Heritage Harbor Ottawa Blog

Category: Starved Rock Country

Vacation rentals near Starved Rock State Park

Voted the best attraction in the state by the Illinois Office of Tourism, Starved Rock State Park is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway or extended vacation.

The park will take your breath away with its waterfalls, towering trees, canyons and bluffs overlooking the scenic Illinois River Valley. In addition to its incredible sights, the area is also ripe for a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, boating, bicycling and fishing. For a place to stay during your trip, Heritage Harbor Ottawa has a number of cozy vacation rental properties waiting for you to make your home away from home. Waterfall at Starved Rock State Park

Located fewer than 15 miles from Starved Rock State Park, Heritage Harbor keeps you close to your destination and offers additional adventures in the historic town of Ottawa. When you’re not trekking through trails at Starved Rock State Park, you can explore the shops and restaurants in downtown Ottawa or take advantage of Heritage Harbor’s full-service marina, boat launch and swimming pool. Your vacation rental in Heritage Harbor Ottawa offers more than just a place to sleep; it will enhance your visit and make the trip one to remember.

Rental properties are available for families of many different sizes, whether your trip is for just you and your significant other or the whole family with kids. Couples or small families can choose the Huck Finn’s Hideout, Under the Tuscan Sun or Lazy Days houses, all accommodating up to four people in their deluxe one- or two-bedroom layouts. Rental homes and cottages are also available for large families and groups. Riverside Reflections, Stone’s Throw, Toes in the Water and King’s Cottage each hold up to six or seven people. The largest rental available, Eddie’s Hideaway, holds a maximum of 11 people, with a deluxe two-bedroom loft setup.

While the rental homes vary in size, all of them feature a full-service kitchen, a Keurig coffee maker for your morning boost, in-unit laundry, an electric fireplace, cable TV, free WiFi and a welcome kit to ensure your time on the property goes as smoothly as possible. Two of Heritage Harbor’s vacation rentals, Riverside Reflections and Stone’s Throw, are also pet-friendly houses so your furry friend can make the trip along with the rest of the family.

Huck Finn's Hideout at Heritage Harbor Ottawa

To start planning your Starved Rock adventure and stay at Heritage Harbor Ottawa, visit the Vacations Rentals page for more information, or call 815-433-5000 to check availability and make a reservation.

Now that you’ve flipped the calendar to October, it’s time to start planning for Halloween. With haunted houses, pumpkin carving, ghost stories and hayrides, Ottawa, IL is full of events to give you the best Halloween thrills and chills. Whether you’re looking for a scream-inducing fright fest or light-hearted activities for the whole family, you’ll find the perfect event around town. Here are just a few of the Halloween events to mark on your calendar this year.

Fall Hunting Opportunities Near Starved Rock

In addition to the breathtaking sights and stunning fall colors, the countryside of Starved Rock also promises amazing hunting opportunities this time of year.

Ottawa and the surrounding Starved Rock Country are home to a variety of wildlife and natural habitats that are a hunter’s dream. Deer, turkey and game bird hunting are the most common in the area, and all have open seasons during the fall months.

Both deer and turkey hunting are incredibly popular around Ottawa and Starved Rock Country, especially bow hunting. In fact, Catlin Park, Ottawa’s 333-acre county park, is one of the best bow hunting locations in LaSalle County. The park is riddled with woods, hills and lakes, making it the ideal habitat for animals during hunting season. With Catlin Park less than 10 miles from Heritage Harbor Ottawa, hunters don’t have to waste time driving a long distance to their hunting location. They can head to Catlin Park early in the morning, set up their tree stands while the sun rises and spend the whole day waiting for the perfect game.

Bow hunting for deer, turkey and other game in Catlin Park and the rest of Illinois is allowed from Oct. 1 through Jan. 17, except during firearm hunting season, which takes place Nov. 21–23 and Dec. 4–7. Information on permits, game limits and tree stand requirements for hunting in Catlin Park can be found here.

If you prefer hunting waterfowl (geese and ducks) over deer or turkey, the hunting season opens mid-October and runs through January in northern and central Illinois. Ottawa is right on the border of the North Zone and Central Zone so hunting north of I-80 and west of I-39 is in the North Zone, while south and east are in the Central Zone. Be sure to check herefor each zone’s specific duck, Canada goose, snow goose and white-fronted goose hunting dates.

A second home or vacation rental in Heritage Harbor Ottawa will allow you to spend an extended weekend or even full weeks at a time enjoying the great outdoors and hitting all of Ottawa’s popular hunting spots. With Catlin Park a short distance away and Starved Rock and Mattiessen state parks nearby as well, you’ll have plenty of ground to cover during your stay.

