The first Lincoln-Douglas senatorial debate was held in Ottawa’s historic Washington Square on August 21, 1858. Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas stood in this beautiful park to deliver the first of seven senatorial debates. It was estimated that 20,000 spectators gathered to witness this famous debate. The site of the debate is marked by a boulder and plaque, and a fountain topped by bronze statues of the “Railsplitter” and “The Little Giant” forms the centerpiece of the beautifully landscaped square.
Towering forty feet above the Illinois River and weighing an astonishing seventeen tons each, these two massive steel sculptures are now registered with the Smithsonian Art Inventories Catalog and can be found in Ottawa’s own picturesque Allen Park. Created by native artist, Mary Meinz-Fanning, these historical art structures are fashioned from parts of Ottawa’s old Hilliard Bridge, originally built in 1933. The yellow sculpture is named “Reclining” and the red one is known as “Bending”. It was Fanning’s vision that both sculptures serve as a commemoration to the old bridge. Come marvel at their unique construction as you stroll along the river.
Bike Tours, Walking Tours, Drive/Hike Tours, Seasonal Haunted Tours or a custom tour to fit your needs.
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We show you the good, bad & Ugly of our area.
In the 1830’s the Illinois & Michigan Canal made us a boon town with all the good, bad & ugly that can come with that growth. Awesome Ottawa Tours shares the real, true & sometimes unflattering history of Starved Rock Country. See where Alson Woodruff executed the massacre that ended the Irish Rebellion on the I&M Canal. Hear the gruesome story of David Moore found bludgeoned to death in Allen Park. Then the investigation, arrest and subsequent hanging of his murderers.
Plus more, while surrounded by an America in Bloom City and a Downtown on the Register of Historic Places.
Awesome Ottawa Historic Bike Tours
Our logo is based on the flag of the City of Ottawa.
You’ll feel like a pioneering local after our tours
From stoic Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln & Douglas Debates to the sad events of the Radium Girls, Ottawa has seen many highs and lows. We were designed as a government city at the end of the Illinois & Michigan Canal, expediting the statehood of Illinois.
We’ve found the history that was lost to time.
Indian Burial Mounds & Forgotten Graveyards Tour. Daniels Graveyard.
Research is the Awesome Ottawa Tours Difference.
We are inspired by our love of Starved Rock Country, history, nature and our passion to offer it all to you. We are not only an awesome tour we are your personal concierge to this great area.
Don’t just visit Ottawa, Illinois dive in, roll around, breath it in!
The Bike Shop in Ottawa is a full service bicycle shop located on the I&M Canal on Chestnut Street. Rent a bike! If you want to test a bike style, or want to experience riding the trail but don’t have a bike, you can rent one! We have high quality bikes available to rent for $6 per hour. Helmets are required, and are available to rent for $1 per hour. Bring yours if you have one! Hours: Fri – Mon: 11am – 8pm Every other Tues: 11am – 8pm Closed Wed & Thurs
William Dickson Boyce was a resident of Ottawa. He is remembered as the man who brought scouting to America. He was inspired by a chance meeting with a British Scout in a thick London fog. The boy showed him the way, saying that he was a Boy Scout and their motto was “Do a good deed everyday.”
Offering a wide range of shooting targets: Rifle Range, Shotgun Range, Plinking Pit. Range entrance fees are: Adult (age 16 & up) $25.00, Children (age 15 & under) $15.00. Open Season is April through September and hours are Monday & Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am-6pm.
Buffalo Rock State Park is located on a bluff which was once an island in the Illinois River. Now standing majestically on the north bank, this promontory affords a magnificent sweeping view of the Illinois River. Located approximately three miles west of Ottawa in LaSalle County, this 298 acre park has long been a favorite picnic area, as well as a nature lovers delight. The area of Buffalo Rock was the home of the Illinois Indians when Louis Jolliet, the French explorer, and the Jesuit missionary priest Father Jacques Marquette made their trip up the Illinois River in 1673. Later the Illinois Tribe was virtually annihilated in protracted warfare with the aggressive Iroquois.
