3 Days | 130 Miles | in From Local Experts
A world awaits outside the second city, filled with history, nature, and excitement. Heritage Corridor adventures will take your taste buds on a journey, amplify your appreciation of history, and provide you with a sense of thrill.
Make sure to check with attractions ahead of time for up-to-date operating hours, travel policies and health and safety information.
Head to Starved Rock Lodge in the picturesque Starved Rock State Park, one of the top tourist attractions in the state. Depending on the time of year, catch the Land and Water Cruise, Fall Colors tours, or an Eagle Trolley tour (winter) – all which also include an amazing lunch at the Lodge’s restaurant. Explore some of the amazing canyons, seasonal waterfalls, and beautiful birds soaring overhead. Download the map and get ready to explore.
After your hike, head to Starved Rock Hot Glass and check out amazing artwork — find something unique to remember your trip by! You may even see glass blowing being done right on site. When you have worked up an appetite, head over to Tangled Roots Brewing Company in Ottawa, IL (about 10 minutes from Starved Rock Lodge). This restaurant features many farm-fresh dishes, as well as a farm-to-foam beer featuring hops and barley grown right on the brewery’s own farm.
Head to the City of Pontiac and Bernardi’s II for some of the best fried chicken along Route 66! After your meal, walk around the city and look for the 27 Murals on Main Street, including the Largest Outdoor Painted Rt. 66 Shield Mural, which is located on the outer back wall of the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum. When you’re ready to call it a night, the Hampton Inn in Pontiac is the perfect place to rest and recharge.
Jump start your morning by heading to Edinger’s Filling Station for breakfast. This cute diner brings back the nostalgia of the Mom & Pop Diners you would see on Route 66, with amazing food as well. Then, take in the four different museums in Pontiac. The Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum features highlights of the best stops along the mother road in the state. The Pontiac Oakland Automobile Museum is a must-visit for car fans. The Livingston County War Museum & Education Center takes you back in time, and the Museum of the Gilding Arts explores the world of gold leaf décor.
Head up Route 66 to the town of Braidwood, IL, and the Polk-a-Dot Drive In for lunch. As you pull into your parking spot, you’ll see lifesize fiberglass figures of Elvis, The Blues Brothers, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and Betty Boop. A little bit further up the road, take a picture with a giant. The Gemini Giant is a 30-foot fiberglass “Muffler Man” statue. The Muffler Men were staples of advertising in the 50’s, and only a handful remain on Route 66.
As you pull into the City of Joliet, make sure to look for the ornate Rialto Square Theatre. This movie house, which opened in 1926, is considered to be one of the most beautiful theatres in the world. Harrah’s Joliet Casino and Hotel is home to table games, slot machines, and an exquisite steakhouse, The Reserve. Make a reservation to enjoy a magnificent meal as part of the fun entertainment inside Harrah’s. Your hotel room waits down the hall in the next tower, and you'll want to rest up – your next day is a busy one!
Fuel up by eating at the Joliet Route 66 Diner. May we suggest blueberry lemon pancakes? Millions of stories are housed at the Old Joliet Prison. Schedule a self-guided tour and walk the hallowed grounds of this giant prison that operated from 1858 to 2002 and served as the backdrop of the opening from The Blues Brothers and Season One of Fox’s Prison Break. After, Jitters in Downtown Joliet not only has great coffee and other drinks, but it's great value.
Get your legs moving by checking out the Joliet Iron Works Historic Site. In the late 1800s, this was home to the second-largest iron manufacturing facility in the country. Now, you can walk and check out 0.59-miles of paved trail while seeing what’s left of this industrial behemoth.
Travel north to Lemont to visit The Forge: Lemont Quarries Adventure Park and experience climbing, ziplines, running, biking, a children’s play zone, kayaking, and more. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind adventure park built on 300 acres of historic land in Lemont. You can save money with their twilight pass (which gives you access to the park and a majority of their activities starting four hours before the park closes). Can you conquer their signature Eight Towers Adventure?
By now, you’ve worked up a great appetite. There’s one challenge left - The 1-lb Nick Burger. Lemont’s Nick’s Tavern burger has been voted best along the I&M Canal for several years, and you’ll see why (don’t worry, there are smaller burgers available too). Get a Pollyanna Beer or PBR to help wash it down. Ready for rest? Call it a night (and an end to a true adventure) by settling into the Aloft Bolingbrook.