” The natural beauty of the trees attracts visitors from far and wide as they burst forth in blazing magnificent color. The trees truly show us how beautiful ‘letting go’ can be! “
As we enter the final quarter of the year, we can’t help but wistfully long for the halcyon days of summer. However, there’s a sweet resignation to the start of autumn and the restorative and restful effect it has on us—mind, body, and soul. Fall is so much more than pumpkin spice and bonfires, although those things certainly boost our enjoyment of this beloved season in the Midwest.Read More
“Starved Rock Country has its own “Magnificent Miles.”
You may have experienced the Magnificent Mile in Downtown Chicago, and may have been blown away by the holiday colors, sounds and smells, but Starved Rock Country has its own “Magnificent Miles.” Although the colors of the leaves, sounds of birds and rustling undergrowth, as well as the earthy smells of these miles may be very different, they are nonetheless magnificent to behold.
Come see the fall colors of Starved Rock Country!
Ottawa, IL has the unique advantage of being surrounded by multiple state parks with endless trails and natural wonders to behold. The area’s stunning landscape is bursting forth with Nature’s ‘last hurrah’ as the green leaves don their fall finest in the yellows, oranges and reds of the autumn season. One can get lost in the natural beauty of the rivers, forests, bluffs and canyons.
Here are four of Ottawa’s best spots to include when planning your tour of the magnificent fall colors.
1. Starved Rock State Park
Starved Rock has been voted the #1 attraction in the state of Illinois, as is evident the minute you enter the park. As you drive along winding roads, the trees envelop you and you realize you are truly in “Nature’s Valley.” The park is beautiful at any time of the year with its 18 sandstone canyons, 14 cascading waterfalls, and 13 miles of trails to explore the abundant wildlife, but Starved Rock State Park truly shines in the fall. In September and October, the park features a vibrant expanse of oak, maple and elm trees with the brightest colors around. The park’s hills and bluffs allow for a tiered view of the majestic colors allowing observers to take in more colors at once.
Every year, Starved Rock State Park holds a Fall Colors Weekend. During the event, guides provide free hiking tours leading to various overlooks and canyons within the park where people can enjoy the breathtaking colors whilst learning the science behind the fall color phenomenon. The 2018 Fall Colors Weekend is Oct. 20-21 from 9-5 pm, with a guided tour leaving the Visitor Center at 10am each day.
2. Matthiessen State Park
Not far from Starved Rock State Park is one of our family’s favorites state parks with prime viewing of fall’s changing colors. Matthiessen State Park offers five miles of trails that wind through fragrant cedar forests and pass by waterfalls and canyons, leading to incredible vantages where you can snap photos of Central Illinois’s stunning beauty. Park and picnic facilities make this state park a popular choice for a day outing. We enjoy hiking Matthiessen each year during various seasons, but the fall color show is unrivaled.
3. Catlin Park
This 333-acre county park features bluffs, an oak-hickory forest, steep ravines covered in maple trees, pine and a mixture of other trees scattered throughout along the landscape. With a wide variety of trees and plant life, Catlin Park is one of Ottawa’s hotspots for fall foliage. Catlin is a birdwatcher’s and photographer’s dream. The park has 14 different trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, so grab your hiking shoes, bicycle or saddle and enjoy a day on the trails surrounded by the magnificent fall scenery.
4. Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway
Named one of the 30 Great Midwest Fall Color Getaways by Midwest Living, the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway promises some of the best natural sights in Central Illinois. The byway begins in Ottawa at Washington Park and passes through over 100 nature-related sites along the Illinois River Valley on its way to Havana, where the byway ends. Along the trail, you can take in the stunning fall foliage and other natural beauty of the area while making stops in quaint towns along the way. The Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway also passes through Starved Rock State Park, Matthiessen State Park and Catlin Park, making it possible to hit all of Ottawa’s best spots for fall colors in one trip.
Make a weekend of it!
