The looks of horror were everywhere. When I mentioned my plans to visit quaint and picturesque Galena, IL doing Valentine’s Day weekend alone, the reactions was that of absolute terror. Friends knew I was flying solo. They also knew that this tiny town in the Midwest was a prime destination for couples. And for me to head there by myself on what the Gods of Hallmark have declared as the most romantic weekend of the year???
Oh. The horror. (That is me not caring.)
To be fair, I’m not a lady who is affected by the flock of lovebirds in my midst. At best, I’m indifferent to their presence. At worst, I have to suppress the need to free each individual of the screwed up emotional baggage they have to deal with on a daily basis. While others might look at duos wistfully and with certain envy, I simply go back to my book and thank the lucky stars that I don’t have to worry about anyone else’s feelings other than my own. My weekend getaway was not going to be the thing that broke me.
Cynical disposition aside, Galena is not an exclusive oasis for handholding love-struck duplas. In fact, it has a lot to offer the single gal as I discovered in the three days I was there. This is why you should head over there with no significant other in tow:
1) Main Street is full of boutique stores with trinkets you simply buy for “aesthetic reasons”
From antique stores crammed with memorabilia to specialty cheese and oil providers to independent home goods companies, Downtown Galena is basically begging you to bring back a bucketful of merchandise that you will display at your home because it’s cute. My favorite? Galena Candle & Bath, where I splurged on rain, ocean, spiced cider and cappuccino-scented candles. What can I say? I like liquids. And I don’t have to explain why I like them to anybody or justify my decision to bring them back.
2) You can live out your Little House on the Prairie dreams without judgment
Back in the day, Galena was quite the hopping river town and buildings of its past 19th Century glory are still standing strong. You can check out the Blacksmith Shop, the Oldest House in Galena and even the location of one of Abraham Lincoln’s speeches. It’s ok to pretend that you’re roaming the streets in a giant hoop skirt, on your way to churn some butter before heading to barnyard rager where you will square dance till the break of dawn. No one will mock you for romaticizing an era full of enormous atrocities and injustices
3) You don’t have to choose between cravings. You can indulge in them all.
You know how sometimes you want something sweet? And then you want something salty? And then you’re like, “crap, now I need something sweet again”? Galena has got you covered. You can start at the Great American Popcorn Co. then go to Galena’s Kandy Kitchen then go to Galena Canning Company then go to…you get my point. There’s no need to have a sit down dinner if you’ve been grazing for what feels like infinity.
The town is small enough to see in an afternoon so you don’t have to feel guilty about sequestering yourself in a spa for a whole 24-hours. Instead of being beholden to another person’s wants and needs, you can bask in your own glory and come out feeling like Queen Bae.
5) Walking and boozing is highly encouraged
Did you know that there are wineries in Illinois? Neither did I! However, several of them are near Galena and have tasting rooms right on Main Street. You don’t have to stray far to get another glass of red from places like Massbach Ridge Winery or Galena Cellars. For those ladies who prefer beer, there is Galena Brewing Company. Need something with a kick? Then head to Blaum Bros. Distilling Company. Whether you need liquor to forget you’re #foreveralone or to celebrate that you’re single and ready to mingle or to give a big middle finger to social expectations regarding your romantic stats, Galena has got you covered.
Don’t fear the couples! You’ll barely notice them and you’ll come back relaxed, restored and with more candles than you’ll know what to do with.
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