Something New to Do!!

There is something new to do in the Starved Rock Area! Tom Aussem of “Awesome Ottawa Tours” Wants to show you some of our local history with his “Hidden Caves and Forgotten Graveyards” Hiking and biking tours. Tom wants to show you the local Indian Burials, Pioneer Graveyards and hidden caves of the area. But that’s not all! He also offers tours of downtown Ottawa with local history, underground railroad, canal and the Radium Girls. And on the lighter side he offers a cocktail tour with local saloons and their history, as well as a food walk, featuring some of our local restaurants and fare, along with some history. Then for the strong hearted, he offers a Haunted Ottawa tour!! In this tour he covers “Ottawa’s history of Suicide, Murder and Mayhem”.

So, get some local history, a little exercise, fresh air and have some fun! Then, stay at the Brightwood Inn and relax and enjoy the peace and quite of country living and a great home cooked breakfast the next day! Remember, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!!

Tom’s Flyer for his Awesome Ottawa Tours

Here’s Tom’s Schedule of all the different tours that he does!

Also check out his Face Book page to see more pictures and get more information on all he has to offer.

Aronia Berry the Super Food!!

I don’t know how many of you are aware that we grow Aronia Berries on our front two and a half acres. The short way to sum up Aronia’s is that they are a SUPER FOOD. Their ORAC value or anti-oxidant level is higher than any other food. Plus they have a tremendous amount of other healthy properties which I will list later. This year we have a pretty good crop, we are expecting over 500 pounds so I also want to make you aware that we do sell to the public, as berries in one pound bag for $5.00 or the raw juice for, 46 oz. $20.00. We have many suggestions on what you can do with the berries by themselves, like Aronia berry muffins or Aronia berry Salsa, but the easiest thing to do is throw a cup of them in with your smoothie. Also as the juice, I drink 4oz in the morning and then 4oz in the evening. Now we are not set up for delivery so everything is cash and carry, but then you could also pick up a bag of our homemade granola as well! Or better yet, stay at the Brightwood Inn and relax, then take some home with you!!

As promised here are the other benefits!


Highest levels of antioxidants of any fruit in the world.

Regulates blood pressure levels

Prevents and helps in treatment of Diabetes

Improves Blood circulation and strengthens blood vessels

Helps in urinary tract health

Helps in gastro protective effect

Anti carcinogen effect {Anti cancer properties)

Anti inflammatory properties

Protects your eyes

Helps control weight

Reduces allergy production

Inhibits enzymes that break down collagen

Improves the function of respiratory systems

Protects heart cells from cell membrane damage

Nutrient dense, wide range of vitamins and minerals including

zinc, magnesium, iron, vitamins b, c, and k, and quinic acid.

Things to do in the Winter

Things to do in the winter in the Starved Rock Area.

Sharon has Challenged me to come up with at least 10 things to do in our area during the Winter time. Well, I hear the call and I will answer it! Challenge accepted! So I will scour the area looking for inside and outside activities for our area, hoping to find something for everyone.