Take full advantage of all that Starved Rock Country has to offer and plan a weekend getaway. Harbor Inn at Heritage Harbor has something for everyone. Rent a cozy cottage for a couple’s getaway, or reserve something larger to accommodate a family. Our cottages are just steps away from the resort amenities, water sports, waterfront restaurant Red Dog Grill, and much more. Be sure to contact your lifestyle consultant, Tammy or Bridget, via 1-815-433-5000 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a Discovery Tour. Discovery Tours booked before the end of October will get to experience a cottage tour by water.
Beautiful hiking trails.
Awe inspiring sunsets.
Whatever you decide to do this fall, we hope you enjoy the change of seasons as much as we do. Happy Fall, ya’ll!!! What are you most excited about this fall?? Comment below to share with us!
“The Great Loop is a continuous epic journey that consists of travel along the Canadian Heritage Canals, Great Lakes, inland rivers of America’s heartland, Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, and the Atlantic. “
The Great Loop is a continuous epic journey that consists of travel along the Canadian Heritage Canals, Great Lakes, inland rivers of America’s heartland, Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, and the Atlantic. There are several loop entrances and exits as well as numerous places to explore along the way, so no two trips are ever quite the same. An official ‘Looper’ is any recreational mariner who completes the journey. If you are interested in more information, visit America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association for an Interactive Great Loop Map, Great Loop Radio, webinars, and Member events.
Heritage Harbor is a stopover point of choice for many mariners committed to completing the Great Loop. Our very own local marina is on the map for an average of 140 loopers each season. How can you get to know some of the Loopers? Loopers love to socialize. They take advantage of the local entertainment scene. You can find them enjoying a drink at the Tiki Bar or Red Dog Grill, dancing to the live music shows on the weekends, or enjoying a trip through Historic Downtown Ottawa.
Why choose Heritage Harbor as a stopover?
Heritage Harbor’s Marina boasts an average depth of over 7 feet, favorable for deep hull vessels. Boaters can refuel using the available diesel and gas pumps. Harbormaster, Jeremy Fowler, offers a river navigation course at the marina. The Red Dog Grill waterfront restaurant is a favorite watering hole for those looking for a delicious meal with a water view. Loopers have access to a courtesy vehicle to restock their galley, do laundry, or to spend time ashore enjoying all that Historic Downtown Ottawa has to offer.
Make sure to have Heritage Harbor be on your list of must-see stops along your epic journey.
We have been very excited to host some loopers already this season! Can you see your boat?
“Fall has officially arrived!!! Cooler evenings, clear sunny days, the arrival of pumpkin spice everything”
Many people would say that Fall is their favorite season, and those in Starved Rock Country have much to be excited about!!! The natural environment in Starved Rock Country is unrivaled as trees are preparing to reveal their true glory in a kaleidoscope of color.
If you haven’t made your Fall Bucket List yet, here are 25 ideas to get you in an “Autumn State of Mind.”
- Hit the trails at Starved Rock or another Illinois State Park.
- Participate in Bike-a-rita; bike from Heritage Harbor to Buffalo Rock and back.
- Check out Scarecrow Fest on September 29 in Downtown Ottawa, and if you’re feeling adventurous, enter your own Circus-themed Scarecrow!
- Plan to take part in Utica’s 49th annual Burgoo Festival, one of the longest-running and largest fall festivals in northern Illinois. This year’s event is scheduled for October 6th and 7
- Light up the backyard bonfire and toast some hot dogs and marshmallows.
- Attend a football game and tailgate with fans.
- Book your Water Sports rental and take advantage of the last few weeks of aquatic fun on the Illinois River.
- Bake an autumnal treat or visit Ottawa Bakery to indulge in a tasty treat.
- Invite friends over for a pumpkin carving or scarecrow building contest.
- Make caramel apples and kettle corn and host a games evening with friends.
- Grab your witchy pals for Witches Night Out in Starved Rock Country at Pitstick’s Pavilion on October 13 for a bewitching ladies-only evening.
- Take an Illinois River cruise to get a view of the fall spectacular from the water.
- Brew some pumpkin spice coffee and go for a fall foliage drive
- Schedule a Girls’ wine and craft night. Makery on Mill provides scheduled craft evenings as well as the option for private events.
- Capitalize on the cooler weather and have a garage cleanout session.
