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Things To Do in Ottawa IL

Ottawa, Illinois is a small city situated in the north-central part of the state, along the banks of the Fox River. With a population of just over 18,000 people, Ottawa is known for its picturesque downtown area and vibrant community. The city is home to a diverse range of attractions, from museums and historical sites to outdoor recreation opportunities and unique shopping districts. Whether you’re planning a day trip or an extended stay in Ottawa IL, there are plenty of fun things to do!

What is Ottawa IL Famous For?

Ottawa, Illinois is most famous for being the birthplace of the United States’ first president, Abraham Lincoln. The city has several attractions related to his life and legacy, including the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, as well as the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices State Historic Site. The city also hosts the annual Lincoln-Douglas Debate Festival every September.

One thing always popular among visitors to Ottawa IL are restaurants city has many delicious options ranging from traditional American fare to Mexican and Italian cuisine Visitors also flock city during annual festivals held throughout the year such as the Garden Walk Memorial Day Parade Kites Over Lake event held every June Bat Fest October Music Festival December You won’t want miss out all fun these events offer to make sure check them out next time come visit town! 

Top Destinations in Ottawa IL

1. Streatorland Historical Museum

The Streatorland Historical Museum is a local history museum in Streator, Illinois. It was established to preserve the history of the town of Streator and its surroundings. The museum’s collection includes artifacts from the early 1800s to the mid-1900s, as well as a variety of military memorabilia and other items related to the town’s rich cultural heritage. 

streatorland historical museum

Visitors can explore artifacts from early settlers, explore displays about local industry and businesses, view photographs from Streator’s past, and learn about Streator’s connection to Abraham Lincoln [1]. The museum also offers educational programs for school groups, special events throughout the year, research resources for visitors, and a gift shop full of local products.

2. LaSalle County Historical Society

The LaSalle County Historical Society is a non-profit organization that was established in 1881 to preserve the history and culture of LaSalle County, Illinois. Located in Utica, Illinois, the society currently operates out of its own museum building, which houses its collections related to local history. It also provides educational opportunities for the public through programs such as lectures and guided tours. 

LaSalle County Historical Society

Additionally, the society maintains an archive of historical documents and artifacts which are available for research purposes. The society also publishes a quarterly newsletter and hosts a variety of special events throughout the year to promote awareness of the country’s history.

3. Buffalo Rock State Park

Buffalo Rock State Park is a state park located in Illinois, USA. It is located near the Illinois River in LaSalle County and offers a variety of recreation opportunities. The park consists of two separate areas: one atop a large sandstone rock formation and one along the riverfront. Both areas offer hiking trails, picnic areas, fishing and hunting opportunities, and scenic views of the river. 

Buffalo Rock State Park

The sandstone bluff is also home to several Native American effigy mounds that were carved out of the rock by Native Americans centuries ago. Buffalo Rock State Park is open year-round for visitors to explore and enjoy its natural beauty.

4. Robert E Lee Park

Enjoy 26 acres worth of outdoor fun including walking trails with nature interpretive centers where you can learn about local flora and fauna like wildflowers and butterflies not to mention historical structures like the Eagle’s Nest Pavilion built in 1921 by prominent local architect Stephen Jennings! 

Robert E. Lee Park is a 300-acre city park located in Baltimore, Maryland. It lies at the extreme northern tip of the city, on the shores of the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River, and covers parts of Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties. The park features a variety of recreational amenities including playgrounds, picnic sites, a pond, a boat launch ramp and fishing piers, nature trails, and meadows. In addition to these amenities, Lee Park also contains the historic colonial-era Star Spangled Banner Flag House where Mary Pickersgill sewed the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key’s poem which became our national anthem.

Robert E Lee Park

The park is an important sanctuary for wildlife such as red foxes, gray squirrels, mink, and deer as well as marine life like herons and ospreys. Robert E Lee Park is operated by the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks and has been designated an Urban Wildlife Sanctuary by The Wildlife Habitat Council since 1998.

5. Washington Square Shopping District

The Washington Square Shopping District is located in the heart of Portland, Oregon, just south of downtown. This vibrant shopping destination features a number of stores with a wide range of merchandise, from clothing and accessories to home goods and books. There are also plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars for all tastes. 

This shopping district also hosts popular events throughout the year such as farmers’ markets and holiday celebrations. Additionally, visitors can take advantage of the nearby Washington Park for outdoor activities or explore downtown Portland’s historic attractions. 

Washington Square Shopping District

Explore boutique shops offering everything from antiques to handmade crafts! Make sure you grab some snacks at one of their many restaurants while you’re there too – don’t forget dessert either with ice cream parlors available too! 

6. Starved Rock State Park

Starved Rock State Park is a state park located near the city of Utica, Illinois. The park is best known for its many canyons and spectacular views of the Illinois River from its overlooks. The park features 13 miles of trails, including a 1-mile loop around Starved Rock, an observation deck at Starved Rock, and several waterfalls. Other activities in the park include camping, fishing, bird watching, and canoeing on the river.

Starved Rock State Park

Get away from it all at this 2200-acre park full of 13 miles worth of trails that wind around canyons formed by glacial meltwater thousands of years ago. An abundance of wildlife calls these paths home so make sure you bring your cameras because there are plenty of photo ops including views of three waterfalls located nearby too!  

