Jo Daviess County - 17 Attractions You Must Visit


About Jo Daviess County

Jo Daviess County, Illinois is located in the northwest corner of the state. It is bordered by Wisconsin to the north and Iowa to the west. The county seat is Galena, a city steeped in history offering visitors unique sights for exploring, such as old-fashioned brick storefronts, historical homes, galleries, and shopping opportunities. In addition to cultural attractions and activities, there are numerous outdoor recreation areas available including several lakes and rivers perfect for fishing o

Types of Attractions in Jo Daviess County

Activities Around

List of Attractions in Jo Daviess County

Apple River Canyon State Park

Apple River Canyon State Park is a nature lover's paradise. Encompassing over 3,000 acres of breathtaking canyon views, unique sandstone features and miles of hiking trails, the park is a perfect spot to spend a day, or even an entire camping vacation. With tranquil streams that cascade down into the beautiful canyon below, Apple River Canyon State Park offers visitors the chance to take in stunning natural beauty as they explore its many trails.

Apple River Fort State Historic Site

Apple River Fort State Historic Site, is a fascinating piece of local history. Constructed by American settlers in 1832 to repel Indian forces during the Black Hawk War, the fort was designed to lodge over 200 men and contained defensive palisades and bastions. The fort saw its most dramatic moment when a group of redcoats attempted to breach the walls during a surprise attack. Luckily, despite taking heavy casualties on both sides and enduring countless cannon rounds fired by the British.

Belvidere Mansion

Belvidere Mansion

Iconic Buildings

The Belvedere Mansion set amongst a rolling backdrop of bluffs and open land, this stunning home has been standing since before the Civil War as a reminder of times past. Counted amongst one of the state's largest historic estates, it is comprised of more than 100 acres along with a remarkable Victorian mansion that was built in 1857. The house is known for its ornate details and Gothic Revival style architecture, making it both admire-worthy for visitors and a unrivaled icon to the area.

Charles Mound

Charles Mound

Outdoors - Other

Charles Mound is the highest natural point in the state of Illinois at 1235 feet above sea level. Despite its low elevation compared to other states, it still makes for a great view. On a clear day, hikers can see four states: Wisconsin and Iowa to the north, and Illinois and Missouri to the south. Additionally, it's summit offers amazing vistas of some stunningly beautiful terrain: rolling green hills mixed with small farming communities, several nearby rivers and Lake Galena.

Chestnut Mountain Resort

Chestnut Mountain is the perfect spot for a day trip or weekend getaway. Located at the highest point in Jo Daviess, Chestnut Mountain offers breathtaking views of rivers, ravines, green mountains and valleys with vast tracts of forestlands. Its untamed beauty makes it an enchanting place to explore year-round. Guests can find adventure in activities such as skiing, snow tubing, golfing and zip-lining; plus there are miles of biking/hiking trails offering a variety of options for outdoor fun.

Chicago Great Western Railroad Depot

The Chicago Great Western Railroad Depot is a reminder of the area’s dynamic railway history. Constructed in 1901, this is an example of American Bungalow-style architecture. Despite the many changes that have taken place around it over the years, this depot has been lovingly restored to its original condition by dedicated volunteers and serves as an educational tool for visitors of all ages, giving everyone a glimpse into what life was like for passengers at the turn of the twentieth century.

Dowling House

Dowling House

Iconic Buildings

The Dowling House, was built in the 1840s. At the time it was constructed, the Greek Revival-style residence was used as a home for various members of the prominent Dowling family until 1892. The structure is notable for its two-story porches that run around all four sides of the house and is recognized today as a "landmark of Galena's golden age." To celebrate its cultural and architectural significance, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

Elihu B. Washburne House State Historic Site

The Elihu B. Washburne House is a state historic site, named for the 19th century US Representative and Secretary of State Elihu B. Washburne. The house was constructed in 1857-1858 and served as a domestic residence for the prestigious Washburne family until the late 20th century. In the mid-20th century, the house was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places and eventually passed into public hands and turned into a museum.

