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Wind Down and Indulge Your Senses at the 2016 Ottawa 2 Rivers Wine Fest

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It’s that time of year again as the weather warms up and layers are peeled off to come out and play in Ottawa. A fantastic jazz line-up awaits, paired with the freshest lobster and the best of Illinois wine. Still hiding? Come out, come out wherever you are and come on down to a fantastic three days that kicks off on June 10th. Find out more about the 2016 Ottawa 2 River Wine Fest and locate a great place to kick back.

Join Us for the 6th Annual Ottawa 2 Rivers Wine Fest
Robert M. Eschbach, Mayor, with the principle partners of, the Ottawa Visitors Center, Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association, have planned a weekend to remember starting on Friday June 10th at 5pm and ending on Sunday June 12th at 5pm. This year’s event offers incomparable fresh grilled lobster in conjunction with three days of amazing live jazz performances and almost 20 wineries offering top quality pours to delight taste buds.

Visitors can enjoy historic architecture at the juncture of two rivers- a place where culture and nature enlivens and celebrates. Between jazz sets, featuring the incomparable Ladies of Chicago Jazz, explore the rich history of Ottawa.

• Walk through the site of the first ever Lincoln-Douglas Debate at Washington Park.
• Visit the grounds and tour the historic Reddick Mansion.
• Do a little shopping at the West Main Street antique district and unique boutiques. Grab something special found nowhere else.
• Drive along the Illinois River for scenic views and to step back into the history of our first inhabitants and explorers.

This weekend has something for everyone. During your stay, visit Court Street on Saturday or Sunday for Ottawa’s Outdoor Craft & Botanical Fair. Who doesn’t enjoy browsing our local fair to pick up something to brighten a room or garden? Ottawa knows how to have a good time. Are you ready?

Friday and Saturday planned entertainment ends at 10pm, but that does not mean you have to go home. After some Ottawa fine dining, turn to Heritage Harbor in Ottawa to soothe tired feet and prepare yourself for another day of adventure. Their state of the art marina has more than 450 boat slips. For those staying the weekend, pick up anything you need at the ship’s store and marina-side bar & grill, The Red Dog Grill. Its location on the Starved Rock pool of the Illinois River offers visitors world-class boating amenities and picturesque waterfront properties. The area is near two major interstate highways and is only 90 minutes from downtown Chicago. Plan your getaway today.

Schedule a stay Heritage Harbor to indulge in luxurious living surrounded by restorative natural beauty. This naturalists’ bird-watching spot lies along the Starved Rock Pool of the Illinois River but is also only 90 minutes from downtown Chicago. Isn’t it time that you treated yourself? The Ottawa 2 Rivers Wine Festival and Heritage Harbor awaits.

Ottawa: Fun for History Buffs in March!

Ottawa: Fun for History Buffs in March!


If you are looking for something to do this weekend, check out Ottawa, Illinois and Heritage Harbor where we have a nice variety of activities year-round. Once you come here, you’ll always be coming back for more! We’re just 90 minutes away from Chicago, which makes us convenient, but we’re far enough away, so it seems like a world away from the big city. You and your family will grow closer as you get away from all the distractions, and enjoy what our beautiful town and land has to offer.

Photo via Reddick Mansion.

The Reddick Mansion tour is affordable and educational. Photo via Reddick Mansion Association Facebook page.

 

The Reddick Mansion

In downtown Ottawa is a historic treasure just waiting to be discovered. The Reddick Mansion is a pre-Civil War mansion that witnessed the first of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates in Washington Square across the street. The Reddick Mansion is open for tours Wednesday through Monday from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. The last tour of the day starts at 2:15 PM. The cost is $8 for adults, $4 for youths, and kids four years old and under are free, making this an affordable and educational outing for the entire family.

When you take your family to the Reddick Mansion, you’re getting a glimpse back through history–right back to the era before and during the Civil War. This mansion is the pride of Ottawa, which everyone should see at least once. Your little ones will be fascinated by the history–and you will be too!

