Great indoor tour of the museums in the canal towns of Joliet, Lockport, and Lemont, or add the walking tours of each downtown for an indoor/outdoor experience
Park somewhere near the Joliet Area Historical Museum, 204 N Ottawa St Joliet, IL 60432-4007 (check their website for hours and admission fees Joliet Museum, Phone: 815-723-5201) Free Parking is available in the Museum parking lot at the corner of Ottawa and Webster Streets. Metered parking is available curb side and there are other parking lots and garages within a 2 block walk with modest fees.
Before you go to the museum, you may want to take a scroll past the Rialto Square Theatre at 15 E Van Buren St. It was built in 1926 as a vaudeville movie palace and is a spectacular piece of architecture. Also stop and have your photo taken with the Marx Brothers outside the theater. They lived nearby in Countryside and performed at the Rialto at the beginning of their career.
On the way back to the museum enjoy several other fine examples of early 20th century architecture from when Joliet was busy producing steel.
The Joliet Museum has both permanent and temporary exhibits and a Welcome Center for Route 66. Also visit their gift shop on your way out.
Continue your tour in Lockport
Park in the free parking lot at 10th at the Canal. You are now starting your Lockport tour on the Public Landing, once a bustling place where wagons loaded with grain met canal boats, now a park and parking lot. Read the interpretive panels for more history.
Lockport offers four museums and a few restaurants within walking distance. Be sure to visit the impressive stone warehouses at either end of the landing.
The Norton Building, (to your south, houses a gallery of the Illinois State Museum. It features works created by past and contemporary Illinois artists and artisans. For information about the current show and for hours, call (815) 838-7400.
Walk to the north along the I&M Canal (Gaylord Donnelley Trail) to the other end of the Public Landing. Enjoy the Lincoln Landing Park along the way and the unique sculpture of Lincoln.
The first building you come to is the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Gaylord Building with canal exhibits, visitor information (gaylordbuilding.org) and the Public Landing Restaurant (815) 838-6500.
Up the hill from the Gaylord Building, is another museum. The white frame building that now houses the Will County Historical Society & Archives at State and 8th streets, was once the I&M Canal Commission headquarters. Learn about the canal builders who worked here, and see early artifacts. (http://willcohistory.org, 815-838-5080).
Further up the hill is the Gladys Fox Museum, 231 East 9th Street, 815-838-0803. The museum is located in the 1839 Old Congregational Church. Beautifully restored, this historic building is now home to the museum’s collection of historical photographs and memorabilia celebrating Dellwood Park and the Illinois and Michigan Canal.
Other places besides the Public Landing Restaurant to eat in downtown Lockport include:
Vegan Café, 928 S. State St., 815-838-4626, rawvegancafe.org
Mamma Onesta’s, 1100 S State St, 815-588-0900
Old Towne Café, 1011 S. State St, 815-823-7777
Continue your tour in Lemont
Check out the exhibits, library, and gift shop of the Lemont Area Historical Society and Museum located in the “Old Stone Church.” 630-257-2972, lemonthistorical.org After that walk through the historic downtown. Enjoy the 19th century architecture, the shops, and the food.
Places to eat:
La Dolce Vita, 107 Stephen St, 630-257-9111
Sweetwater Deli, 316 Canal St, 630-243-7210
Old Town Restaurant, 113 Stephen St, 630-257-7570
Vault Café & Bar, 308 Canal St, 630-312-8380
Front Street Cantina, 319 Front St, 630-312-8636
Pollyanna Brewing Company, 431 Talcott Ave, 630-914-5834
Stone House Pub, 103 Stephen St, 630-257-1300