Grant Park

Grant Park set on the banks of the Mississippi River, this picturesque park contains abundant green spaces, a variety of flora and fauna, and spectacular river views. The park also features several sports facilities, a fishing pond with picnic areas and shelters, playgrounds, an amphitheater and a network of paths ideal for cycling or hiking. Grant Park makes it easy to connect with the diverse wildlife population of Jo Daviess County in their natural habitat.

Julien Dubuque Bridge

The Julien Dubuque Bridge opened in 1932, the iconic bridge is the oldest in Jo Daviess County and was the first major suspension-style structure erected in the area. Spanning an impressive 700 feet across the mighty Mississippi River, it offers visitors stunning views of some of America's most breathtaking scenery. As a National Historic Landmark, it serves to remind everyone of both Julien Dubuque's importance to early settler life and his legacy as Jo Daviess County's namesake.

Lake Galena

Lake Galena

Lake/ River/ Ponds

Lake Galena is a popular destination for nature lovers and boaters alike. Situated near the banks of the Galena River and surrounded by rolling hills, the lake provides beautiful panoramic views of the countryside. With many sections of public beach and boat launch docks, visitors can enjoy fishing, swimming, kayaking, and other water sports while admiring nature’s natural beauty. In addition to all of the fun activities, Lake Galena, also provides access to over 20 miles of trails.

Lock and Dam Number 12

Lock and Dam Number 12


Man-made Structures - Other

Lock and Dam Number 12 is an essential structure in the area. Built in 1929, the lock and dam exists primarily to help control water levels on the Mississippi River downstream, while also providing safe passage for boats. With 16 gated bays that open and close at times determined by river conditions, Lock and Dam 12 provides a stable waterway for vessels traveling along its length. Additionally, its 23-foot lift facilitates navigation of upstream vessels against the natural flow of the river.

Mississippi Palisades State Park

Mississippi Palisades State Park, is a must-see destination for outdoor adventurers. From 45 magnificent scenic overlooks to the 4500 miles of hiking trails, this park has something for everyone. Wildlife viewing opportunities are also abundant in the area; you might be lucky enough to spot an eagle or white-tailed deer! Nature lovers can take advantage of nearby camping sites and rent canoes to explore the peaceful backwaters of the state park.

National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium provides an exciting adventure for the whole family! With its 900-foot outdoor river walk, replica steamboat and river town exhibits, visitors are completely immersed in the history and culture of America's mightiest waterway. From discovery caves to touchpools where they can hand-feed sturgeons, visitors of all ages can interact with the diverse array of species found along the Mississippi River.

Thunder Bay Falls

Thunder Bay Falls, is a stunning waterfall that cascades over a rock ledge creating an impressive sight. The scenic vantage point offers visitors amazing views of the adjacent bluffs and forest area. With its crystal clear waters flowing over natural step-like limestone formations and sites like the Indian Bluff effigy mound nearby, Thunder Bay Falls is an inviting oasis situated right alongside Rattlesnake Creek.

Ulysses S. Grant Home

Ulysses S. Grant Home

Iconic Buildings

The Ulysses S. Grant Home is the boyhood home of Ulysses S. Grant, America's 18th President and Union General in the Civil War. This impressive house was built by his father in 1838 and has now been transformed into a museum. The property features interactive exhibits displaying artifacts from President Grant's time as well as many original items from his childhood home. Guests can take an audio tour, view rare documents, or purchase souvenirs in the gift shop.

Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.

The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge is a picturesque landscape created from the tributaries of the Mississippi River. From crystal clear rivers and ponds to wooded areas overflowing with diverse wildlife, it's an area teeming with life. Spend the day wandering along tree-lined trails or take a canoe out onto the calming waters and keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles, egrets, pelicans, migrating waterfowl, and other creatures.

Map of attractions in Jo Daviess County


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