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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!

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! 

Experience Valentine’s Day in Starved Rock Country, Illinois

EXPERIENCE VALENTINE’S DAY IN STARVED ROCK COUNTRY, ILLINOIS

Right here at Heritage Harbor Ottawa

If valleys and hills could sing, Starved Rock Country would be an endless song of bravery, passion and fortitude. Singing with chivalrous forté and gentle
piano, many a story of valiant love and bravado would resound from the region’s many breathtaking rocky heights and mystical river settings.

And speaking of breathtaking…

So here’s the thing – Valentine’s Day’s a-comin’!
You’re running out of time? You’re looking for some good suggestions and hints that will help you
to arrange that perfect Valentine’s Day experience for you and your special somebody?

Got it! Well, best we get on with it before it’s too late. After all, if all is fair in love and war, then you
don’t want to be making it easy for your competition. Just saying 😉

Dreaming and Dining with St. Valentine in Starved Rock Country

If you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day getaway, and you’re…let’s just say it…Romantic…then you may want to get the low-down on what is on offer for you in and around Illinois this February 14!

Heritage Harbor Ottawa: Your first stop, and the fast-becoming first-love of Ottawa Illinois Valentine vibes just 90-minutes from the ‘burbs

Heritage Harbor Ottawa is a master-planned resort development in Ottawa, Illinois.

Located just 90 minutes from Chicago, the development is quickly becoming a favorite for boaters and watersport enthusiasts in the fall and summer months, and for birders and romantics in the winter and spring months.

Love is in the air, and vacation rentals are on the winter water’s edge…

The vacation rental cottages and reunion homes that are available at Heritage Harbor are nestled beautifully around a master-planned marina resort. Surrounded by the untouched natural beauty of a winter wonderland setting, your soul will be awakened by the call of the Bald Eagles teeming in the skies in February month.

Dining with red hot love

Whisk your Love into the warmth and exuberance of the “Dine With Us” Valentine’s Evening at Heritage Harbor’s Red Dog Grilll – a fine restaurant run by fine chefs with a fine set of culinary skills that will set flame to your special time away. Book now to secure your table and prepare for an unforgettably romantic dining experience.

Here’s 4 Helpful Valentine’s Day Ideas for a Day-Night Stay in and Around Starved Rock Country
1. August Hill Winery and the Illinois Sparkling Company

Run by a notable winemaker, Mark Wenzel, August Hill Winer will give you a sip and a taste (and maybe more) of the locally
cultivated August Hill range of wines.

If you and your Valentine are more into the sparkle, the Illinois Sparkling Company will also scintillate your palates with their traditionally-made sparkling wine that would put any French Champagne through its paces.

If you’re inclined to take a wine tasting tour, make a loop past the Illinois River Winery and Clarks Run Creek Gifts and Wine Tasting. Who knows, you may leave as the new member of one or more wine clubs offered by these wineries (depending, of course, on how far your tasting endeavors went ;)).

2. Cosy up and gaze up at Starved Rock Bald Eagles

The Bald Eagles arrive in Starved Rock country in December and don’t leave until March. So, if you and your mate are up for a bit of fresh air on your face and the dreamy settings of white-headed raptors soaring in the skies, communing in the bare trees on snow-white backgrounds, and frolicking on the ice, you’d do no better than to book your stay at  Heritage Harbor Ottawa or one of the other vacation rental options in Ottawa or Utica – who knows, you may be overtaken by the Valentine spirit and do some frolicking of your own ☺!

3. A romantic escape to a 19th Century mansion

For a tasteful sojourn into old-style chivalry and honor, walk arm in arm with your love on the winding paths of the Hegeler Carus Mansion property. Hear, read and immerse yourselves in the romantic yet true and historic journey of the Hegeler and Carus families who lived and flourished in the mansion from the late 1800s until 2004.

Shop the Hegeler and Carus look, if you really care to do so, or simply allow your imagination to run free as you tour the mansion, browse its quaint and captivating little shops, explore its many nooks and crannies, and finish off with a delightful meal at its in-house (no pun intended, but let’s just leave it there if you please) restaurant.

4. The heart of starved rock – Starved Rock State Park

As we mentioned, Starved Rock is charged with the bravery, passion and loyalty of some of the First Nation tribes that were indigenous to the area. A Valentine’s Day and night stay in Starved Rock Country would be incomplete without taking a turn at Starved Rock State Park to experience the natural beauty, rich and
intriguing history, and open-air freedom of what we have all come to know and love as Starved Rock Country.

