Inn at a Glance: Brightwood Inn
The Brightwood Inn is a 14-acre property bordering Matthiessen State Park, about two hours from Chicago. Surrounded by Illinois’s natural beauty, the inn has a homey feel with ornamental gables and a white wraparound porch. And while each guest room is unique, they all share a country-chic style and include gas fireplaces and walk-in showers. If you choose to stay in the Savannah room, you’ll have a view of the woods in Matthiessen.
- Breakfast is a big deal: Complimentary for guests, hot, fresh-made dishes such as housemade muffins and bowls of fresh fruit often use vegetables and herbs from the on-site garden.
- Game on: Grab a board game and take it to the Gathering Room, where you can play and borrow the stemware on hand for any wine you might have brought along.
- Cuddle up with a book from the inn’s extensive library.
- Explore the area which boasts wineries, historical mansions, and forested hiking trails.
Oglesby, Illinois: Scenic State Parks with Waterfalls
The Oglesby area’s star attraction is Starved Rock State Park, which has been considered one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois since 2007. Here, 13 miles of hiking trails wander past sandstone bluffs covered with white pines and cedars. The Lasalle Canyon path stands out, thanks to several delicate, veil-like waterfalls along the way. For smaller crowds, try hiking through the lesser-known Matthiessen State Park where deer congregate around salt-laden mineral springs.
In summer, the park’s meadows are blanketed with wildflowers including black-eyed susans, partridge-pea blossoms, and purple mint buds. As the mercury drops later in the year, many of the region’s waterfalls freeze into crystalline stalactites, and bald eagles migrate to the nearby Plum Island Eagle Sanctuary to retrieve their Snuggies before winter.