Where is the Heritage Corridor?
The Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) encompasses the communities and counties along the historic 97-mile Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor. The Heritage Corridor spans from the Chicago Portage Area just southwest of Chicago to LaSalle-Peru including the counties of Will, Grundy, LaSalle and Putnam. The region conveniently located along I-55 from Chicago to Joliet along I-80 west to LaSalle-Peru.

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Chicago Portage Area | Bolingbrook Area | Joliet Area
Morris Area | Starved Rock Area | Putnam County

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See You In J-Town

Discover Route 66 history, unique attractions and an exciting town that offers non-stop fun!

Located less than an hour away from downtown Chicago, Joliet offers big city excitement in a friendly small town atmosphere. Explore Joliet and you’ll find a city that honors its roots while planting its feet firmly in the now.

Pictured:  Left - The Route 66 Welcome Center at the Joliet Area Historical Museum; Right - Lincoln sculpture, located on the corner of Charlotte St. and Plainfield Rd.

Historically, Joliet shares an important link with Route 66. The city became an official part of Route 66 in 1926 with the roadway running through town for decades before it was eventually rerouted. The spirit of Route 66 remains, and today visitors can stillexperience a sense of Mother Road culture here.

Visit the Joliet Area Historical Museum and its Route 66 Welcome Center, which takes visitors back to the heyday of the Mother Road. The museum (housed in an early-1900s Methodist church) stands at the Crossroads of America, where Route 66 and the Lincoln Highway once intersected. Take a seat on a classic car-inspired couch at the museum’s retro drive-in movie theater and see images of the quirky roadside attractions and eateries that made Route 66 a destination itself. The museum also showcases Joliet’s fascinating history, with exhibits that include a turn-of-the-century street and a replica of the I&M Canal. A museum highlight is the Lunar Lander Simulator that challenges visitors to blast off to the moon and try to land a spacecraft on the lunar surface. The simulator is part of the two-story, state-of-the-art Apollo/Houbolt exhibit that celebrates the 1969 moon landing and Joliet native Dr. John C. Houbolt, who was a vocal proponent of the history-making Apollo 11 mission.

There are a few replica vintage gas pumps in the city as colorful salutes to Joliet’s Route 66 past. A good place for fun selfies is Route 66 Park, where you’ll want to snap a photo in front of the huge Joliet Kicks on 66 highway shield. While there, grab a cone from the Rich & Creamy ice cream stand, which was the official starting point of Route 66 in Joliet.  You can’t miss The Blues Brothers statues on the roof. Take a walk through the park and browse the kiosks that illustrate local Route 66 attractions and feature maps to help you find them.

Pictured (Clockwide order):  "Peace Mosaic" - located at Western Ane and Center St., Rialto Square Theatre grand internior, Rialto Square Theatre exterior and fountain square, Joliet Prison Park and Route 66 gas pump, Rich & Creamy ice cream stand, Joliet Iron Works Historic Site

Another place of interest is the Joliet Iron Works Historic Site. Once home to the Joliet Iron and Steel Works that originally opened in 1869, this site has preserved remnants of the once massive steel mill. Take a self-guided tour on a one-mile walkway and see exhibits that illustrate the history of the mill and the men who worked there, as you pass foundations from the old blast furnaces and crumbling structures from the dismantled factory. The site also links with a bike path to the I&M Canal State Trail

At the Old Joliet Prison Park, you can walk the grounds and read the interpretive displays that detail the Old Joliet Prison's history and inmates, as well as the fame the building as found with starring roles in The Blues Brothers movie and the hit TV show Prison Break.

Coming in 2018, the Old Joliet Prison will be available for limited tours. Visitors will be able to participate in programs, photo ops and guided tours on the famous, or infamous, prison grounds.  Please contact the Joliet Area Historical Museum for details, restrictions and options.

Venture on to the Rialto Square Theatre, built in 1926 as a vaudeville house. Big name performers of the time included the Marx Brothers, who are honored with a silhouette sculpture nearby. The Rialto was designed in grand style, incorporating ornate European architectural styles and a stunning crystal chandelier, known as “The Duchess,” as its centerpiece. The Rialto also features a Barton Grande theater pipe organ, which is still played today. The Rialto continues to present live theater and music throughout the year. And make sure to check the schedule for behind-the-scenes tours, filled with tales of this awe-inspiring theater.

As you walk through downtown Joliet you’ll notice colorful tile mosaics, murals and bronze sculptures that are part of the arts program created by the Friends of Community Public Art (FCPA). The organization offers self-guided maps to direct you to the city’s many artworks at The Forge Gallery, which showcases its artists and even sells tabletop versions of the statues you’ll see around Joliet.

Take a break at the scenic Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park & Theatre, nestled between limestone bluffs and the waters of the I&M Canal. There’s lots to do at this 10-acre park, which is home to two community theater companies that put on plays year round, the free summertime “Concerts on the Hill” series and annual events, such as the holiday Festival of the Gnomes. Stroll around the park and you’ll spy murals and large boulders with plaques noting former historic sites that stood on Bluff Street, Joliet’s first street that once ran through the park. You’ll also appreciate the beautiful blooming flora on display at the Bird Haven Greenhouse & Conservatory, located within a 660-acre wooded site at Pilcher Park. Built in the early 1900s, this lovely Italian Renaissance-style building is the perfect backdrop for seasonal flower shows.

Finally, rev your engines at the Autobahn Country Club, founded by racing star and Indy 500 champ Bobby Rahal. The 350-acre site is home to two challenging tracks that combined create one of the longest racing courses in the country. Although Autobahn is a members-only motorsports club, it does offer driving programs that are open to the public.

Ready to find out more?  Request your I&M Heritage Corridor Travel Guide (featuring Joliet) by visiting heritagecorridorcvb.com/request-info.  We’ll mail you one, free of charge, that will allow you to find out more about Joliet and the surrounding areas.  Articles include 5 Fall Fun Ideas, 13 Ways to Eat Like a Local and more!

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