Jayne Rose

Jayne Rose

Tuesday, 28 June 2022 14:29

Jarrett Prairie Center |

Located at the main site of the Byron Forest Preserve, the Jarrett Prairie Center has unique banquet rooms on two levels with a 2600-square-foot wrap-around deck on the main level. The deck and museum at the Jarrett Prairie Center overlook 460 acres of natural prairie. There are also beautiful views of the Rock River Valley.

2 levels can accommodate over 400 people

By utilizing both levels of the building, Jarrett can accommodate over 400 people. The lower level has been completely remodeled recently. Amenities include bar service, kitchen areas, handicapped accessibility, and outdoor areas for ceremonies, receptions, etc. Patrons can bring in their own food or caterer.

Wedding packages are available.

Friday, 27 May 2022 13:17

The Command Post

So much happens around the table - friends meet, stories are told, and families gather. This is a gorgeous small event venue and meeting space available for rent in Byron, IL.

Plan your special event:

  • Bridal Showers
  • Baby Showers
  • Luncheon
  • Celebrations
  • Business Meetings
  • Classes
  • Bible Studies, & more!


Friday, 27 May 2022 11:28

Majestic Skyscape LLC

Art in Lanark

Majestic Skyscape is an eclectic artisan gallery with many types of artwork on display. The artists represented are locally, nationally, and internationally known.

The gallery has art that tells its own stories. An example is unique hand-blown glass vases from Wales, Great Britain on display. Paintings, jewelry, pottery, and more are sure to please every shopper.

Sweet tooth?

For those that have a bit of a sweet tooth, Majestic Skyscape carries specialty candies and confectioneries. Included with this are craft sodas in many flavors.

Make a stop here soon.

The shop has original art and gifts of many kinds for any type of gift-giving. Be sure to visit this one-of-a-kind art gallery. Relax, enjoy, and allow the art to speak to your heart and soul. 

Thursday, 26 May 2022 10:27

Rustic Ridge Axe Throwing

Get rid of stress and have a great time doing it. This new family recreation business (as of Memorial Day weekend 2022) is ready to take your reservations! Ages 14 and up are welcome. Located in Oregon, IL at 117 N. 4th Street.

Some general FAQs for folks to know are just below.

General Policies:

  • All guests must be at least 14 years old, and customers ages 14-17 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • All guests must adhere to all rules, policies, and staff instructions.
  • All guests must respect the game and act responsibly or may be asked to cease participation in activities.
  • We reserve the right to refuse service and revoke axe throwing privileges to anyone at any time, with no refunds.
  • All axe throwers must wear closed-toe shoes. Sandals and flip-flops are not allowed.
  • All guests must fill out and sign their own Liability Waiver prior to participating. The parent or guardian must sign the waiver for participants under 18.
  • We supply and maintain the throwing hatchets. Outside hatchets may be brought into the facility if they are WATL approved and approved by axe master.
  • No outside beverages may be brought on the premises at any time. There is no alcohol allowed on the premises at any time.
  • Pre-packaged Snacks and Beverages will be available for sale. Outside food may be brought into the facility during activities.
  • No smoking, drug use, e-cigarettes, or vaping are allowed inside the building.
  • Under no circumstances are live targets allowed. No thrower is to throw an axe at a target while there is a person or live object in between or in front of the thrower

Refund policy:

An initial deposit is required to reserve spots on a lane. Reservations can be altered (only 1 time reschedule) with not less than 24 hours prior notice. Cancellations or reductions in group size made less than 24 hours prior to the start time will forfeit the deposit amount. All payments for deposits, merchandise, and gift cards are final and no refunds will be processed.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022 10:35

Tailored Brews

Brand new coffee house (2022) in Thomson, IL. They offer coffees, smoothies, breakfast items, and more.

Monday, 02 May 2022 11:32

Brewski's Bar & Grill

Established in 2022, Brewski's Bar & Grill is a cozy take on a traditional bar. Located in the heart of Cherry Avenue in Rochelle, Illinois, they make sure that if you’re looking for a night of fun and entertainment, they're the only place you’re going to want to be!

​From the music to the carefully curated list of drinks, the staff proudly crafts a unique experience for its guests. Whether you’re on a night out with friends or just trying to quench your thirst, you’re always welcome to spend the evening with Brewski's.

