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Live an Active Life at the Harbor

“Who says you need to wait until the New Year to start living your best life? The best time to start is NOW! “

Who says you need to wait until the New Year to start living your best life? The best time to start is NOW!  Heritage Harbor has all you need and more to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

Heritage Harbor’s river access lends itself to a multitude of water sports, and Heritage Harbor Marina and Quest Watersports have all your rental needs taken care of. Take advantage of the last few weeks of warmth and take a Stand Up Paddle board out for a spin, test out a kayak, or go big and rent a ski boat and spend the day tubing, water skiing, or boogie boarding. 

As the days shorten and cool off, you may decide to take your active lifestyle back on solid ground. Starved Rock Country has no shortage of adventure trails and state parks to explore. If cycling is your choice, Heritage Harbor has access to the Historic I & M Canal trail. Runners and walkers alike have access every Saturday at 9am to parkrun, a free timed 5K event on the Harbor Walk.

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Heritage Harbor homeownerJeff Gerald has found a happy, healthy, fit lifestyle to love. Gerald is a committed parkrun participant who has found success and support in the parkrun community. Jeff is Heritage Harbor Ottawa parkrun’s first 50th milestone achiever. At the one year celebration of Heritage Harbor Ottawa parkrun, Jeff shared that, “In my almost 59 years on this planet I hadn’t ever run or even walked 5K/3.1 miles; now I do it EVERY Saturday at 9am!!! It got me into an exercise routine that lead me into doing Orange Theory 3 days a week. I have been a vegetarian/pescatarian since October all thanks to parkrun! Over 50 lbs lost, and I will be running again Saturday at 9am!” Community and accountability are essential when it comes to healthy habit formation, and Jeff has proven that the harbor community offers that.

What is your favorite living active thing to do in Starved Rock Country?  Comment below to share with us!

Click Here to Book your Free Waterfront Discovery Tour of the resort

Experience Starved Rock Country’s Magnificent Miles of Fall Color

“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.

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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.

Freelance writers are always on the lookout for inspiration and fresh perspectives to infuse into their writing. And a visit to Matthiessen State Park during the fall season can be a perfect opportunity to immerse ourselves in nature’s beauty and draw on its colors, sights, and sounds to create vivid descriptions and settings for their written work. Whether they are penning a travel article, a personal essay at Essayswriting to order, or a work of fiction, Matthiessen State Park can provide the perfect backdrop to help their create compelling content.

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.

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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 hho@heritageharborottawa.com 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.

Abundant wildlife.

Breathtaking waterfalls.

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 Scoop on the ‘Loop’

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.

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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?

Starved Rock Country Fall Bucket List

“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!

The Official Best of Illinois 2018 Selects Heritage Harbor!!!

“Official Best of” is proud to be featuring Illinois’ top attractions with their “Official Best of Illinois 2018”. Heritage Harbor has been selected as the Best Waterfront Resort Community for 2018.

“Official Best of” is proud to be featuring Illinois’ top attractions with their “Official Best of Illinois 2018”. Heritage Harbor has been selected as the Best Waterfront Resort Community for 2018. There will be showings on Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC and other networks as the program availability allows. The program will also be available on the popular www.OfficialBestOf.com travel website.

“When the call came in to inform us that we had been selected, we were ecstatic,” states Tom Heimsoth, Developer of Heritage Harbor. “Our story began 10 years ago, and we continue to show amazing progress with many memories being created by our residents, boaters and guests.”

The “Official Best Of” was started in 2004 by Executive Producer, Brett Allen-a TV executive from St. Louis, Missouri. Brett saw a need for a researched travel resource that would also provide TV features online as an additional resource for both in and out of state travelers. As a result, “The Official Best Of” was born. Each state production showcases outstanding “best” attractions located throughout each state in a variety of categories. A research staff studies online travel sites, state tourism information, CVB resources and other sources to determine whether an attraction merits the “Official Best” seal. One distinction that sets “Official Best Of” apart from many other travel sites is that it does not accept advertising on either its television programs or its website. The selection of attractions is entirely by merit, and lesser known but worthy attractions are given the same attention as more popular ones.

Heritage Harbor joins the company of other notable Illinois attractions such as Yoder’s Kitchen – Best Family Restaurant, Hotel Baker – Best Historic Hotel and more. The presence of water is what draws many to this tranquil haven in Starved Rock Country. Both homeowners and boating enthusiasts can take advantage of the state-of-the art marina, which currently offers 150 boat slips with a future capacity of up to 460 boat slips. The resort boasts on-site swimming pools, events wharf, white sand beach area, harbor and river walk, community club house for Heron’s Landing and a full service, year-round restaurant, The Red Dog Grill. These amenities have added to the overall progress witnessed at the 142-acre waterfront resort. 

The resort has launched the Harbor Inn hospitality brand to manage the vast number of rental requests at the resort. The Cottages and Villas allow Heritage Harbor to promote overnight stays for visitors who wish to experience all that Starved Rock Country has to offer. The area offers activities and entertainment throughout the year that attract visitors to this waterfront community. 

The video footage of Heritage Harbor will be featured on the OfficialBestof.com website toward the end of the year. To book your discovery tour of the resort visit www.VisitHeritageHarbor.com or call (815) 433-5000. 