  1. Ice Falls at Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Parks – With the freezing temperatures, the waterfalls at the parks turn even more magical when they freeze over. Different hues of Blue abound inside these falls, that you will see when you get right up to them. Bring your camera, they’re very photogenic! Also you may see trained ice climbers inching their way to the top, but be careful not to get to close if you see them as chunks of ice may fall while they’re doing it. 
  2. Eagle watching at Starved Rock – As the smaller creeks, ponds and other tributaries freeze over, the eagles will flock around the Illinois river in search of food. By the lock and dam across from Starved Rock is one of their favorite hunting grounds. In the trees surrounding the area, you will see the white heads of these majestic birds throughout. Bring your binoculars to get a really good look at them!
  3. Stay at the Brightwood Inn – Yes! Stay at the Brightwood Inn! We have fireplaces, hot tubs, fluffy robes, Hot Coa Coa, books, board games, DVD players. All that is perfect after a nice invigorating hike looking at Frozen Waterfalls and counting Eagles! After all we are “a better way to stay”!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ 
  4. Illinois Waterway Visitor’s center – Get up close and personal with the Impressively large tow boats and see how the locks work that are along the Illinois river. They also have a viewing platform with a telescope for viewing the Bald Eagles.  
  5. LaSalle County Historical Museum – The museum complex is located on the banks of the Illinois & Michigan Canal a few miles south of I-80 on Route 178 in historical Utica, Illinois. The two-story stone museum was built during the presidency of Zachary Taylor in 1848. Originally it was a general store serving the needs of early pioneers and the traffic along the canal. Steeped in tradition, all its natural charm has been preserved by the Society.  
  6. Cross Country Skiing – There are 6 miles of cross-country ski trails with ski rental available weekends from December through March. Alcohol is prohibited on all trails. Call 815-667-4726 to check conditions and status before coming to use these facilities. 
  7. Wine Tasting – Utica has two wineries, each with it’s own tasting room, August Hill winery and Illinois River Winery. Stop buy and sample their hand crafted wines, they are both very good! Also, Utica has a tasting room called Clark’s Run Creek Gifts and Wine Tasting, where you can sample a variety of different vintners, and they also have craft beer. 
  8. Beer Tasting – Ottawa has a micro brew pub called Tangled Roots where they have a plethora of different beers for you to sample at their tasting room. Brewed on site and sometimes in conjunction with neighboring Radium city Brewery (they do not have a tasting room unfortunately) in beautiful copper kettles that you can see through glass walls. You can also go next door to their sister restaurant Lone Buffalo and try the beers with delicious, seasonal and locally sourced food. 
  9. Shopping – Downtown LaSalle, Downtown Utica and Downtown Ottawa all have lovely shops with various interesting wares for you to meander through. There are also antique stores in Utica and Ottawa. Peru has an Antique Mall with LARGE assortment of various antiques. Last time we were there, we spent hours looking at things, it felt like being in a museum! 
  10. Dining – Once again, Downtown LaSalle, Downtown Utica and Downtown Ottawa have great local restaurants for you to choose from. Look them up yourself on-line or ask us for suggestions when you get here. There are too many to list in this little article! 
  11. Mansion tours – LaSalle has the Hegler Carus Mansion where Visitors today experience the grandeur of a bygone era and the heritage of a fascinating family whose history is woven tightly with that of the Illinois Valley. Then Ottawa has the Reddick Mansion. Historically important and architecturally unique, the Reddick Mansion anchors  Washington Square, the site of the first Lincoln-Douglas Debate.  Built in 1855, this lovely 22-room Italianate mansion was possibly the most expensive and ornate private home built in Illinois before the Civil War. 
  12. Horseback Riding – Yes! Horseback riding in the winter! Cedar Creek Ranch is open year round and has many miles of scenic trails for you to ride through. They even have a restaurant called the Gun Smoke Grill for you to warm up afterwards with some good hot food! 
  13. Day Spa – Indulge yourself at one our local day spas. There are many in the area and a wide variety of services. One in particular is called Salt Tree Yoga spa. They have a Himalayan salt cave where you can sit and relax and breath in the salty air, which is suppose to be great for your lungs! 

Well looky there! I came up with 13 different things to do in the area! So there is no reason to sit at home bored when there’s all this stuff to do. So come out! Hike, shop, eat, taste, it’s all here waiting for you! And of course, stay at the Brightwood Inn, where there’s a comfy bed and a fireplace waiting for you! ๐Ÿ˜€

Deep Discounts For Weekday Stays!!

You don’t need Groupon or Living Social to get great prices at the Brightwood Inn! We are now offering deep discounts for weekday stays! And trust me, weekdays around here SO much more peaceful.  Check out my Blog on that.  This deal is for two night stays or more only.

So here’s the deal, We have 9 rooms and 4 room types.  The deal will be check in  Sun thru Wed for a 2 night stay. Prices based on 2 person occupancy. Tax not included
Door County and Turkey Run regularly $135 – per night special – $80
Mackinac and Sequoia Savannah regularly $180 – per night special – $125 
Tortola, Mallory Square and Vieux Carre regularly $210 – per night special – $150 
Aspen Suite regularly $230 – per night special – $175
Savannah $170 – per night special – $125

 You can book on-line to receive this offer (only through our web site) but the reservation software on our site is set for normal rates and it will take a deposit of a normal rate. We can adjust for that later when you get here. Or call us at 815-667-4600 and we can adjust at the time of reservation. You have to say “I would like to take advantage of your Weekday Discounts.” if you call or if you book on-line, TYPE “WEEKDAY DISCOUNTS” into special requests and we’ll take care of you!! Cannot be used with any other offer or gift certificate. 


