“There’s so much to enjoy both at the resort and in the surrounding area during the winter months,”
Homeowners and visitors know Heritage Harbor to be a winter wonderland with cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, winter fishing, holiday events, festivals and more just outside their door.
This is such an exciting time of the year as we wrap up the old, and usher in the new! There are so many ways to make the most of this festive season in Starved Rock Country. Our Illinois River scenery is unrivaled as the falling snow turns the landscape into a glittering winter wonderland.
Tis the Season to be….
This is such an exciting time of the year as we wrap up the old, and usher in the new! There are so many ways to make the most of this festive season in Starved Rock Country. Our Illinois River scenery is unrivaled as the falling snow turns the landscape into a glittering winter wonderland. Whether you choose to enjoy the scenery firsthand with a hike, jog, or cross-country ski or from the warmth of a fire and steaming mug of something hot indoors, be sure to spend some time soaking up the stunning views at the harbor. You may even catch a glimpse of one of the many eagles that frequent the area during the winter season. The Red Dog Grill offers live piano music on Wednesday evenings to set the backdrop for a relaxing time spent with friends and family. Come for the day or stay for the weekend in a cozy cottage on the river. You may decide this is the place you can make home!
The holiday season is such a busy one for many. Gifts to purchase and wrap, meals to plan and prepare, events to host and attend. It can be so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle that we forget to look out for the opportunities around us in which we can share our time and blessings. The holidays can be lonely for those who live away from or have lost family members. Offering to share an afternoon or evening of your time can make a world of difference to another. Many organizations conduct toy or gift drives for those who would like to share their blessings. Giving is the real reason of this season!
Heritage Harbor is proud to host its annual Penguin Plunge for Make-A-Wish on the 19th of January. Follow us on Facebook to learn how to be a part of this exciting charitable event.
The conclusion of another year leads one to a state of reflection and contemplation. Reflecting on the year behind us, we contemplate the areas we want to improve upon. Looking ahead, we make goals for how we intend to lead the next year of our lives. Whether your goals include more adventure and fun, time spent with friends and family, health and fitness, low-maintenance living, or even a profitable investment, Heritage Harbor is the place to make it happen!
From our family to yours, thank you for a very memorable 2018! Be sure to follow us as we are set to launch two new neighborhoods in 2019. We wish you a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!!!!
What is your favorite Christmas thing to do in Starved Rock Country? Comment below to share with us!
“We are fortunate in our great country to have Thanksgiving week as one in which we spend time in reflection on our blessings. We look at our lives with appreciation and give thanks for the blessings bestowed upon us. As a whole, we have so much to be grateful for, and we’d like to take the opportunity to share our thoughts with you!“
At Heritage Harbor, we are so Grateful for YOU! Each individual who plays a role in the everyday or seasonal flow of events is greatly appreciated because you ARE Heritage Harbor. Without you, our harbor community just wouldn’t be the same. Community can be defined as, “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” Each boater, homeowner, or resident contributes to this feeling of fellowship as we share our common goal of creating a place where everyone is welcome, fun can be had, and life is lived.
We are so Thankful for the staff and employees that give so much time and energy throughout the year to make things run smoothly. We are thankful for our patrons, guests, and those who have chosen to make this their home. The diversity of visitors provides an interesting camaraderie. At just a 90-minute drive away, we are thankful for our proximity to Downtown Chicago and all this great city has to offer. We love welcoming those from the city to our harbor for a chance to unplug from the busy and reconnect with nature in our waterfront cottages. We love that the four seasons of the year in Starved Rock Country each offer a different captivating experience.
We are Blessed to be based in Starved Rock country in the midst of such extensive natural beauty. The area is graced with an abundance of wildlife and natural landscapes to admire in every season of the year. Our location allows us to provide a harbor and place of respite for the Great Loopers on their journeys, and we love that we can connect with these travelers. The amenities at Heritage Harbor continue to be a blessing to many wishing to lead active lifestyles whether it be boating, watersports, walking or jogging the Harbor Walk, participating in parkrun on Saturday mornings, or playing sand volleyball. We are blessed to have a helpful, caring community around us who are willing to help out when need arises, and to live in an area with a diverse local culture to enjoy at our leisure.
We wish to extend a very Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and we hope you know how truly thankful we are for each of you! ~The Heritage Harbor Team
What is your favorite thanksgiving thing to do in Starved Rock Country? Comment below to share with us!
“Hibernating during the winter months isn’t necessary in the Midwest as there’s still plenty to do and see, vacations to be had. Much fun can be found in Starved Rock Country of Illinois along the Illinois River.“
The team at Heritage Harbor resort and marina frequently help visitors and homeowners pinpoint the best winter activities in Starved Rock Countryand Ottawa, Ill. With visitors heading to the resort year-round for a rented stay in a cozy cottage and homeowners who routinely plan weekend vacations, the Heritage Harbor crew is well-equipped to keep you informed on local events. Situated just 90 minutes from downtown Chicago, Starved Rock Country is a Midwest oasis with outdoor fun, exceptional dining and shopping, and a community full of unique activities providing fun for people of all ages.
