OttawaUnited States of America

Image for Starved Rock State Park showing forest scenes as well as a couple

Visit Ottawa

The site of the first Lincoln-Douglas debate is also the perfect place to base an adventure into the region’s many state parks, famous for their rock formations.

Located at the meeting of the Fox and Illinois rivers, Ottawa, Illinois, has long been a destination for nature lovers and history buffs. Known as the gateway to some of Illinois’ most famous state parks, it also has a charming, neighborly feel. Wander through its historic downtown, the site of the first of the famous debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. Then set out into the Midwest wilderness.

Explore downtown Ottawa on foot, meandering through the historic old town district in search of its many brightly painted murals. Washington Square Park, site of the Lincoln-Douglas debate, is ringed with several works of public art and crowned by a bronze statue of the two men.

Go back in time at the Reddick Mansion, an enormous Italianate creation that was one of the most expensive residences built in the mid-19th century. Take a leisurely stroll or bike ride down the Riverwalk, a paved trail along the Fox and Illinois rivers with many fishing opportunities.

Prepare for your trip to the outdoors at the Ottawa Historical and Scouting Heritage Museum, which explores the history of scouting. Practice knots, pack your car and head out to Starved Rock State Park, an enormous wilderness featuring elaborate rock canyons. Nearby Buffalo Rock State Park has solitary experiences among rocks and a herd of buffalo. Bring your hiking boots and a picnic to enjoy one of the most naturally beautiful parts of Illinois.

Ottawa is located in northern Illinois, between Chicago and Peoria. The closest major airport is Chicago O’Hare International Airport, a 1.5-hour drive away. Drive from downtown Peoria in the same amount of time. There is no longer a rail connection to the town. The region is best explored with a personal vehicle.

The sleepy small-town ambiance of Ottawa is great for relaxing. Before you leave, have a jolt of excitement on a skydiving experience.

Top Hotels in Ottawa

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort
Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort
3 out of 5
2643 IL Route 178, Oglesby, IL
CA $117
per night
Jan 28 - Jan 29

This family-friendly Oglesby resort is located in a state park, within 2 mi (3 km) of Starved Rock State Park, Deer Park Country Club and LaSalle County Historical ...

3.7/5Good! (193 reviews)

"We took our granddaughter for an overnight stay and we all had a great time! I thought the water was a bit cool for being "heated" but no different than any indoor pool at a hotel."…"

Reviewed on Jan. 20, 2020

Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort
Super 8 by Wyndham Peru Starved Rock State Park
Super 8 by Wyndham Peru Starved Rock State Park
2 out of 5
1851 May Rd, Peru, IL
CA $70
per night
Feb 2 - Feb 3

Situated in Peru, this hotel is 1.4 mi (2.2 km) from Peru Mall and 2.7 mi (4.3 km) from Baker Park. Hegeler Carus Mansion and Illinois Valley Community College ...

3.3/5 (341 reviews)

"Just off i80. Inexpensive, clean, safe. Breakfast offerings were limited, but ok."…"

Reviewed on Nov. 19, 2019

Super 8 by Wyndham Peru Starved Rock State Park
Holiday Inn Club Vacations Fox River Resort
Holiday Inn Club Vacations Fox River Resort
3.5 out of 5
2558 N 3653 Road, Sheridan, IL
CA $128
per night
Jan 22 - Jan 23

Located on a lake, this family-friendly condominium resort is 11.6 mi (18.6 km) from Dayton Ridge Golf Club and 11.7 mi (18.9 km) from The Middle East Conflicts ...

3.9/5Good! (107 reviews)

"We were in the pent house for the first time. I loved it and it was very spacious. I really think the property wound benefit from having lit pathway because it’s very dark at night."…"

Reviewed on Nov. 30, 2019

Holiday Inn Club Vacations Fox River Resort

Popular things to do in Ottawa

Starved Rock State Park
Image for Starved Rock State Park

Starved Rock State Park

The lodge provides a luxurious base from which to explore trails leading to bluffs and canyons of this riverside park. Try ice climbing and eagle spotting in winter.

Matthiessen State Park
Image for Matthiessen State Park

Matthiessen State Park

Look down the chute of Cascade Falls from a rickety bridge and admire the brilliant hues decorating the canyon’s sandstone walls in this eclectic park.

Buffalo Rock State Park
Image for Buffalo Rock State Park

Buffalo Rock State Park

Adorning the fields and riverbed are five enormous artistic mounds portraying regional animals. Enjoy views of the Illinois River at this undulating park.

Top activities in Ottawa

Indoor Skydiving Experience at Naperville
Image for Indoor Skydiving Experience at Naperville

Indoor Skydiving Experience at Naperville

CA $91

Experience all the plummeting, free falling, and soaring sensations of skydiving without ever getting on a plane. This indoor skydiving experience puts you in a vertical wind tunnel, where you can float weightlessly in space for an unforgettable adrenaline rush in totally safe surroundings.

Operation City Quest of Aurora, IL
Image for Operation City Quest of Aurora, IL

Operation City Quest of Aurora, IL

CA $13

Using your smartphone, you'll be given nearly 150 objects to find during your scavenger hunt. You'll then wander throughout the downtown area searching for the items. Once you've found the object, you'll send a photo in to score points.

Operation City Quest of Naperville, IL
Image for Operation City Quest of Naperville, IL

Operation City Quest of Naperville, IL

CA $13

Using an app on your smartphone, you'll be given nearly 120 objects to find during your scavenger hunt. You'll then wander throughout the downtown area searching for the items. Once you've found the object, you'll send a photo in to score points.

Operation City Quest of Joliet, IL
Image for Operation City Quest of Joliet, IL

Operation City Quest of Joliet, IL

CA $13

Using an app on your smartphone, you'll be given nearly 120 objects to find during your scavenger hunt. You'll then wander throughout the downtown area searching for the items. Once you've found the object, you'll send a photo in to score points.

Zombie Scavengers Game - Aurora, IL
Image for Zombie Scavengers Game - Aurora, IL

Zombie Scavengers Game - Aurora, IL

CA $3

Itinerary Recommended starting location to start Zombie Scavengers. This is where you will begin your hunt to survive the zombie apocalypse. (Please start outside) Stop At: • Millennium Plaza, 21 S Stolp Ave, Aurora, IL 60506, USA

Operation City Quest Scavenger Hunt - Aurora, IL
Image for Operation City Quest Scavenger Hunt - Aurora, IL

Operation City Quest Scavenger Hunt - Aurora, IL

CA $13

Itinerary During Operation City Quest, participants will solve riddles in order to find items throughout the city and complete challenges. For each correct task completed, the players will get points for their team.

Reviews of Ottawa

3.5

Guest rating

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