Blog

hd-blog Welcome to our blog page!  In here you can find out about some things that are going on in the area or maybe some insight into things you can do.  Every once in awhile, you may even catch us just writing down some of our thoughts and day to day activities.  So, Please feel free to have a look around and let us know if you have any questions!

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 we’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”. 🙂

 

Winter At Brightwood Inn

Winter at Brightwood InnIt’s that time of year again when Jack Frost starts nipping at your nose and the temperatures plummet. Rain turns to snow and soon Brightwood Inn and the entire Illinois Valley area are covered in a blanket of white. When winter arrives, the area is transformed and a whole new world opens up. The luscious greens of spring and colors of fall are replaced by serene white and is just as breathtaking.

Ice Falls

During the spring and summer, thousands of people visit Starved Rock State Park. Along with the flora and fauna, the falls are a major attraction for the park. You’ll see countless pictures of people on social media under the falls, but you’ll hardly see anything at winter.

Once the temperature drops, the falls become like mini glaciers suspended in time.  The loud sound of falling winter is replaced with introspective stillness as you stare at Mother Nature’s ice sculptures. You never know what animals you’ll see as you walk the trails and enjoy the scenery.

Holiday Lights

Even when Christmas is over, people still keep their lights on for weeks after the holiday. There’s nothing like a leisurely drive to the many towns in the area to look at the beautiful display of lights. While there, take in some of the local stores and restaurants to find items and food you can’t get anywhere else. The Illinois Valley is known for its cuisine from American to Mexican food.

Our Own Winter Wonderland

Who says you have to go anywhere to enjoy the winter landscapes? Brightwood Inn has beautiful views from the comfort of your room. There’s no need to bundle up and brave the cold weather when you can admire everything from a balcony or from our dining area. You won’t regret staying in a day or two of your visit and just enjoying each other’s company or the beauty of the hotel rooms. Winter isn’t going anywhere for a while.

 

 

 

You Deserve a Brightwood Vacation

brightwood inn vacationMaybe you’re sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic and realize you haven’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 here’s why.

Life is stressful

Life isn’t easy. It can be a struggle to get up every day and head to work. Maybe you’re surrounded by people you don’t like or do a job that isn’t a fulfilling, but the bottom line is life stresses you out. There’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 don’t want to take the time off work.  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 wouldn’t normally eat and do activities that engage you physically and spiritually.

Brightwood Inn wants you to have the kind of experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life. You’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 You’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 you’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 you’re more likely to find travel guides about Chicago, then Oglesby, that doesn’t mean they don’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. It’s great if you’re visiting San Francisco, but not if you’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, don’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 you’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 don’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. It’s the perfect time to rekindle a beloved romance.

Life always seems to get in the way, but it’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 they’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. You’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, you’ve got a standing shower or shallow bathtub that you can’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 room’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 you’re at home, you’re counting carbs and calories, but when you come to Brightwood Inn, you can live a little. For many, romance isn’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 don’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

riverfestrock

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.  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.  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!  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.  A full hot breakfast always awaits you every morning as well.

t o oottawa, dt

www.ottawariverfest.org

 

Third Party Reservation Sites

Third party reservation systems like Expedia, Kayak, Tingo, booking.com, etc. etc. seem to be a necessary Evil these days.  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.

Here 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.  We’ve had some very upset people arrive here and to find out their room doesn’t have a hot tub and rightly so!  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.  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 – 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.  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.  There are even a couple of sites that we know of that you pay MORE than you would if you booked through us.
  5.  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.  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?  We paid extra to have that to show we are just as secure as those other big guys.  In fact, if you don’t see that lock on your reservation site, Don’t Use Them!! 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.  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.   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.  We do that all the time when looking for other bed and breakfasts and small inns when we travel! 😉

Oglesby Fun Fest

Schedule of Events

2016 Oglesby Summer Fun Fest

the largest free festival in North Central Illinois

Schedule of Events

July 7-10, 2016

Oglesby Municipal Pool Grounds unless otherwise noted

No gate or entry fee required.

Bring lawn chairs and blankets from which to enjoy our many free entertainment acts.

For more information, call 815-883-3389 or 815-488-3599

50/50 Ticket Sales

Our goal is a $30,000 Jackpot.

