Ottawa, Illinois

This alluring city in the middle of everywhere features nostalgic charm and outdoor adventure

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Get away with the girls, savor time with your family, pack up Fido and hit the road.

Surrounded by open spaces, rivers and trails, Ottawa is a picturesque natural setting that allows families to get outdoors, relax and have a memorable outing. Ottawa serves as a hub for four state parks and a nature preserve, all within 20 minutes of its charming downtown area.

The most popular of these parks is Starved Rock State Park, which was voted the No. 1 attraction in Illinois and is located a scant 10 miles from Ottawa. Starved Rock is home to amazing waterfalls, 13 miles of trails, great fishing and boating on the Illinois River. Standing on the north bank of the Illinois River, Buffalo Rock State Park affords a magnificent sweeping view of the river. This 298-acre park has long been a favorite picnic area and a nature lover’s delight.

The Middle of Everywhere

A Historic Downtown

Ottawa offers all you need to make lasting memories on a vacation that is virtually stress-free.

Downtown Ottawa’s commercial district retains its nostalgic charm and 19th century buildings while offering a variety of shops and dining experiences. Large murals and public art displays, mom and pop shops, historic American figures and adventure activities are just a few of the attractions families will find downtown. Enhance your enjoyment of downtown Ottawa by taking an informative, guided tour that tells about Ottawa’s exciting past.

Groups can choose from bike tours, walking tours, hike tours, seasonal haunted tours or a custom tour. Among the many shops families can peruse include A Mess of Things, which sells vintage, repurposed and recycled home décor, clothing and accessories, and Sister in Laws, a small hometown decor shop.

Built before the Civil War in 1858, Reddick Mansion and Gardens, an ornate 50-foot-tall, 22-room Italianate mansion, anchors the Washington Square National Historic District. Dedicated to the preservation of the history of the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Campfire and the Ottawa area, the Ottawa Historic and Scouting Heritage Museum features collections of memorabilia relating to Ottawa’s historic past. Ottawa is home to a diverse culinary scene that includes such reputable establishments as The Lone Buffalo, which features a rich and varied menu, taking familiar favorites and giving them a chef-inspired twist.

Video Tour

Ottawa, Illinois is a vibrant tourist destination located 80 miles outside of downtown Chicago. It is often considered to be ‘In the Middle of Everywhere,’ located in the heart of the state, central to several major Illinois cities and drive markets, and within a stone’s throw of many diverse activities. Those who visit Ottawa, Illinois take note of its friendly and neighborly, hometown feel.

Browse below for some family-friendly additions to your itinerary

Why Reunite on the Ottawa, IL

Highlights

  • Downtown Ottawa’s commercial district features nostalgic charm and 19th century buildings while offering a variety of shops and dining experiences. It is also home to Reddick Mansion and Gardens, an ornate 50-foot-tall, 22-room Italianate mansion.
  • Ottawa serves as a hub for four state parks and a nature preserve, all within 20 minutes of its charming downtown area, including Starved Rock State Park.
  • Ottawa features a host of excellent restaurants that will appeal to every member of your family including The Lone Buffalo, one of Illinois’ best brewpubs.

Family-Friendly Dining Experiences in Ottawa, IL

The Lone Buffalo by Tangled Roots Brewing Company

Nestled in historic Ottawa resides one of Illinois’ most remarkable brewpubs. The Lone Buffalo features a rich and varied menu, taking familiar favorites and giving them a chef-inspired twist. The brewpub also features stunning décor, including twin Bavarian copper brewing kettles where the brewmasters create unique “farm to foam” ale crafted from hops and barley grown on its nearby farm.

Website: tangledrootsbrewingco.com/the-lone-buffalo

B.A.S.H. Burger and Sushi House

Established in 2013, Burger and Sushi House is a unique pairing of quality food, service and ambience. The staff ranges from local familiar faces to a team of sushi chefs with experience across the world. Along with great food, B.A.S.H. also offers a variety of fabulous cocktails and a hearty beer menu.

Website: burgerandsushihouse.com

Hank’s Farm Restaurant

Offering casual Italian-American dining since 1941, Hank’s Farm Restaurant is a generational family-run restaurant in a warm and rustic atmosphere. Families can take a walk before or after dinner and savor the beautiful landscaping and two ponds that reside on Hank’s Farm’s property. And of course, the food, featuring steak and pasta classics is phenomenal.

Website: hanksfarm.com/home.html

Woody’s Steak House

With a 70-year tradition of serving top-notch food in the Starved Rock area, Woody’s specializes in steak, including marinated ribeye, filet mignon and New York strip, chicken and seafood and provides an inviting place to enjoy an evening out with friends and family.

Website: woodyssteakhouse1.com

Ready to find out more about how Ottawa, IL can help plan your family trip or reunion?

 

Red Dog Grill

Gourmet American and seafood cuisine can be enjoyed while overlooking a world-class marina at this grill. Red Dog’s progressive menu features daily specials and specialty drinks with a flair that says “I’m on vacation.” Arrive by land or by water to take in the delicious smells, flavors and views of Red Dog Grill.

Website: reddoggrill.com

Family-Friendly Attractions in Ottawa, IL

Downtown Ottawa

Lush plantings and butterfly gardens line streets filled with boutique shops and modern eateries in downtown Ottawa. Among the many shops families can peruse include A Mess of Things, which sells vintage, repurposed and recycled home décor, clothing and accessories; A Mess of Things, which sells vintage, repurposed and recycled home décor, clothing and accessories, and Sister in Laws, a small hometown decor shop.