Ottawa Historical and Scouting Heritage Museum

Do you have a child in Scouts? Maybe you or your spouse was a Boy Scout back in the day? Ottawa is the home to the Historical and Scouting Heritage Museum. William Dickson Boyce, one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America, lived right here in Ottawa. This museum holds the Loan Scout Memory Lodge collections as well as the extensive English Scouting collections of Robert Baden-Powell.

Not so interested in the collections?  There are hiking trails for adults and kids alike as well as a geocache trail. Geocaching is hot and with a GPS, you can go on a scavenger hunt for the geocaches. Everyone in your family will love discovering the buried treasure. The cost is three dollars for adults and two dollars for youth. They’re open Thursday through Monday, 10 AM to 4 PM. You can find out more and get information here.

Trolley tours are a great way to see the area!

Trolley tours are a great way to see the area! Photo via Starved Rock State Park Facebook Page.

Insert photo of trolley. Caption: Trolley tours are a great way to see the area! Under caption: Photo via Starved Rock State Park Facebook Page

Trolley Tours

Sit back and enjoy a trolley tour! Starved Rock trolleys, Ranger and Bella, make it easy for adults with small children and those with restricted mobility to see the best of the area during their first time to the Starved Rock Lodge. Historical and seasonal tours are offered. Don’t miss the Waterfalls and Canyon tours this spring! Special event tours can be arranged on the Bella trolley, set up for 22 guests and a platform for bride and groom photos. Call (815) 220-7386 for tickets and schedule information.

Starved Rock Photography Club

The Starved Rock Photography Club will help you get in touch with your creative side.   Snap away with a group of fellow photographers, both amateur and professional, at this monthly photography walk. Enhance your skills and brainstorm new ideas during informal conversations with other members. Beginners are welcome. Club leader, Jack Pienta, meets with the group every 4th Saturday of the month at 9am at the rear of the large Starved Rock Lodge parking lot. Hikes will involve a hike in one of three area parks and carpooling may be necessary. Annual memberships are available at $25 and include the annual cookout and a club t-shirt. Call (815) 220-7354 for additional details.

As you can see, Ottawa has plenty of activities for both the adventurous and the comfort seekers. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out Heritage Harbor. Located about an hour from Chicago and minutes from Starved Rock, Heritage Harbor offers riverside vacation rental cottages, vacation homes, a marina, and a restaurant. It is the perfect base camp for a vacation or second home.

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5 fun ways to spend a cloudy day in Ottawa, IL

You can plan your vacation months in advance, but thanks to unpredictable weather conditions, sometimes plans have to change. Fortunately, there’s a variety of fun events and activities you can attend in Ottawa on a cloudy or rainy day. Avoid cabin fever by having these five back-up ideas in mind as you plan your trip. Who knows? After reading our must-do cloudy day activities, you might find yourself hoping for a little rain during your stay!

Take a tour of Ottawa’s Reddick mansion

This magnificent mansion, standing 50 feet tall, was built before the Civil War by William Reddick. It’s one of the most expensive mansions constructed in the Midwest during the 1800s, and still looks beautiful to the modern eye today. Tours are available Wednesdays through Mondays from 11 to 3 p.m. Visit the Reddick Mansion’s website for more information.

Enjoy a cold one at Tangled Roots Brewing Company

Taking a break on an adults-only vacation? Then do so while sipping on delicious craft beer at Tangled Roots Brewing Company. This exciting new development opened downtown in the fall of 2015, and it attracts both visitors and locals every day. While sampling the craft selection, be sure to order some of the kitchen’s tasty offerings. The Tangled Roots Brewing Company supports local farmers by providing fresh food for guests.

Grab a cup of joe at Jeremiah Joe Coffee

Jeremiah Joe Coffee offers all of your caffeinated favorites and a few new options too! From Mochas to Lattés and Little Joe’s for the little ones in your life (caffeine- free of course). Jeremiah Joe Coffee offers a large space where you can sit back and relax and enjoy the day inside sipping on your favorite hot or cold beverages and enjoying time with friends and family.

