Best & Fun Things To Do + Places To Visit In Ottawa, Illinois

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Ottawa, Illinois: The Ultimate Guide to Fun and Best Things to Do and Places to Visit (No Boring Stuff, We Promise!)

Are you planning a trip to Ottawa, Illinois? Well, get ready for an exciting adventure in this charming town! Whether you’re looking for adrenaline-pumping activities, historical landmarks, natural wonders, sports and recreation, food and drink, or shopping and souvenirs, Ottawa has something for everyone. In this article, we will share with you the best and fun things to do and places to visit in Ottawa, Illinois.

If you’re an art lover, you’ll be delighted to know that Ottawa has a thriving artistic side. You can explore the local art galleries, attend art classes, and participate in art events. And if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, Ottawa has plenty of options too! From skydiving and ziplining to ATV riding and paintball, you won’t be bored in this town.

But that’s not all! Ottawa is also home to several historical landmarks, natural wonders, sports and recreation facilities, food and drink establishments, and shopping destinations. So, whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, a sports fan, a foodie, or a shopaholic, you’re sure to find something that interests you in Ottawa. So, pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable trip!

Key Takeaways

  • Ottawa, Illinois, has something for everyone, from art galleries and classes to adrenaline-pumping activities like skydiving and ziplining.
  • The town is also home to several historical landmarks, natural wonders, sports and recreation facilities, food and drink establishments, and shopping destinations.
  • No matter what your interests are, Ottawa, Illinois, is the perfect destination for an exciting and unforgettable trip.

The Artistic Side of Ottawa

Are you a lover of all things art? Then you’re in luck! Ottawa has a thriving arts scene that’s sure to satisfy your creative cravings. Here are a few places you should check out:

If you’re looking for a unique and immersive art experience, the Open Space Art Gallery & Studios is the place for you. This gallery features a diverse collection of art sculptures and installations that are sure to captivate your imagination. Plus, you’ll get the chance to meet and chat with the artists themselves, who are always happy to share their creative process and inspiration.

Exploring Starved Rock Hot Glass

Want to witness the mesmerizing beauty of glassblowing firsthand? Look no further than Starved Rock Hot Glass. This studio offers live demonstrations of glassblowing, where you can watch as the skilled artisans turn molten glass into stunning works of art. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try your hand at glassblowing yourself!

Admiring Downtown Murals

Take a stroll through downtown Ottawa and you’ll be treated to a stunning display of murals that showcase the city’s rich history and culture. From depictions of local landmarks to tributes to Ottawa’s industrial past, these murals are a feast for the eyes. So grab your camera and snap some pics to show off to your friends and family.

Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or just looking for a fun and unique way to spend an afternoon, Ottawa’s artistic side is sure to impress. So why not take a break from your everyday routine and explore the vibrant and creative spirit of this charming city?

Adrenaline-Pumping Activities

Looking for a rush of adrenaline? Ottawa, Illinois has got you covered with some heart-pumping activities that will leave you feeling alive.

Awesome Ottawa Tours

Experience the thrill of the open road with Awesome Ottawa Tours. Hop on a motorcycle and take a scenic ride through the beautiful countryside. Feel the wind in your hair and the freedom of the open road. Don’t know how to ride a motorcycle? No problem! They offer lessons for beginners.

If you’re looking for something a little less traditional, try their ATV tours. Explore the backwoods of Ottawa and get down and dirty with some off-road adventure.

Skydiving With Skydive Chicago

Ready to take the ultimate leap of faith? Skydive Chicago offers the highest skydiving experience in the Midwest. You’ll soar through the sky at 14,000 feet, taking in breathtaking views of the Illinois River Valley.

Don’t worry if you’ve never skydived before, they offer tandem jumps with certified instructors. You’ll be in good hands as you freefall at 120 mph.

But if you want to take things to the next level, try their Accelerated Freefall Program. You’ll train to become a certified skydiver, learning everything from proper body position to parachute deployment.

So whether you’re a thrill-seeker or just looking for a new adventure, Ottawa, Illinois has plenty of adrenaline-pumping activities to satisfy your cravings.

Historical Landmarks

Ottawa, Illinois, is a treasure trove of historical landmarks that will take you back in time. Here are two must-visit historical landmarks that will give you a glimpse of the past:

Visiting Reddick Mansion

If you’re a history buff, you can’t miss visiting the Reddick Mansion. Built-in 1855, this Italianate-style mansion is a testament to the wealth and opulence of the Reddick family. The mansion has been well-preserved and restored, and you can take a guided tour to see the original furnishings, paintings, and artifacts.

As you walk through the mansion, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Imagine yourself sipping tea with Mrs. Reddick in the parlor, or having a conversation with Mr. Reddick in his study. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the ghost of Mrs. Reddick, who is said to haunt the mansion.