Early bird monthly drawings for $100.00 each

Last year’s winner took home $10,404!

This is a Chicago Bears weekend.
Wear your Chicago Bear apparel!

Tuesday & Wednesday, July 5th & 6th
6 p.m.
10-11 year old District 20 Baseball Tournament, Bottomley Field
11-12 year old District 20 Softball Tournament, Memorial Park

THURSDAY, JULY 7TH

3 – 6 p.m

Farmer’s Market

Downtown

5 – 11 p.m.

Carnival & Midway

Unlimited ride wristbands (until 10 p.m.) just $23
Win a free t-shirt!

5 p.m.

Mechanical Bull

Food Booths

Beer Garden

6 p.m.
Boys 10-11 year old District 20 Baseball Tournament, Bottomley Field

Girls 11-12 year old District 20 Softball Tournament, Memorial Park

7 p.m.
Pictures & Autographs with Chicago Blackhawk’s Tommy Hawk


“It’s Finally Hair Again!” Music Night

6 p.m.

Libido Funk Circus

Watch this high energy group perform good ole’ Motown music
to the bass-thumping beats of today’s dance music.

8:45 p.m.

Hairbanger’s Ball

Playing 80’s Hair Rock and Glam Rock

FRIDAY, JULY 8th

8 a.m.

City-wide garage sales

maps available at City Hall

9 a.m.

Boggio’s Sweet Corn for Sale

across from Washington Junior High

5 – 11 p.m.

Carnival & Midway

Unlimited ride wristbands just $23
Win a free t-shirt!


4 p.m.
Boys 10-11 year old Baseball Tournament, Bottomley Field

Girls 9-10 year old Softball Tournament, Memorial Park

5 p.m.

Mechanical Bull

Food Booths

Beer Garden

Pony Rides

 

6 – 9 p.m.

Cruise-In at the Root Beer Stand

Hot cars, cool treats, presented by the Stampede Mustang Club

Join us for the “British Invasion”

6 p.m.

The BriTins

A tribute to the Beatles

9 p.m.

Satisfaction

2-hour concert of music from the World’s Best Rock & Roll Band

SATURDAY, JULY 9th

8 a.m.

City-wide garage sales

maps available at City Hall

9 a.m.

Boggio’s Sweet Corn for Sale

across from Washington Junior High

9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Craft & Vendor Sale

To become a vendor call Cathy at 815-343-9403

9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Friends of the Library Used Book Sale

111 S. Woodland Ave.

10 a.m.

Heroes Come in All Sizes Kiddie Parade

Children and families may decorate bikes, strollers,
and wagons in a patriotic theme and join the parade.

Prizes for kids of all ages!

12 p.m.

Water Fights

Firefighters’ tug-of-war, hosted by Oglesby Fire Department

1 – 11 p.m.

Carnival & Midway

Unlimited ride wristbands just $23
Win a free t-shirt!

1 p.m.

Mechanical Bull

Food Booths

Beer Garden

Pony Rides

Petting Zoo

1 p.m.

KIDS PARTY IN THE PARK 

Completely FREE kids activities

Featuring Ralph’s World in concert 

and stilt-walker and juggler Jason Kollum

2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m. & 6:30 p.m.

The GreatLakes Timber Show

Chainsaw carving, axe throwing, wood chopping, crosscut sawing, log rolling,
audience participation, and loads of clean family humor.

3 p.m.

Paddy’s Favorite Sons

the Illinois Valley’s only Celtic Folk band
4 p.m.
Boys 10-11 year old Baseball Tournament, Bottomley Field

Girls 9-10 year old Softball Tournament, Memorial Park

4 – 6 p.m.

Chicago Bear’s Staley da Bear

meet & greet with the mascot; wear your Bears colors!

Super Star Saturday Night

Celebrating the music of “The Boss” and “The Killer”

5 p.m.

Glory Days

Bruce Springsteen tribute

9 p.m.

Lance Lipinsky

Jerry Lee Lewis tribute,
performed by a member of the Chicago cast of “Million Dollar Quartet”

Sunday, July 10th

9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Craft & Vendor Sale

To become a vendor call Cathy at 815-343-9403

12 p.m.
Illinois Valley Community Hospital’s

“Hometown Heroes” Parade

Join us for one of the finest parades in our area.
RAIN OR SHINE.

