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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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Saturday, April 5th USCG Boating Safety Class at Heritage Harbor 8:30-4:430 pm

Cost is $25 per person or $40 for two family members. Cost includes book, certification (if you pass) and lunch. Space is limited.

Friday, April 4th & Saturday April 5th-Reddick Mansion "Americana" by the Prairie Singers 7:00pm

The Prairie Singers will celebrate the music of America with a spirited collection including patriotic favorites, folk songs, hymns, and songs from American Broadway. The performance in the lovely West Parlors of the Mansion will be followed by dessert, coffee & punch. Tickets are $12 & seating is limited and reservations are requires. Please call the Mansion at 815-433-6100.

Monday & Tuesday April 7-8th-Walk the line tribute to Johnny Cash 11:30am

"Walk the Line" - Johnny Cash Walk the Line with Bennie Wheels as he entertains you with the hits of Johnny Cash. Bennie will take the stage to perform hits like Ring of Fire, Hurt, I Walk the Line and many others. Don't miss this tribute to The Man in Black. 2014 Dates: April 7 & 8 - Matinees Matinee Performances: 11:30am - $32.00 - includes lunch buffet. (815) 220-7386.

Saturday, April 12th SABIC Employee Health 5K Walk/Run 9:00 am at Heritage Harbor

SABIC will be using the beautiful setting of Heritage Harbor for an employee event so please just be aware that this will be going on at the Harbor.

Saturday, April 12th Hobie Kayak Demos @ Heritage Harbor 10a.m. - 2p.m.

Keep your fingers crossed for the first demo of the season! Here is your chance to pedal, paddle or sail a Hobie Kayak. You can take a ride in a Hobie Pro-Angler and see how easy fishing can be with a MirageDrive(allows you to be hands free).

Saturday, April 12th-Breakfast with the Easter Bunny at Starved Rock 8:30-10:30 am

Join us for Breakfast with the Easter Bunny on Saturday, April 12th from 8:30-10:30 am. This fun event begins in the Great Hall of the Lodge at 8:30 am with a breakfast buffet, followed by Magic by Cory and an "egg"citing Easter Egg hunt at Fox Ridge. Best of all, there will be a special visit from the Easter Bunny himself. Reservations are required. There is only one seating time for this event. Adults: $14.50, Children 10 and under: $9.95. For more information or to make reservation call 815-220-7386

Saturday, April 12th-5th Annual Easter Carnival 11:00 am - 3:00pm

The LaSalle County LEO's present their Easter Egg Carnival, Bunny Hop Races, Ring Toss, Photo's with the Bunny, Basket Raffles, Cake Walk, Egg Hunt at 1:00pm separate age groups apply. Taking place at Walsh Park, cost ranging from .25-$1.00. Call 815-830-3706 for more information.

Sunday, April 13th "Nothing's Sweeter than A Child Chocolate Fest" Celebrations 150 Utica 1 pm - 4pm

Enjoy and afternoon of some of Illinois finest confections! Over 20+ chocolate chefs and vendors gather from around the state so that you can sample their wares. A wonderful family friendly event because everybody loves chocolate! See our website for advance ticket sales. Tickets also available at-the-door, $10 admission; Kids 5 and under $5

Sunday, April 13th 5:00pm & April 14th -15th Dueling Pianos at 11:30am Starved Rock Lodge

An Experience like no other! Don't miss this wildly entertaining music and comedy dueling piano show. Bring your song list along and see if you can stump the performers! Our interactive musical comedy experience will have you singing, shouting, dancing and laughing so hard you'll be doubled over. 2014 Dates: April 13, 2014 - Evening Performance: $43.00 per person - includes wine tasting, dinner buffet & show April 14 & 15, 2014 - Matinee Performances: $38.00 per person - includes lunch buffet & show. For more information and to make reservations call 815-220-7386.

Saturday, April 19th -- Easter Egg Hunt at the Harbor Noon-2pm

Enjoy pictures with the Easter Bunny at noon at Tracy's Boat House, Egg Hunt and other games at 1 pm. Hot chocolate, cookies, prizes. Adult beverages available at well.