Week days in the Starved Rock area

Well, it was a busy Memorial Day weekend here at the Brightwood Inn and the Starved Rock area in general. Once again they had to halt traffic to the parks because they were too full. The trails were choked with people, trash was over flowing the garbage cans and our guests reported they saw people were carving into the trees off the trails. People were wandering off the trails and one guy fell 40 feet in one of the canyons. It’s reported that he’s in good condition now. Conservation officers handed out 76 tickets. Things were pretty chaotic in the Village of North Utica. It was estimated that there were 96,000 people here over the weekend!! I gotta say, all the good press Starved Rock has been getting has it’s down side. I’ll be honest with you, I try not to leave the property on the weekends so that I don’t have to deal with the chaos.

But, when the week days come, things slow down quite nicely. There is a little more solitude to hiking the trails and it’s so much quieter. You can actually hear the birds, not other peoples conversations. Restaurants are less crowded, traffic is a breeze. The only thing is, once in a great while, you might get stuck behind one of the local farmers tractors, but don’t worry, it’s not for long. Everything is so much more relaxing here on the weekdays.  

So if that isn’t enough encouragement to get to come to the Starved Rock area (and preferably the Brightwood Inn) on the weekdays, we have our “Save Big Bucks” deal. Do you have the ability to stay two nights?  If you answered yes then we have a deal for you.   Stay 2 nights in Door County or Turkey Run and weโ€™ll give you $15 off per night.  Stay 2 nights in Mackinac or Sequoia and get $25 off per night.  Stay 2 nights in Vieux Carre, Tortola or Mallory Square and get $35 off per night.  Stay in the Aspen Suite and get $40 off per night. Now this is only valid for check in Sunday thru Wednesday.

So if you really want to relax AND save money, take a couple of days off and come to the Brightwood Inn during the week.

There is a reason that our motto is “Relax and enjoy”. ๐Ÿ™‚


You Deserve a Brightwood Vacation

brightwood inn vacationMaybe youโ€™re sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic and realize you havenโ€™t had a vacation in three years or surrounded by crying children and Calgon will just not take you away. You need some time to get away from it all and enjoy what life has to offer. You deserve a few days at Brightwood Inn and hereโ€™s why.

Life is stressful

Life isnโ€™t easy. It can be a struggle to get up every day and head to work. Maybe youโ€™re surrounded by people you donโ€™t like or do a job that isnโ€™t a fulfilling, but the bottom line is life stresses you out. Thereโ€™s plenty of time to work and do all the chores and responsibilities that come with being an adult, but where is the time for you. Do you get time for doing the things you love?

Vacation is not an option

People have a tendency to skip taking vacations because they donโ€™t want to take the time off work. ย You may get 2-4 weeks of vacation each year, but the vast majority of people will use only a fraction of it. This can be detrimental in many different ways. Jobs are demanding. They demand your time, focus, energy and that wears on you after a while. The last thing you or your employer wants is burn out. A nice relaxing vacation lets you reboot mentally, physically and emotionally.

Fun is healthy

What do you do during the week? Do you go hiking, explore new areas or visit travel destinations or do you stay home and watch television or other mundane acts? People need to enjoy themselves in ways only getting away can. You can indulge in foods you wouldnโ€™t normally eat and do activities that engage you physically and spiritually.

Brightwood Inn wants you to have the kind of experience youโ€™ll remember for the rest of your life. Youโ€™re surrounded by some of the most beautiful country the state has to offer and staying in place that puts your comfort and happiness above all else. You deserve a Brightwood Vacation.