Fall Colors At Starved Rock


Come see the fall colors at Starved Rock!

Ottawa, IL is surrounded by plenty of natural wonders, including rivers, forests, bluffs and canyons. Add in the gorgeous reds, oranges and yellows of the changing leaves, and the area’s stunning landscape becomes a must-see every fall season. Here are four of Ottawa’s best spots to hit in order to experience the magnificent fall colors.


Starved Rock State Park

The park is beautiful at any time of the year with its 18 sandstone canyons, 14 cascading waterfalls and 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. Because of the park’s hills and bluffs, the majestic colors appear in a tiered effect that allows viewers to take in more colors at once. Click here for our rentals for your stay.


Every year, Starved Rock holds Fall Colors Weekend. During the event, guides provide free hiking tours which lead to various overlooks and canyons within the park where people can enjoy the breathtaking colors. The 2015 Fall Colors Weekend is Oct. 18–19, with guided tours leaving the Visitor Center at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day.

Matthiessen State Park

Not far from Starved Rock State Park is another state park 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.

Catlin Park

This 333-acre county park features bluffs, an oak-hickory forest, steep ravines covered in maple trees, 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. 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.

Hungry after hiking? Visit our restaurant.

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.

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The natural beauty of Starved Rock

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Beautiful hiking trails.

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Peaceful walk-ways.

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Breathtaking waterfalls.

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Awe inspiring sunsets.


Progressive Home Tour

August 22 Progressive Home Tour To Showcase Available Vacation Homes at Heritage Harbor Ottawa


OTTAWA, Ill. (August 22, 2015) – Buyers in the market for a vacation, retirement or full-time waterfront home are invited to attend a “progressive” home tour on Saturday, August 22 at Heritage Harbor Ottawa Resort, a marina resort community located in Starved Rock Country, along the Illinois River in Ottawa, Ill.


Located just 90 minutes southwest of Chicago, Heritage Harbor Ottawa is a 142-acre master-planned development of single-family homes, townhomes, vacation cottages, carriage homes and condos, centered on a 32-acre harbor and full-service marina. With its offering of boating amenities, waterfront living, and nearby recreational opportunities such as Starved Rock State Park and the I&M Canal Trail, the community offers a resort lifestyle for those seeking a vacation, retirement or full-time residence in this region.


The progressive home tour will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. and will include the opportunity to view Heritage Harbor Ottawa Resort by boat and then travel by golf cart to tour a variety of currently available homes in the community. Attendees will sample different snacks and beverages at each residence and will receive a small gift at every stop on the tour. At the conclusion of the tour, guests will be given a complimentary gift certificate to Heritage Harbor’s on-site restaurant, the Red Dog Grill.


“We have such an incredible variety of homes available at Heritage Harbor Ottawa that we thought it would be fun for prospective buyers to experience them in the spirit of a traditional progressive party,” said Tammy Barry, director of sales and marketing for Heritage Harbor Ottawa. “Attendees will be our guest as they tour these residences, and will have a terrific opportunity to learn more about the community and the lifestyle it offers. We hope they’ll also stay to use their Red Dog Grill certificate and be part of our BREWERY NAME Half Past Red beer launch party, with skydivers landing around 5:45 to tap the first keg and kick off an evening of live music and celebration.”


Homes on the progressive tour include immediate-delivery single-family homes, priced from $339,000; the West Harbor Lofts, a collection of four-level townhomes priced from $270.000; the Flite townhomes, an enclave of four contemporary townhomes priced from $390,000; and available vacation cottages in the Cottages at Heron’s Landing neighborhood, priced from $159,000. Attendees will also be invited on a “dusty shoe” preview tour of two homes currently under construction at the Cottages at River Row, the community’s newest pocket neighborhood.


Additionally, tour participants will have the opportunity to demo a Hobie Kayak from the Heritage Harbor Marina, and will learn more about boating and recreational amenities at Heritage Harbor Ottawa and in the surrounding Starved Rock Country region.


RSVPS are required for the progressive home tour; to register, call (815) 433-5000. For more information on available homes at Heritage Harbor Ottawa, visit www.heritageharborottawa.com.


About Heritage Harbor Ottawa

Heritage Harbor Ottawa is a 142-acre master-planned marina resort community of 600 homes located on the Illinois River in Ottawa, Ill., just 90 minutes from downtown Chicago. Featuring a 32-acre marina surrounded by pocket neighborhoods of waterfront custom homes, condominiums, cottages and townhomes, Heritage Harbor Ottawa is a unique residential option in Starved Rock Country for those seeking a vacation, retirement or full-time home on the water. For more information, visit www.heritageharborottawa.com.