Saturday, April 19th Adult Easter Egg Hunt at August Hill Winery 10:00am-5:00 pm

Join us at August Hill Winery for an Adult Easter Egg Hunt! Each egg will have something special! (One egg per customer) Call (815) 667-5211

Sunday, April 20th-- Live Jazz Easter Brunch at Tracy's Boat House & 3 pm

Listen to the sweet sounds of Jazz and the view of the Harbor as you and your family celebrate Easter. Adults $19.50 Children $10 and kids under 5 FREE. Buffet includes Eggs Benedict, pancakes, sausage, bacon, breakfast potatoes, au gratin, baked ham, prime rib, chicken l'orange, broiled cod, jumbo ravs, vegetables, salads, breads, rolls, build your own sundae bar, blackberry cobbler and cinnamon bread pudding. Reservations at (815) 434-0030.

Saturday, April 26th-Healthy Kid's Day at the Harbor with the Ottawa YMCA 9am-Noon

Take part in a dirty dog fun mud run that includes 1 mile walk/run, obstacle course with mud pits. All participants receive a free T-shirt and dog tag. DJ, Moon Bounce, Staley-Chicago Bears mascot, skydivers, Ottawa Fire Dept, food and a whole lot of fun. Cost is $5 per child.

Saturday & Sunday, April 26th & 27th Nunsense Odeum Community Theatre Nunsense 7:30 pm

Hilarious musical comedy about five nuns who put on their own variety show to save the convent- Presented by special arrangements by Samuel French, Inc. N.Y. Tickets $15. Call 815-343-6668.

Friday, April 25th Floral Infused Dinner at Starved Rock Lodge 6:00-8:00pm

What a great kick off to begin Wildflower Pilgrimage Weekend - A Floral Infused Dinner. Yes, we know flowers are gorgeous to look at, but did you know that many flowers are also edible? Aside from their alluring beauty and fragrance, flowers can infuse culinary creations with flavor and sophistication. Starved Rock Lodge's Chefs are outdoing themselves on this one. You will start off the evening with a cool drink that you would think should be the centerpiece of the table, complete with floral petals. Next sit back and relax as our Chefs bring out courses of Soup, Salad, the Entree and Dessert that have been specially prepared with the flower garden in mind. Whether the flower is a garnish or the main ingredient you are sure to leave the dinner blooming thoughts of the summer to come. Space is limited and reservations are necessary.

Saturday & Sunday April 26-27th Mega Hike at Starved Rock 8:30am & 9:00am

Have you ever wanted to hike all the canyons in the park? Well, now you can do it in one day! The Mega Hike is an adventure you'll treasure for years to come. There are two departure times; hikes leave the Lodge at 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., both days, but we're almost sold out! Expected time for lunch is 1:00 pm for the earlier group and 2:00 p.m. for the later group. Finish times are approximately 4:30 & 5:00 p.m. The day begins as you board a Starved Rock Trolley with a pair of guides. Hikers will be taken to the east end of the park to begin their trek. The Mega Hike Adventure includes: trolley transportation, guides, a boxed lunch (1/2 way) and a specially designed T-shirt. $35.00 per person and reservations are a must. Call (815) 220-7386.

Friday & Saturday, May 2nd & 3rd Midwest Morel Fest - Downtown Ottawa 7 am-3pm Saturday

LEARN, HUNT, AUCTION . . . for Morel Mushrooms during Ottawa's Midwest Morel Fest! This unique festival offers something for everyone from the mushroom enthusiast to the curious observer! All events take place at Washington Square Park. All contestants will be bused to the hunt site. Event includes Morel University where you can learn what you need to know to find mushrooms; championship hunt and public auction at 1 pm on Saturday followed by awards*1:00pm. Other events include Morel Mushroom Museum, Hand & Homemade Market, Reddick Mansion Tours, Ottawa Scouting Museum, downtown shopping and dining. Cost for seminar and hunt each: 13 yrs and over $30.00, 12 yrs and under $15.00, Walk-Ins add $5.00. No cancellations. No refunds. REGISTRATION DEADLINE MAY 1. Walk-Ins permitted if space allows. Call the Ottawa Visitors Center to make your reservations at (815) 434-2737.