Travel Tips: How To Plan For Place A Youโ€™ve Never Been

travel tips brightwood inHere at Brightwood Inn, we get people from all over visiting us. There are the locals who just want a few days of rest and recreation. There are the people from Chicago looking to get away from suburban living and those from around the country seeking a little peace and solitude.

Many times people come without much knowledge of the area or with only a few major spots they intend to check out such as Starved Rock. Here are some easy ways to plan out your trip and find out about the area you plan to visit. These work whether youโ€™re visiting northern Illinois or London.

Why do I need to know the area?

There are many benefits to a spontaneous trip or leaving the specifics in the air, but you could be missing out. Many places have unique areas, attraction, restaurants, etc. that are off the beaten path. You may not see them on the main roadways into the area. Also, towns have various events and festivals throughout the year and that might be a draw or an annoyance for vacationers. If you know about the area, then you can on attending or avoiding them.

Travel guides give you an overview

While youโ€™re more likely to find travel guides about Chicago, then Oglesby, that doesnโ€™t mean they donโ€™t have some great information. Statewide travel guides often give details about attractions, etc. by county. You can also check out the Illinois Tourism website to get information as well. The biggest problems with travel guides are the most informative are usually designed around a major urban area or attractions. Itโ€™s great if youโ€™re visiting San Francisco, but not if youโ€™re planning a weekend in a small community.

Ask friends and neighbors

People love talking about their vacations and if you know people that have been to the area before, donโ€™t be afraid to ask them about it. Find out their experiences at local restaurants and businesses. Keep in mind that their experiences may not have been typical. Every restaurant has a bad day, so if your dying to try a place, but youโ€™ve heard bad things, give it a try anyway. Friends and neighbors can also tell you about the best times to go to places. For example, the best time to visit a water park to avoid the lines, etc.

Brightwood Inn is located in beautiful Oglesby, Illinois, which is just a short distance from Starved Rock. If you donโ€™t know the area, then feel free to ask us too.


5 Ways To Spark Romance At Brightwood Inn

romantic getaway at brightwood innSoon, the leaves will begin to change and brightly colored trees of brown, amber and red will surround Brightwood Inn. Crisp air will fill our lungs as the most scenic and beautiful part of the year arrives. Itโ€™s the perfect time to rekindle a beloved romance.

Life always seems to get in the way, but itโ€™s important to keep romance alive. We can help make your experience memorable with these five tips for your stay.

Keep the kids with a babysitter

Children are amazing and we often give our all for them, but theyโ€™re the antithesis of romantic. How many special dinners or date nights have been delayed or cancelled because of baseball practice, fevers and volleyball games. If you want to make this a weekend you and your significant other will remember for the rest of your lives, then get grandma and grandpa to take them for a few days. Youโ€™ll enjoy every moment without worrying about arguing, fighting or the endless parental duties.

Take advantage of amenities

Odds are your home is made more for function than comfort. Instead of a luxurious hot tub, youโ€™ve got a standing shower or shallow bathtub that you canโ€™t just sit and soak in. Brightwood Inn makes comfort a priority. The cool fall air mixed with the heat of our fireplace can turn even the coldest relationship red hot. Close your eyes and let your body relax in one of roomโ€™s hot tubs before getting out and putting on one of our signature robes.

Breakfast of romantic champions

Food is a pleasure, at least it should be. When youโ€™re at home, youโ€™re counting carbs and calories, but when you come to Brightwood Inn, you can live a little. For many, romance isnโ€™t just flowers and candy, but being pampered, and eating an amazing breakfast can be a perfect start to the day. We prepare homemade muffins, breads and more to get your romantic day started off right.

Explore the fall colors

If you want to rekindle your love, then just look out your window and see the endless fall colors the area has to offer. A quick drive to Starved Rock State Park and a few hours hiking the canyons hand in hand will make you feel like newlyweds again. Take your time and enjoy every minute of the fall air and the beautiful trees and scenery that the area provides. Pack a picnic and let the sounds of nature take all your stresses away.

A quiet night in

A romantic getaway is all about the two of you. So, when the sun starts to set donโ€™t head out into the town. A nice quiet romantic night in at Brightwood Inn is the perfect medicine for your relationship. Cuddle up in our luxurious bed and watch a movie or go out onto the balcony and just talk like you used to. Brightwood Inn is all about life, love and happiness and that shines through in everything we do.