- Take a family trip to the orchard. Boggio’s Orchard in Granville has something for everyone with weekend festive fun, pumpkins, apple cider, cider donuts, corn maze, and petting zoo. Be sure to check out their annual Pumpkin Harvest Craft Show on September 29-30.
- Host or attend an outdoor scary movie night.
- Go on a spooky ghost tour or view the Ghosts of Ottawa Past at Reddick Mansion.
- Experience a stay in a Harbor Inn cottage at Heritage Harbor with exclusive Illinois River fall foliage views.
- Dine al fresco at a local restaurant. Soak in the harbor views at Red Dog Grill, or for a downtown view, try the new A.S.H. location on LaSalle St, Ottawa.
- Schedule a family photoshoot to take advantage of the rich fall color palette.
- Cook up something savory with squash or pumpkin.
- Participate in a weekly Parkrun event at Heritage Harbor in Ottawa or take a leisurely bike ride along the I & M Canal.
- Indulge your inner adventure-seeker with a Skydive Chicago
- Schedule a date for the Wine and Art Walk on November 3 in downtown Ottawa.
Whatever you decide to do this fall, we hope you enjoy the change of seasons as much as we do. Happy Fall, ya’ll!!! What are you most excited about this fall?? Comment below to share with us!
Life’s A Beach!
Or at least it should be!!! If yours isn’t exactly ‘beachy’, then you’re in luck! The Heritage Harbor crew has been hard at work planning and creating yet another new oasis of fun for your entertainment pleasure. Knots Landing is a fun collection of relaxing areas, including North Beach, the Harbor Walk, Activity Wharf, and the Event Center Pavilion. Knots Landing is your ‘one-stop-wharf’ for all entertainment needs.
Relax…Unwind…Get in a flip-flop state of mind at the North Beach
Looking for a place where you can unwind, sink your toes in the sand, and soak in the harbor views? North Beach will be your retreat of choice! Our soft white sand beach is fully equipped with lounge chairs, umbrellas, fire pit, and games for your recreational pleasure. Settle into the comfortable reclining loungers under an umbrella, and feel the stress melt away. Situated right on the harbor, you can watch the goings on of our vibrant marina. The Beach Shack at Knots Landing will soon make its appearance, offering visitor information, drink service, and light snacks for beach goers on weekends, holidays, or for special events.
Guess what’s currently in the works?
The large floating Activity Wharf will reside below North Beach. This floating structure will provide water sport equipment rental services, the opportunity for pop-up artisan kiosks, group exercise classes, and other great activities. The sky is the limit! The Wharf adjoins the Event Center Pavilion and acts as the grand entrance to be utilized as a pre-event and reception area for social gatherings.
You don’t want to miss this…
Reserve the floating Event Center Pavilion for your next private special event and dazzle your guests with a memorable experience. This floating entertainment space can comfortably accommodate around 200 people, and is well-suited for any event including weddings, parties, classes and seminars. This unique gathering place is one-of-a kind and will be the location of many resort special events including music festivals, beer gardens, and other community social gatherings.
Knots Landing will be unrivaled in Starved Rock Country for entertainment and fun as an outdoor activity and event space.
Get your freedom back as you explore the mystique and wonder of the Illinois Waterway under the golden Starved Rock sun
I say Independence Day…you say?
The Independence Declaration of 1776, to most of us living Americans, is a huge deal! There is just no room for us to gloss over the immense importance of our independence…most especially on Independence Day! In fact (red-blooded patriots that we are) we’re turning the whole independence dial up a few clicks this July Fourth – and here’s why…
You say Independence Day, we say find your freedom!
As proud Americans, we thrive on the rich elements of bravado, courage and expedition in our multifaceted history. We revel and thrive in our absolutely breathtaking landscapes, high-rise buildings, economic superpower and buzzing trade centers. Yet, for all this, we often miss the importance of celebrating our own independence and exercising our own freedom as individuals and families! So, we’ve made it our soul mission (and we extend the challenge to you and your family this 4 July) to relive, revisit and revive our own personal freedoms this Independence Day.