Take a trolley tour that will give you Bald Eagle views from the warmth of a heated vehicle (the weather may make a walking tour unpleasant). While you’re about it, you’ll learn about the great clash between the Illinois and Ottawa tribes, their loyalty, courage and fight, and the way this epic event was forever marked in time. You’ll love your time spent together, and you’ll love that you chose to celebrate love right here in Starved Rock Country, Ottawa, Illinois.

Ciao!
The Heritage Harbor Team

Bald Eagles are Soaring in Starved Rock Country, Illinois

3 Tips – Be Here, Bring your Best Binoculars, and Respect the Eagle!

 

You’re floating effortlessly on an anti-gravity, 8-foot wingspan at ten thousand feet above Illinois Starved Rock Country.  Gentle winds slip past your aerodynamic form and, in the perfect silence, the sun’s radiant energy is as loud as your favorite song…

 

Awaken the eagle in you as you experience the Bald Eagle in Starved Rock Country this winter…

For millennia the human race has held an innate fascination with eagles. No less the Bald Eagle that frequents the winter skies of Starved Rock Country near Chicagoland. So we thought that, since Bald Eagle season is hear in Illinois, let’s revisit a few helpful basics when scanning the skies and timber skylines for this magnificent raptor that means so much to us Americans.

 


 

Tip#1 – Don’t be a stranger in Starved Rock Country as you scan the plains for Bald Eagles

Yes, that’s us inviting you to make a trip of it!

 

Most birders with a passion for Bald Eagles would agree that, apart from Alaska, Starved Rock Country presents the most attractive Bald Eagle-watching opportunity. In the winter months we grab our gear and head out for a few days to get our annual Bald Eagle fix along the Illinois Waterway where these raptors hunt for fish and other prey.

 

 

 

 

For many, Ottawa (Illinois) would be the preferred destination to do just that. We’ve fallen in love with the friendly community, rich natural beauty, and literally hundreds of Bald Eagles calling our focus to the skies.

Reviews on TripAdvisor for Starved Rock State Park bear witness to this with thousands of positive reviews, certificates of excellence and photographs to convince you of the same! Check out some of the Vacation Rental opportunities at Heritage Harbor Ottawa to take your Starved Rock Country experience to whole new heights!

 


Tip #2 – Be sure to fly with the eagles in high definition!

 

Perched on the edge of the Illinois Waterway not far from his Harbor Cottage at Heritage Harbor in Ottawa, Illinois, one Bald Eagle fanatic is mesmerized by yet another siting of this magnificent bird of prey. He is fortunate enough to view the unfolding scene of a mother hunting for her young through the uber-focus of his SNYPEX Knight D-ED 8×50 Binoculars.

 

“Ahem, yes”, he says with a self-confident rumble in his throat, “I am boasting…but what’s a little brag between birders, right?”

 

Voted the best birding binoculars of 2017, these bad boys give the user the vivid sense that they are literally sharing the sky with this predatory bird as it slides through the open air. “I see the hunger in her eyes, and the urgency she feels because of the fact that her nest is vulnerable while she is out hunting”, says our fanatic (who will remain nameless).

 

According to BestBinocularsReviews.com, there are some important pointers to ensuring that you select the correct pair of binoculars for your bird-watching escapades:

 

Firstly, if you’re after one pair of binoculars that can serve all your bird-watching needs, don’t go more powerful than 8x magnification. Why? Well, BBR gives us 3 good reasons…

 

  • A Wider field of view to enable easier location of the bird you’re watching without scanning
  • Better image stability: a 10x magnification is more shaky because it amplifies every hand movement as much as the image you’re trying to view.
  • Greater eye relief: If you wear glasses or sunglasses while viewing, 8x magnification still provides a high definition picture; it is difficult to find 10x magnification binoculars that enable a high definition picture when wearing glasses.

So do yourself a favor and get your eyes on a pair of these before you arrive Heritage Harbor Vacation Rentals or any other highly rated accommodation in Starved Rock Country.

 

 


Tip #3 – Remember where this mighty raptor has come from, and do your part to conserve it

 

You may remember that, in 1972, Bald Eagles were regarded as nearing extinction in America. Having become the icon of US-pride from 1782 until that time, the raptor was dwindling in numbers owing to mankind’s culling them to protect the fishing industry, and using pesticides that would ultimately poison these masters of the sky rather than the rodents that they preyed upon.

Since that time, when DDT (toxic pesticide) was banned, the Bald Eagle has made a triumphant comeback – much to the pleasure of every patriotic American.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service continues to manage the Bald Eagle population with great diligence and care. It also urges the public to remember that, while it is no longer endangered, the Bald Eagle is still very much protected under US law. We all share the responsibility of ensuring that they are undisturbed and unharmed when we venture out to capture them photographically or visually in their natural habitats.