Ottawa River Fest, 8-1 through 8-7


Well it’s that time of year once again! Starting Monday August first and going through Sunday August seventh, Ottawa is having their River fest in Downtown Ottawa Illinois. Besides the usual carnival, music and beer gardens, this year they are also having a “Taste of Ottawa” fair. ย Admission is only $2.00 per person and children are free! As always, please check out there web site for a full list of all the activities. ย There is A LOT of things going on and they have a great calendar of events, list of vendors and and all the live entertainment that will be going on! ย The Brightwood Inn is only 12 minutes from downtown Ottawa, so we are a quiet place to stay in the country when you want to get away form all the noise. ย A full hot breakfast always awaits you every morning as well.

t o oottawa, dt


Third Party Reservation Sites

Third party reservation systems like Expedia, Kayak, Tingo,, etc. etc. seem to be a necessary Evil these days. ย If we don’t use them we don’t get the necessary exposure that we so desperately need, plus for some people, that’s the only way they know how to make reservations.

Hereย are a number of reasons you shouldn’t use a third party reservation system when dealing with bed and breakfast and small inns and make them directly through the property in which you intend to stay.

  1. Sometimes they lie – the people on the other end of the reservation know nothing about us, they are usually on some other continent and will do anything to get the commission of the sale. They will sell you our standard room like Turkey Run or Door County and tell you it has a hot tub and private balcony. ย We’ve had some very upset people arrive here and to find out their room doesn’t have a hot tub and rightly so! ย If there is a hot tub room available we try to accommodate but sometimes we are fully booked.
  2. Sometimes they just don’t know – We have one pet friendly room and two wheelchair accessible rooms and these third party companies just don’t get it. ย They’ll put someone with a handicap on the second or third floor and we don’t have an elevator. Or someone traveling with their dog is given a room that we don’t allow pets in and we have to turn them away because we assure people with pet allergies that pets have never been in the rooms that we don’t allow pets in.
  3. They don’t give us the information we need form you –ย Sometimes, all we get is a name from them. No phone number, no e-mail, no credit card info, etc.. We like to send everyone our personnel conformation letter because it has some very valid information on it that their generic confirmation letters do not. Also, we like to get a cell phone number in case we need to get a hold of you for one reason or another. ย A couple of examples we would need to get a hold of you are, we need to run into town for something and we want to see what time you think you’ll be arriving, or someone left their cell phone charger and their earrings in their room and we want to get a hold of you before you get too far away.
  4. They charge the same price as us AND they charge a commission – It’s true, they tell you they are giving you these insane prices that no one can touch, but in reality, you’re paying the same price as what you would pay if you went directly through us. Plus, those companies charge us up to 30% commission! There are some that only charge 15% or so and those I don’t have a problem with, but 30%!?!? That’s just greedy. ย There are even a couple of sites that we know of that you pay MORE than you would if you booked through us.
  5. ย They don’t have our information right – One site once said that we had horses on property! And to try and get them to change anything is nothing short of impossible.
  6. They don’t have all of our rooms to sell – We only give them up to half of our rooms to sell. So you’re only getting a limited number to see and choose from. ย We can’t afford to have all of our rooms to be sold on commission.

Do you see that little green lock in the browser bar by our web site domain name? ย We paid extra to have that to show we are just as secure as those other big guys. ย In fact, if you don’t see that lock on your reservation site, Don’t Use Them!!ย Also, these third party sites are really good at sneaking in their site when you look for ours and you click on them instead of us, so you think you are dealing with us. ย So also look for the “Official Page” of the Brightwood Inn, those others, you just never know what you are getting yourself into!

So in short, when it comes to dealing with “Mom and Pop” businesses, leave the middle man out. It’s really meant for the large corporations that can afford high price commissions and have cookie cutter accommodations. ย  Here’s a tip that we use, use the third party vendors as a search engine, then call or book directly with the actually property. ย We do that all the time when looking for other bed and breakfasts and small inns when we travel! ๐Ÿ˜‰