Travels With Darley Podcast Spotlights Starved Rock Country

Spin-off of popular TV travel series features Camp Aramoni, Star Union Spirits and more

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In 2016, Darley Newman brought her award-winning PBS program, “Travels with Darley,” to the Heritage Corridor region for two special episodes, “Illinois: Route 66 & Midewin” and “Illinois: Ottawa & Beyond.” Now, this fan-favorite travel presenter has returned to the region – filming a fresh episode along Route 66 and covering some exciting new developments in Starved Rock Country on her new podcast series.

In “Travels with Darley,” Darley journeys with locals to experience the history, food, music and art of exciting locations around the world. Spinning off a popular web series, “Travels with Darley” takes viewers through Europe, the Caribbean and the U.S., exploring each location’s diverse cultures and traditions. Past segments have included snorkeling the Jacques Cousteau Reserve in Guadeloupe; a road trip along Maryland’s Eastern Shore; World War II history in Bastogne, Belgium; and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

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The show’s more than 50 half-hour episodes now reach over 96% of the U.S. on PBS stations, and are available on all streaming platforms. Look out for new seasons on your PBS station and Create TV. Binge the series’ first 24 installments on Amazon Prime. Stream all the episodes on Wondrium, and watch the most recent seasons through Ovation TV’s Journy, a free app available on the phone, tablet or smart TV device of your choice.

Darley returned to the area last year to film a new episode covering the 300-plus-mile stretch of Route 66 that runs across Illinois. In The First Hundred Miles of Route 66, Darley visited Harvester Park in Burr Ridge, the Old Joliet Prison, the Polk-A-Dot Drive In in Braidwood, the Texaco Station in Dwight and the Route 66 Association Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac. “Route 66: Illinois” (Season 11, Episode 5) is now available for streaming.

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But Darley’s adventure in the Heritage Corridor didn’t stop there; she returned this year to record interviews in Starved Rock Country for her new podcast series on the iHeart Radio Network. Here’s a look at the four Starved Rock Country episodes, currently available on Spotify, Apple Podcast and all major podcatcher apps.

1. Exploring the Natural Wonders of Starved Rock State Park in Illinois

Illinois may be called the Prairie State but, in this “Travels with Darley” podcast episode, you’ll discover parts of the state where rock canyons, waterfalls and rivers remind us of the diversity of the terrain in Illinois, all less than an hour and a half southwest of Chicago. Join Darley Newman to explore Starved Rock Country with Kathy Casstevens, who has frequented the park since childhood. Uncover the cultural and geological history of the park, where canyons are named after French explorers, and frozen waterfalls in the winter serve as a playground for ice climbers.

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2. Luxury Camping and Craft Cocktails: Camp Aramoni & Star Union Spirits in Illinois

Explore glamorous camping, or “glamping,” in Illinois by touring Camp Aramoni with entrepreneur Jennifer Bias, set in La Salle County close to popular Starved Rock State Park. Travelers venture here to unwind in safari-style tents, complete with s’mores and local spirits made from Illinois corn, at the popular destination for weddings. Learn about Camp Aramoni’s transformation from a 19th century brickyard to a haven for relaxation and adventure. Inside the camp’s luxe barn, meet Bob Windy of Star Union Spirits to taste a signature Brandy Old Fashioned and learn about how he helped transform an old factory into the first licensed distillery in Peru in more than 100 years.

The Clyde Tombaugh and Pluto mural at K's Secret Garden and Finefield Pottery, 215 E. Main St. Projects leader was Jeff Lang. Tombaugh, born in Streator in 1906, discovered Pluto.

3. Streator Street Art & Sparkling Wine in Starved Rock Country, Illinois

Venture beyond the popular Starved Rock State Park to discover Illinois’ wine industry at August Hill Winery in Utica. Entrepreneur and vintner Mark Wenzel shares the secrets behind Illinois sparkling wine and its unique character shaped by the region’s soil and climate. Delve into the vibrant street art scene in Streator, where 40 pieces of public art adorn the cityscape, thanks to the efforts of the Walldogs. Mayor Tara Bedei gives us insight into Streator’s transformation and the community’s unwavering spirit.

4. Exploring Ottawa: History & Hidden Gems Along the Illinois River

Uncover the rich history of Ottawa, Illinois, nestled along the banks of the Illinois River, by cycling, canoeing and visiting small businesses. From American Indian heritage to the Irish immigrants who shaped its canal history, one can journey through this Midwestern gem close to Chicago, exploring its historic sites, charming neighborhoods and vibrant local culture. Canoe the Illinois River and cycle along the I&M Canal and hear about the area’s history from Ana Koval of the Canal Corridor Association.