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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.

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!

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