Planning an event is a lot of work. Planning a wedding is all that and more. Barn at Allen Acres enables you to create a special, memorable event and actually enjoy it.

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Another event season awaits 

Located just outside Rock Falls, Illinois’ city limits, the Barn at Allen Acres is an effortless drive off I-88’s Rt. 30 exit. Owned and operated by Karen Allen Rogers, this event venue is gearing up for the wedding season. 

Barn at Allen Acres is an authentic, 1920’s-style dairy barn on a 3- ½ acre farm restored to serve as a romantic wedding venue that can comfortably host as many as 200 guests.

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Rogers and her work crews are sprucing and fixing up all the different outbuildings after its long winter nap. Many of the long barn wood tables need a bit of sanding and shellacking before being used in the warmer weather months. But those tables are gorgeous.

Rogers, along with her husband, Chris, and son, CJ, oversee each event. They also have some college kids helping out. Most of them have been with the Rogers since high school.

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From the dairy business to the “marry” business

Rogers may live outside the area full-time now, but this property and region of northwest Illinois are near and dear to her heart. She and her two sisters grew up here. Her grandfather, William Allen, bought the farm in the 1930s and ran it as the A&S Dairy. The dairy had a fleet of horses and carriages back in the day (see above). Three generations of Allens have resided on this quaint, rustic farm during the last eighty years. 

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Rogers, a former flight attendant with American Airlines, made a big decision regarding the rural property. “My dad passed away in 2009 and left the farm to my two sisters and me. In 2010, my husband and I bought the property from them,” said Rogers. “I have always loved the property, so I spent a few years fixing it up and restoring the barn. I didn’t have a plan for the property but felt it would be a great gathering place, either for myself or others.”

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A business is born

She has a brilliant cousin, Deb Paul. Paul asked Rogers if she would consider a wedding in the barn for her friends. "I’m grateful the property has a purpose. I retired from American Airlines in 2013 and hosted the first wedding at Barn at Allen Acres in September 2013," said Rogers.

Having no prior event planning experience, Rogers admits that her clients who rent the venue handle most of the organizing themselves. “I’m here to help them locate decorations, electrical outlets, or how to turn things on, “said Rogers. “The groups are pretty self-sufficient for the most part.” 

The venue has options.

The barn itself has two levels. At ground level is the staging area for food and a place for the groomsmen to get ready. There’s also a bar area close by. The upper level hosts the ceremony with an eclectic mix of old chairs and a soaring view of Illinois farmland. The Rogers installed a lift to accommodate access, making the venue handicap accessible.

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A new pavilion has a roof and waterproof curtain panels to withstand almost any inclement midwest weather situation. If the bride and groom prefer the ceremony outside, the property features a gazebo to highlight the nuptials. 

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Is the event running into the night? The fire pit is a welcome place to gather around with the “last” drink of the evening.

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Another building carries any decor a planner desires. It’s all part of the rental fee. You might call it one-stop-shopping. Included in the rental price are the barn wood tables and chairs. “We have yard games such as giant Jenga, giant Tic Tac Toe, croquet, bags, giant Dominos, Yatzie, and burlap bags for bag races,” comments Rogers. It sounds like good times indeed. 

Bring your caterer

The venue does not provide food and beverage. “Customers may use whomever they wish for catering,” said Rogers. “I recommend different vendors if the customer wants to keep it local.” Just below is a shortlist of food and photography vendors. It’s by no means a complete list. Go to the Barn At Allen Acres website and click on VENDORS. You’ll see tons of businesses to assist in making your event top-notch.

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Guest house

The main house, also called the Guest House, provides a place for the wedding party to get ready. There are four bedrooms, a living and dining room, and a kitchen available for the party. One of the bedrooms offers beautiful light while the bride and her attendants get dressed. Unlike a single weekend day rental, the Guest House may be used for overnight stays for a weekend rental as part of your event. 

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Not just for weddings

While weddings are the mainstay of the Barn at Allen Acres’ business, Rogers is looking to grow her corporate events. As she works on the corporate side of things, the venue is used for fundraisers, graduation parties, reunions, and quinceaneras. 

The busiest season in terms of weddings is September and October. The quietest month is July. The Barn at Allen Acres closes from November through April.

