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On the Horizon


How to avoid the Midwest vacation tourist trap of crowds and high cost

Sometimes, everyone just has to get away. This is a feeling most Midwest city-dwellers are familiar with, year-round.

Too often, residents looking to escape from Chicago, Madison or other larger, metropolitan areas flock to the all-too common, well-known city vacation spots only to be barraged with crowds and high prices for lodging, food and other specialties. Areas such as Lake Geneva, Wis., and southwest Michigan are the same old spots hit-up by Chicagoans year-round looking for a place to get away from it all. What they find, however, is a locale brimming with tourists looking for the same escape - not the relaxing time they aimed for.

Tammy Barry, of Heritage Harbor Ottawa in Ottawa, Ill., says she hears it all time. After working and living in Chicago and other crowded areas, the last thing people want is to drive for an escape to a place filled with crowds.

"Homeowners and vacationers at Heritage Harbor Ottawa tell us the horror stories of other vacation spots all the time," Barry said. "For example, at most lakes vacation spots up north, it's harder to enjoy water sports because of the rough water and the boat traffic. Plus, the drive to the northern getaways like southwest Michigan can be a nightmare since so many people crowd in there during weekends off."

That's why so many city residents are turning to other great weekend vacation spots, such as Ottawa, Ill., and Heritage Harbor, she adds.

Ottawa, Ill., and the resort community and marina Heritage Harbor sit in Starved Rock Country, which is filled with outdoor adventure, fine dining, picturesque towns and landscapes - and it isn't overrun during the weekend, making it a tourist trap. The area is a place to get away quickly, and not be bothered by the stresses of a nightmare drive and crowds.

Places like Lake Geneva tout watersports and boating, but at Heritage Harbor, which has a full-service marina, tourists and homeowners can spend time on the Illinois River - less crowded, beautiful views and less-rough water, which is great for stand-up paddle boarding, fishing and countless other water activity. Plus, Starved Rock Country, which is home to nationally-known Starved Rock State Park, Buffalo Rock State Park and Matthiessen State are within a few minutes of boat or car drive and are a growing fall and autumn destination for both hiking and boating.

Starved Rock State Park was named Illinois' 2012 No. 1 attraction.

Southwest Michigan boasts its wine-tasting country, but in Starved Rock Country, there are several wineries that grow their own grapes where tourists don't have to fight long lines and crowds to take part in a free or affordable wine tasting of some of Illinois' best beverages.

There are several wineries in Utica, Ill., down the road from Heritage Harbor, including August Hill Winery. At August Hill, guests can enjoy individual creations conceived in the heart and expressed through the hand in its tasting room.

Tourists looking for an out-of-this-world thrill will also find a gem in Starved Rock Country at Skydive Chicago. Skydive Chicago is a world-class skydiving center built from the ground up to handle any skydiver's need, from newcomer to experienced jumper. And while the art scene is popular in Michigan Harbor Country, Ottawa and its surrounding communities are filled with specialty shops, art galleries, unique restaurants - such as the waterfront Tracy's Boat House at Heritage Harbor - and eateries. And Ottawa's botanical-themed, historical downtown is a piece of art in itself.

To learn about more hidden gems in Starved Rock Country and Heritage Harbor Ottawa, contact Tammy or Janet at (815) 433-5000.

Heritage Harbor sees a lot of faces throughout the year from the northern Illinois suburbs and Midwest cities; no one knows how to vacation and visit Starved Rock Country better.

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harbormaster Greetings from the Harbor!

I know it's nearly October and thoughts of winter layup are on our minds, but there is great boating still ahead!

The leaves are just starting to turn and the morning mist is beautiful. I have also noticed flights of Pelicans, quite a few Eagles, and of course the ever present Canadian geese in greater numbers. It will be interesting to see how saturated the fall colors will be with the dry weather we had this summer and so far this fall.

We have had more great loop boaters stop in on their journey. The reviews of the marina have made it a destination stop that is not to be missed! We've seen boats from all over and of all kinds-- From 65' motor yachts to yes, a 16' canoe! The canoe had been on the "loop" for nearly 12 months and took 2 and a half months to cross the great lakes. He made the boat himself, cedar strip then fiberglass. When he left here he headed downstream to Grafton where his trip began - that's a lot of paddling!

