Venture Out to the ‘Middle of Everywhere’

There’s a reason why Ottawa, Ill., is known for being “in the middle of everywhere.” Natural beauty, history, shopping, dining and accommodations are all on display at this destination in the heart of Starved Rock Country. It’s also an oasis for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

“We have three state parks that are within less than a 10-minute drive,” says Donna Reynolds, tourism and operations manager at the Ottawa Visitors Center. “We also have a wildlife preserve that is great for hiking and cross-country skiing.”

While every nearby state park offers its own unique experiences, Buffalo Rock State Park, just 3 miles out of town, is a particular favorite amongst locals and regular visitors. With 298 acres to explore, this park, once an island unto itself in the Illinois River, is now a promontory on the river’s north bank that offers stunning views for anyone wishing to take a photograph or spend a moment in quiet contemplation. You can even pay a visit to the park’s permanent residents.

After taking in the natural scenery, visitors will want to explore the local shopping and culinary scene.

“We have many unique boutiques, like Déjà vu, Heartland by Hand, and our newest shop, RPS Toys,” says Reynolds. “After a day of shopping, grab dinner at Ingia Pizzeria, Burger and Sushi House, or the Beach House.”

There are plenty of other reasons to stay and play around Ottawa. On May 20, Kites in Flight fills the sky with all colors as professional kite demonstrations and the public enjoy some high-flying fun.

Of course, there’s never a bad time to get the girls together for a fun retreat thanks to the Visitors Center’s Girls Getaway package. Round up some friends and book a two-night stay at participating hotels to access all of the pampering and fun you can fit into a weekend. Special activities include dinner promotions, yoga spa treatments and group tours.

Ottawa has always been “in the middle of everywhere.” Now is an ideal time to visit and discover for yourself just how completely it embodies that phrase.

To start planning an adventure in Ottawa, check out