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Fun memories happen at a moment’s notice.

When people gather as friends and family for a celebration, fun things happen. Rogers recounts a particular evening. “Last year, we had a wedding in late October after the corn had been harvested. One of the neighbors down the road was having a hayrack ride for his family. He stopped by and gave the wedding party and guests hayrack rides into the night. The bride and groom said it was magical, and the guests said it was the most fun they’ve ever had at a wedding. I have GREAT neighbors. LOL.”

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Future hopes for the Barn at Allen Acres

In 2021, the venue added the Pavilion as a different place to host events. For 2022, Rogers hopes to take a year to relax and be in the moment. “I thought I’d give my brain a rest and enjoy what I’ve built. I hope all guests can relax and enjoy their time here,” said Rogers.

Sounds like a plan. If you have an event coming up and want a unique place for it, the Barn at Allen Acres fits the bill. Check out the contact information below.

Contact information

Barn at Allen Acres
2206 Prophet Road
Rock Falls, IL 61071

Phone: 847.687.3348
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.|


Wednesday, 06 April 2022 14:01

Forest Inn | Supper Club Ambiance is King

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A dining tradition since 1934

Residents in and around Whiteside County cherish the Forest Inn. Many travel the roads to Morrison, Illinois, weekly for a dinner menu that harkens back to the early days of supper club dining. Owner Ajdin Bajrami works the floor every night, greeting his guests. It’s a tradition that encompasses a generation or three.

“My dad's always worked the front of the house,” said Almir Bajrami, Ajdin’s son. “Parents came in with newborns or toddlers 25 years ago, and now these children are coming in with their kids.” 

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The Forest Inn Restaurant began in 1934 by the original owner, Irma Ritzman (above). Legend has it the restaurant was named after her son, Forrest, with a slight spelling difference. Irma ran the business until selling to Bajrami in 1993. 

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Ajdin Bajrami, originally from Macedonia, was working in Alaska before deciding to move near family in Sterling, Illinois, and purchased the Forest Inn. Many of his family members were still living in Macedonia at the time. In order to be together and help with the business, his sons, Almir and Atem, in particular, moved to the U.S. and started working with the senior Bajrami. Almir works in the kitchen, and Atem runs the bar to this day.

In 1997, Bajrami leased out the building to another restauranteur. By 1999, this person couldn’t make a go of it, and the Bajramis took the business back. Major renovations and remodeling started at that time. The improvements took almost a full year. In June of 2000, Bajrami reopened the restaurant and it has been running continuously ever since–except for COVID closures in 2020-21.

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Supper club atmosphere–with a salad bar

The Forest Inn’s mainstay has always been steaks and seafood. When looking over the current menu, steaks and seafood are the stars of the evening. The fried chicken looked fabulous, too. 

One significant addition to the menu came into existence right around 1985–the salad bar. With over 34 homemade items, long-time customers are hardly ever disappointed that a favorite item is missing. “Our customers love the salad bar,” said Bajrami. “Some favorite salad bar items are pasta salad, liver paté, and potato salad.” The item that caught my attention the first time was the deviled eggs. They make a lot of them.

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We had a comfortable booth for four people. First, we put our drink and appetizer orders in–priorities. Our appetizer was a real throwback to the 60s, Saganaki. Cheese is always a welcomed food group but set it on fire, and the evening has just turned special. 

Once the Saganaki disappeared, our dinner entrees were ordered. Three of us ordered steaks, and one ordered salmon. We then happily got in line at the salad bar. All 34 items are made fresh daily. Mr. Bajrami is correct. The liver paté was in high demand. However, I snagged more than my share of spiced apple rings and deviled eggs. It’s a weakness. All of our entrees were spot-on delicious.

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The steaks are offered with two different toppings, Paris Style or Bourbon Style. The Paris Style is a popular topping of mushrooms and their own De Jonghe butter sauce (garlicky bread crumbs and butter). Bourbon style is a sweet and spicy bourbon sauce slowly reduced with fresh mushrooms. My steak had the Paris topping and fresh mushrooms--a fine choice. The steak portions were quite large and all of us took the extras home to be enjoyed the next day. 

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With glistening wood, chandeliers, and a fireplace, the restaurant's ambiance transports visitors to the heydays of supper clubs. The restaurant has a capacity of up to 200 guests. The lounge and bar area is spacious, providing plenty of space to enjoy a drink before or after dinner.

