Illinois : Safety by City
- Arlington Heights
- Crystal Lake
- Des Plaines
- East St Louis
- Fairview Heights
- Granite City
- Mount Prospect
- Oak Lawn
- Rock Island
- Tinley Park
Galena, Illinois might as well be named Charming, Illinois.
Everything about the city exudes charm and character with historical markers at every turn.
In fact, it has even been voted as one of the most charming communities in America by TripAdvisor.
There are plenty of small towns in Illinois with nothing to do.
Galena, with its population of 3,300, isn’t one of them.
This is like a trip back in time and I’m not the only one who will tell you this.
Ask the more than one million people who visit here annually.
I got very skeptical when I read this was the home of Ulysses S. Grant.
You see, I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and a favorite annual activity was to go to Grant’s Farm where Anheuser-Busch housed the Clydesdales and a train took you through the land once owned by the Grant family.
Turns out that Grant’s Farm was just one of many locations the Grant family called home, spreading through Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois.
Not only did General and President Grant live in Galena, so did seven other civil war generals.
The city was once home to 33,000 people in its heyday of mining the mineral galena.
Galena sits near, but not on, the banks of the Mississippi River, which is another reason this community prospered back in the 1800s.
A trip to Galena is not only safe but one of the most exciting and informative history lessons you’ll ever get.
Warnings & Dangers in Galena
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk here. There were just six violent crimes in 2020 and that wasn't a pandemic-induced low number. The city hasn't had more than seven violent crimes in a year all the way back to 2010.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
There's an on-demand shuttle service through Jo Daviess County Transit, but this is a very walkable city. Having a car is great, but you'll end up parking and walking more than driving from place to place. Taxis and rideshares might not be as in-demand as you'd like, but you'll hardly miss it. There's low risk with any option you choose.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Looking at the raw numbers of the population divided by the number of thefts, there is a one in 33 chance of being a victim. That sounds like a pretty high risk, right? Remember that with a million visitors each year, that adds about 83,000 people each month on average. Then the risk goes down to one in 9,555. That's a low risk, but with any tourist area, you should not let your guard down.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Flooding is a big concern here, and there's a great story about a terrible flood that ended with steamboats actually floating through the city. Always keep an eye on that flood gauge, especially during periods of high rain. Thunderstorms and tornadoes are possible in the warmer months, and winter will bring snow or ice storms at least a few times a season. There's a low risk on an average day, but with any increased risk of severe weather, you need to pay attention and plan.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
I'm not sure I've ever researched a city with ZERO robberies before and there have been no robberies as far back as 2010. That's the lowest risk you can get.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here. It's far enough away from any major metropolitan area that it would be at risk. Unless a terror group REALLY hates Ulysses S. Grant, there's no reason Galena would ever be at any risk.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There are phone scams here like every other American community, but nothing that impacts tourists. Be smart when you research this area because some websites will have reviews that say "It's a scam!" when a tourist had a bad experience somewhere or felt they didn't get value for their money. Take everything with a grain of salt, because it might be true or it might be highly exaggerated.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women would actually love a weekend getaway here. There's a lot to see and do in a small area usually full of visitors. You'd have to really go looking for trouble to find it here. That said, there were four reports of sexual assault in 2020, so still, use your basic safety precautions.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
Each year a Consumer Confidence Report is required by water utilities and in the 2020 report from Galena, there were no violations and a low risk of contamination in the water supply. You can feel safe using the water here with low risk.
Safest Places to Visit in Galena
Galena is a city and a county, so when you research be sure you know if you’re in the city limits or the greater county area, as there is a lot to do in both.
In the city of Galena, Main Street is the place to be.
There are a lot of art stores and galleries.
One truly Instagram-worthy moment is at Galena Clay Works, where the outside of the building is painted like a rustic American flag.
Not only can you view finished works of art, but you can watch art in motion, from clay creations to live paintings.
The city has a bunch of spa and wellness services on a much smaller scale.
I am a spa junkie so I always love to try small-town homemade products and see the techniques used in different regions.
You can even do goat yoga here.
There is a larger spa at the Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa just six miles outside the city.
You will want to block off an entire day just to see all the historic sites in Galena.
The Belvedere is the most opulent mansion in the city and the Ulysses S. Grant Historic Site home isn’t far behind (and much more elegant than the log cabin he built near St. Louis).
You can go on a walking tour solo or join a group tour.
Wear good shoes as you’ll be on your feet a lot.
If you don’t want to walk, there are also trolley tours available that take you beyond the city to the Mississippi River bluffs.
I smirked a bit when I saw there was a “nightlife” section for Galena, but there really is a lot to do in this small town after dark.
One of the most interesting is the Dead Bawdy Historical Comedy show, which will have you laughing and learning at the same time.
This show can get a little risque, so it’s advised for only people 18 years and older.
Here’s one that will really get your goat.
You can pay for a tour to “Hoof It” through a wilderness area with goats walking alongside you.
Day and night tours (s’mores anyone?) are available.
Places to Avoid in Galena
Galena is too small and too safe to have a bad part of town.
Even the crime map can only split into two regions in the city, and the westernmost side has the higher risk, but that shouldn’t cause any concern.
I could tap dance through more basic warnings and avoidance tactics, but I’m fresh out of ideas for Galena.
It’s just a wonderful little city.
