Chicago Day Trip Guide: Ottawa, Illinois
About 90 miles from downtown Chicago sits Ottawa, Illinois, a small town filled with history, outdoor recreation, and a vibrant downtown. The little gem (population: 19,000) is loaded with adorable shops and historic landmarks, but its claim to fame is the nearby, and beautiful, natural landscapes, including Starved Rock State Park, Matthiessen State Park, and Buffalo Rock State Park, each stocked with scenic hiking trails, waterfalls, and canyons.
Here’s a taste of what Ottawa has to offer.
Starved Rock State Park
13 miles of hiking
Explore scenic trails, sandstone bluffs, and 14 waterfalls (we counted).
Quaint, walkable, historic
Check out Ottawa’s downtown, and be sure to visit the John Hossack House—a “station” on the Underground Railroad.
The Lone Buffalo
Locally sourced and loved
Grab a gourmet burger at this locally sourced, farm-to-table restaurant and brewery.
Buffalo Rock State Park
Go for the views of the Illinois River
The park is named after a large sandstone rock formation known as Buffalo Rock, which stands 125 feet above the Illinois River. The base of the rock features the Effigy Tumuli, mounds created by Native Americans.
VIP Roxy Cinemas
Catch the latest flicks
A family-owned and operated movie theater right in the heart of downtown Ottawa.
William Reddick Mansion
Built before the Civil War
Designed by architect William W. Boyington, the mansion is an excellent example of Greek Revival architecture and features impressive details such as tall Corinthian columns, a grand entrance portico, and intricate interior woodwork. Try a guided tour.