Go Cruisin' on Route 66 or take a walk through downtown Joliet! See the sites of the Iron Works Historic Park, historic Rialto Square Theatre, and many other attractions. Be sure to make a pit stop in one of the many great restaurants!
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Start out at the free parking lot on the right side of Ottawa Street (across the street from the Joliet Junior College Renaissance Center).
Next to this is the Route 66 Experience. Be sure to stop and check out the rocking neon sign that hangs out front, and sculpture that sits at the street corner. This free attraction tells about the history of Route 66 and Lincoln Highway. Attached to the Route 66 Experience is the totally interactive Joliet Area Historical Museum. A first class museum full of fascinating exhibits and exciting facts (well worth the minimal admission fee). Joliet is known for its 1858 jail and as a transportation hub. This museum located within a 1909 church, is ideally located at the crossroads of America (Cass & Ottawa Streets) and is the site of Route 66 and Lincoln Highway’s only crossing.
Also be sure to stop at the Friends of Community Public Art studio on Ottawa Street just north of the museum. The sign out front reads “Art at the Steelworkers”. FCPA has a great gallery with art work and souvenirs too!
When leaving the Route 66 Experience turn left and walk to Cass Street (Route 30/Lincoln Highway) intersection and turn left. Walk one block to Chicago Street (this is the original first alignment of Route 66). Turn right and as you walk down Chicago Street, take notice of the attractive library on your right and all the beautiful buildings and architecture. Also note the metal sculptures of the Marks Brothers at the corner of Chicago and Clinton Streets by local artist Marsha Lega.
On your left will be the Rialto Square Theatre. Built in 1926, the Rialto Square Theatre is deemed “The Palace for the People” and is now considered one of the most beautiful theatres in the nation. There are over 100 hand cut crystal chandeliers and lights with the crowning center of attention going to the “duchess”, the larges in the United States. The building is a mix of Italian Renaissance, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Rococo, Venetian, and Baroque architecture. You won’t know where to look! This is an experience that has to be seen to be believed...The theatre brings in top acts throughout the year and also serves as a banquet facility year round. Key must sees include the Barton Grande Organ within the main theatre. Tours are given on Tuesdays at 1:30pm for $5.00 call for more information 815/726-7171 or visit rialtosquare.com.
Across the street is a public square and fountain for outdoor fun. There are also great restaurants throughout Downtown Joliet such as: Chicago Street Pub, the city’s oldest Irish Pub, Barolo Restaurant for Italian fare.
Continue on Chicago Street as far as it goes to Jefferson Street, turn right. Walk toward the Jefferson Street lift bridge.
To your right will be Harrah’s Casino and on the other side of the river on your right is Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park bicentennialpark.org. Note the Lincoln Highway Gazebo within Bicentennial Park.
On the opposite side of Jefferson Street, is the Joliet Visitors Bureau Office and site of Joliet’s first home.
You can stroll through the beautiful river walk and read the boulders that mark the sites of Joliet’s first homes and businesses. For a spectacular view, walk up the stairs to the top of the hill on your left. The only building in the park houses an indoor theatre and outdoor stage where Thursday nights in the summer you can see free concerts on the hill.
Continue through the park to Cass Street, turn right. Travel across another lift bridge. On your right will be Harrah’s Hotel. Continue on Cass Street (Lincoln Highway) one block to Ottawa Street. Turn left and you are back at the Route 66 Experience.
Be sure to also check out…
Joliet Slammers minor league baseball team just off Route 66 at Washington Street.
There are so many reasons to Visit Joliet - check out visitjoliet.org for more information.
Traveling South on I-55, watch for the Historic Route 66 sign directing you off I-55 onto Joliet Road (exit # 269) and continue south on Joliet Road as it becomes Route 53.
On your right will be Stateville Penitentiary just 1 mile from Route 7. Be careful not to pick up any “hitch hikers!”
The next stretch of the road is mostly residential with a few local “mom & pop” businesses spattered throughout the area.
Two (2) miles south from the Penitentiary is Haunted Trails Amusement Park with tons of family oriented mini-golf, batting cages, go carts, arcades, picnic area, bumper boats, and more!
As you travel further south, you come to Route 66 Park on your left.
Continue south on Route 53
The “Rich & Creamy” ice cream stand within Route 66 Park is the official starting point for historic Route 66 in Joliet! You can stroll the pathway to an overlook where you’ll see the historic and infamous Joliet prison that was made famous by the Blues Brothers movie and television show, Prison Break.
After visiting the park, follow the Route 66 pole signs directing you along the road to the outstanding Route 66 Experience and Visitors Center! A must stop for information and fun.
Remain in the center lane of Route 53 and be ready to turn in for a top notch ice cream stop!
Notice the building at 501 Chicago Street on your right. This is the structure that housed the very first Dairy Queen. It opened on June 22, 1940.
Take note of the Historic Route 66 signs that direct you to use the left lane.
At the Ruby Street stop light, turn left and travel over the bridge.
Follow Route 53 signage as you enter Downtown Joliet and turn right (6/10 of a mile after your turn onto Ruby Street)
You are now on Chicago Street (originally Route 66)
Travel 2/10 mile on Ottawa Street to the free parking lot on your right
Travel 2/10 mile on Chicago Street, guided by the Route 53 signage onto Ottawa Street
Take Ottawa Street to the end
Turn right, then left at the lights (Follow H-66
and Route 53 signs)
On the corner is The Old Keg restaurant, with tin ceilings, antique bar, outdoor patio, and great food!
To Return to Route 66
Recommended side trip - the Joliet Iron Works Historical Site and trail (1869)
at Ruby Street stop light turn left
Cross over the draw bridge and follow the
road as it curves to the right
Travel 3/10 mile from curve to Irving, turn left
Travel Irving as far as it will go, turn left onto
Scott Street. (This is north bound Rt. 66
Take Scott Street as far as it will go, turn right
The Historic Iron Works Park will be on
You are now back on Route 66/ Route 53, follow the signs.
Turn Right out of the parking lot
Drive under the viaduct then turn left
Several changes have been made to Joliet’s roads constructing alternating routes and one way streets in a shift of Historic Route 66. Originally, Route 66 was Chicago Street, and although it remains a two way street it is not a through street. Historic Route 66 now runs north on Scott Street and south on Ottawa Street (both Route 53).
Traveling Route 66 in Downtown Joliet, note the wide range of attractions and restaurants that are perfect for a Walking Tour.
Community Public Art Tour
Community public artists strive to make their artistic vision reflect the culture of the community of which they are a part. Integral to this is the choice of public locations as their arenas of expression.
Download the brochure pdf HERE to make this a part of your Joliet area Route 66 experience.
Movie and Television Tour
Joliet has been a temporary home to many film and television productions, you can find more details about the shows and movies that have been shot in the Joliet area HERE .