Side Trips from Chicago: Places to Explore

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Photo: Martin McCarthy/iStockphoto

Galena, Illinois

Saved from the glaciers that flattened most of the Midwest, Galena boasts hills big enough for decent downhill skiing and an autumn beauty that draws fans far and wide. Bursting with charm, this small town of just 3,600 people grew in the 1820s and '30s as a lead-mining hub before an economic downturn limited new construction. It wasn't until nearly a century later that historians and artists recognized its topographical and architectural significance. Now, more than 85 percent of its 19th-century buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and visitors adore its small-town hospitality and romantic character.

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