And we’re going do it right here on the water at Heritage Harbor
Some are more conscious of it than others…but there probably isn’t a person on the planet that wouldn’t register at least some soothing, some invigoration, or some peace from that lapping, pouring, rushing, flowing sound of water in the country. When you add a few rolling hills, some graceful birdlife, a full range of grassy greens and leafy Lambadas, a breathtaking bluff or three, and perhaps even the exhilarating sound of a tow boat making the most of a lazy summer day…you get that oh-so-heavenly vibe, which we call the harbor life at Heritage Harbor.
You, relaxing on or near the water this Independence Day
For you it might look like hiring a kayak and venturing out to explore the Illinois Waterway. It may mean launching your own or hired tow boat using our world-class marina facilities, and letting your hair flap wildly in the wind as you feel the speed and exhilaration of raw power on glassy waters. You could take a SUP board out on the Illinois River and soak in the Starved Rock Country sun, or you could kick those feet up and browse the skies, river banks and plains with your new binoculars. Taking a meandering walk through our waterfront-cottage neighborhoods is also likely to give you the retreat your soul has needed for so long.
Outdoor Revival (Tomi Stonajovic) says that the health benefits enjoyed by people who spend time on or near water include (amongst many others) the soul-cleansing effect of fresh air, the immune boost of the great outdoors, the calming and sedating effects of the sounds of water lapping and flowing, and the blue-mind effect of peace and tranquility. All of the above flow with abandon at Heritage Harbor, and are just waiting to give you the independence you deserve on 4 July 2018.
While you’re at it – bask in our American history, without it being a history lesson…
No, Independence Day is not about rehashing the monochromatic version of our nation’s history. It IS about rediscovering that history in such a way that it comes to life in you, and brings you to life! Ottawa IL, where Heritage Harbor is located, is a crucible of natural, social and industrial history that will leave you feeling truly American all over again – no rote history lesson involved!
Yes, we are talking about experiencing the cultural wonder of how America came into being! We are also talking about the legends and stories of First Nation tribes defending their own. And yes, we are absolutely talking about Irish, French and a host of other explorers coming upon this great piece of continent and doing all within their power to make it their own! But more (sing along) much more than this…
…More than anything, we’re talking about YOU!
Now be careful to hear the spring in our voice, the whistle in our mood, and the buzz in our tone as we tell you that what we really want, here at Heritage Harbor, is for you to rediscover your freedom like you did the first time (maybe you are still waiting for your first experience of freedom out in the country?!). We want you to experience what it’s like to be you in a wide open landscape, surrounded by friendly, loving people!
When was the last time you really let your hair down, wound down, and got your stress levels down by rounding up your family and turning up the fun in and around gorgeous river settings? When last did you re-experience the wonder of some small-town charm and real McCoy US history first-hand? Exactly…but again, all that can change this 4th of July 2018!
How about now? Experience Independence Day at Heritage Harbor in Starved Rock Country this July 4th?
Seriously, though. It’s time! We’ve been waiting for you to discover the sheer magic of this place. It’s not just about having a vacation, buying a designer waterfront cottage, and exploring the open water. It’s also about you finding the real you and enjoying what that feels like – especially when you’re surrounded by nature and those you love!
See you on July 4!
The age of living like a local…on vacation, is HERE!
Places. Placemaking. The magic of place! No matter which way you say it, if you’ve discovered the splendor of traveling to new places, lived the local life (yes, with their locals), eaten the food from their favorite restaurants or take-out spots, and explored natural landscapes and culture while avoiding the camera-flashing bus-tour vibe of yesterday (yes, that big city tour for the masses is fading away), then you’ll know why hundreds and thousands of Americans are getting themselves into a trip about the new trend of vacation rental property.
On the other hand…
…if you’re still wondering what this new buzzword – vacation rentals, is all about, then stay on board because you’re about to taste something amazing!
Matt Landau, travel writer and Vacation Rental Marketing Blog (VRMB), calls it The Sense of Place. Taking a traditional vacation is, well, it’s a vacation – and you can have fun on a traditional vacation, but you SIMPLY WILL NOT gain the rich Sense of Place that can be achieved from “living” like a local.
But, what’s the big buzz about? Can there really be THAT big of a difference?
