Heritage Harbor Ottawa Blog

Category: Waterfront

Try Before You Buy

Purchasing a new home requires a big commitment—both time and money. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could try one before you buy it?

You get to test-drive a car and try on clothes before making a decision, so why not do the same with a home?

At Heritage Harbor Ottawa, we want prospective buyers to know what their everyday lives will be like in one of our homes and within the greater Ottawa community, which is why we offer the opportunity to rent a home before buying it. Families can spend a weekend or even a whole week in a home before making a purchasing decision, giving them time to become familiar with the development and explore the surrounding area.

Custom Home Sites At Heritage Harbor Ottawa

Waterfront Home Sites at Heritage Harbor Ottawa

By spending time in a home, you can experience all the little things that may not come up in a shorter visit or that you may not even consider until you stay overnight. How loud is the dishwasher? Where does the sunlight shine in at different times of the day? How strong is the water pressure in the shower? Nuances like these can make or break a home, and having the chance to discover them beforehand will put your mind at ease.

In addition to learning more about the inside of your prospective home, utilizing Heritage Harbor’s “try before you buy” option allows you to explore the community. We want people to fall in love with all of Heritage Harbor Ottawa­ – the marina, the downtown area and the people – not just the bricks and mortar.

During your stay, you can mingle with your potential neighbors and discuss their experiences living in Heritage Harbor. You can go into town and ask the baristas at the local coffee shop for their opinions on the best restaurants, shops and scenic spots in the area. Your family can also take advantage of the many year-round recreational activities available in Ottawa and Starved Rock Country, including kayaking, hiking, horseback riding and even skydiving.

After you try one of the homes and spend time in the area, you will realize why Heritage Harbor Ottawa is becoming the premier marina resort in the Midwest. Review Our Homes page on our website to see the selection of cottages, townhouses and custom-designed homes, and don’t hesitate to schedule a “test drive” so the homes can speak for themselves.

Adventures in Starved Rock Country – Riverfest!

Happy Almost Weekend 🙂

This week marks the anniversary of my move to the Ottawa area….21 years ago!  What an adventure it has been, but one of the main reasons I remember the week that I moved into Ottawa was the town was all in a ‘buzz’ because it was their Annual Riverfest!  Everyone I met (locals that is) told me I had to go to Riverfest?  Hhmmmmm, music, food and beer…what more could a 20-something ask for:))

I learned that Riverfest was that annual event that people planned their summer vacation around to ensure they were in town for the Fest.  For those that had moved away from the area it was this week they made their way home for the event.  This year Riverfest celebrates its 48th year.  Through the years I have watched the event become stagnant years ago and now I am enjoying as new leadership of the event are resurrecting the event by keeping some tradition yet moving other areas to the next level.  Though it sounds cliché, there is ‘a little bit of everything and something for everyone.’  Riverfest isn’t one day or one night of events but a series of things going on from sidewalk sales to martial arts demonstration; from carnival rides to crafts and the schedule goes on for the next three days.

Who doesn’t love a great parade which culminates the event on Sunday. (Here’s a little parade trivia….the mural on the side of The Beehive Restaurant (across from the courthouse) depicts a town parade in Ottawa.  The artist wove prominent citizens and familiar faces in the painting as marchers or bystanders.  For example, our current Mayor, Bob Eschbach, is drawn as the little boy on his father’s shoulder watching the parade based on the age he would have been in the 1950’s era).  Parades brought people together, and brought them to a vibrant and bustling downtown, just like Riverfest.

Sorry I digressed for a moment…back to Riverfest—The carnival rides are set up so the little rides are segregated from the big rides so no one gets trampled on:)  Though the carnival rides, food and music is closer to the Riverfront or Jordan Block, there is plenty of things happening in Washington Square which then is easily connected to the Jordan Block by way of passing along all the sidewalk sales, crafts and flea markets.
Want to know what’s cookin’ you can check out the Taste of Ottawa and the Chef’s Block, featuring our very own, Tracy’s Boat House.  Other restaurants featured are C230, Muffy’s, R Grottos, Woody’s Steakhouse, Monte’s, Culvers, DiDoughs and all other carnival favorites.  The Chef Block runs from 6pm–12am Friday and Saturday.

The biggest attraction and improvement to the event is the Music Line Up.  The Bands start at 7 each night.  Friday’s lineup begins with Lizzi Neal Band and 90’s Daughter(band for Chicago Blackhawks) and the Young Turks, a Rod Stewart tribute band.  Saturday’s lineup includes Cheap Thrill, featuring members of Collective Soul and Cinderella, Fergie Frederiksen and the Heartbreaker Band, featuring the former lead singer of Toto and the Handcuffs featuring Brad Elvis from the Romantics.  The music event concludes on Sunday with Fleetwood Nicks and Heart Alive, at tribute to Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks and Heart.

Since you all have adopted Ottawa as your ‘home’ I encourage you to partake in its Annual ‘Come Home’ Celebration at this year’s Riverfest.  For a complete schedule of events and more information on Riverfest please visit www.ottawariverfest.org

See you at Riverfest 2013!

Tammy Barry

Heritage Harbor Ottawa

1851 Old Chicago Road

Ottawa, IL 61350

Cell: (815) 252-3113

Office: (815) 433-5000

Fax: (815) 431-8123




Adventures in Starved Rock Country

This is a part of an on-going series of postings that our very own Tammy Barry sends to our homeowners.  Tammy is one of lead sales and marketing people at Heritage Harbor.  But she is also a perfect concierge for knowing all of the best places to explore here in our beautiful area…it is so good that we thought we would include you all “in on the secrets” to be found in Starved Rock Country…

Hi Heritage Harbor friends:

I hope everyone is staying cool….it finally feels like a Midwest Summer!