We’ll keep an eye out for you! Don’t miss the flight of the Bald Eagle in Starved Rock Country this February!

 

xx

The Heritage Harbor Team

The Simple Life for Vacation Home Owners

The Simple Life

Located along the Illinois River in Ottawa, Ill., Heritage Harbor Ottawa is a 142-acre development of single-family homes, townhomes, vacation cottages, carriage homes and condos, centered on a 32-acre harbor with a full-service marina and year-round restaurant. With its boating amenities, waterfront living and nearby recreational attractions, such as Starved Rock State Park and the I&M Canal Trail, the community offers an ideal resort lifestyle for those seeking a vacation, retirement or full-time residence.

“Many of our buyers are a bit nostalgic about how they want to spend their precious free time with their family and what they are looking for in a vacation home,” said Tammy Barry, director of sales and marketing for Heritage Harbor Ottawa. “Often they think about their own childhood and how they would pack up the station wagon and go away for the weekend. When they come to Ottawa and Heritage Harbor, they love our small-town atmosphere and simpler way of life that not only harkens back to another time, but also lets them focus on building terrific memories with their family and friends.”

Charming downtown Ottawa

Barry noted the Ottawa community is a big contributor to the lifestyle vacation-home owners appreciate at Heritage Harbor. “This is a small town where business owners know their customers and greet them by name, which really adds to the sense of belonging when you own a second home here,” she said. “Plus, we still have a butcher’s shop, an independent grocery store, a weekly farmer’s market and a liquor store that even delivers. Our locally owned businesses create a sense of place that’s harder to come by in areas that are dominated by chain stores and big national brands. People tend to slow town and enjoy the experience of patronizing area businesses, rather than rushing through errands in order to cross items off their to-do list.”

She added that Ottawa is home to a number of community events and festivals that add to its charming atmosphere. “There are things happening throughout the year, such as Riverfest in the summer and our annual Scarecrow Fest in the fall, which encourage area residents to come out and enjoy our downtown district,” she said. “It’s a lively little town where you’re always likely to run into someone you know, whether you’re at one of our summer festivals or simply taking time to window shop as you walk through downtown.”

Ottawa’s relaxed pace of life and small-town feel extend to the streets of Heritage Harbor, where a series of pocket neighborhoods are designed to build a sense of community among residents. Green spaces with seating areas, community fire pits and meandering walking paths encourage homeowners to socialize. “One very traditional feature we include in many of our home designs is a wide, inviting front porch,” said Barry. “Back when most homes had front porches, families would often sit outside in the evening, visiting together and chatting with neighbors who walked by. We worked hard to recreate that same friendly atmosphere at Heritage Harbor through our streetscape and our home designs.”

Quaint and inviting cottages

A recreation-based lifestyle with plenty of outdoor activities and easy access to nature is another appealing part of the “simple life” at Heritage Harbor Ottawa. “Our vacation-home owners are looking for a complete change of pace from their day-to-day life and a place where they can not only enjoy the activities they love, but also share them with family and friends,” said Barry. “We often work with buyers who grew up in a family with a boat or lake cottage and want to give that same experience to their own kids. For them, having a home at Heritage Harbor and boating on the Illinois River is how they spend quality time together and create memorable family experiences.”

In addition to boating, Heritage Harbor is a convenient home base for hiking in Starved Rock State Park, biking on the I&M Canal Trail and enjoying a variety of other outdoor pursuits.

“We say it’s a slower pace of life, but it’s anything but boring with everything the area has to offer,” said Barry. “What our buyers really love is that this region lets them truly unplug and slow down, in the sense of having time to spend on the people and activities that matter to them most.”

Currently available at Heritage Harbor Ottawa are custom home sites priced from $92,500, vacation cottages priced from $209,990, townhomes priced from $284,900 and immediate-delivery single-family homes priced from $329,900.*

For information on Heritage Harbor Ottawa Resort and available homes, call (815) 433-5000 or visit www.heritageharborottawa.com.

*Pricing subject to change.

A Day at Heritage Harbor Video

Click and enjoy this video tour ~ A Day at Heritage Harbor Ottawa!

Heritage Harbor Ottawa is the premier Marina Resort Community in the heart of Starved Rock Country.  We are conveniently located 90 minutes from downtown Chicago in the historic town of Ottawa.  Our community is nestled along the scenic Illinois river and features charming homes, walk-able neighborhoods, a world-class marina, dining, activities, adventure and amenities.   Watch the video and see the many reasons why, “This is the Place”.

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