Oh yes! You’ve heard of the traditional summer vacation at on the coast. You’ve seen countless ads promoting summer vacation packages for a yet another 7-day vacation to the Outer Banks of one place, to the coastal air of another, and still to the grandiose views of a given hotel near Mount Somewhere-or-other – right?
Live like a local…only you’ll be away from the humdrum of everyday
Right! But we’d bet money on saying that, for anyone that’s taken one of these offers or booked their own getaway or vacation in America’s ‘favorite’ destinations, they’ve missed the feeling of living, breathing, eating, socializing and enjoying the local life, just as if they were at home…but away on vacation. Why? Because they were not part-and-parcel of the local life from the time they arrived…and by the time they departed for the (usually) long journey home, they had not developed the sense of place that they could have achieved if they had rubbed shoulders with friendly locals-in-the-know from the get go! You see, it all comes down to the experience of the Place – and not the commercial tourist’s plastic and napkin affair, which never really gets them out of the lobby, so to speak.
But the new trend of Vacation Rental Properties changes ALL this!
Imagine that you discover (perhaps by reading or watching an ad, or on social media, or through an enamored friend or family member), that Ottawa, Yes Ottawa in ILLINOIS, holds some gorgeous small-town charm. You do a bit of web surfing and learn that the town, along with Heritage Harbor, it’s world-class marina resort and settlement, is in the heart of breathtaking Starved Rock Country where historic happenings dating back hundreds of years took place. And, you decide, “I want to take a vacation there!”
A fresh perspective on Vacations, OR Traditional (slightly over-commercialized) same-old
From this point on, one of two things happens: Either you go the traditional route, making reservations at a brand chain hotel in the area, OR you catch the magic train of Vacation Rentals, and you get in touch with Heritage Harbor’s, Harbor Inn.
Let’s just give you the benefit of the doubt, and say that you opted for the latter rather than the former (to get that sense of Place, and all that)…
Friendly locals help you to live life like they do, while you’re on vacation
Speak to a proud local from the very beginning
You would be called and greeted by a friendly voice on the other side of the line, who would take the trouble to get to know you just a bit, only to ensure that you were placed in the right cottage, villa or home, and that you had close and convenient access to the craft, facilities and amenities that were most suitable to you. A detailed guide for What to do in Starved Rock Country would be shared with you, and you would receive helpful trip tips and things to think of if you’re going to get the best of Starved Rock Country.
Be part of the community in a natural, unforced and refreshing way
On arrival, you’d be no different than any other homeowner on the Heritage Harbor development. You’d be part of a warm and friendly neighborhood, you’d have your freedom to move yet you’d receive countless greetings and offers of help, not just from the Harbor Inn’s friendly staff, but also from residents and other vacationers.
The daydream-come-true continues
To carry on the daydream (but one that comes true every day for vacationers across the Midwest)…it wouldn’t be long before you were heading up to Red Dog Grill for a meal or refreshment with newfound friends, paddling out on the blissful Illinois Waterway with someone who had been a few times more than you, or venturing out with a local into Starved Rock Country for an exploratory hike, a daring skydiving adventure, or just to watch the Bald Eagles doing life in the winter. Can you see how vacation rental properties are transforming vacations yet?
Vacation Rental homes are Inn
The days of hotel rooms in high-rise buildings are fading away somewhat. Couples and families across the US are now drawn to vacation homes like bees to honey, and it’s not difficult to see what all the buzz is about!
AirBnB’s vast Vacation Rentals arm is probably the main reason they have grown as they have…and here’s the thing: people want to vacation in homes where they can explore as a local and experience the authentic appeal of special places. Traditional hotels are for visitors, outsiders and travelers, and are full of do-not-disturb signs that offer you little more than an in-your-face reminder that you are not at home.
Share the vacation bliss by renting your home to vacationers
What about you? Are you one of the lucky ones that own a vacation house, cottage or villa in a beautiful place? If you are, you’ll want to give some thought to placing your property on a vacation rental management program so that you can seize the opportunity of earning a second income, or at least covering a decent portion of that mortgage repayment every month. More than that, you can still enjoy your vacation spot at your leisure by communicating the dates of your stay with the rental manager in advance. It’s the new, hassle-free way to get the most out of your vacation property, both from a lifestyle and financial point of view. Heritage Harbor and The Harbor Inn, makes owning a vacation rental cottage a breeze; with grass cuttings, snow removal and landscaping being maintained by the home owner’s association, an optional general cottage maintenance program; and guests stays being managed by The Harbor Inn. It doesn’t get easier than this.