“There’s a common misconception that northern Illinois shuts down during the winter and there’s no fun to be had,” says Tammy Barry of Heritage Harbor. “Nothing could be farther from the truth here in Starved Rock Country. The changing of the seasons, especially winter, opens a whole new realm of places to explore. Many visitors of Heritage Harbor say winter is actually a favorite season to explore the area.”
There’s so much to see in in Starved Rock Country that it’s impossible to explore it all in one afternoon; there’s always something happening in the area. This year, Ottawa’s third annual Chris Kringle Market will be held in early December featuring artisan gift vendors, tasty holiday treats, traditional German-style beer, live music, and memorable activities for the whole family to enjoy. This year’s special activities include complementary carriage rides, festive carolers, ornament crafting, an ice carving demonstration, and even a visit from a live reindeer!
Before the Christmas holiday, visitors can experience a Victorian Christmas at Ottawa’s historic Reddick Mansion with Holiday Candlelight Tours or a Christmas Tea.
There is plenty of adult fun to be had as well, as local wineries in Utica, Ill., keep uncorking bottles throughout the season. Stop in for a tasting and tour at downtown Ottawa’s Tangled Roots Brewing Company. Enjoy a hearty waterfront dining experience at Heritage Harbor’s Red Dog Grill. The wood-burning fireplace creates a cozy atmosphere to gather around with friends and family. Downtown Ottawa offers a variety of dining experiences for those wishing to grab a bite after some shopping.
Starved Rock Country has some of the most beautiful scenery around due to the proximity to several state parks. Starved Rock State Park has been voted the #1 attraction in the state of Illinois. Winter has played a big part in Starved Rock’s popularity.
Last year, Starved Rock State Park welcomed millions of visitors. The park’s proximity to Chicago, free admission and free parking are factors in its continued popularity. The freezing and melting that happens during the winter months creates spectacular ice sculptures that draw viewers from near and far. The canyon ice falls are a must see this winter! The new year is ushered in with Winter Wilderness Weekend in January, in which guided hikes are provided to showcase the ice falls and nature’s winter wonderland.
The Illinois River is a notorious winter eagle nesting ground, bringing visitors from all over the U.S. This year, Eagle Watch Weekend is Jan. 26-27, with guided tours, hands-on and make-and-take activities for kids, and other connected activities at the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center. Spotting scopes are also available to get an up-close view of these magnificent birds.
Barry says Heritage Harbor is convenient for winter visitors because many want to stay in the area longer than a few hours—there’s just too much to do to simply cruise through. Cottage Rentals by Heritage Harbor’s Harbor Inn offers visitors the option to rent a cottage on the Illinois River waterfront for a weekend. The variety of cottages offered are perfect for a family as well as a couple looking for a weekend getaway.
With Heritage Harbor being in the center of all the activity, it’s the perfect place to be.
To learn about more hidden winter gems in Starved Rock Country and Heritage Harbor Ottawa, contact Tammy Barry at 815-433-5000.
What is your favorite living active thing to do in Starved Rock Country? Comment below to share with us!
Winter brings with it the opportunity for amazing outdoor adventures for people who are brave enough to get outside and get active. One of the hottest winter activities is snowmobiling, which offers you the opportunity to see incredible sights while getting an adrenaline high riding a snowmobile. Hopefully mother nature will cooperate soon so winter can be enjoyed to the fullest!
Ottawa, IL Snowmobiling
Under 90 minutes outside of Chicago, the Illinois and Michigan Canal offers snowmobiling trails that crisscross four Northern Illinois State Parks. The Canal passes through parts of the Channahon State Park, William G. Stratton State Park, Gebhard Wood State Park and Buffalo Rock State Park, delivering over 61 miles of white powder. As long as there are four or more inches of snow, the Canal trails are available for use by snowmobiles 24 hour a day.
The scenic town of Ottawa offers easy on/off highway access to Buffalo Rock, at which point drivers can connect to other parts of the trail. Along the way, riders will parallel the twists and turns of the Illinois River. The bare trees allow for scenic river views and potentially the chance to spot wildlife. The canal trail passes historic 1800’s stone aqueducts, the Seneca Grain Elevator, and multiple canal locks.
One of the more unusual attractions on the Illinois and Michigan Canal trail, the Effigy Tumuli, lies near Buffalo Rock State Park. Created in 1983 by artist Michael Heizer, the environmental sculptures evoke Native American burial mounds.
Snowmobile Safety Tips
If you’re new to snowmobiling, packing for the winter excursion can feel intimidating. When you’re out on the trails, you’ll have occasional access to restrooms and land-line telephones in state park rest areas. Other than that, you’ll need to carry in what you need – and carry it out as well.
For small excursions, plan to bring lunch, water, binoculars, goggles, a camera, and extra winter gear. It’s always a smart idea to carry an emergency first aid kit and emergency tool kit, in case something breaks on your snowmobile. Flashlights or head lamps are always a good “just in case” idea, as are flares, a GPS, a whistle, and an emergency radio.