Here’s one thing I will tell you – plan, plan, plan.
This isn’t a city that you can experience the best of by just stopping by for a few hours.
Even writing this article it was a bit overwhelming for me to find the highlights of what to do because there is just so much!
There is a lot to do during the day and at night here, including some incredible stargazing, since Galena is far away from any major city lights.
Being out at night will always come with additional risks, so you should prepare your “night” bag of bug spray, flashlight, and reflective tape so vehicles will see you walking, mace (because you can never be too safe), and did I mention bug spray?
All the charm in the world won’t stop the Mississippi River mosquitos from getting to you.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Galena
- Download the Galena Tours app. This will avoid you having 50 tabs open on your computer, like I have now. There are just so many tours and this makes it easy to search if you want a wine adventure, animal encounter, craft making, art tour, or if you want to walk or ride during a tour. You’ll be thankful to have this app once you see how easy it is to navigate. It even includes self-guided walking tours with audio.
- If you are using the audio function for tours, you’re likely going to put in earbuds and get lost in the incredible history lesson. This is a great way to look like an easy target for a thief. Be sure to stay aware of your surroundings, and if you can, just keep one earbud in at a time so you are still hearing noises around you.
- There is plenty of parking around Galena, but it can get crowded on weekends. You might park several blocks away. On weekends from June through October, there is a free service to take you from the parking areas to downtown Galena. Just be sure you don’t leave your vehicle in any parking lot overnight as that’s illegal in Galena.
- Galena is a green city and believes strongly in being eco-friendly. You can see this in the wide array of solar panels and LED lighting upgrades. You will find recycling bins around the tourist areas and in the wilderness, you need to “leave no trace behind.” Bring all your trash with you and dispose of it properly.
- If you have food sensitivities, don’t think a small town like Galena isn’t going to be able to accommodate you. There’s actually a whole section of the tourism website dedicated to gluten-free or vegan dining options.
- Sign up for Galena CodeRED emergency notifications. This way you’ll get advanced warning about incoming severe weather, road closures, or other community emergencies. Updates about water safety and snow removal rules will also be sent out. You can’t afford to miss this important information while enjoying all Galena has to offer.
- If you’re going to be fishing while you’re here, your fishing license from home won’t suffice. You need one from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which can be purchased online ahead of time.
- Don’t feed the deer in the area (and there are a LOT of them). Deer season runs from October through January, so if you want to hunt you’ll need a license for that. So you can shoot a deer under the right conditions, but you can’t feed them on public or private property.
- If you are going stargazing, it’s best to have a flashlight that has a red filter on it. This will allow you to still see where you are going without creating light pollution for other stargazers. Don’t wear flip-flops or sandals when out in the wilderness at night. You don’t want to trip or slip while preparing for a celestial show of a lifetime.
- Recreational marijuana is legal in Illinois, and you’ll see cannabis stores in the city. If you choose to take part in that, you must be 21 years old and any use of marijuana must happen away from anyone under that age. You can’t use cannabis in public. You must use it only in a private residence where the owner has approved the usage.
So... How Safe Is Galena Really?
It’s as safe as if those eight Civil War generals were still policing it.
The highest crime category was theft, and there were 105 incidents.
Car break-ins fall under the theft category, so it’s important you still lock the car, roll up the windows, and leave no personal belongings inside when you park.
Without the modern technology of floodwalls and dams, Galena would be underwater each year during the spring thaw.
Flooding is still a risk here and while the Mississippi River is a few miles west, the Galena River cuts right through town.
You should be weather aware all times of the year, but especially after heavy rain or during the springtime when the river tends to run high.
You should also study up on tornado safety here if you are from an area not prone to tornadoes (or cyclones as they are called in some parts of the world).
Know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.
Never get caught outside unprepared in a storm.
As a child, I was sitting in my garage waiting for a storm to pass when a tree across the street got hit by lightning.
I was covered in bark and couldn’t hear for about an hour.
It’s not worth risking it, especially when Galena offers so many great things to do on rainy or stormy days.
How Does Galena Compare?
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- Visas - Your Visa is only needed to be shown at the airport when you are about to officially enter the United States. Border Patrol and Homeland Security will review it before letting you through. The Visa process takes up to four months, so plan early or else you'll risk having to delay your trip.
- Currency - You will use the U.S. Dollar here and a lot of the attractions and tours can be purchased in advance. It's a good idea to bring some cash to use as tip money for shuttle drivers if you're a good tipper. Just don't carry around large amounts of money and go to a bank to get a bunch of dollar bills to use as tip money. You can also ask any tour guide if they have a Venmo or PayPal, where you can tip them electronically.
- Weather - You'll experience the brunt and beauty of all four seasons here. Winter requires warm clothing, though there might be days in the 60s. Midwestern weather is notoriously fluctuating. Summers are going to be humid and there's no way around it. You need sunscreen and bug spray to re-apply often throughout the day. Long pants are also recommended if you are going to be in wilderness areas to avoid rubbing yourself against poison ivy or oak.
- Airports - The closest regional commercial airport is in Dubuque, Iowa, which is a 30-minute drive away. The Chicago area airports are about two and a half hours east.
- Travel Insurance - You don't want to lose money due to flooding, travel delays, winter storms, or other variables, so getting travel insurance for a trip to Galena is a great idea.
Galena Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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