Spend some time browsing the Ottawa Historical and Scouting Heritage Museum

For just $3 per person ($2 for youth), you can spend a rainy afternoon learning a little Ottawa history. The Ottawa Historical and Scouting Heritage Museum is home to exhibits relating to the Boy Scouts of America, as Ottawa is home to one of the founders, William Dickson Boyce. This museum also includes special artifacts from the past, such as carriages and 19th-century pianos. Learn more about visiting hours here.

Have a blast bowling at Pinheadz Entertainment Center

When you’re ready to stop browsing museums and mansions, hit up the Pinheadz Entertainment Center for some energetic fun! The newly renovated entertainment center is home to bowling, bags and more fun games, and it also features a full-service bar and grill.

Take the kids out on a fun rollerskating adventure

Plan an activity the whole family can enjoy. The Paramount Skating Arena is open to people of all ages. Kids have a blast zooming around the rink, while the adults can relish in feeling like a teenager once again. Check the dates and hours here for the best times to visit.

Ottawa, IL is beautiful city and home to a wide range of activities. Come rain or shine, you’ll be ready for a fun, relaxing vacation.

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Scarecrow Fest in Ottawa, IL

Every year at the end of September, hundreds of people head to Starved Rock Country and fill the streets of downtown Ottawa for the famous Scarecrow Festival.

This year’s event, marking the 28th annual celebration, will take place on Saturday, Sept. 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Featuring a number of activities for all ages, the festival is an Ottawa tradition the whole family can enjoy.
The festival’s main attractions, of course, are the scarecrows. Local businesses and organizations construct the scarecrows to match the year’s theme and compete for prizes in two categories. The scarecrows are then put on display throughout downtown and festival goers vote on their favorite. The theme for this year hasn’t been announced yet, but Ottawa’s businesses and organizations have a hefty task ahead to beat the amazing straw Batmans, Supermans and other heroes from last year’s Superheroes theme.
Scattered throughout downtown alongside the scarecrows will be various booths and tables where people can learn about local businesses and nonprofits, watch demonstrations, and buy crafts and baked goods. In fact, the Scarecrow Fest features over 75 booths every year, making it Ottawa’s largest vendor fair. Many of the restaurants and shops in downtown also run special promotions during the festival so people can take a break from the vendor fair and activities to grab a bite and shop at some of Ottawa’s favorite stores. Other popular Scarecrow Fest activities include the chili cook-off, pet costume contest, Zombie Run 5K and a morning farmer’s market.

While the vendor fair, sales and chili cook-off are meant for adults, plenty of activities will also be available for children. Ottawa’s Scarecrow Fest is even recognized as Illinois’s biggest toddler-friendly festival because of its offerings for children of all ages, not just older children. A petting zoo, face-painting stations, bouncy houses, a rock-climbing wall and the bicycle rodeo are some of the attractions younger members of the family can enjoy at the Scarecrow Fest. Kids are also encouraged to take photos with their favorite scarecrow or in one of the scarecrow cutouts so families can remember the fun they had at the event.

Ottawa’s Scarecrow Fest is sure to be a fun-filled day for everyone, from families with kids and couples looking for a date idea, to friends getting together for a day out. Mark Sept. 26 on the calendar and make sure to come out and support the Ottawa community.

Ottawa a delightful and perfect location for a second home


As the #1 attraction in Illinois, Starved Rock State Park gets millions of visitors each year.

 

Many of those visitors are repeats, coming often to enjoy the beautiful and rustic scenery found in the park and surrounding areas. Not only is the state park a huge draw, but the surrounding communities of Ottawa, Oglesby and North Utica have lots of charm for an enjoyable and extended weekend stay.