The Illinois State police will be using the harbor and marina facilities to hold a WMD scenario training exercise Oct. 2-3. There will be over 100 personnel involved during this state wide tactical response training. You are welcome to visit and view the event.

On Sunday, October 21 we will hold the John C. Harbeck Memorial Scramble in conjunction with the Ottawa Noon Rotary Club. It will include a 5K run, cycling, kayaking, and a Triathlon. This is in memory of Dr. John Harbeck who was tragically killed in an accident last year. Proceeds will benefit needed dentistry for less fortunate area kids and adults. Follow the link for more information. https://www.active.com/event_detail.cfm?event_id=2059919

There are a lot of great times still ahead this fall on the river! Thanks for all your support and I look forward to seeing you at the harbor.

Mark Pentecost                    
Harbor Master                    


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Tracy's Boat House

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As part of the Adventure Lifestyle available at Heritage Harbor Ottawa we strive to connect our homeowners, boaters, and guests with some unique experiences that are exclusive to our area here in "Starved Rock Country".

Have you tried the Burgoo?!

For almost 50 years, locals and sightseers have come from near and far to celebrate the pioneering days of our heritage.

Utica, Illinois, a village of around 1,500 people, is eagerly preparing for their 43rd Annual Burgoo Festival. The LaSalle County Historical Society's major fund raising event of the year is expected to attract more than 25,000 people. If you have not experienced The Burgoo Festival before, it is a great day filled with arts, crafts, history, food, sunshine, music, and so much more. On Sunday, October 7th, all will line the streets of Utica between 9:00am and 5:00pm. Food vendors will offer butterflied pork chops, barbecue, homemade ice cream, cold drinks, and the Society's famous homemade pies. Be sure to try the Burgoo too! Burgoo is a hearty pioneer stew that is slow cooked all night long and served the entire day of the festival. The New Doodledorfers, marching bands, and vocalists will provide the musical entertainment throughout the day.

For more information about area activities and services check out the Heritage Harbor Ottawa blog.

"Life is an Adventure...Live it Here!"

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linda     What Are Your Plans This Winter?

  • Buying a larger boat
  • Are You Downsizing or Changing Styles of Boat?
  • Selling your boat
  • Do You Need A Boat Lift?

Whatever your needs...We at Quest Watersports are here to help and appreciate that you turn to us for our expertise. Quest Watersports is looking for pre-owned boats for our consignment program. We promise even in the off season to aggressively market your boat, throughout the United States and Canada. What a perfect time to sell - when you are not using it!! It also gives us plenty of time to help you locate the boat of your dreams through our strong co-brokerage relationships, if that is your next step. If you are ready to make a boat lift investment, we now have pre-owned custom lifts at great prices. Please contact me if you are considering a change for 2013... Contact Info: linda@questwatersports.com

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QUEST EXPRESS Welcomes 4 New Members in September!

Quest Watersports successfully started Quest Express Boat Club so people who love boating or wanted to sample a boating life style could truly enjoy the simple pleasures of life on the water at a fraction of the cost of boat ownership. Over the years the Club has continued to grow consistently and that was very apparent last month. Even though the summer was wrapping up, new members continued to join and were eager to start their membership. It was an exciting month watching the families go through orientation and then out on the water for the first time!

When we asked one new member why they joined in September... they said, "Why not... there are plenty of nice weekends left and we can boat next summer at 2012 rates".

Welcome New Members and Thanks for Sharing the Following...