The other day while biking along the I&M Canal I was reflecting on reasons why we love living in Starved Rock Country.  My head was racing with all the places and adventures we think are special:)  I then committed to myself (and to all of you) that every Wednesday I would drop a quick email about a place or adventure that you can put on your list to enjoy the next time you are in Starved Rock Country.

Some of you may have found them; some of you have not; some of you may love them and some of you may find that it’s just not your thing…regardless it’s all part of living the adventure in Starved Rock Country!  So here’s this week’s place to put on your ‘hit’ list….The Cheese Shop -n- Deli!

When I think of The Cheese Shop, the best analogy I can think of is when I use to watch “Little House on the Prairie” and they would make weekly visits to the General Store.  That’s how I feel when I walk in there, there’s a lot of wood, a long counter and shelves filled with ‘stuff.’  The cool thing is you don’t have to arrive by horse & buggy…but you can arrive by car, HOWEVER, we choose to arrive by bike.  The Cheese Shop is located right along the I&M Canal so you can hop off the trail, have lunch and a re-energizing tea and then head back on the trail (from Heritage Harbor, my guess is it would be appx. 5 miles by bike).  

But The Cheese Shop contents are the furthest thing from the ‘General Store.’  As you can imagine they have the largest selection of imported and domestic cheeses, smoked salmon, homemade pie fillings, giardiniera, sauces and frozen delicacies.  The Cheese Shop is known for homemade soups, sandwiches, salads, fried chicken, etc.   If there is a downsize, the menu is a little overwhelming….did I mention their homemade potato chips:)  They also do catering so they may be able to help you while entertaining and if you don’t go the full-blown catering route, I guarantee that you will find something in the store that will be a treat to serve yourself and/or your guests.

For those of you that love antiques, you will be able to view their eclectic display of antiques and one of Illinois largest displays of antique milk bottles.

While visiting you may see a man behind the counter with glasses and white hair, that is the owner, Marty Ruhland.   His family started the business in 1947 as a cheese factory and Marty is always happy to satisfied customers!  The other guy you will see, has a mustache, John, and he handles all their catering.

They serve lunch and dinner from 8 am -7 pm, Monday thru Saturday.  They are located at  1219 Fulton Street in Ottawa or off the I&M Canal by bike:) You can find them on-line at  www.thecheeseshop.biz.

If you get a chance to go to The Cheese Shop, I would love to hear your thoughts.  Also, I encourage you to share ALL that you experience and learn in Starved Rock Country with your friends and family and invite them to share in the fun!

See you in next week’s article or before…..ENJOY!


Pocket Neighborhoods, Traditional Neighborhood Development and Cottage Living

Heritage Harbor Ottawa is being developed in the finest tradition of some of America’s most iconic & memorable communities. We believe that a sense of “community” has more to do with quality than with quantity and we strive to see that value reflected in everything we do. Whether our customer is a passionate boater , a full-time resident or simply seeking to spend the weekends at a vacation cottage, we want Heritage Harbor to be the place they call “home”.

The Heritage Harbor development vision focuses on developing a community with a broad spectrum of attractive homes, timeless architecture, walk-able neighborhoods, a world-class marina, dining, events, activities, adventure and amenities.    Heritage Harbor is “new urbanism”, “pocket neighborhoods“, and “traditional neighborhood development“.

Recently the Chicago Tribune published an article that highlights some of the benefits and features offered by Pocket Neighborhoods.  Ross Chapin is a well known architect from Washington’s Whidbey Island and he is helping developers with “re-envisioning” the traditional neighborhood.  According to Mary Beth Breckenridge’s article, “Chapin believes people are longing for simpler lives with more interpersonal connection.” 

“It’s the kind of existence he knew when growing up on a Minnesota lakeshore, in a neighborhood steeped in what he called ‘porch culture’-a culture where people had reason to venture outside their homes, where children could roam free and where neighbors interacted on a regular basis.”  At Heritage Harbor Ottawa…we feel the same way.  If you would like to read the article, please follow this link to the Chicago Tribune website.  Chicago Tribune article on Pocket Neighborhoods

Heritage Harbor Ottawa is a 142 acre master-planned, marina, resort community located at the gateway to Starved Rock Country in Ottawa, Illinois on a 32 acre harbor with water-frontage to the scenic Illinois Waterway. Heritage Harbor is uniquely positioned to offer a unique resort lifestyle to residents and guests.  The community is located less than ninety minutes from downtown Chicago, Rockford, Bloomington, Peoria and less than two hours from Champaign-Urbana.  The Starved Rock Country area is recognized and well-regarded as a “getaway” location for people in Illinois & throughout the Midwest.  The combination of recreational amenities & accessibility make Ottawa an ideal location for a premier resort community.

As resort developers and “place creators”, Heritage Harbor is striving to deliver a memorable and enduring resort community development project.  Heritage Harbor has already constructed one of the Midwest’s finest marinas.  Heritage Harbor has established a strong brand and a reputation for delivering a world class resort lifestyle.  Through hard work, strong leadership, diligent planning and continuous innovation, Heritage Harbor Ottawa continues to build a world class resort community.  We believe that concepts like “Pocket Neighborhoods” and “Traditional Neighborhood Development” not only produce a more appealing streetscape…but a more appealing lifestyle.


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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