Call 815-488-3599 to sign up to participate.

1 – 9:30 p.m.

Carnival & Midway

Unlimited ride wristbands just $23
Win a free t-shirt!

1 p.m.

Mechanical Bull

Food Booths

Beer Garden

Pony Rides

Petting Zoo

Oompah Music
by Jimmy’s Bavarians

2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m. & 6:30 p.m.

The Great Lakes Timber Show

 Chainsaw carving, axe throwing, wood chopping, crosscut sawing, log rolling,
audience participation, and loads of clean family humor.


3 p.m.

Keith Allynn

A Neil Diamond Tribute

 

4:30 p.m.

Zumba Demonstration

Led by the Oglesby Rec Department’s Diane and Cindy

6 p.m.

FEATURE ATTRACTION:

The Chicago Six

Featuring former Chicago Bear stars Dave Hampton, Otis Wilson & Steve McMichael

9 p.m.

50/50 Drawing Winner Announced

Someone is going to win thousands of dollars.

Need not be present to win.

9:30 p.m.

Gigantic Fireworks Finale

Going out with a band. See you next year!

Why Should I Choose a Bed and Breakfast?

bed and breakfast, beautiful viewWhen you’re looking for a home away from home while on vacation, the Internet has no shortage of places. There’s a multitude of hotels and motels with cheap rates and even cheaper amenities, but nestled in those endless listings are bed and breakfasts that are as much a destination as the vacation spots. There’s a major difference between staying at a bed and breakfast and some off the Interstate hotel.

It feels like home…only better

When you open the room to a motel or hotel room, it looks like a hotel room. It feels like a hotel room. Hotels are designed to value cost savings over comfort, so you get stiff beds, thin sheets and tiny rooms. The furniture is something from a 1990’s dentist waiting room and sleep is often impossible thanks to the 30-year-old heating and cooling system.

Bed and breakfasts are the exact opposite. We want you to have maximum comfort and feel like you’re in the perfect version of your home. The furniture is handpicked for its beauty and luxury. The rooms are fitted with the most beautiful accents and the beds and sheets provide the best possible comfort. It’s everything you wish your home could be and more.

A view to remember

What do you get for a view at a motel or hotel? Open the windows and you’ll gaze upon the beautiful and colorful asphalt parking lot. If you’re lucky, then you’ll end up facing the Interstate or the side of another building.

With a bed and breakfast, your view is of nature and beautiful vistas. Our own rooms have amazing views including our organic vegetable garden and landscaped lawn. We have taken a major effort in creating not only luxurious rooms, but also beautiful views. When you’re sipping coffee on a balcony, we want you to be mesmerized by the beauty you see.

Out of this world breakfast

Stale doughnuts are often what most hotels and motels consider a “Continental” breakfast. If you’re lucky, then some microwaved sausage and cold bacon. The goal of a vacation is to enjoy yourself and not choke down breakfast before heading out for the day. Breakfast is an important meal and you want something that will energize you for the day ahead.

Here at Brightwood Inn, breakfast is an experience. You’ll come down to our breakfast area and enjoy fresh fruit and homemade muffins and breads. You can sit down to a delicious home cooked breakfast that satiates your morning hunger and fuels you for a day of hiking, shopping and sightseeing.

We’re a bed AND breakfast. It’s part of who we are, so it deserves to be something out of this world.

 

Spring Time at the Brightwood Inn

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Well, Spring has finally sprung on us and I don’t know about you, but we could not be happier! Most of the migratory birds are back now, all we are waiting for are the Barn Swallows and the Hummingbirds.  I even saw some purple Martins the other day, which I thought was a bit early, but they do tend to come earlier and leave a little latter than the Swallows. The House finches tend to leave us in the most harsh winter months, but they came back about a month ago, however the Golden Finches just came back the other day, as bright yellow as you have seen!  We have a very large population of Blue Birds this year and most of them have taken up residency in our houses already. Our Brown Thrasher has returned again this year but we have yet to see our Mocking Bird or our Cat Bird. So, like I said, we are just waiting on our Hummers and Barn Swallows.

 

 

 

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