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Reservations aren’t required, but they are recommended–especially on Friday or Saturday evenings. The restaurant–open Wednesday-Sunday, 4-9 p.m–had people lining up at the host stand early (before 4 p.m.) on one Saturday evening.

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Favorite meals aren’t just for customers.

Like their customers, the owners have their favorite order for an evening at the Forest Inn. “Start with the stuffed mushrooms, make a trip to the salad bar, order the prime rib, and for dessert, try a Grasshopper, Blue Bunny,  or Golden Cadillac ice cream drink,” remarked Bajrami. 

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Adult beverages

The Forest Inn features a wine list to suit any customer's tastes. They sell bottles of domestic, international, and craft beer. "Our patrons enjoy our old fashioneds margaritas, and bourbon sours," Almir commented. "The ice cream drinks are fantastic."

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Special events

Besides the main dining rooms for evening service, the Forest Inn has a separate room to accommodate private parties of up to 60 people. The Bajramis welcome inquiries for your special event and will work to ensure the menu and setup is perfect. 

Looking forward 

As 2022 moves forward, so does the Forest Inn. “We are always trying to improve our quality and service experience,” Bajrami. 

Time to gather your friends or family and make a trip to Morrison. It will be an evening well spent, and you won’t leave hungry.

Wear your stretchy pants.


Wednesdays through Sundays | 4-9 p.m. 

CLICK HERE for the menu.

Contact information

The Forest Inn Restaurant & Lounge
20657 Lincoln Rd.
Morrison, IL 61270

Phone: 815-772-4557



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Innkeeping is more than a business.

It's an art form. Building upkeep, marketing, customer service, and personal time must all be balanced. Bill and Stephanie ("Steph") Nelson embody the ideal husband-and-wife team. They love working together. 

Originally from Texas–their accents are a dead giveaway–the Nelsons have lived all over. While living in Dillon, Colorado, they worked for a diamond trading company. In 2009 it was acquired by a company in Canada that decided to close all U.S. offices. A change was coming. Bill found work after moving to Florida, but Steph struggled to find employment. At this time, they discovered something important. “We missed working together. So we began looking for opportunities to do that again,” Steph recounted. 

Around the same time, Kent and Kathy Lawrence, dba Patchwork Vision LLC,  bought the Patchwork Inn in Oregon, Illinois. The Lawrences were building a home in the area and would stay at the inn during construction. Mike and Jean McNamara and Ron Bry owned the Patchwork Inn at the time. “The Lawrences fell in love with the property as they are big into historic building preservation and decided to purchase the inn,” said Steph. The Inn now needed innkeepers to run the day-to-day operations.

Enter the Nelsons.

In 2010, Bill found the Inn online (workingcouples.com), and exactly one month to the day, they boarded a plane and were onsite with a moving van just a few days behind.

Nice work.

180 years and counting

The Patchwork Inn was built in the early 1840s by William Moore, one of Oregon, Illinois’ earliest settlers. Along with his wife and six children, Moore traveled from Pennsylvania to settle here. His home, now the front portion of the Inn, was constructed of brick and consisted of four large rooms with a central staircase in the Greek Revival style. Moore was an industrious man, involved in several businesses throughout his life in Oregon.

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In 1848, he opened and operated a grocery store and later established one of the first hotels in this small town.  According to the 1850 census, Moore is listed as an Innkeeper. On the front page of Oregon’s first newspaper published in 1851, the current Inn was listed as "Moore's Hotel.”

A man named Lincoln 

Abraham Lincoln played an important part in northern Illinois history during this early period. The future president traveled and spent time in our region before moving to the White House. During the mid-1850s, Lincoln visited the Moore’s Hotel for lunch and lodging. Records show that Lincoln stayed here August 16-17, 1856. 

The Inn has experienced various owners and names during its life, including Moore’s Hotel, Oregon House, Rock River House, and The Blackhawk Hotel. Over the years the Inn had many additions until it had 30 sleeping rooms, but only 3 baths. It wasn’t until the 1980s--when the MaNamaras purchased it--that the first modern renovations started by taking the inn from 30 rooms down to 10. Private baths for all!