Snowmobiling is a fun and safe winter sport, but there is risk associated with it. To protect your family, do not allow children to ride on a snowmobile if they are under the age of 6. While driving a snowmobile looks cool, youth under age 16 should not be allowed to do it. It takes skill and strength to maneuver a snowmobile, especially if conditions turn icy. Ice makes it difficult to steer and can pose a danger, even for experienced drivers.
When getting out of the greater Chicago area for winter recreation, it’s always important to plan for traffic. If your family spends a lot of time cross country skiing or snowmobiling in the winter, or boating in the summer, it can be helpful to purchase a second home in the scenic countryside. Ottawa may be famous as the home of Starved Rock, but this town has a lot to offer year round in terms of recreation, community, and quality of life. Heritage Harbor Ottawa offers riverside accommodation close to Chicago. An hour from Chicago and minutes from Starved Rock, Heritage Harbor offers vacation rental cottages, vacation homes, a marina, and a restaurant. It is the perfect base camp for a snowmobiling vacation or second home.
With such rich year round amenities and points of interest, Ottawa makes the ideal base for winter and summer family fun. Visit now to explore the area, find your favorite trails, and be inspired.
It’s time for Bald Eagle watching!
With mild winter temperatures, it is all the more inviting to get out those trusty binoculars and peer out to catch a glimpse of America’s favorite feathered fowl. Catch the migration of thousands of eagles as they visit Starved Rock Country. The Annual Eagle Watch Weekend in January allows visitors to view the majestic Bald Eagle from atop Starved Rock! Find out more about Eagle watching, a popular event drawing visitors from all over.
Know Before You Go
These white capped birds were once on the verge of extinction and declared an endangered species in 1978. After 40 years of cooperation between various parties and the government, the American Bald Eagle, the nation’s symbol, was removed from the endangered species list. Former President Bush said:
“This great conservation achievement means more and more Americans across the nation will enjoy the thrill of seeing Bald Eagles soar.”
Share the achievement of joint efforts and the resurgence of the Bald Eagle with younger generations. Visitors to Starved Rock Country should know:
• The American Bald Eagle may perch along tree tops, soar high overhead and sun themselves at river islands or ice floes. Patience is key to successful viewing.
• How to stay warm. Visitors need to dress in layers. Gloves, hats and boots are recommended. Viewers should take hot beverages with them on an outing. Turn on the car’s heater for brief periods of time to ward off the chill.
• It is important not to disturb the visiting bald eagles as they need to conserve their energy.
• Eagles come to the area due to the fish available in the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. From late December to March, they make the most of the plentiful food source.
• Adult bald eagles do not keep company with juveniles when migrating. The first to migrate are the newly fledged eagles.
• The freezing over of Northern lakes and rivers marks the beginning of fall migration for adult bald eagles. They will then journey south for available fresh water sources. Open sources can include the coast and large rivers located close to dams.
• Eagles begin their arrival in Illinois in December. They can be found along the Illinois River actively searching for fish. Once waters freeze, they move to the dam. This open water source will then host a staggering and concentrated amount of eagles.
Starved Rock State Park in Illinois remains a respite for the Bald Eagle for a good portion of the year. As winter temps dip, more concentrated numbers of this popular bird can be easily found at the dam. This natural refuge and Heritage Harbor, with a prime location along the Illinois River, makes for ideal locations for birders to watch the Bald Eagle in its natural habitat. Ideal times for viewing activity are from 7am-9am or 4pm-5pm. Bring the family and experience the visual feast together.
If you want to take a very long walk or a decent day-long bike ride, The Illinois and Michigan Canal Trail that passes directly through Ottawa is the best place to start. It’s 61.5 miles routed through state parks, quaint Illinois towns and the beautiful countryside, home to corn tassels waving in the breeze. Adding to the beauty of this trail are the Illinois and Des Plaines rivers, giving trail travelers plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy the scenery.
The I&M Canal was completed in 1848 to connect Lake Michigan with the Mississippi River via the Illinois River. It was immediately put to use for trade transportation, and the tow paths were created by mules and oxen pulling barges through. In 1933 the Illinois Waterway was completed, and the canal closed for traffic. Now the towpaths are beautiful bike trails, with many historical signs posted along the way providing the story of the canal. During winter, if there are four or more inches of snow on the ground, you can also take snowmobiles on the trail along the canal.
Ottawa is a great starting spot for your journey along the I&M Canal Trail. To the west you have three state parks that can keep you busy for many long weekends of exploration. They are Matthiessen, Starved Rock and Buffalo Rock.
No matter the time of year, you can bring your snowshoes, cross country skis, snowmobiles, hiking boots or bicycles for an extended weekend at your second home in Heritage Harbor Ottawa. You’ll enjoy the colorful scenery Illinois has to offer in one of the prettiest areas of the state. Because of the trail conditions, horses are not permitted on the I&M Canal Trail.
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