Why You Should Take a Trip to Galesburg
Perhaps best known as the hometown of author and poet Carl Sandburg, the city of Galesburg lies 45 miles northwest of Peoria in Knox County. With a population of about 32,000, Galesburg makes for an interesting weekend getaway with historic sites and museums, delicious local cuisine, wide open spaces, and memorable family-friendly events. Make the Galesburg Welcome Center your first stop, where you can relax and snap a photo in its oversized, big blue Adirondack chair.
Known for its local restaurant scene, you won’t go hungry in Galesburg. Try a crepe at Landmark Cafe & Creperie, grab a tenderloin at Gray’s Sandwich Shop or order up a deep-dish pizza at Baked before you start your tour of the city.
Summertime in Galesburg
Galesburg sure knows how to celebrate summer. Three annual events make Galesburg a popular summertime destination, beginning with Railroad Days, slated for June 21-24. Railroad Days pays tribute to Galesburg’s railroading heritage, drawing train lovers of all ages with a carnival, street fair, rail yard tours, a hobby train show, flea market, rib cook-off, and 5K and 10K races. The event also includes more than 40 mostly free events and takes place downtown and throughout Galesburg.
Come July, the sky over Galesburg becomes painted with colorful hot air balloons during the annual Great Balloon Race. A tradition since 2000, this event brings balloon pilots from all over the country to Galesburg to compete and share their balloons with the community. More than 30 hot air balloons typically participate in the fun weekend, starting with a mass ascension of balloons from Lake Storey Park and an evening night glow at dusk (weather permitting). Curious onlookers can view balloons up close and chat with pilots. The 2018 Great Balloon Race takes place July 27-29.
When August rolls around, Galesburg invites you to experience two periods of American history during Galesburg Heritage Days. The family-friendly festival both entertains and educates with a Civil War encampment and a pre-1840s rendezvous. Feast on foods from the past, shop for crafts, enter the canoe races, and shake hands with President Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin. Scheduled for August 18-19, the event ends with night firing of cannons and a military ball.
Soak up local history with a trip to author and poet Carl Sandburg’s humble childhood home at the Carl Sandburg State Historic Site on East Third Street. The three-room cottage set the stage for Sandburg’s birth in 1878. He would later achieve international fame for his poetry, children’s stories and a biography of Abraham Lincoln. Learn about his life at the visitors center and gift shop next to the birthplace, and take a walk through the wooded park and garden where Sandburg’s ashes lie beneath Remembrance Rock. Famous quotes from his writings line the garden path engraved in stepping stones.
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Carl Sandburg State Historic Site
Discovery Depot Children’s Museum
Galesburg Railroad Museum
Lake Storey Recreational Area
Ronald Reagan Trail
Seminary Street Historic Commercial District
Railroad fans will delight in the Galesburg Railroad Museum, home to a vast collection of memorabilia and a well-stocked gift shop. Another place to explore local history is at Knox College’s Whitcomb Heritage Center. Located on the third floor of Alumni Hall, the museum houses displays tying Lincoln, Knox College, Illinois and the United States together in the 1850s. Visit the main floor of Old Main next to Alumni Hall for more history, including an 1860s Lincoln Life mask you can touch and feel. Both exhibits are permanent, free and open to the public.
Get a glimpse of 19th-century architecture by catching a performance at the Orpheum Theatre. Open since 1916, the Orpheum celebrated 100 years in 2016 and continues to showcase the arts. Children can explore fine arts, science, technology, local culture and more through interactive, hands-on exhibits at the Discovery Depot Children’s Museum located across the street from the Railroad Museum.
Outdoor Recreation in Galesburg
When the sun beats down on Galesburg, the locals head for Lake Storey Beach, where you can relax along its sandy shorelines or make a splash in designated swimming areas. You can also cruise along the banks of Lake Storey in a rented canoe, paddle boat or row boat available on weekends for an hourly fee. The Lake Storey Recreational Area encompasses 600 acres of outdoor adventure with hiking trails, campgrounds, golf, picnic areas and a playground. Additional play areas can be found at Kiwanis Park, which offers a multipurpose recreational trail, 18-hole disc golf course, a water/spray park and a skateboard park.
To plan your trip to Galesburg, go to visitgalesburg.com or call (800) 916-3330.