Reliving the Lincoln-Douglas Debate

Are you a fan of Abraham Lincoln? If so, you’ll love reliving the Lincoln-Douglas debate in Ottawa. In 1858, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas debated each other seven times in a bid for the United States Senate seat. One of those debates was held in Ottawa, and you can still visit the site today.

The debate site is marked by a plaque, and you can stand at the very spot where Lincoln and Douglas stood over 150 years ago. Imagine the tension in the air as the two men debated the hot-button issues of the day. You can almost hear the crowd cheering and jeering as the two men made their arguments.

Visiting these historical landmarks is a great way to learn about the history of Ottawa, Illinois. Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for something fun to do, you won’t be disappointed.

Natural Wonders

If you’re a nature lover, Ottawa, Illinois, is the perfect place for you. From hiking to exploring, there are plenty of natural wonders to discover in the area. Here are a few must-visit spots:

Exploring Buffalo Rock State Park

Buffalo Rock State Park is a hidden gem in Ottawa. The park is home to stunning gorges and seasonal waterfalls that will leave you in awe. Take a stroll along the Illinois River and enjoy the beautiful scenery. There are also plenty of hiking trails for you to explore. Keep an eye out for the bison that roam the park!

Hiking at Starved Rock State Park

If you’re up for a challenge, head over to Starved Rock State Park. This park is known for its challenging hiking trails, but the views are worth it. From towering canyons to seasonal waterfalls, you’ll be surrounded by natural beauty. Be sure to bring your camera!

Adventures on the Illinois River

The Illinois River is a popular spot for water activities. Rent a kayak or canoe and explore the river at your own pace. Keep an eye out for the wildlife that calls the river home. If you’re feeling adventurous, try your hand at fishing. The Illinois River is home to a variety of fish, including catfish, bass, and walleye.

No matter how you choose to explore Ottawa’s natural wonders, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience. So grab your hiking boots and get ready to discover the beauty of the great outdoors!

Sports and Recreation

Skating at Paramount Skating Arena

You want to feel like a kid again? Head over to Paramount Skating Arena, where you can lace up your skates and glide around the rink like a pro. Whether you’re a seasoned skater or a first-timer, this place has something for everyone.

If you’re into hockey, you’ll love the rink’s hockey leagues and clinics. And if you’re not into hockey, don’t worry, you can still have a blast during public skating sessions.

And if you’re feeling a little wobbly on your skates, don’t worry, they have helpful staff members who will give you a hand. Just be careful not to take anyone down with you!

Bowling in Ottawa

If you’re looking for a fun activity that doesn’t require too much physical exertion, then bowling is the way to go. Head over to the local bowling alley and get ready to show off your skills.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a total newbie, you’ll have a great time trying to knock down those pesky pins. And if you’re feeling competitive, challenge your friends to a game and see who comes out on top.

And if you’re feeling hungry, grab a bite to eat at the alley’s snack bar. Just be careful not to get any grease on your bowling ball!

Food and Drink

Looking for a place to dine and feast in Ottawa, Illinois? Look no further! Here are some of the best places to satisfy your cravings.

Dining at Shakers Sports Bar

If you’re looking for a place to unwind and watch the game, Shakers Sports Bar is the place to be. With a wide selection of drinks and delicious food, you’re sure to have a great time. Try their famous chicken wings, which are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try their buffalo chicken dip, which is a crowd favorite. And don’t forget to wash it all down with a cold beer or cocktail.

Craft Beer Tasting

If you’re a beer lover, you won’t want to miss out on the craft beer tasting in Ottawa. With so many breweries to choose from, you’re sure to find a beer that suits your taste buds. Try the award-winning beers at Tangled Roots Brewing Company, or head over to Tangled Roots Tap Room for a more laid-back atmosphere. If you’re looking for a unique experience, check out the beer garden at Radium City Brewing, where you can enjoy your beer with a side of live music.

So, whether you’re in the mood for a night out at a sports bar or a craft beer tasting, Ottawa has got you covered. Cheers to good food and drinks!

Events and Festivals

Looking for some fun events and festivals in Ottawa, Illinois? You’re in luck! The city is bustling with activities all year round. Here are some of the best events and festivals you won’t want to miss:

May Festivities

May is a great time to visit Ottawa, Illinois. The weather is just right, and there are plenty of fun events to keep you entertained. Here are a few of our favorites:


This annual festival takes place on Memorial Day weekend and features live music, carnival rides, food vendors, and more. It’s a great way to kick off the summer season!

Art in the Park

This outdoor art festival takes place in Washington Square Park and features works by local artists. It’s a great place to find unique gifts and souvenirs.

Cruisin’ for a Cause

This classic car show is held in downtown Ottawa and raises money for local charities. It’s a great way to see some beautiful cars and support a good cause.

