Mariners' Village and Marina   
                                              
        Located on the beautiful Illinois River in Seneca, Illinois
Things To Do

Hey - is there anything to do around here?  You bet there is!  Seneca lies in a historic area of Illinois filled with scenic state parks.  The parks take advantage of the Illinois and Michigan (I&M) Canal, the Illinois River, and the Vermillion River.  The rivers have carved many bluffs and canyons that offer beautiful scenery regardless of the season.  Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Parks add beautiful waterfalls to their many scenic canyons and bluffs.  These parks feature hiking trails, paddle rentals, boat rides, and even lodging and dining.  The I&M Canal itself has a trail suitable for hiking, biking, or snowmobiling.  The Vermillion River offers exciting water sports activities during the spring and early summer when you can actually go white water rafting or kayaking on Class II-III rapids with some great scenery.  And the area boasts an abundance of reasonably priced golf courses for the avid duffer.  For the little ones, Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort near Starved Rock State park boasts a water park along with a number of activity, dining, and lodging opportunities.

 
This page provides a summary of these activities along with web links so you may get further information per your interest.  Starting at Morris and moving west along the I&M Canal:

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Morris

 
Morris lies at the eastern edge of the I&M Canal and Illinois River recreational corridor.  It offers access to both attractions via two strategically places Illinois State Parks.  
 
William G. Stratton State Park – This park provides an excellent facility for boat and personal water craft (PWC) launching during the boating season but it can get crowded on the weekends at the multiple boat ramps.  The four boat ramps can handle just about any sized boat and there is an additional area to launch PWCs.  Indeed, many people begin their boating weekend at the ramps at this park.


Stratton Park Link


Gebhard Woods State Park – This is a good place to start your snowmobiling trek on the I&M Canal in the winter.  This park features a neat aquaduct where the I&M Canal passes over the Nettle Creek (Ottawa is home to a much larger aqueduct where the I&M Canal passes over the Fox River).  You can also view the old I&M Canal Lock #8.

 
Gebhard Park Link

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Seneca

The town of Seneca has recently built a beautiful public boat ramp that includes two long, gradual concrete ramps.  It is perfect for large boats as the ramps extend far into the water and the ends of the ramps are clearly marked on the sides in orange paint.  There is plenty of trailer parking and the Seabees have built great shelters and bench areas for use by the public.  You can gas your boat up in Seneca at the Clark, Citgo, Casey's or BP gas stations on your way to the ramp.  The ramp is located east off of Main Street (Route 170) just north of the Seneca Bridge. 

Seneca has the only remaining grain elevator on the I&M Canal.  The M. J. Hogan Grain Elevator is located west of Main Street on the north side of the I&M Canal.
 
Seneca is also the former location of the Landing Ship Tank (LST) shipyard where 157 of the LSTs were built.  A short history of their construction can be found at:

Prairie Shipyard Link

On May 21, 2005 a monument was unveiled in Seneca dedicated to all the workers who toiled at the Seneca “Prairie Shipyard” as well as all those who served on any LST during World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam.  This LST Memorial can be visited at Crotty Park 

And Seneca offers access to the I&M Canal – it crosses through the middle of town just north of the Casey’s not far from the historic Hogan Grain Elevator. 


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Marseilles

This town, just west of Seneca, offers access to the Illini State Park.  This Park also include boat ramp access to the Illinois River as well as camping and fishing opportunities:

Illini State Park Link

Marseilles is also the home of a facility for off-road, four wheeling:

The Cliffs Insane Terrain Link


And, Marseilles is the home of The Middle Eastern Conflicts Wall Memorial.  The Memorial sits along the southern bank of the Illinois River just west of the Marseilles’ Dam.


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Ottawa
 
T
his historic city offers much in the way of dining and close recreational attractions.  Ottawa overlooks the confluence of the Fox and Illinois Rivers and offers a pleasant river walk that brings you right to the river's edge.  

Ottawa Link

The Scouting Museum is located in Ottawa.  It promotes and preserves the colorful and proud traditions of Boy Scouting, Girl Scouting and Camp Fire, via memorabilia from its vast collection:

Scouting Museum Link


At the western edge of Ottawa along Boyce Memorial Drive overlooking the Illinois River is the scenic Ottawa Avenue Cemetery.  Buried here is W.D. Boyce.  This Chicago publisher built a home in Ottawa in 1902.  He gained fame in 1910 when he founded the Boy Scouts of America.  The Boyce Memorial Statue erected near his gravesite in 1941 is an annual pilgrimage site for many boy scouts.

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Utica

Utica is turning into somewhat of a recreational mecca.  This started since Utica lies right outside the door of Starved Rock State Park.  This Park has it all: a beautiful lodge, restaurant, bar, pool, boat access, paddling rentals, views, hiking trails, waterfalls, canyons, etc., etc., etc.  During the winter months, Starved Rock is home to dozens of Bald Eagles who feed on fish from the Illinois River.  By the way, some of these eagles usually make their way to Seneca as well and may be seen from the Mariners’ Village and Marina harbor during the winter months.  Starved Rock State Park is a must see: 
 
Starved Rock Link


Starved Rock Lodge & Conference Center is the only lodging facility actually located on the Starved Rock State Park grounds.  The Lodge, recently renovated and enlarged, features an indoor pool complex, restaurant, bar, and fireplace activity room.  This historic Lodge has 43 guest rooms, 29 hotel wing rooms, 14 Pioneer Cabin rooms and 8 Deluxe Cabin rooms to offer a nice variety of accommodations.  It is also home to a variety of seasonal events so check their website for upcoming events and activities:

Starved Rock Lodge Link


Right next to Starved Rock State Park is Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort.  This resort offers Grand Bear Falls, a 24,000 square foot indoor water park, and a 36,000 square foot indoor amusement park.

Grand Bear Link

Just south of Starved Rock State Park is another gem, Matthiessen State Park.  This park features two separate areas.  The Upper Dells is the first area you will encounter and it includes Deer Park Lake and Cascade Falls, where the canyon drops 45 feet with a waterfall.  You have to leave this area and drive a mile south to the Lower Dell, which lies along the Vermillion River. 
 
Matthiessen Park Link

If you leave the Park and travel a little further south along Route 178, you will run into Vermillion River Rafting.  This little company rents rafts for a fun run along the Vermillion River during the spring and early summer months when the swollen river offers thrill seekers the chance to run Class II-III white water:

Vermillion River Rafting Link

If you aren’t into white water, you can drift along and enjoy the beautiful scenic during less exciting months.


And a trip through Utica is not complete without some grub and a brew at Duffy’s Tavern:

Duffy's Link  
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Golfing

But you want to go golfing?  Well, here are just a few of the area golf courses:


Morris Country Club Link
Dayton Ridge Golf Club
Pine Hills Golf Club
Prairie Lakes Lodge Golf Club Link


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More?

Send some of your favorite local activities via the “Contacts” page and they may be added to this page for others to consider!