Not sure about anyone else, but I've yet to find anyone who can believe that Christmas is already weeks away. The clock is ticking. Is it a welcome or daunting reality for you? While some folks look at the calendar and dread shopping, still others, long lists in hand, are ready to pound the pavement. Here are some ideas to keep even any shopper feeling wonderful about the retail road ahead.
Just in time for the holidays, whether on Small Business Saturday or all thru the season of giving, the Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) is encouraging local residents to take advantage of the large number of shopping opportunities available. Hitting the road takes on new meaning for those interested in a unique excursion that combines local travel and tourism with the holiday To Do list.
“So often the best gifts are those found off the beaten path, and our CVB partner members offer great quality and variety along the entire Corridor,” says Bob Navarro, Heritage Corridor CVB President and CEO. He adds, “Those shoppers willing to explore the hidden gems in the region will be rewarded with great finds, as there is something for every age and interest.”
Whether shoppers turn it into a family affair, girls day out, couples time, or a solo excursion, selecting holiday items is made easy with such a wide variety found within an hour’s drive, says Navarro. Indeed, along the 92 mile stretch of the Illinois and Michigan Canal that borders the Heritage Corridor, shoppers will find hundreds of shops, unique boutiques and dining options, too.
Always popular are the powerhouse retailers within The Promenade in Bolingbrook, which also offers a nightly Symphony in Lights. Big box or specialty boutique, the Heritage Corridor partner members combine to create a treasure trove of culture and commerce. Whether shoppers start at the Route 66 Welcome Center Store in the Joliet Area Historical Museum, stop and shop at Starved Rock Lodge in Utica, the Starved Rock Marketplace in the Illinois Valley, visit the historic sites of LaSalle, like the Hegeler Carus Mansion, or stroll downtown Ottawa, they'll find no shortage of great gift ideas.
Need a tool to help plan your shopping trips? Seeking a more serene setting? Wondering where to go for small town charm? The Heritage Corridor CVB recently made its free 2013 Visitors Guide and Map available. What's more is that the CVB just updated its website (www.heritagecorridorCVB.com) to make tourism and trip planning easy for all. The Guides and Maps can be found at the Joliet Area Historical Museum, the Heritage Corridor CVB's main office across from Lewis University in Romeoville in tthe historic Fitzpatrick House, or at any Affiliate Visitors Center. Members have so much to offer to please any style, taste and age range. Free of chrage, these materials, and the complete listing of CVB partner member businesses found in the Visitors Guide -- and online -- are a tremendous tool. Anything to save time and help plan is great! An impressive number and variety of restaurants and cafes makes it easy on shoppers looking for sustenance and gift certificates, as well.
Off the beaten path itineraries for the holiday shopper might include, but are surely not limited to the following locales:
Along the northern stretch of the Corridor, just off of I-355 and I-55 ~ The Promenade in Bolingbrook, featuring the Symphony in Lights, and Downtown Lemont, with local eateries and upscale shops. A dining experience that you will not forget awaits you at Willow Spring's Courtright's Restaurant.
Moving into the Joliet and Plainfield region, along historic Lincoln Highway/Route 30 ~ shoppers can seek and find great gifts at the Route 66 Welcome Center at the Joliet Historical Museum, or check out the selections at Wine & Cheese by TCC in downtown Plainfield, antique shops and themed stores like Tawny Tortoise. Downtown Lemont provides a great mix, from Smokey Row Antique Shop, distinctive small shops and dining opportunities for couples or groups, as does downtown Lockport, offering quaint stores, museums, as well as the Public Landing or Tallgrass Restaurant.
Travelling westward on Route 80 into Grundy County ~ options include the Apple Butter & Shugies and Morris Antique Emporium in Morris, among Chapin’s Restaurant and R Place for dining gift cards that can be enjoyed year-round.
Heading westward into historic LaSalle County ~ those seeking a great escape and specialty boutiques can enjoy an excursion to Ottawa, with its downtown bursting with adorable shops, including the Book Mouse and Blue Beaker. Cafes include Jeremiah Joe Coffee, JJ's Pub on Main or The Cheese Shop 'n' Deli. Gift giving might also include gift certificates for adventures and tours to be experienced in the non-winter months, as well, suggests Kelly Klobucher of the Hegeler Carus Mansion, a historic landmark with year round activities.
Utica and the Starved Rock region ~ this area offers so much more than a walk in the park. Wineries, shops in downtown Utica and the Starved Rock Gift Shop provide a plethora of unique gift ideas for all ages and interests.
First and foremost, here's to good health and good memories -- those already made and cherished, and those to be made -- for you and yours. Whether a weekend shopping warrior or weary wanderer, let's hope the shops and stops all along the historic Corridor make the season bright!
The Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau promotes member partners within the four-county, 92-mile stretch of the historic Illinois and Michigan Canal. To receive the 2013 Visitors Guide, map, or view a listing of members, call 800.926.CANAL(2262), or visit www.heritagecorridorCVB.com.