Because of the area’s beauty, owning a vacation property in Ottawa gives your family the opportunity to spend as much time as you want exploring the park and countryside for long weekend and week-long vacations. Heritage Harbor Ottawa is a vacation marina resort community rising out of the banks of the Illinois River. Many families look into building a second home in this area because of its location, resources and value. Not only would your second home be a short drive away from the state park, but it’s a short drive from your home. With Ottawa fewer just over an hour from most suburbs, you will use your vacation home more often. Yet it’s far enough away that you know you got-away. You can spend afternoons boating on the river, participating in festivals and local attractions or hosting a weekend getaway from the chaos of the city.

Like the resort communities of Lake Geneva in Wisconsin or Galena, Ottawa has plenty of adventurous activities to keep anyone entertained, all without losing the characteristics of a small-town lifestyle. Heritage Harbor Ottawa resort itself has a world-class marina, providing all the water sporting activities you could imagine for every season of the year. Plus, within a short drive you can find miles of hiking trails, horseback riding opportunities, ATV trails and even sky diving.

Ottawa itself offers you the perfect excuse to explore. Go shopping in the book stores and boutiques, catch one of the many events happening in the town or spend an afternoon in one of the museums, all without having to spend a night in a hotel. Instead, head back to your waterfront home to spend an evening relaxing on your couch with a good book, watching a fun movie on the TV or catching some much-needed Zs in your own bed.

Building a second home in Heritage Harbor Ottawa will give your family the escape you want, and need, and the setting couldn’t be more perfect! You can come and visit as much as your schedule allows, taking in the beauty of the country at all times of the year. Click here to set up a tour or get more info!

 

Changing Boomer Generation Redefines Retirement as it Looks for an Adventure Lifestyle

Not every generation wants what the previous generation did. Recent studies and surveys show this is even truer when it comes to the more than 60 million Baby Boomers who will soon find themselves transitioning into retirement or already have. Many Boomers are looking for a community similar to the one found in Ottawa, Illinois, at Heritage Harbor Ottawa to meet their new retirement needs — waterfront real estate with the creature comforts of retirement, but plenty of recreational activities, a strong sense of community and still within reach of urban areas.

Not every generation wants what the previous generation did. Recent studies and surveys show this is even truer when it comes to the more than 60 million Baby Boomers who will soon find themselves transitioning into retirement or already have.

While previous generations have traveled far from their families in retirement to settle elsewhere, many variables are changing the landscape of life after full-time work and past notions of what retirement life would look like.

Many Boomers are looking for a community similar to the one found in Ottawa, Illinois, at Heritage Harbor Ottawa to meet their new retirement needs — a place with the creature comforts of retirement, but plenty of recreational activities, a strong sense of community, still within reach of urban areas and yet offers strong waterfront real estate values in the Midwest.

A resort community like Heritage Harbor in Ottawa, Ill., sits on prime scenic Illinois River waterfront property and offers amenities, such as a full-service marina with more than 450 boat slips, restaurant on-site, low-maintenance homes, in-ground pool, walking path and year-round activities.

“Once we saw what Heritage Harbor had to offer, we knew we had to be here,” said Harry Hultgren, who along with his wife, Ann, owns a cottage-style home in the waterfront community. “The opportunities for outdoor recreation and relaxation are simply unbeatable.”

Economic changes are shifting the mindset of Boomers. While in the past many would relocate to southern states, such as Florida or Arizona, studies show the age group is deciding to stay closer to their family and friends while continuing to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities well into retirement. They are redefining retirement. And with that redefinition, according to Baby Boomer Magazine, they are looking at building a more active and diverse lifestyle as well — physically and mentally.

According to Discovery Fit and Health, one of the 10 most popular activities for those of the Boomer generation is anything to do with aquatic recreation — an easy task when cruising via boat through the Illinois River or exploring one of its many channels or islands. It’s no surprise that latest U.S. Census data available shows a rising number of Boomers living in coastal communities, such as those along rivers, lakes and oceans.

While Heritage Harbor offers a variety of scenic waterfront homes and cottages to fit everyone’s lifestyle (click here to learn more) the unique location in Ottawa and Starved Rock Country completes the package, which mirrors the slogan: “Life is an Adventure … Live it Here.” Having four state parks within 15 miles is one of the reasons Tom Heimsoth, developer of Heritage Harbor, selected the location.

