get an inside look at what lies outside

Adventure awaits. Book a cozy cabin at Starved Rock State Park, and go ice climbing to see spectacular ice waterfalls. Or feast your eyes on the national bird during Bald Eagle Watch Weekend. Or discover hidden gems while shopping in downtown Ottawa. There’s plenty of treasures waiting to be found.

Many places have reopened with limited capacity, new operating hours or other restrictions. Inquire ahead of time for up-to-date health and safety information.

  • Day 1 & 2: Oglesby & Ottawa

Don’t let the cold weather keep you away from Starved Rock State Park. There’s an incredible amount of winter beauty and countless miles of breathtaking trails throughout Starved Rock Country. Try a guided hike, like the park's three-hour, 4.5-mile winter hikes every weekend through March. 

Feeling a little more adventurous? There are more than a dozen waterfalls at Starved Rock State Park, many of which transform into beautiful, natural ice sculptures as winter tightens its grip on the area. Some of the ice formations are also available for climbing when there is enough ice. You must follow all safety protocols, bring your own equipment, and sign in at the park office. For more information on ice climbing, read here.

If you’re looking to see some majestic wildlife, bald eagles can be seen year-round, but their numbers increase in the mid-to-late winter months. Eagle Watch Weekend will be held at Starved Rock January 30-31 and includes family-friendly events.

With all that activity, you’ll surely work up an appetite. Walk over to grab carryout from the nearby Starved Rock Lodge Restaurant located in the Starved Rock Lodge or take a short drive to Cindy’s on 39 for some classic comfort food takeout. After a full day of fun, get a great night's sleep at the lodge or experience the historic charm of the cozy Starved Rock Cabins

In the morning, get back into nature at Matthiessen State Park where you can try cross country skiing. Buffalo Rock State Park in nearby Ottawa offers snowmobiling and other fun winter activities. End the day with takeout from Hank’s Farm Restaurant and treat yourself to some Italian cuisine.

  • Day 3: Ottawa, Utica & Peru

Enjoy the day shopping, sipping and eating your way through Ottawa and Utica. Walk around Ottawa’s quaint downtown and explore boutique stores like Weeta’s Boutique, Prairie Fox Books, and Rock Paper Scissors (a charming toy store). If you’re looking for a unique gift, stop by Starved Rock Hot Glass to check out their custom jewelry and other beautiful handcrafted items. For lunch, grab carryout from Tangled Roots, a craft brewery with great food. Try the decadent skillet bacon mac & cheese or the mouthwatering brewmaster burger.

Make your way over to Utica, where there are so many places to choose for dinner and drinks. Pick up takeout from Cajun Connection, a New Orleans-style fixture serving jambalaya, gumbo, battered alligator and occasional crawfish boils; or try Lodi Tap House, known for local craft beer, incredible food, and a great environment for everyone to enjoy. Nonie’s Bakery & Café is a great spot for a weekend coffee or treat on the go. Stop by the August Hill Winery Tasting Room to pick up some Illinois Sparkling Co. wine, chocolates...or better yet, both! On your way out of town stop at Star Union Spirits in Peru to grab a great bottle of craft spirits.