"As a previous boat owner, with the cost of storage, maintenance and launching services the costs became too much. Quest Express allowed me to get back into boating with my family for a fraction of the cost and also provided us the opportunity to use multiple boat styles that are of high quality & clean without any headaches. Since joining over Labor Day weekend we have already used the boat for 4 weekends straight and every time we finish, the family asks "when can we come out next". We have rented boats in the past and the quality of the boats always left something to be desired. Thanks Quest Watersports we are looking forward to boating this fall and watching the leaves change colors."
-Nagle Family
"We deliberated for many years whether to get a boat or not, and if we did, what kind of boat? Quest Express was the solution to both questions. We discovered we love being on the water but our lives are way too busy to actually own and take care of a boat, let alone haul it around, store it, and pay for a slip. Also, having access to different kind of boats made it possible to do everything we were looking for: fishing, tubing, and cruising on the river. Quest Express is everything we love about boating with none of the hassle."
-Jeff & Family
"We just learned about the Boat Club concept, liked it, and decided to give it a try. We really like the people, staff and friends we know at the Resort. It is so convenient to not transport, maintain, insure, & etc our own boat. The staff's assistance in loading & unloading does not go unnoticed. Heritage Harbor is an easy ride, just an hour from our home. I'm happy we made the decision, and look forward to boating all next season."
-Fernandez Family
You drive the boat...we do the rest !!!

 Find out more...see our FAQs and contact Linda at 815/433-2200 or linda@questwatersports.com

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It is that time of year again. The leaves are changing colors and the nights are getting cooler. Although there is still plenty of good boating weather, it is time to start thinking of winter storage for your boat. We are pleased to announce that our storage options have greatly expanded. We have doubled our inside storage capabilities for this season! This will allow us to better serve our customers. We will offer numerous options for your storage needs. Please email me for your custom quote. There is also numerous winter service and maintenance specials, so please don't hesitate to ask our knowledgeable staff about anything your vessel needs. Quest looks forward to another winter of caring for your boat!

Dennis A. Cruise Jr                    
Service Manager                    

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Every Friday May - October Canal Boat & Trolley Tour 11am-3pm

Our popular Canal Boat & Trolley Tour begins with a delicious hot lunch at Starved Rock Lodge. Next, you'll board one of our trolleys for a ride through historic downtown Utica and stop at Cattails (where you can shop for unique treasures, wine, gifts and more). Your trolley will then take you on a relaxing ride to LaSalle, where you will board the canal boat. Step back in time, with period-dressed interpreters, on this 1-hour, mule-pulled canal boat ride. Learn the rich history of Illinois waterways, especially the Illinois & Michigan Canal. After the boat ride, you'll travel to the Starved Rock State Park Visitor Center. Your final stop is back at Starved Rock Lodge. There is minimum walking involved in this tour and restrooms are available throughout. This tour runs from May through October each year.

Friday, June 13th 16th Annual Cruise Night 6:00pm - 10:00pm

Come to Ottawa and check out the antique and custom cars during the city's 16th Annual Cruise Night! Over 100 different models of cars will line the streets! It's every car buff's dream! LaSalle Street will be closed down for this event. Hosted by The LaSalle County Cruisers and the City of Ottawa.

Saturday, June 14th HHO's Junior Fishing Tournament 10:00-2:30pm

Kids of all ages welcome. Workshops, Lunch, Fishing, Prizes and much more. FREE for children. For more information or registration call (815) 433-5000.

Saturday, June 14th Movie Night at the Harbor 8:30 Showing the Movie, The Sandlot

Located by the sand volleyball court, bring chairs & blankets. Candy & popcorn available for purchase.

Sunday, June 15th Father's Day at August Hill Winery

Happy Father's Day to all the great dads out there. Bring your Dad to the Tasting Room on Father's Day and he will receive a special treat to celebrate the day.

Monday, June 16th Tribute to the Classic Crooners 11:30am and 5:00pm

The Matt Barber Experience consists of fun, upbeat and relaxing music from the heart. Performing hits from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Andy Williams and many more! Join us for this new show and enjoy timeless classics with a contemporary touch. 2014 Dates: June 16 (Matinee & Evening) June 17 (Matinee) Evening Performance: 5:00pm - $37.00 - includes wine tasting, dinner buffet & show Matinee Shows: 11;30am - $32.00 per person - includes lunch buffet & show. For more information and to make reservations call 815-220-7386. To book tickets to The Matt Barber Experience online, click on a link below. Monday, June 16, 2014 - 11:30am or 5:00pm Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 11:30am

