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Things to do in Joliet

Joliet and Rockford are neck in neck for the third most populous city in Illinois. Of course, many recognize Joliet more than Rockford in the long run. Regardless, Joliet is just as well known as Chicago, thanks to the Blues Brothers and several popular attractions. Outside of its cultural scene, Joliet is also focused on education and medical care, with the school district and medical center being some of the highest employers. Of course, you’re not reading this to hear about their businesses and industries; you want to know about the best things to do in Joliet, IL.

Old Joliet Prison

While going to prison may seem strange, that is never the case when a facility is a time machine to how we detained criminals several generations ago. This prison had a long lifespan, from 1858 to 2002. The original building still remains and has been used as a filming location even when it was still active as a penitentiary. Many remember it in the opening scene of the Blues Brothers with Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. Chris Farley and Martina Lawrence also shot a skit for Saturday Night Live here too. Tours are given daily.

Old Joliet Prison

1125 Collins St

Joliet, IL

60432

Hollywood Casino And Hotel

Joliet is one of the best gambling destinations in Illinois. Notably, there is Harrah’s and the Hollywood Casino and Hotel. The latter is one of the foremost gambling establishments in Illinois, which also offers overnight stays. Several tables, machines, and a sportsbook are played by millions every year. They have a decent selection of restaurants too.

Hollywood Casino and Hotel

777 Hollywood Blvd

Joliet, IL

60432

Haunted Trails Entertainment Center

Arcades with rides and mini-golf are still in style. With Haunted Trails, think of Chuck E Cheese but themed to the Halloween aisle. The mini-golf course isn’t just curvy and winding greens but with 3D obstacles like a giant skull rock and a huge Frankenstein’s castle. Their go-kart course gets a lot of love too. Laser tag is a location standard as well as a ticket and prize redemption for the arcade. Halloween is truly celebrated all year round here.

Haunted Trails

1423 N Broadway St

Joliet, IL

60432

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Why back a couple of centuries ago, the American bison was truly the wildebeest in the country in terms of their population. Prairies would see millions of bison in natural herds like a savannah sees their wildebeests. Bison are a reminder of how much humans can affect an ecosystem by hunting. Today, bison herds are largely kept in captivity since they were saved from extinction in the early 19th century. The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie has had their own conservation heard of bison since 2015, so visitors can see these once-thriving animals in action. Being in Illinois, their prairie is a great place to learn how such an ecosystem survives and changes throughout the seasons.

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

IL-53

Wilmington, IL

60481

About 16 miles from Joliet, IL

Route 66 Park

The Historical Route 66 Interstate begins in Chicago and travels right through Joliet. While the Route isn’t in use anymore, drivers still travel by it today. Several of the roadside ice cream stops are still around too, and one is over in Joliet’s Route 66 Park. You’ll know the Kicks on 66 ice cream stand by the Blues Brothers statues on the roof. There’s a nice trail around the park that takes a leisurely ten minutes with plenty of photo spots. One of which has the original Kicks on Route 66 sign of Joliet.

Route 66 Park

20 N Broadway St

Joliet, IL

60432

Joliet Historical Museum

For more on the history of Route 66 and more in Joliet, their local history museum with its artifacts and exhibits is worth a visit. It’s run by the same management that organizes tours to the prison and prides themselves on local history knowledge. Learn about Joliet’s past identity as a Route 66 town and destination before becoming the pop icon we know it as today.

Joliet Historical Museum

204 Ottawa Street

Joliet, IL

60432

HellsGate Haunted House

A major seasonal attraction is the HellsGate Haunted House. Several thrill attraction critics rate this number one on their haunted house experience list. There has always been told of a haunted house in the Chicagoland area that will waive the cost of your admission if you make it through. While it’s not an intense level haunted attraction where the scare actors can grab you, the environment of the multi-story mansion is interactive as you try to find the key, which will make the whole experience free. It opens in late September and runs until after Halloween.

HellsGate Haunted House

3101 Canal St

Lockport, IL

60441

No more than six miles from Joliet, IL.

Old Joliet Iron Works Site

Looking at rocks can be interesting, even if they’re not from an ancient Greek temple. The ruins of the Joliet Iron and Steel Works can be seen on the Forest Preserve of Will County. While it doesn’t date back to ancient times, it does date back to the Industrial Revolution and is preserved as a historical site. There is also a nice one-mile trail in the area that makes for a nice walk around the site to see around the quarry-like site.

Old Joliet Iron Works Site

Columbia St

Joliet, IL

60432

Lake Renwick Heron Rookery

Another great nature preserve in Joliet known for its animal residents is Lake Renick. The man-made lake provides shelter and nesting grounds for several species of herons and ducks, which flourish in the summer. Sometimes you may catch some herons teaching their young how to fish. Trails also run around the lake for a leisure bike ride or hike.

The Lake Renwick Heron Rookery

230 W Renwick Rd

Plainfield, IL

60490

About 11 miles from Joliet, IL