Ottawa Riverfest Offers Days of FUN!

The Ottawa Riverfest is LaSalle County’s largest festival and draws crowds from all over the state. The annual event aims to celebrate the Ottawa community by bringing people together and showcasing local talent and organizations. With live music, carnival rides, a parade, a 5K run/walk and many more events, the Ottawa Riverfest promises activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Riverfest kicks off on Wednesday, July 29, with the 50th Annual Welcomeburger Picnic in Washington Square Park at 5 p.m. The picnic, hosted by the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce, began as a way for visitors and new residents to be properly welcomed to the Ottawa community and to learn about local businesses. The Welcomeburger Picnic is now a Riverfest tradition, and for $25, attendees have access to all-you-can-eat burgers and bratwurst, beans, chips and drinks. The event also includes live music, games and a raffle.

Also kicking off the Riverfest weekend is the Wilson Family Show Carnival, which begins Wednesday night at 6 p.m. A variety of amusement rides and midway games are available for all ages to enjoy, including classics like the Ferris wheel, bumper cars and skeeball. The carnival is open all five days of Riverfest, July 29 through August 2.

While a wide variety of activities are available throughout the weekend, the main attraction of the Ottawa Riverfest is the free live music. Each night of Riverfest features multiple performances, including headliners Creedence Revived, Funky Monks, Silver Bullet STL and Dogs of Society – tribute bands to Creedence Clearwater Revival, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Seger and Elton John, respectively. The full lineup of bands with performance times can be found on the Ottawa Riverfest events calendar.

In addition to the live music, another Riverfest favorite is the Taste of Ottawa. The event features food from several of Ottawa’s finest eateries, including The Cheese Shop ‘n’ Deli,R. Grotto Ristorante and Woody’s Steakhouse. Food and beverage tickets can be purchased in advance at City Hall or the Ottawa Visitors Center at the price of 10 tickets for $10. Tickets are also available at the gate, but at the price of only 9 tickets for $10.

Other notable activities throughout the Riverfest weekend include the Paddle Boat Races and Kids’ Fishing Rodeo event Thursday night, Easter Seals 5K Run/Walk on Saturday morning, a parade on Sunday afternoon and the LaSalle County Cruisers’ 31st Annual Car Show also on Sunday. A complete schedule of Riverfest activities is posted here.

Whether you spend the whole weekend exploring everything the Ottawa Riverfest has to offer or you pack all the fun into one day, the festival is sure to be an event your family will remember for years to come.

Heritage Harbor Outlines Top 5 Illinois River Road Attractions

The Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway ties together more than 100 nature-based destinations and unique communities throughout the Midwest in the Illinois River Valley. So, what are some top spots?

Heritage Harbor Ottawa, premier resort and waterfront community, is located in one of five Illinois River Road Gateway Communities-Ottawa, Ill. The Heritage Harbor community has harnessed its hometown and local knowledge to help guide the way along the Illinois River Road with its Top 5 Suggested Attractions.

The Illinois byway is filled with tons of places to discover and experience the nature of the Illinois Valley, while also meandering through often overlooked communities. Whether it’s boating, hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, exploring wetlands, gardens, birding and watching wildlife, the possibilities for adventure are endless.

Here are the Top 5 Best Illinois River Road Attractions, according to Heritage Harbor:


Illini State Park

Located across the Illinois River from the town of Marseilles, the 510-acre Illini State Park lies along the northern edge of the “Great Falls” of the river. There, a drop in streambed gradient creates beautiful roaring rapids. The park sits atop an old glacial moraine and features a dense hardwood forest. Hikers (and winter cross country skiers) can take the park’s Marasottawa Trail. It loops from the Sycamore Grove Shelter on the east end of the park up to the Mallard Bay Shelter and Boat Launch on the east end.

City of Ottawa

A gateway city on the River Road (and home to Heritage Harbor), Ottawa combines historical sites with new age beauty and entertainment with unique gift shops, bars and restaurants. Constructed in 1858 by former Illinois State Senator William Reddick, Reddick Mansion is the oldest surviving building in Ottawa’s historic Washington Square. Today, Reddick Mansion is open for tours. Ottawa’s other historic sites include Washington Square, where Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas convened in 1858 for the first of seven senatorial debates; Ottawa’s Mural Program, a public art program erecting large murals by world class artists on exterior walls of the older (Victorian) commercial buildings in Ottawa’s Historic Downtown; Ottawa’s River Walk, a 3.5-mile paved walk along the Fox River; and Allen Park offers some of the best local views of the Illinois River along with picnic shelters, boat launches, playgrounds, and a collection of outdoor sculptures.