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Where to begin…

In 2009-10, more renovations took place. “The first thing was to build a kitchen. We took the smallest room (Room 1) and converted it into a professional kitchen,” remarked Bill. 

The backyard soon was tackled. It was just dirt and had weeds as tall as the house and just a few patches of grass. “We added the patio and used rocks from the original foundation for the flower beds. Every year the gardens get better,” commented Steph. “We love it when guests bring seeds or starters from their gardens as little gifts. We have the Davidson’s hostas from Greenville, IL, a hydrangea from Detroit, some Pig Squeak from Indiana, etc.” 

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Next up, all the mattresses and televisions were replaced. The beds were all full-sized at the time. The Nelsons hired a local craftsman to take parts of footboards and marry them to the headboards. This handiwork allowed the creation of king and queen beds using the original wood. Clever.

The porch upstairs was suffering from dry rot and was replaced with Brazilian hardwood, an eco-friendly product. 

The entire lower level saw a complete redo from 2018 to 2020. Like any 182-year-old building, the house was sagging and getting worse. The 60-foot beams, joists, electrical, and plumbing needed to be replaced. When the house was jacked up, cracking of the walls and ceilings occurred. Eventually, they wound up reinforcing the external foundation walls. And lo and behold…

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Unexpected discovery

During the foundation work, workers discovered a tombstone. No casket or body was found, just a tombstone for little Martha E. Clark, who passed at four months and nine days of age. All work had to stop because of the discovery. Eventually, after a lot of research, it was found that Martha has another tombstone in the Stillman Valley cemetery. Why a second tombstone? “It is thought that our tombstone possibly has the wrong date and was tossed for fill,” said Bill. That’s one heck of a typo.

Closures due to the pandemic

By 2020, construction was complete, and it was time to open the doors to the public. Hello, COVID. “We were starting to think we had angered the gods. Two years of construction then the pandemic?" Steph recalled. “We tried to make ourselves as small as possible and hunker down.” By mid-2021, traveling restrictions had lifted a bit, and business opened back up at the Inn.

Even though their numbers were down in 2021, the Nelsons did better than expected. Oregon is fortunate to have three large companies that bring in many domestic and international visitors. The Inn has a waiting list many times on their calendar because of this type of customer. 

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Find the perfect time to visit

Some folks prefer to travel when the tourism season is not at its peak. Peace and quiet are what a good portion of the traveling public prefers. With over a decade of running an inn in northwest Illinois, the Nelsons can help guide the way. “As odd as it sounds February and November are historically our busiest months. We book years in advance for the Autumn on Parade festival (early October) and the 4th of July usually keeps us hopping with lots of class reunions,” Steph mentioned.

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A gracious stay

During my mid-week stay at The Patchwork Inn, I was greeted on their wide-covered front porch and helped into the check-in area. To the right of the front door, this room has plenty of tourism information for visitors to read. Another customer-forward amenity is the selection of beverages, from beers and wine to various liquors that guests can purchase at any time. “We have an honor system with our guests whenever we are not available after hours,” said Bill. “Hasn’t been a problem.”

NOTE: The inn doesn't accommodate children 14-years-old and under. Keep that in mind when you book your reservations.

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The room immediately to the left of the front door is called the Sample Room. During the passenger train era in Oregon, salespeople would get off the train and set up their wares in this room. Both local and hotel guests would stop by to check out the goods. That’s a pretty slick way of doing business.

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Also in this room is a sign showing the breakfast menu for the next day or two. Since I have no food restrictions or preferences, the next day’s breakfast menu was perfect for me. More on my breakfast later.

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The Nelsons gave me Room 5 (Steph’s favorite). It has a king-size bed, brick fireplace (non-working), a small writing desk, two more chairs, and a table with a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies. They were a perfect “sweet” way to begin my stay. 

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The room has a large full bathroom with a jetted tub and shower–plenty of room for guests to spread out. A flat-screen TV was an added welcome amenity. Not all inns or bed and breakfasts provide this nice touch. My front windows looked out on the charming second-floor covered porch. Conover Square, a popular shopping destination, is one-half block away across the street. 

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The underground–-or basement–-level serves as a community space for people to gather and relax. The stone walled hallway take guests to several areas set up for playing games and conversation. At the farthest end of the space is a cozy living room with a large TV and more DVDs than you can imagine. 