7. Streator City Pool & Water Slide

The Streator City Pool & Water Slide is a public swimming pool and water slide located in Streator, Illinois. The park is open to the public seasonally during the summer months, typically from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The facility features a large Olympic-sized pool and a three-story waterslide. Additional amenities include concessions, locker rooms, and various aquatic activities, including swimming lessons and pool parties. Admission to the pool and water slide is available for individuals and groups of all sizes.

Streator City Pool & Water Slide

Beat the heat on hot summer days take your family down to Streator City Pool & Water Slide for some aquatic fun! With two slides (one tube slide & one body slide) plus diving boards kiddie pools lazy rivers, it’s sure to hit everyone – even parents who can relax poolside while their kids enjoy cool reprieve during sweltering days out in sunnier parts of town! 

8. Gebhard Woods Campground

Gebhard Woods Campground is located in Morris, Illinois. It is a public campground that offers camping, fishing, hiking, and biking. The campground has a total of 34 sites with electric hookups available. Amenities at the campground include flush toilets, showers, a playground, and picnic tables. Visitors can also participate in planned activities such as stargazing and hayrides. The campground is open from April through October for camping and day use.

Gebhard Woods Campground

Enjoy a unique stay directly on Fox River camping ground with tent spaces and RV hookups perfect weekend getaway for outdoorsy types who want to spend time amongst nature without going far away from home base.

9. Garden Walk Memorial Day Parade

The Garden Walk Memorial Day Parade is an annual parade that takes place in the city of Garden Grove, California. The parade features marching bands, floats, military and civic organizations, vintage cars, and various other entertainment. The parade is held to honor those who have served or are currently serving in the United States military. Additionally, local businesses and organizations often participate in the parade by sponsoring a float or marching unit. This event typically takes place on Memorial Day weekend each year and often attracts thousands of spectators.

Garden Walk Memorial Day Parade

Join Ottawa IL citizens celebrating their annual Garden Walk Memorial Day Parade showcasing floats designed by local businesses, organizations, civic groups, churches, schools, and individuals. The parade route goes through downtown Ottawa since 1977. 

10. Kites Over Lake event

Kites Over Lake is an annual event held in many cities across the United States. The event typically involves a day of kite flying, often accompanied by live music, food, and other activities. Depending on the location, there may be a variety of different kinds of kite flying demonstrations and competitions. Participants are encouraged to bring their own kites to fly or join in some of the activities taking place. The event provides entertainment for all ages and can be a great way to spend an afternoon with family and friends.

Kites Over Lake event

Celebrate summer with the Kites Over Lake event held every June which brings everyone together for a family-friendly day filled with kite flying competitions demonstrations interactive games music food vendors more! 

11. Bat Fest

Bat Fest is a celebration of bats and the ecosystem they provide. The event is typically held in late summer or early fall. At Bat Fest, visitors can take part in various activities such as watching live bat presentations, learning about bat conservation and habitat protection, trying out bat-themed crafts and games, participating in educational activities like bat ear-ring making, listening to guest lectures on topics such as bat migration patterns and endangered species, and more. Attendees can also purchase unique souvenirs at the event’s gift shop. The event usually ends with a night walk to watch bats fly overhead during sunset.

bat fest illinois

October welcomes Bat Fest an incredible celebration devoted to bats –the Batman symbol comes to life–featuring live performances bat-themed activities kid friendly workshops educational presentations crafts vendors much more!  

12. Music Festival

December in Ottawa is full of holiday events! The annual Music Festival takes place on the first Saturday of the month and features a variety of local acts. The festival includes multiple stages, food vendors, dance performances, and art vendors. The event also includes a craft and gift fair, as well as a Christmas parade featuring floats from local businesses. Festivities have included everything from fireworks shows to live music performances. This is a great way to get into the holiday spirit and celebrate the season in Ottawa!

Music Festival ottawa

End year right annual December Music Festival held downtown streets which features musical performances from a diverse range of musical genres accompanied by light shows visuals colorful costumes great food drinks!

Where To Stay In Ottawa IL? 

When visiting Ottawa IL visitors have plenty of options when it comes to finding a place to stay from luxury hotels nearby to Starved Rock State Park and budget-friendly motels town proper their wide variety of accommodations fits into any traveler’s budget For those looking for something special why not give Gebhard Woods Campground try? Located directly on Fox River camping ground offers up tent spaces and RV hookups that perfect weekend getaway for outdoorsy types who want to spend time amongst nature without going far away from home base. 

What to Eat in Ottawa IL

Ottawa, IL boasts some of the most delicious restaurants in the area. Popular spots include La Mex, a Mexican restaurant offering classic dishes like tacos and burritos; The Coal City Grill, serving up burgers and other American favorites; and the Ottawa Ale House, which offers craft beers and comfort food. For dessert, check out Joe’s Ice Cream for homemade ice cream or Sweet Sister’s Bakery for sweet treats.

When is the Best Time To Visit Ottawa IL

The best time to visit Ottawa, IL is during the summer, when temperatures are warm and the sun is shining. Summer is also the perfect time to take advantage of local attractions like biking or hiking trails, or explore Ottawa’s many restaurants and shops. Additionally, the town holds several events throughout the summer months including its 4th of July parade and fireworks show.


Whether travelers looking for history nature outdoor activities boutiques foods events or just explore small town charm they sure find it all during a stay at Ottawas Illinois Filled with attractions cultural landmarks natural landscapes more no wonder why so many people love coming to visit each year Take advantage all this wonderful city has offer make most time spent here – will surely leave wanting coming back again soon!

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