Tuesday, June 17th Music of the River Cruise & Tour 11:00am-3:00pm

C'mon aboard our Music of the River Cruise and Tour! Offered every Tuesday from June through September. Meet us in Starved Rock Lodge's Great Hall for check in and to receive your boxed lunch. Then, board our trolley and travel a short distance to the Belle of the Rock, an authentic paddle wheel boat. Aboard the boat you will hear and enjoy the history of many river songs, such as Proud Mary, Gentle on My Mind, Alabama's Tennessee River and Credence Clearwater Revival's Green River. After the 1-1/2 hour lunch cruise you will re-board the trolley for a historic tour with stops at the State Park Visitor Center and the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center. Ticket price: $42.00 per person. Reservations are required. Please call (815) 220-7386 to join the fun!

Saturday, June 21st 3-6pm Afternoon Music at Cattails

3pm- 6pm on the patio at Cattails Saturday, May 24 - Jeff Manfredini Saturday, June 21 - Jeff Manfredini Saturday, July 5 - Brian Benkse Saturday, August 16 - Jeff Manfredini Sunday, September 21 - Brian Benkse (Wine Festival Weekend) Saturday, October 11 - Kevin Kramer Join us for an afternoon of music at Cattails located at the Starved Rock Marketplace at the intersection of US Route 6 and Illinois Route 178. Enjoy a wine tasting along with the music or purchase a glass of wine or beer as you enjoy local musicians in the lovely setting of the patio at Cattails. This event is free and will take place rain or shine. Contact Cattails for more information call 815-220-7472.

Saturday, June 21st Movie Night at the Harbor 8:30 Showing the Movie, Toy Story

Located by the sand volleyball court, bring chairs & blankets. Candy & popcorn available for purchase.

Sunday, June 22nd NEW Hike-a-Palooza at Starved Rock Lodge

This three day adventure will be approximately 35 miles total. This trek will take participants to three state parks in our area as well as a state trail, each offering a diverse landscape. From waterfalls, canyons and a bluff walk to the tasty meals you will enjoy, this event will be the most vigorous experience we have planned so far. You can purchase each day individually, 3 days only $120.00, or as an overnight package at $320.00 single and $440.00 double occupancy. Call 815-220-7386 for more information and to make a reservation.

Saturday, June 28th The Dirty Dash starts at 8:00 am

Registration $40. Before 1/24/14 Chicago hasn't seen obstacles this fun to overcome since Ditka overcame triple bypass surgery back in '87. The Dirty Dash is bringing the filthiest and funniest race your inner child has ever seen. If you've got 2% body fat and are looking to prove yourself worthy of Seal Team 6, you may have come to the wrong pace. If you're used to running with a fanny pack full of mozzarella sticks to keep well-fed for the journey, then we may have been cut from the same cloth.

Saturday, June 28th Movie Night at the Harbor 8:30 Showing the Movie, Over the Hedge

Located by the sand volleyball court, bring chairs & blankets. Candy & popcorn available for purchase.

Saturday, June 28th USCG Boating Safety Class 8:30-4:30

Cost is $25 per person or $40 for two family members. Cost includes book, certification (if you pass) and lunch. Space is limited so please e-mail or call (815) 433-5000 if you would like to reserve your spot.

Sunday June 29th Ottawa Day at the Joliet Slammers Game 1:05pm

Bring the family for some great fun at the ballpark and watch the Joliet Slammers-a minor league, professional baseball team! Advance ticket sales only. Reserved seating. $10 per ticket, children 2 & under FREE. FREE parking at the park! FREE face painting, balloon animals & player autographs on field after the game! Tickets available at Heritage Harbor call 815-433-5000 to reserve yours today!

Sunday, June 29th 8th Annual Garden Walk 1:00pm - 4:00pm

The gardens of the Reddick Mansion complete with charming vignettes and costumed docents are part of this year's Garden Walk $12.00

Friday, July 4th Fourth of July

Enjoy local firework display! July 3rd Peru at dusk. July 4th Ottawa at dusk (Ottawa High School). July 6th Streator at dusk (Streator High School)


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1988 N. 2753rd Road | Ottawa | IL 61350 | hho@heritageharborottawa.com