About Utica

A lovely slow-paced river town, Utica in LaSalle County is the location of an enchanting annual Bald Eagle migration around the turn of the year. It sits at the foothills of the stunning Starved Rock State Park – a fabulous outdoor adventure lover’s playground, full of accessible summer walks and winter trails.

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About Utica

The original village of Utica was established back in 1852, but its residents swiftly relocated nearby after flooding of the Illinois River in the 1830s. Although its name is now North Utica, villagers and visitors alike never bother with the ‘North’ part.

Surrounded by natural beauty, the town is most well-known for its location to Starved Rock Park where, sliced in amongst all the stunning forestry, rushing streams, waterfalls and wildlife, sit 18 canyons of sandstone rock, formed during the Ice Ages.

Another claim to fame of the town is Burgoo—a traditional pioneer stew cooked over a wooden fire for up to 18 hours and which residents celebrate in the form of an annual festival. The original recipe contained venison or squirrel, but today it’s mostly vegetables with a variety of herbs and spices mixed in with cracked wheat.

What to do in Utica

Visit Starved Rock Park to trek along its riverbanks and visit the many waterfalls or hike amongst its 13 miles of marked forest trails. Swim, fish or sail in the river, hire a horse and go riding, or camp out for the whole weekend. The park is named after a tale of local Indians starving there there after being forced to hide from a fellow tribe.

Pop on over to August Hill Winery to sample the home-made wines and accompanying cheese plates.

Learn about Wild Bill Hickok's ties to the region as well the effects of the Civil War on Utica at the LaSalle County Historical Society & Museum. There’s an old school house and blacksmith shop as well as photos of the town’s tragic mining disaster in 1909.

If visiting in October then stay for the Burgoo Festival where you'll meet craftsmen, musicians, foodies and encounter countless flea market stalls.

Top travel tips for Utica

Don’t ask why there’s no game meat in the Burgoo stew any longer – it was banned for environment health reasons. Meanwhile, if you’ve never tried ‘gator' before then for some genuine southern 'gator' burgers or stew, head over to Ron McFarlain's famous Cajun Connection eatery. The chef proprietor grew up in the swamps of Louisiana where 'gator' featured regularly on the menu.

Nearby Buffalo Rock Park is a great camping ground but you'll need a permit to do so beforehand. The campsites can only be reached via food or bike.

If you really want a taste of the great outdoors and to experience life as an early pioneer or Native American, then there's plenty of opportunity to do so in Utica's fabulous nearby state parks. Or even just appreciate the peace and quiet this quaint friendly town has to offer. 

Whichever you fancy, FlipKey will have a property to suit your vacation. Search for it today!