Looking for a unique gift that won’t risk being delayed in the mail during the holiday rush? Consider purchasing your loved ones an authentic experience in Starved Rock Country. From delectable dining to terrific tours, we’ve assembled a convenient collection of award-winning small businesses that offer unforgettable, local experiences.
GIVE THE GIFT OF GOLF AT PINE HILLS
This 18-hole semiprivate course is located on the southern end of Ottawa. Pine Hills Golf Course was designed by the famed Thomas Bendelow, known for laying out such courses as Medinah Country Club and Olympia Fields, and opened its doors in 1924.
Pine Hills is also home to a popular restaurant offering the largest gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly menus in the area. This dining room is serving up award-winning pizzas and delectable dinner rolls using homemade dough, alongside made-to-order dinners, sandwiches and sides. Best of all, at the Pine Hills Restaurant you’re treated to a stunning panoramic view of this gorgeous golf course.
Pine Hills Golf Club Bar and Restaurant
1665 N. 2501st Road, Ottawa
DINNER IN A FORMER DAIRY BARN
For fans of one-of-a-kind dining destinations, consider getting a gift card to Hank’s Farm in Ottawa. The restaurant is housed inside a former dairy barn, surrounded by 20-plus acres home to roaming peacocks, chickens, ducks, turkeys and sheep.
Hank’s has been lauded for its elaborate brunch buffet that takes place every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The bountiful smorgasbord includes salmon, fried chicken, eggs Benedict, French toast sticks and 14 feet of fresh desserts.
2973 Route 71, Ottawa
TAKE A TRIP THROUGH HISTORY WITH AWESOME OTTAWA TOURS
Prepare to have your perception of Ottawa altered forever. Starved Rock Country native Tom Aussem provides fascinating and informative tours, detailing the town’s storied past. Over the course of the trip, you’ll hear tales of crime, liberation and perseverance that all played a part in shaping the beautiful riverfront town.
A gift certificate from Awesome Ottawa can be redeemed for such popular programs as Radium Dial Girls of Ottawa, Illinois; Indian Burial Mounds and Forgotten Graveyards; Wine Through Time — Prohibition Pub Crawl; Ottawa Obscura Bike Tour; annual Haunted Tours; and The Grand Homes of Ottawa, Illinois.
Awesome Ottawa Tours
624 Court St., Ottawa
ENJOY FINE DINING AND LIVE MUSIC AT UPTOWN GRILL
La Salle’s Uptown Grill is renowned for their polished take on classic dishes, often lauded as being one of the best places to grab prime rib in the Chicagoland area on Friday and Saturday nights. These charbroiled steaks are cut and aged in-house, and the seafood, shellfish and oysters are prepared fresh every day.
In addition to offering great food and a full-service bar and lounge (complete with an extensive list of over 100 wines and 12 craft beers on tap), Uptown Grill is also home to one of the most exciting music venues in Starved Rock Country. On select nights, the stage at Uptown Grill’s Playlist Theater hosts popular touring acts. Past guests have included Alejandro Escovedo, Robbie Fulks, The War and Treaty and Loudon Wainwright III.
601 First St., La Salle
ENJOY A WINE TASTING AT CATSEYE WINE BAR
Located in the heart of downtown Ottawa, CatsEye has fused together urban-vintage style and an eclectic array of drinks to create one of the most comfortable drinking destinations in Starved Rock Country. With an ever-changing roster of wines from around the globe, frequent live music, food truck events and local artist spotlights, CatsEye will provide a novel drinking experience every time you return.
Pull up an antique chair, order a charcuterie plate and enjoy an evening of good company and great wine! Be sure to check out the CatsEye Facebook for discounts on wines by the bottle and new seasonal additions to their menu.
CatsEye Wine Bar
724 La Salle St., Ottawa
GIVE THE GIFT OF RELAXATION AT BALANCED SPIRIT WELLNESS CENTER
Nestled in historic downtown Streator and less than a half-hour southeast of Starved Rock State Park, Balanced Spirit Wellness Center is an all-in-one relaxing retreat that aims to align your physical, emotional and mental well-being. Since 2017, Balanced Spirit has been offering rejuvenating massages, transformative Reiki sessions and deeply relaxing Himalayan salt room experiences to visitors and locals alike.
Balanced Spirit is also home to a tranquil yoga studio on-site. These classes can cater to anyone from the experienced yogi to first-time student, perfect for anyone passing through the area or vacationing in Starved Rock Country.
Balanced Spirit Wellness Center
419 E. Main St., Streator