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™‚


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.

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Third Party Reservation Sites

Third party reservation systems like Expedia, Kayak, Tingo, booking.com, 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˜‰

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. ย 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! ย 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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Breakfast at Brennan’s, Brightwood Style!

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Just finished up our “Breakfast at Brennan’s, Brightwood style” menu, for this Mardis Gras weekend. Stay hungry my friends!

Breakfast at Brennan’s, Brightwood Style

Saturday Morning

Cherries Jubilee Crepes

Delicate Crepes stuffed with a cream cheese mixture then topped with Cherries Jubilee.ย  Comes with a side of bacon.


Creole Skillet Bake

Andoullie Sausage with red onion, green bell pepper, tomatoes and redskin potatoes sautรฉed in a skillet then, baked together with eggs mild Cajun spices and topped with cheddar cheese. Comes with a side of Wheat Toast.


Scrambled eggs, bacon and Wheat Toast.


Breakfast at Brennan’s, Brightwood Style


Sunday Morning

Bananas Foster French Toast

Custard like French Toast Casserole topped with sautรฉed bananas and caramelized brown sugar. ย Comes with a side of bacon.


Eggs Hussarde

Toasted English Muffins with a slice of ham topped with a Marchand de vin (red wine mushroom sauce), then a poached egg and then finally Hollandaise sauce.


Scrambled eggs, bacon and Wheat Toast.




Frozen Waterfalls

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With some good rains and freezing temperatures, the frozen waterfalls at Starved Rock are looking very nice this year!

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Each Canyon having it’s own different look and feel. ย It’s really quite something to see up close.

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If Cabin fever has got the best of you, this sure is a good remedy for that.

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Come and take your own pictures, create your own memories.

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And then come back to the Brightwood Inn and warm up next to your own fireplace, relax after a long day of hiking in your hot tub and most of all, re connect with your loved ones. ย Make your reservations today!

Small Business Saturday!

This year for Small Business Saturday, the Brightwood Inn is featuring FREE $25.00 gift certificates for every $100.00 gift certificate you purchase!! 25 FREE Buckaroos!! Shop Small! Keep it local! (Offer is good Saturday and Sunday 11/28/2015 and 11/29/2015) ๐Ÿ™‚ You can purchase on-line (preferred, just type in small business in the message line) or you can give us a call at 815-667-4600!!


Fall 2015

So far the fall of 2016 has been above average temperatures and way below average precipitation.ย  Thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Patricia we are experiencing a little relief in the precipitation department.ย  Temperatures still look to be above average in the 10 day forecast.ย  We’ve only had one bout with freezing temperatures so far.ย  Two weekends ago we got a freeze advisory, so we went out and covered up the garden really good. The temperature got down to 29 degrees and unfortunately most of hard work was in vain. Our garden really took it on the chin killing ninety percent of the plants.ย  The good news is that our efforts did help keep all the fruit and vegetables form freezing, so that we can still harvest them. One thing I found interesting was that the morning glory on the back patio, which is normally a very temperature sensitive plant, remains virtually unscathed from the event.ย  All I can think of is that it was on a more protected side of the Inn.


The ten day forecast still looks very good, I don’t know about you, but I could take this kind of weather all winter long.ย  So there are still flowers blooming all over the Inn and the fall colors are still going strong. Personally, Fall is my favorite season.ย  The crisp air, the smell of the leaves and maybe a distant campfire. It’s just a little chilly outside but nothing a nice little hike won’t warm you up fast.ย  A time when you can enjoy a campfire outside with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. Regular or adult version ๐Ÿ˜‰

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These are some pictures I took just yesterday out around the Inn and with weather like what we’ve been having, I don’t see it changing till farther in the future! Relax and Enjoy at the Brightwood Inn!

Uptown Grill and August Hill Winery

If you need another good reason to stay at the Brightwood Inn, I’ve got two for you!ย  We’ve had for awhile now tickets to getย  free tastings at August Hill winery, but now we also have tickets to get a free appetizer at the Uptown Grill!

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So after you check into the Brightwood Inn and get your tickets, you can cruise up the road to August Hill and get a free wine tasting plus 10% off most anything you can purchase there. They have a beautiful back patio that you can enjoy a glass of one of their many award winning wines on and they also just added on with another beautiful room that they call the lounge.ย  Everything August Hill does is always First Class!


Then after you are done there, you can head on over to the Uptown Grill for a wonderful dinner.ย  They have an extensive menu with a lot of wonderful food to choose from. There you can get a free appetizer (up to $10.00 value!) with the purchase of and entree or sandwich. The Uptown Grill is another classy place where you can always expect great service and great food.

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Then when you are all done, you return to the Brightwood Inn, where you can sit outside for awhile and enjoy the peace and quite amid the beauty of nature. Listen to a chorus of Katydids and tree frogs serenade you while looking at the stars.ย  Then finally return to your room where maybe a relaxing hot tub awaits you, or maybe just a big ultra comfortable bed is waiting to embrace you and rock you to sleep.


Then in the morning, a full complementary breakfast awaits for you.ย  Our breakfasts are made from scratch and made with wholesome ingredients.ย  And when we can, we even use ingredients straight from our own garden!


Then after being fully nourished, it’s time to hit the trails at one of the most visited state parks in the country! Starved Rock State Park.


It’s all waiting for you here at the Brightwood Inn!!ย  Give us a call or reserve on line today!

Sky Dive Chicago Summerfest

This Saturday kicks off the SDC Summerfest. ย It’s a week long skydiving party! And the Brightwood Inn is only 19 miles away!!

Skydive Chicago’s annual Summerfest continues to grow with each passing year and this summer is without a doubt going to be U-N-R-E-A-L. Summerfest 2015 will celebrate its 14th year of bringing jumpers from all over the world together and is set to pave the way for the future of all that is boogie awesomeness.

As a proud host to the 2015 Vertical World Record Attempts, Skydive Chicago invites you to join us this July to celebrate blue skies, great friends, and history in the making. As always, there will be plenty of aircraft to choose from, world class organizers for all levels and disciplines, industry leading vendors, and mega parties to keep you moving all day and night. Your only disappointment would be missing this year’s event!




Skydive Chicago is built on a dedication to the sport of skydiving unseen anywhere else. It is located on 220 acres of private land with amenities like cabins, camping, swimming pond, Tiki Bar, Eat Up Cafe, RV hookups, shower house, disc golf course, Sky Lounge, student training programs (AFP), gear shop, rigging loft and more. It is also the home of several World Records, multiple local and national competitions and the largest skydiving festival of the year.

We here at SDC want to encourage everyone to make a first jump, and we only hope it’s with us. We want you to experience the thrill of flight, which you will never forget. Our instructors take the time to make your first skydive not just a ride, but hopefully your first of many. Want to pull your own parachute? Want to steer your own canopy? We want you to be as big of a part of your experience as possible. (If you just want the thrill ride, we can do that too) We give real instruction and strive for safety above all else, so if you have any questions just ask!