“People enjoy activities such as hiking, biking, dining, shopping and want to do it in a resort-like setting so they always feel like they are on vacation,” Heimsoth said.

In addition to the state parks, the history of downtown Ottawa wasn’t overlooked. The town is rich in architecture, has great annual events such as the Two Rivers Wine and Jazz Festival, outdoor Farmer’s Market, Midwest Morel Fest, outdoor music and other events that allow Boomers to enjoy their “off” time. Not to mention running parallel to Heritage Harbor is the I&M Canal, which is 61 miles of walking, biking and snowmobiling trail. Lastly, Discovery Fit and Health includes sky diving as a Top 10 eventual “must-do” for Boomers, which is especially accessible in the Ottawa area with SkyDive Chicago, the Midwest’s major destination for sky divers, just north of town.

As with any real estate property, location is key to what attracts people to an area and can be an important factor in its value. Realtor Judy Marsales recently told Real Estate Wealth magazine that the image and community where real estate properties sit can have as much to do with interest as the property itself. Marsales says locations that get the most real estate buzz have features in the surrounding community such as “wonderful vistas, biking paths, picnic areas and many music festivals,” among other amenities. She also confirmed that one of the latest real estate trends in the Boomer generation is a renewed interest in relocating to waterfront properties.    

The locale of Ottawa, Ill., in La Salle County fills all of these needs for those living or vacationing at Heritage Harbor Ottawa. Additionally, the area allows homeowners to experience a real sense of community that can be lacking in larger suburban or urban areas. It’s a less complicated way of life. But getting back to the urban area is just a hop, jump and skip away as Chicago and its suburbs, such as Huntley, Elgin, Romeoville, Shorewood, Crest Hill and more are a mere commute away.

It’s easy to continue working or telecommute if needed, as studies show more Boomers are working later into life and are choosing to explore entrepreneurial opportunities after full-time work. You’re never too far away from the hustle and bustle, but far enough to relax and enjoy life. No one has to make a choice of one or the other as those living and vacationing at Heritage Harbor have the flexibility to create their ideal lifestyle.

No other area can offer the recreational opportunities or strong sense of community like Heritage Harbor Ottawa can.

Cruise Night in Ottawa

Old Town of Downtown Ottawa was a car enthusiast’s dream Friday night. With over 5 city blocks of great cars & trucks, there was something for everyone.

 

This family friendly event had a mix of styles and eras. There was everything from a classic Ford Model T to a 2010 Chevy Camaro with a slick custom paint job. There was music, food vendors, and many car owners that were happy to share a story or two about what made their car unique.

 

The LaSalle County Cruisers’ Annual Cruise Night in Downtown Ottawa was a great way to kick off Father’s day weekend.

 

If you missed Ottawa’s cruise night or just love classic cars venture to downtown Oglesby Saturday June 26th from 3-8 pm for the Oglesby Custom Car Show.

 

Stay tuned to learn more about the Adventure Lifestyle available at Heritage Harbor Ottawa and the surrounding communities.

The Captain’s Log of Winter Fun: Ottawa Area Events for November & December

 

Though Heritage Harbor will always be our focus, we hope your experience goes far beyond our entrance. The Ottawa area is bursting with special events, from children’s programs to eagle watching. We’ve tried to alert you to some of the best, so if you need directions or more information give us a call…

Art in the Park Any day @ Starved Rock State Park
Looking for a fall hike—from sunrise to sunset you can seek out the awesome wood carvings on the Lodge grounds and in the Park. Grab a map at the Lodge reception desk and start your hunt: from Indian carvings and Animal carvings to totems and functional carved art–you’ll have fun finding all the art the park has to offer!

Reddick Mansion Tours Saturdays from Noon-3 pm or by appointment
The Reddick Mansion stands facing historic Washington Square and was built in 1858 for the then-costly sum of $25,000. Mr. Reddick served as a state senator. Mr. Stephen A. Douglas was one of the many politicians entertained at the Reddicks’ home. This mansion has been restored to its original splendor and is open for tours on Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. or by request by calling the Reddick Mansion Association at 815-433-6100.