Saturday, May 3rd, Morel Mash Up Home Brew Tasting-Downtown Ottawa 10 am -4pm

Here is your chance to taste dozens of different styles and types of beer made by amateur home brewers from all over the Midwest! Come learn about the home brew process, meet new friends and enjoy everything that beautiful downtown Ottawa has to offer. Must be 21.

Sunday, May 4th Cinco De Mayo Celebration at Tracy's Boat House 11am-3pm

Enjoy tacos, tequila tasting, margaritas, prizes and much more. Prizes for the best Cinco De Mayo Get-Up.

Sunday, May 4th Blessing of the Bikes-Starved Rock State Park 12:00pm

This Motorcycle Blessing is the official kick-off of biking season and what better place to start than at beautiful Starved Rock? There are two blessings (one at noon and the other at 1:30 p.m.). The blessing sets the course for a safe season of riding ... Bring your friends and take the scenic route, perhaps along Route 71 as it meanders along the Illinois River. Stop and see Council Overhang and Ottawa Canyon on your way here, then relax on the Veranda for a panoramic view from above. Outdoor dining and home-made Artisan Ice Cream to cool off make for a winning combination.

Saturday, May 10th Starved Rock Country Marathon & Half Marathon 7am - 3pm

Join the run or join the fun. The races ends at scenic Heritage Harbor where the party begins with food, drinks, music and a whole lot of people that deserve an applause. For information about the race visit www.starvedrockmarathon.org or we will see you the Harbor for the party.

Sunday, May 11th Mother's Day Brunch with Jazz at Tracy's Boat House Seatings at 11 am, 1pm & 3 pm

Listen to the sweet sounds of Jazz and the view of the Harbor as you and your family celebrate Easter. Adults $19.50 Children $10 and kids under 5 FREE. Buffet includes Eggs Benedict, pancakes, sausage, bacon, breakfast potatoes, au gratin, baked ham, prime rib, chicken l'orange, broiled cod, jumbo ravs, vegetables, salads, breads, rolls, build your own sundae bar, blackberry cobbler and cinnamon bread pudding. Reservations at (815) 434-0030.

Saturday, May 17th Hobie Day by Quest Watersports at Heritage Harbor Marina 8-4 pm

Kayak Fishing in SRC with Hobie Regional Fishing Team Member, Colin Belle - 8a.m. Intro (w/8:30a.m. Kayak push off). Followed by Fisherman Luncheon & Storytelling at Quest Watersports. At 12:30 pm there will be King Salmon Kayak Fishing Seminar w/emphasis on rigging, gear, safety equipment & weather conditions on Lake Michigan and Intro to Kayak Angling & How to Rig Your Fishing Kayak Seminar. Hobie Kayak & SUP Demos will be available at Heritage Harbor 2p.m. - 4p.m. For more information all Linda at (815) 433-2200.

Saturday, May 24th Blessing of the Harbor 11:00 am at the End of A Dock Heritage Harbor Marina

Kick off the 2014 Boating Season with a blessing ceremony of the Harbor and boats. Free bloody mary and mimosa bar by H2O Boat Club.

Saturday, May 24th Heritage Harbor Pool and Burgee Bar Tiki Hut Opens 10 am to dusk

Let us feel the sun on our skin and the warmth of summer beginning. Entertainment!

Sunday, May 24th Movie Night at the Harbor 8:30 Showing Movie TBD

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

Monday, May 25th Boaters Biscuit & Sausage Breakfast 9am-11 am

We are starting a new Memorial Day Weekend tradition by serving all of our boaters and homeowners a FREE biscuit and sausage breakfast. Bloody Mary Bar available for purchase. Jeremy, Tammy & Team will make it worth your visit to fill your tummy's before a beautiful day of boating.

Saturday, May 31st HHO Women, Wine & Design 3-6 pm

Where Creativity Meets Entertainment & FUN with friends! We have booked the easels and have the snacks. You bring your own refreshments and the painting materials and canvas will be supplied. Cost is $30 per person. Space is limited and will be held at the lower level of Silver Spoon (across from Turk's furniture in downtown Ottawa.


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