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We’d love to hear your thoughts about your adventures at Heritage Harbor!! Hit Comment Below and tell us your thoughts!

Life’s A Beach! Knots Landing

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.


MAKE YOUR VERY OWN INDEPENDENCE DECLARATION THIS FOURTH OF JULY

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! 

Upgrade Your Inner Explorer by Discovering Your Perfect Vacation Rental Property

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! 

Five Things to Consider When Buying a Vacation Home

Custom cottages at Heritage Harbor Ottawa

If you are thinking of investing in a second home, small considerations can mean all the difference between a vacation property that’s good for the long haul versus one that seems like a good deal now, but turns out to not be the right fit. Work through these criteria to narrow down your options before you buy.

1. Location
“Location, location, location” is a catchphrase for a reason. If your vacation home is too far away, you’ll put off going there due to travel time. Yet if it’s in the next town over, it might not feel like you’ve really “gotten away” from your day to day life.

When you’re considering buying a second home, it can be easy to underestimate the time you’ll spend getting to your destination. On Friday nights and holiday weekends, it can seem like everyone who works or lives in Chicago is trying to get out of town. This can mean long car rides just trying to get to a second home you purchased.

Over time, you may find yourself opting to stay in town for the weekend because you don’t want to spend 3+ hours in traffic again. If you really want a second home you’ll return to time and again, look for places that are under two hours from the city.

An ideal location near Chicago means less time in the car compared with driving to rural Michigan or Wisconsin. There are great places to be found right under your nose just a short drive from the city. Starved Rock Country is a quick 90 minutes from Chicago, and is fill of hidden gems like Heritage Harbor, a marina resort located in Ottawa, IL.
2. Amenities
In the long run, you’ll want a second home that’s near amenities, so you can have fun exploring a new area. When friends or relatives come visit, they’ll want to join in the fun, too!

Look for a community that’s close to multiple dining options so you have variety while allowing convenient access to nature, history, and children’s activities. Ottawa has a great dining scene, with new restaurants popping up regularly. Starved Rock State Park is close by for year-round recreation, along with other fun activities such as zip lining, sky diving, hiking, biking, and more.

Heritage Harbor Marina

3. Boating Lifestyle
If you want a second home that allows for fishing and boating, you must consider the quality of the boating lifestyle in the place you’re considering.

Boating opportunities are numerous in the Chicago area but offer different lifestyle propositions. If you typically fish or boat on a lake but you’re thinking about getting a riverfront property, rent a weekend cabin on the river first as a way to confirm the decision is right for you.

For marina communities, investigate the quality, age, and ease of access to amenities onsite. Will you be sharing facilities with the public, or only with other property owners? Determine what costs are associated with marina usage before you make any property decisions. Never assume that you will be able to access something for free; always find out to compare available properties.

Rental options can be handy if you don’t have a boat. Seasonal boat rentals offset expenditures and enable you to enjoy all the conveniences of boat ownership without assuming the expense of boat ownership, maintenance, and seasonal storage.

Ask how long the boating season is at any communities you like. Water and weather conditions vary, but can mean a difference in as much as 1-2 months from one body of water to another. If boating is the main reason you’re looking for a vacation home, season length is key.

While you’re exploring any boating communities, you’re thinking of joining, get to know the locals. Find out if there are social events, from neighborhood block parties to fireworks festivals. A community that’s friendly and inclusive will be a lot easier to join than a marina that’s standoffish or suffers regular churn.

As a final factor in evaluating the boating options, consider potential boating destinations. If you pick a lakefront option, you are limited to the lake. Even if it’s a huge lake, you could tire of spending every Saturday exploring the same shorefront. A river offers somewhat more flexibility, especially if nearby riverfront towns have summer music festivals, waterfront dining, and more.

Heritage Harbor custom cottage with river views

4. Home Design
Once you’ve narrowed down the communities that are best for you, hone in on the homes. What designs are offered, and what meets your lifestyle?

An ideal community will offer different home plans and designs that allow you to select the best option for your budget, personal preferences, and more.

Does the home have a deck, patio, or other outdoor space that allows you to enjoy the sunset over the water? Are there outdoor amenities, storage space, or privacy screens from the neighbors?

Inside, is the space adequate for you, your family, and guests? Flexible lofts or dens allow you to accommodate extra guests.

For a second home, buying into a place that’s part of a homeowner’s association or HOA might make sense. If you only get to your second home one or two times a month, you’ll find that maintenance tasks claim your attention. A strong HOA will take care of common maintenance tasks, so you can just enjoy your home.

5. Financial Considerations

Make your final decision on what property is right by reviewing your budget and the finances.

Crunch the numbers for HOA fees, flood insurance, boat rental, dock fees and other variables to arrive at the true cost of ownership.

With something like a second home on the water, it’s important to consider the add-ons that you get. Waterfront access boosts your enjoyment of the home, but also the money you could get from renting it out to others and from reselling it years from now.

As you work through these five criteria, you can identify the right location for your second home, find the perfect community, and budget for the expense.

Video Tour of the Flite Series Interior Unit

Flite Series Interior Unit

Click here for the video tour!

Welcome to the Flite Series!  This contemporary vacation home is an interior unit.  It features 2 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, an open plan, a full finished walk-out basement and plenty of windows to showcase those incredible views!   For more information on the Flite Series and other homes at Heritage Harbor click here.

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