Website: pickusottawail.com

Reddick Mansion and Gardens

Built before the Civil War in 1858, this ornate 50-foot-tall, 22-room Italianate mansion anchors the Washington Square National Historic District. This mansion is known to be one of the most expensive residences ever constructed in the Midwest during the mid-1800s. Take a step back into the 19th century and see this mansion’s numerous rooms which have been restored to their previous grandeur.

Website: reddickmansion.org

Buffalo Rock State Park

Standing majestically on the north bank of the Illinois River, Buffalo Rock State Park affords a magnificent sweeping view of the river. This 298-acre park has long been a favorite picnic area and a nature lover’s delight. Families can also camp, hike and bike and even go cross-country skiing when the snow falls.

Website: illinois.gov/dnr/Parks/Pages/BuffaloRock.aspx

Dayton Bluffs Preserve

The thrill of true wilderness can be found at the Dayton Bluffs Preserve. Families can explore the preserve’s several points of interest including Oak Woodlands, Indian Burial Mounds, Telegraph Pole and Great Oak. Stretch your legs on the preserve’s north and south trails that pass by the historic Fox River.

Website: theconservationfoundation.org/about-us/dayton-bluffs

Ready to find out more about how Ottawa, IL can help plan your family trip or reunion?

 

Ottawa Historic and Scouting Heritage Museum

Dedicated to the preservation of the history of the boy scouts, girl scouts, campfire and the Ottawa area, the Ottawa Historic and Scouting Heritage Museum features collections of memorabilia relating to Ottawa’s historic past. The museum displays an old carriage, pianos, an organ, farm equipment and photographic exhibits from local mansions.

Website: pickusottawail.com/attractions/scouting-museum/

Family-Friendly Accommodations in Ottawa, IL

Holiday Inn Express

Just a few miles from Starved Rock State Park and Sky Dive Chicago, the premier sky diving location for all of Chicago, this hotel features beautifully decorated rooms with flat screen TVs, comfortable bedding, a large working desk and a microwave and fridge in each room. Holiday Inn Express also has one meeting room, an onsite business center, free wifi and a complimentary fitness center.

Website: ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/ottawa/jotes/hoteldetail

Fairfield by Marriott

Modern guest rooms feature 55-inch flat screen TVs with Netflix, Hulu and every room includes a mini-fridge and microwave. Relax after a long day in Marriott’s indoor pool and hot tub or keep up with your health routine in the hotel’s fitness center equipped with cardio machines and free weights. You can enjoy the hotel’s large outdoor patio with comfortable lounge seating, tables and a barbecue area.

Website: marriott.com/hotels/travel/mdwot-fairfield-inn-and-suites-ottawa-starved-rock-area

Hampton Inn Ottawa

Stroll tree-lined avenues, fountains and the antique shops of downtown Ottawa’s Washington Square Park, less than 10 minutes from the hotel. The inn offers free breakfast, free wifi an indoor pool, a fitness center, pet-friendly rooms and a business center. It also houses a meeting room with 600 square feet of event space.

Website: hilton.com/en/hotels/otwilhx-hampton-ottawa-starved-rock-area

Super 8

Minutes from Starved Rock State Park, Buffalo Rock State Park and the Illinois and Michigan Canal, Super 8 will provide you the rest you need for a fresh start. All rooms include a refrigerator and free wifi, and you can enjoy a free SuperStart breakfast and free coffee.

Website: wyndhamhotels.com/super-8/ottawa-illinois/super-8-ottawa-starved-rock/overview

Ready to find out more about how Ottawa, IL can help plan your family trip or reunion?

 

Heritage Harbor

A resort community built around a lively marina on the Illinois River, Heritage Harbor is a great place to relax. Its vibrant marina is home to 140 boat slips and the 16-mile stretch of waterway between the Marseilles Lock and Starved Rock Lock provides an abundance of boating and watersport opportunities. Pontoon, jet ski and electric boat rentals are offered.

Website: visitheritageharbor.com

Family-Friendly Venues in Ottawa, IL

Ottawa Uncorked

Ottawa Uncorked will feature wine from nearly 20 vintners from across Illinois, fabulous food, amazing live music, outdoor arts and crafts market and much more. Tickets will be available for purchase. 

Website:Ottawauncorked.com

Chris Kringle Market

This market features local artisans, boutiques and restaurants in an open-air, Euro-inspired event under the twinkling lights of Jordan Block Park in historic downtown Ottawa. More than 40 vendors placed throughout downtown Ottawa enables families to stroll from one location to another while enjoying tasty treats and savoring the holiday spirit.

Website: pickusottawail.com/event/chris-kringle-market

Riverfest

Ottawa’s annual and LaSalle County’s largest festival, Riverfest celebrates summer with a bang. Events include carnival rides, art shows, craft and flea market, children’s activities, music demonstrations, a parade and the Taste of Ottawa.

Website: pickusottawail.com/calendar/riverfest

The Lone Buffalo by Tangled Roots Brewing Company

This exceptional restaurant and brewpub has spaces available for any type of event. With a large selection of elevated food and beverage packages, a private dining room that seats 40 and an entire floor that seats 80, The Lone Buffalo is a great place to hold a reunion or family gathering

Website: tangledrootsbrewingco.com/the-lone-buffalo

Ready to find out more about how Ottawa, IL can help plan your family trip or reunion?

 

Heritage Harbor

A fabulous locale for families to get away, Heritage Harbor is built around a vibrant marina on the Illinois River. A variety of rentals are available for low prices and families can relax in a neighborhood which provides easy access to the harbor. The neighborhood is designed with walkability in mind as it features river walks along with a marina featuring 140 boat slips, perfect for getting out and enjoying a peaceful and lovely adventure.

Website: visitheritageharbor.com

What are you waiting for?

Let Destination Reunions help you plan the perfect reunion.

Curt Bedei

Curt Bedei

Ottawa Visitors Center

Phone: 815-434-2737