Come have a blast canoeing on the Fox River with C & M Canoe Rental. The Fox River is very scenic and fun to canoe. You, your family and friends can enjoy canoeing, fishing and swimming. Open Spring through Fall – 7 days a week Now available – Primitive Camping! The lower Fox River is one of the most scenic canoeing areas in the Midwest. It is known for sandstone cliffs, abundant wildlife, and scenic seasonal views. This back to nature area is a great way for the novice paddler to get their feet wet. The friendly people at C & M Canoe Rental can supply you with everything you need for your 2-3 hour or 2 day canoe outing. Canoeing rental rates include the use of a 17-foot river canoe, paddles, life jackets and transportation to a launch spot.
Open May through October, Catlin Park’s 333 acres are a mix of pine and deciduous forests, prairie grasses, rugged ravines, winding stream beds, deer in abundance, wild turkeys, birds, squirrels, and rabbits. The park’s well-organized trail system hosts 14 distinct trails plus numerous connector trails. These trails course throughout the park’s habitats, including its various streams and ponds. The trails are used by horseback riders, hikers, joggers, birdwatchers, and photographers. The well-groomed trails are perfect for novice horses or riders, yet challenging enough for more seasoned riders. Adjacent to a 120×60 ft. horse arena is an obstacle course used by the LaSalle County Sheriff’s Mounted Search and Rescue Posse. This course, which provides various desensitizing activities for training horses, is open to the public. Parking areas, picnic shelters, playground equipment, water, and outdoor restrooms are strategically located throughout the trail system.
The Dayton Bluffs Preserve is located at 2997 Illinois Route 71 just north of Ottawa, south of the I-80 and Route 71 interchange on the West side of the road.
We currently have a gravel driveway and parking area and a porta potty on site. A master plan is being developed for future amenities (click here to see it), but the wildness of the Dayton Bluffs Preserve is what makes it special! You can experience 100 acres of open prairie in the midst of restoration, the majesty and cool shade of 150 woodland acres, rugged ravines, glistening water cascades, the beautiful Fox River, sacred Native American burial mounds and the Daniels family pioneer cemetery.
All City of Ottawa Parks rules, regulations and ordinances are enforced. All plants, animals, natural and historic objects are protected by law.
Dogs are welcome at Dayton Bluffs Preserve as long as they remain on a leash. We ask that you clean up all pet messes, and respect the natural and historic resources of the site.
Its a have-to-be-there-to-feel-it kind of place. The thrill of true wildness. The comfort of age, unhurried growth, deep roots. The mystery of what you will find at the leafy bottom of the next ravine. A place where the voices of Native Americans who walked this land long before you blend with the voices of today and tomorrow in a chorus of awe and admiration. Dayton Bluffs is part of Starved Rock County, Ottawa Visitors Center, and is supported by Heritage Harbor Resort. Explore this beautiful area just a short drive from the suburbs. For more information and to pursue your land preservation options, please contact our Director of Land Protection, Dan Lobbes 630-428-4500, Ext. 25.
Take your family out for a fun-filled game of bowling! Bowling Bumpers are available for the little ones! Dettore’s Town Lanes is open from 10 a.m. – 12 a.m. Monday through Friday, 11a.m. – 12a.m. Saturday, and 11a.m.-6p.m. on Sundays. Snack Bar and Grill are located inside!
Get the whole family involved with an invigorating game of Disc golf! Enjoy the fresh air and scenic views along the Fox River while playing disc golf on our 9-hole course at Ottawa’s Fox River Park. Test your precision at each hole as they weave around different obstacles or just toss for fun. No need to call a head for a “tee time” because Ottawa’s disc golf course is FREE and open to the public. Free scorecards and course maps are available at the Ottawa Visitors Center. But don’t forget your disc!
Roast! See! Sip! Visit Famous Coffee Roasters, conveniently located in the 807 Building housing Jeremiah Joes Coffee! See how beans are received from overseas shippers, are selected and how roasting converts the raw product into your favorite beverage. Tour includes your own take-away sample and coupons for coffee and sweet treats all available at Jeremiah Joes. Sit back, relax and smell the coffee!
This early engineering marvel carried waters of the Illinois & Michigan Canal over the Fox River. The Fox River Aqueduct is the largest aqueduct along the I&M Canal Corridor. Built in the 1840s by David Sanger & Sons Construction Co. of Ottawa, the aqueduct spans a length of 464 feet. Supported by seven towering piers constructed of Joliet limestone, the aqueduct was once considered the eighth wonder of the world.