You're probably picturing New Orleans at the mention of the mighty river in the title, but I am indeed talking about the Mississippi in the Midwest, in Galena, northwestern Illinois to be exact.
I will be totally honest and say that it's not exactly a picturesque drive towards Galena on the I-90W and the US-20, staring from the northwestern Chicago 'burbs. However, en route to the city of Galena, take the left at the junction of US-20 and IL-84 towards Hanover and then towards Winston, to get to the Chestnut Mountain Resort.
This resort looks like your typical cheesy replica of a Swiss chalet resort, but it's cute enough. It is quite popular with single travelers, couples and families especially during the skiing season, as its perched high enough to make some decent skiing possible. Lodging is available and packages are offered on the website. Lessons are available too. There is a shop and rental facilities in case you forgot your gear.
We were there during early Fall, and there still seemed to be a number of people around. Starving after a long drive, the casual lunchtime menu was just what we needed. And voila, there it was. The restaurant at the inn is by no means a classy joint. In fact, it was very reminiscent of a dark 70's style hunter's lodge, with outdated wooden furniture and fixtures. But the tables by the window had the most beautiful view of the Mississippi. That alone was worth the journey.
The menu features burgers, fries, chicken wings etcetera, and it all really hit the spot. Loved the spicy chicken wings with the ranch dressing. But you have to try the Blue Moon Ale (Bavarian white ale), which was light, punchy and delicious.
Service was swift and amiable. After satiating our appetites, we walked out and around the Inn, to get a better view of the river. The undulating green fields around us would become ski slopes in a few months time. An alpine slide activity was in operation at the time, as was a Mississippi river cruise, but we didn't have the time. Perhaps you took it. Drop me a line if you've been there and have any comments about the place.