Things To Do in Illinois: Ottawa

Leigh Kunkel
| February 18, 2024 | 4 Minute Read
A riverboat departs from a dock. Courtesy of Sainte Genevieve Riverboat

Explore charming small-town Ottawa, Illinois, with these suggestions for the best things to do and see.


Sainte Genevieve Riverboat

See the Illinois River Valley in a whole new way when you take this riverboat tour (above). Head upriver to see the stunning local riverfront homes and the wildlife that populates the nearby islands, or go downstream to take in the towering rock faces and railroad bridge.

Ottawa Mural Tour

Explore the history of Ottawa by taking a guided tour of the 10 public art installations that cover everything from the Lincoln-Douglas presidential debate to the town’s famous glass factory, which provided some of the glass for Tiffany lamps.

Two bison grazing in the grass. Ottawa Visitors Center

Buffalo Rock State Park

Overlooking the majestic Illinois River, this park has several beautiful picnic areas, multiple hiking trails and a collection of sculptures by Michael Heizer that represent the local wildlife. And, in keeping with the name, there are even three bison that live and graze on the grounds (above).


Hampton Inn-Starved Rock Area

Whether you’ve spent the day hiking or antiquing, you’ll always be glad to come back to this AAA Three Diamond hotel, where you’ll find spacious rooms with comfy beds and crisp linens. In the morning, don’t forget to check out the extensive breakfast options.

Plate with large crab legs and lemon wedges on the side iStock

Casa-Mia Lounge & Restaurant

A blend of Italian and American favorites makes up the menu at this popular local spot, where you can feast on Alaskan king crab legs (above), enjoy a perfectly seared New York strip steak, or relax with a dirty martini.

Jeremiah Joe Coffee

This local mini chain has been a staple of Ottawa since 2002, and you won’t want to miss the quirky charm of their downtown location. Go simple with a cup of house-roasted coffee or try a signature Caramel Extreme.

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