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.  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.

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Third Party Reservation Sites

Third party reservation systems like Expedia, Kayak, Tingo,, 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! 😉

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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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.  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.  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) 🙂 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.  Thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Patricia we are experiencing a little relief in the precipitation department.  Temperatures still look to be above average in the 10 day forecast.  We’ve only had one bout with freezing temperatures so far.  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.  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.  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.  So there are still flowers blooming all over the Inn and the fall colors are still going strong. Personally, Fall is my favorite season.  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.  A time when you can enjoy a campfire outside with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. Regular or adult version 😉

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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!  We’ve had for awhile now tickets to get  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.  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.  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.  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.  Our breakfasts are made from scratch and made with wholesome ingredients.  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!!  Give us a call or reserve on line today!

Cross Country Skiing

We had a beautiful 5 and a half inches of snow the other day.  A beautiful white powder that is just perfect for cross country skiing.  A little known fact for our area, Matthiessen State Park not only has  six miles of cross country skiing trails but they also rent cross country skis.

022It really is fun and exhilarating to be shushing through the beautiful trails, surrounded by nature, peace and quiet.  Fresh air and exercise will do the body and mind good!  The temperatures are suppose to rebound for this weekend into the 20’s, the winds are suppose to die down and I think that is some perfect cross country skiing weather!


baldeaglefreebirdpicturIf your not up for the skiing, the Bald Eagles are back in force.  I see them every year and I can’t get enough of them.  They are so grand and majestic.  I sure am glad the Benjamin Franklin didn’t get his way and that our national bird is not the Turkey.  Now we have Wild Turkeys in the area as well and they are fun to watch too but as for a national symbol… I’ll take the Bald Eagle, hands down.  We also have some Eagle nests in the area that we can point out to you.  If you’ve never seen one, it’s truly something!  They are so big, I think two humans could crawl up inside it and be quite comfortable.  I am not exaggerating.

ice falls 034And as always, just going for a hike in a winter wonderland is just fun as well.  I can’t update you on the waterfall situation, I haven’t been myself yet and none of our guests have reported back to me but I’m sure the bluffs and all this snow look beautiful right now and with these temperatures, the snow ain’t goin nowhere, anytime soon!


So whether your here for some skiing, birding or just hiking, our Starved Rock Lodging is perfect for you.  All our rooms have fireplaces, some have hot tubs and all have great views!  We are just 2 minutes from skiing and four minutes from the Eagles.  Stay Warm Everyone!!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!

Wow, Christmas is less than two weeks away!  I can’t believe it.  And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?  Another year over, a new one just begun!  That’s probably one of my favorite Christmas songs.  Probably one of my favorite John Lennon songs.  God rest his soul.

xmas 2014 010Well, all the Christmas decorations are up at the Brightwood Inn once again, at this beautiful starved rock lodging destination.  It’s a special time for all of us here at the Brightwood, decorating the tree, putting out all the decorations, stringing the lights….. and those bows!  Oh my god do we have bows!  If you are reading this Mary…. and you know who you are (I’ll keep your last name safe for anonymity) the entire staff at the Brightwood would like to say thank you for alllll the bows you made and for showing Jo how to make them as well!  …..Thanks A Lot!!  Seriously though, we do have a good time putting everything up.  We turn on the Christmas music and the egg nog is flowing!  Nothing like it to get you in the Christmas spirit.

xmas 2014 012But Christmas can be stressful too!  We understand!  There is a lot to do in a short time to do it.  A Christmas gift list as long as your arm, baking cookies, decorating the inside, decorating the outside, holiday baking and cooking, Christmas pageants and on and on and on. Plus you still have your everyday things to do as well!  It’s enough to cause a breakdown!  So if you need a break form the Holiday grind, a place to relax and pamper yourself.  Even if it’s just for one night, we have the place for you.  Our Country Inn was designed for that in mind, with our gas log fireplaces in every room, some rooms have large hot tubs to melt your cares away in, a full homemade breakfast the next morning and most importantly…. peace and quiet.  So come to the Brightwood Inn for some Peace on Earth and good will towards men.  Merry Christmas Everyone!!!