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˜€