background in education for NASA and the Field Museum in Chicago, IL.

The Sipieras invite you and the whole family to Apple River Fort¬† for an evening of stargazing. Bring a camp chair, blankets and your own telescope if you have one. The team at PSF bring the big telescopes for you to use and they’ll teach you how to use the one that’s been sitting in the corner all these years! Snacks and bug spray are encouraged, no alcohol please.

May 1, 2015 from 7-8pmPlanetary Studies Foundation Earth & Space Museum РElizabeth, IL РINTRO TO NIGHTTIME SKIES: Come to this wonderful lecture about what you can see in the nighttime skies for the season. Come learn about the beauty of Virgo and how she influenced farmers for hundreds of years. Learn how to get prepared for the summer season of stargazing. Afterwards, come into the PSF’s Starlab Planetarium for the wonders of the universe. Tour of museum is included. (cost: $5)

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Stargazing with the PSF at dusk

The most ideal nights to look at the moon and stars are before the first quarter of the moon cycle, when the Milky Way is visible and the moon isn’t too bright. Stargazing sessions are held once a month starting in April and continue through October, from sunset until around 11pm…they’ll stay later if good things are happening in the skies! Plan ahead & join them for the meteor showers in August & October!

Stay tuned to our Events Calendar for exact dates or contact the Planetary Studies Foundation Earth & Space Museum for details!
***We’ll update this post as more information comes available!