Bluegrass Jam Sessions First Friday of every month @ 7:00 p.m.
Come out and join for an evening of Bluegrass music performed by Ottawa area musicians. Jam Session located at Christ Episcopal Church, 113 E Lafayette Street in Ottawa. For more information call (815) 257-6868.

Book Mouse Toddler Time Every third Saturday of the month 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Led by Mrs. B and Ms. Rachel, it’s a half hour of story-telling, wiggle-around-time, and poetry. Toddlers 2-5 and parents are welcome to join the fun. The Book Mouse, 820 LaSalle Street in Ottawa. For more information call (815) 433-7323

Festival of Lights Parade Friday, November 27th 6-9:00 p.m.
Celebrate the holiday season in Ottawa with the lighting up of Washington Square and a Christmas Parade. Meet on LaSalle Street for the parade and follow Santa to the Square.

Victorian Christmas Weekend of November 27th-29th
The Reddick Mansion will be decked out in its Victorian Christmas Decor. The Reddick Mansion stands facing historic Washington Square and was built in 1858 for the then-costly sum of $25,000. Mr. Reddick served as a state senator. Mr. Stephen A. Douglas was one of the many politicians entertained at the Reddicks’ home. This mansion has been restored to its original splendor and is open for tours everyday except for Tuesdays for more information contact the Reddick Mansion. On Saturday, November 28th from 10-3:00 p.m. by appointment you can have your family portrait taken in front of the beautifully decorated Victorian Christmas tree inside the Reddick Mansion. For more information or to make a portrait appointment, call (815) 433-6100.

Christmas at the Lodge with Prairie Singers Friday, December 4th 7-9:00 p.m.
Presented by the Prairie Singers 7:00-9:00p.m. The Prairie Singers are a chamber ensemble that will perform music from a broad range of historical periods, along with a wide variety of show tunes, popular, and classical favorites. We will start the evening with a few seasonal songs before enjoying a delicious dinner served in the historic Starved Rock Lodge. After dinner the Prairie Singers will deliver a musical delight to warm the heart. Tickets are $37.00 per person. For more information and to purchase tickets call 815-220-7386.

Christmas Farmer’s Market Saturday, December 12th 8:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m
The Ottawa Chamber of Commerce invites you to this special Holiday inspired edition to Ottawa’s Farmers Market. The vendors will be offering a wide variety of goods, greenery, dog biscuits, jams & jellies, candy, gifts…and much, much more!! With the motto of we BAKE it, we GROW it, and we SELL it FRESH, you’re sure to find something fantastic at the Ottawa Christmas Farmers Market. The Farmer’s Market will be set up at Jeremiah Joes’ Coffee at 807 LaSalle Street.

Ottawa‘s Ice Odyssey Saturday, December 12th 10 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.
The Ottawa Downtown Merchants are proud to present the First Ice Odyssey. Come downtown Ottawa and enjoy vendors, snowmen, elves, greenery for sale and amazing art of Ice Sculptures. Fun for the entire family. Contact ottawadowntownmerchants@gmail.com.

Breakfast with Santa Saturday, December 19th @ Starved Rock Lodge 8:30-11:30 a.m
Join the jolliest man himself, as well as the Mrs., for a breakfast buffet right at Starved Rock Lodge. Following breakfast, you’ll be treated to Christmas stories told by Mrs. Claus. Children may take turns sitting on Santa’s lap to tell him their Christmas wishes and receive a chocolate treat. Adults $11.95 Under 10 $8.95. Early reservations a must. 800-868-7625 ext. 386

Let’s go to the Movies at the Roxy! Wednesday, Dec. 30th @ 10 a.m.
Calling all grade school students – come to the Roxy for a free movie which includes free soft drinks and popcorn! Movie has not yet been announced. Roxy Cinemas is located at 820 LaSalle Street in Ottawa, (815) 433-8303.

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