Hopalong Cassidy River Trail

This trail parallels the swift-flowing waters of the Vermilion River in the town of Streator. Visitors can follow the trail through an urban forest of mulberry, hackberry, oak, and maple. Blue Jays, chickadees, and woodpeckers flit in and out of the riparian trees as butterflies and dragonflies frolic along the trail’s sunnier stretches. The trail ends at a public canoe launch.

Starved Rock State Park

The 2,816-acre Starved Rock State Park complex in Utica, Ill., is one of the best publicly-held natural areas in all of Illinois. The park has 18 distinct canyons created by St. Peter sandstone. Seasonally, the canyons either have sparkling waterfalls or magnificent and immense ice falls. Throughout the spring and summer, wildflowers sprinkle the land. The park’s Visitor Center also has native Illinois River fish, a replica of a native wig-wam, interactive displays, guided hikes and nature programs on a year-round basis.

La Salle’s Lock 16 Canal

Lock 16 Visitor Center and I&M Canal Boat Ride are located at the corner of First Street and Route 351 at the Illinois & Michigan Canal in downtown La Salle. Visitors can enjoy a one-hour 1848 canal boat ride with guides from the era. The Lock 16 Visitor Center also has a gift shop and the cafe is open year round.

For more information on the Illinois River Road Scenic Byway, visit its website at http://www.illinoisriverroad.org/. More information on Heritage Harbor, its amenities or a visit to Ottawa can be found by reaching Tammy Barry at 815-433-5000 or tammyb@heritageharborottawa.com.

Paddle Sports Trend Hits Starved Rock Country Thanks to Quest Watersports


Stand Up Paddleboard available at Quest Watersports

Plenty of room for extra "passengers"!

Plenty of room for extra "passengers"!










Here is a great new activity to enjoy in Starved Rock Country!  Quest Watersports is the area’s number one spot for all of your Hobie Kayaking and Paddle Sports gear.

The latest water sport trend — stand-up paddle-boarding — has moved into Starved Rock Country thanks to Quest Watersports.  Stand-up paddle-boarding is currently the fastest-growing water sport on the planet, and Quest aims to grow that popularity on the Illinois River, using the marina and resort setting at Heritage Harbor Ottawa as a launching point.

Anyone curious about SUP can test their skill at Quest. There will be live demos during the last weekend of June during Quest and Heritage Harbor Ottawa’s Dock Days.

If you want to learn more you can read the recent article in Digital Trends

From the Wall Street Journal Today

Getting Away—but Not Too Far

As Vacation-Home Sales Gain Momentum, Travel Costs Keep Buyers Closer to Home

This article by Robbie Whelan was in today’s Wall Street Journal.  It really reinforces what we have been witnessing here at Heritage Harbor.  People are starting to select better values closer to home as they seek to invest wisely in their second home / vacation home / “pretirement” home.   Starved Rock Country is close to Chicago, suburban Chicago, Bloomington, Peoria, Rockford, and Champaign/Urbana but it feels like a world away.  Located in historic Starved Rock Country, Heritage Harbor offers a world class itinerary of vistas, venues, events and adventures.  Heritage Harbor offers waterfront luxury at a greater value for discerning home shoppers.

Here are a few of the highlights from the article.  The first sentence tells the whole story…

  • Sales of vacation homes are picking up as low prices pull buyers off the fence. But with travel costs rising and consumers still uncertain about the economy, many buyers are snapping up properties closer to home.
  • The shift in buying habits partly reflects the changing portrait of the typical vacation-home buyer. In the recent past, the vacation-home market was led by families looking for places with attractions for children as well as adults. But a growing number of buyers are older and seeking vacation homes that transition into retirement homes.
  • “People want to stay within driving distance because they’re more able to maintain the homes, they have better networks in place and friends and family nearby to use and sustain the homes,” said Jon Gray, vice president of HomeAway.com, a website that lists vacation rentals. A survey in March by site operator HomeAway Inc. found that the most popular markets among vacationers this year are those that can be reached in a drive of four hours or less from home. That makes those markets good investment opportunities for the 91% of vacation-home buyers who plan to rent their properties when they aren’t using them. 
  • The rising cost of gas and airfares is a huge factor for many buyers. The average cost of a gallon of gasoline was $3.83 this week. While down from the two-year peak of $3.97 reached in May 2011, gas prices have been rising steadily since mid-December, when they fell to a 10-month low of $3.23 a gallon. Airfares, meanwhile, jumped 14% between March 2010 and March 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

To read to entire article you can visit the Wall Street Journal online at


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