Come on – the Vacation Rental adventure awaits!
The holiday season is in full swing, and the stores Downtown Ottawa can make your holiday shopping a little easier this year.
Downtown Ottawa is home to many locally owned shops and businesses that offer plenty of variety for you to easily find the perfect gifts for loved ones. Exploring the shops downtown will allow you to experience Ottawa’s best offerings and support the small business community.
LaSalle Street and Main Street are two of Downtown Ottawa’s main attractions, and they contain a wide range of stores for every kind of shopper. If you enjoy handmade goods, Avant Garden should be at the top of your visiting list. The store features crafts, jewelry and artwork made and designed by local artisans. Chic & Unique is another shop to check out if you’re interested in handmade items, especially custom-designed jewelry and handbags. The small boutique is also known for its selection of high-quality, moderately priced clothing and fashion accessories. Bell’s Clothing is a specialty men’s attire store, and it’s the perfect stopping spot for men looking for nice holiday attire or anyone in search of a gift for the guy in their life.
In addition to clothing shops and craft stores, Ottawa’s independent bookstore, Book Mouse, is another place to explore while shopping. While the bookstore is best known for its children’s and teen selections, the store has books of all genres so you can find a good read for all of your bookworm friends. Book Mouse also has magazines, greeting cards and toys you can pair with the books.
While you’re shopping downtown, be sure to take some time and enjoy some of the area’s best food and drinks. Coffee shops like Jeremiah Joe Coffee and Café on Main are the perfect places to stop for a quick cup of your favorite warm drink. You can also finish your shopping trip with dinner at Bianchi’s Pizza, The Red Dog Grill, R Grotto Ristorante or one of Ottawa’s other delicious restaurants.
With a variety of shops and restaurants, Downtown Ottawa is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. Gather your friends for a shopping day and explore the city, grab a bite to eat and check off items on your holiday shopping list.
Thrills to be found in Ottawa this Halloween
Camp Tuckabatchee’s Haunted Camp and Family Halloween Day
The annual Haunted Camp is sure to send chills down your spine. Just outside of town and surrounded by nothing but woods, animals and things that go bump in the night, Camp Tuckabatchee is the perfect location for a Halloween experience. The event features haunted cabins, a walk through the woods, hayride, concessions and more. Haunted Camp is open Oct. 16–17, 23–24 and 30 from 7–10 p.m. each night, with a $7 admission fee.
For a less frightening Halloween adventure the whole family can enjoy, Camp Tuckabatchee is also holding a Family Halloween Day on Oct. 25 from noon–4 p.m. Pumpkin carving, pony rides, face painting, troll fishing, concessions and a not-so-scary haunted house will be available. Be sure to dress up for this event because everyone in costume receives a free treat!
Haunted Halloween Night Hikes and Storytelling
Hike through the beautiful Starved Rock State Park and enjoy some family-friendly ghost stories at the annual Haunted Halloween Night Hikes and Storytelling on Oct. 24. Guided tours will lead you to the top of Starved Rock, and along the way, you’ll hear eerie tales about the park’s past and encounter its resident ghost, The Pink Lady. The haunted hikes leave the Visitor Center at 5 and 6 p.m. Afterward, you can return to the Visitor Center for snacks and an hour of spooky storytelling beginning at 7 p.m.
Halloween Boook Stroll
Visit the children’s department at Reddick Public Library in downtown Ottawa Oct. 19–31 and walk through an interactive Halloween story. Different spots throughout the library will feature a page from the story for you and your child to read and perform activities. The Halloween Boook Stroll is the perfect way to engage children of all ages in the spooktacular holiday.
The Melikin Puppets Present: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
The Reddick Library is also giving children another Halloween treat with a telling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Bring your kids to the library on Oct. 29 from 5:30–6:15 p.m. and watch The Melikin Puppets perform the classic tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman.
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