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Back on the main level, the dining area is now where an old covered back porch existed. Complimentary coffee, teas, water, and soft drinks are available to the Inn’s guests. 

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After a great night’s sleep, I puttered about getting ready for the day and enjoyed the late winter sunlight filtering through the lace curtains. At 8:30 a.m. I promptly appeared downstairs with a hot breakfast on my mind. Steph and Bill were ready and waiting to seat me in the cheery dining area. I was the only breakfast guest that morning and had the place to myself. Bill is a wonderful cook, and Steph is the ultimate hostess.

After getting myself a hot cup of coffee, Bill set before me a breakfast-of-champions:

  • Bill’s house-smoked ham
  • Potato cakes
  • Cheesy scrambled eggs (done perfectly)
  • House toast
  • Fresh fruit

I believe every food group was covered. My delicious and satisfying morning meal put me in the right mind to hit the road back to reality. To tell you the truth, I skipped lunch!

Contact information

Patchwork Inn
122 N 3rd St, 
Oregon, IL 61061

Phone: (815) 732-4113
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


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Oregon highlights

While staying at The Patchwork Inn, the Nelsons gave me several local businesses to visit that were in close proximity to the inn.  

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Dos Amigos

Of those recommendations, I chose Dos Amigos just east of the Inn on Highway 64 on the east side of the Rock River--198-100 N Hastings Ave. The colorful dining room and outgoing staff were my first impressions of the restaurant. Once seated, my server brought me a medium-sized margarita. Goodness. It's a good thing I didn't order the large. I wouldn't have made it back to the inn. Even better, the salsa and chips arrived soon after. 

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It wasn’t long after my order was taken that my chile relleno, taco, and chalupa entree with rice and beans were presented. The flavors and presentation made for a satisfying meal. Don’t pass up Dos Amigos when you visit the area.

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After returning to the Inn, I decided to take a quick one-block walk back into town to view the sunset over downtown to take some photos and stop into one more popular watering hole.

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Cork & Tap

I made a quick visit to the Cork & Tap located at 305 W Washington St. This local bar has an extensive wine, beer, and liquor selection. It was a quiet night, and one glass of Sauvignon Blanc was all this writer needed before strolling back to the Inn. The downtown area has many charming businesses available to visitors. Just below are a few more to put on your “getaway to-dos.”

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Hazel's Cafe

I visited Hazel’s Cafe for a wonderful lunch earlier in the month. The sandwiches my friend and I ordered were top-notch. The servings were generous enough for us to have leftovers for the next day. This restaurant is right next door to the Cork & Tap at 307 W Washington St. In fact, they share a door between the businesses. Don’t you love collaboration?

While enjoying a weekend getaway, Village Bakery and Sparklefox Confections are two businesses worth visiting. The Blackhawk Waterways has written blog articles about both of these establishments previously. 

village bakery article

Village Bakery | Baking a difference


Sparklefox | The new kid on the block

Another newer watering hole is the Ogle County Brewery on the corner of 4th St. (Hwy 2) and Route 64. This establishment opened around a year ago and has become a popular pub gracing downtown Oregon.

Oregon, Illinois is a perfect getaway

The list goes on and on. There are many popular businesses throughout the Oregon area and this article only touched on a small portion of worthy places to visit. My next visit will surely be more than one night.

Monday, 14 March 2022 12:55

420 Damage Control | Savanna

Airbnb property

This is the perfect weekend getaway. Easy walking access to the river and downtown, plus all the comforts of home. The entire apartment is all yours with no shared spaces. The rear deck is also private for you and your guest to enjoy stunning river views. 

The apartment has one bedroom and one bath. It has been newly remodeled and is 420 friendly.

Whether you are looking for a romantic weekend, outdoor adventures, or scenic curvy roads to ride, you are covered. For complete details, go to the website link at the top of this listing.


Published in Vacation Rentals
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  • Barn at Allen Acres | A barn built for love, with love

    April 20, 2022
    Planning an event is a lot of work. Planning a wedding is all that and more. Barn at Allen Acres enables you to create a special, memorable event and actually enjoy it. Another event season awaits  Located just outside Rock Falls, Illinois’ city limits, the Barn at Allen Acres is…
    Read More
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