March Happenings

March may not be the warmest month in Ottawa, but there are still plenty of fun things to do. Here are a few events to check out:

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

This annual parade is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. It’s a great way to celebrate Irish heritage and have some fun.

Maple Syrup Festival

This festival takes place at Starved Rock State Park and celebrates all things maple syrup. You can take a guided tour of the sugar bush, watch a maple syrup-making demonstration, and enjoy some delicious maple treats.

Easter Egg Hunt

This annual event takes place at Riordan Pool and is open to kids of all ages. It’s a great way to get into the Easter spirit and have some fun with the family.

No matter what time of year you visit Ottawa, Illinois, there’s always something fun and exciting going on. So pack your bags and get ready for a good time!

Outdoor Activities

Looking for some fresh air and adventure? Ottawa, Illinois offers a variety of outdoor activities that are sure to get your heart pumping. From hiking to camping, there’s something for everyone. Here are some of the best outdoor activities you can enjoy in Ottawa.

Parks and Hiking Trails

If you’re looking for a scenic hike, Ottawa has plenty of trails to choose from. Catlin Park is a popular spot for hiking and picnicking. With over 250 acres of land, you’ll have plenty of space to explore. The park features several hiking trails of varying difficulty, so whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, you’ll find a trail that suits your needs.

For a more challenging hike, head to Starved Rock State Park. The park features 13 miles of trails that wind through canyons and waterfalls. The views are breathtaking, but be prepared for a workout. The trails can be steep and rocky, so wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water.

Camping in Ottawa

If you’re looking to spend a night under the stars, there are several camping options in Ottawa. Starved Rock State Park offers campsites for both tents and RVs. The campsites are located near the hiking trails, so you’ll have easy access to the park’s natural beauty.

For a more secluded camping experience, head to Buffalo Rock State Park. The park features primitive campsites that are only accessible by hiking or canoeing. You’ll need to bring your own supplies, but the peaceful surroundings are worth the effort.

No matter what outdoor activity you choose, Ottawa, Illinois has plenty of options to keep you entertained. So grab your hiking boots and get ready to explore!

Shopping and Souvenirs

Shopping on La Salle Street

Looking for some retail therapy? Head over to La Salle Street in Ottawa, Illinois, where you’ll find an array of shops to satisfy all your shopping needs. From clothing boutiques to antique stores, this street has it all.

If you’re a fan of vintage finds, check out the antique shops like the Rusty Rooster or the Ottawa Antique Mall. You never know what hidden treasure you might uncover!

For those looking for unique gifts or souvenirs, head over to the Ottawa Visitors Center Gift Shop. Here you’ll find a variety of local products, including handmade jewelry, pottery, and artwork. Plus, you’ll be supporting local artists and businesses.

If you’re in the market for some new clothes, check out the boutique shops like the Pink Chandelier or the Reddick Mansion Gift Shop. These shops offer a wide selection of trendy and stylish clothing options that are sure to make you stand out from the crowd.

And of course, no shopping trip is complete without a stop at the Sweet Surprises Candy Shoppe. Stock up on all your favorite sweets and treats, from classic candies to gourmet chocolates.

So grab your wallet and get ready to shop ’til you drop on La Salle Street!

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of mischief can I get into in Ottawa, Illinois?

Well, well, well, you sly devil, you. If you’re looking for some mischievous fun in Ottawa, you can always try to sneak into the old abandoned power plant on the west side of town. But be warned, it’s dangerous and illegal. If you get caught, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

What’s the wildest adventure I can have near Starved Rock?

If you’re looking for some heart-pumping action, head to Zip Chicago and soar through the treetops like a superhero. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…you! Just don’t forget to scream at the top of your lungs.

Can I find any hidden gems in the small towns around Ottawa, Illinois?

Absolutely! Take a drive through the picturesque small towns of Utica, Grand Ridge, and Seneca, and you’ll discover charming antique shops, cozy cafes, and friendly locals. You might even stumble upon a secret swimming hole or two.

Are there any quirky museums or attractions in the area?

You betcha! Check out the Reddick Mansion, a beautiful Victorian-era home turned museum, or the Weber House and Garden, a unique art installation and sculpture garden. And if you’re feeling brave, the haunted Trolley Tour is a must-see.

Where can I find the best local cuisine in Ottawa, Illinois?

If you’re in the mood for some classic American grub, look no further than Hank’s Farm Restaurant. For a taste of Italy, head to August Hill Winery and the bright and cozy tasting room. And don’t forget to grab a burger and shake at the iconic Joy and Ed’s Drive-In.

What’s the best way to burn off all those calories from the delicious food in Ottawa, Illinois?

Take a hike! Starved Rock State Park offers miles of scenic trails and stunning views of the Illinois River. Or rent a bike and ride the historic I&M Canal Trail. And if you’re feeling really ambitious, sign up for a whitewater rafting trip on the nearby Vermillion River.

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