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Visitors enjoy the scenic overlook while hiking in Heritage Corridor

Illinois

Illinois’ Heritage Corridor: Route 66 Culture, History and Nature

By: Jody Sidle Short

Amon Focus/Jeanny Tsai
1 of 5
Tree carving at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois

Illinois

Illinois’ Heritage Corridor: Route 66 Culture, History and Nature

By: Jody Sidle Short

Amon Focus/Jeanny Tsai
2 of 5
Resting at Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Illinois

Illinois’ Heritage Corridor: Route 66 Culture, History and Nature

By: Jody Sidle Short

Amon Focus/Jeanny Tsai
3 of 5
The historic Fitzpatrick House in the Heritage Corridor in Illinois

Illinois

Illinois’ Heritage Corridor: Route 66 Culture, History and Nature

By: Jody Sidle Short

Amon Focus/Jeanny Tsai
4 of 5
Beautiful autumn leaves at Starved Rock State Park in Oglesby, Illinois

Illinois

Illinois’ Heritage Corridor: Route 66 Culture, History and Nature

By: Jody Sidle Short

Amon Focus/Jeanny Tsai
5 of 5
  • States:
    Illinois

Route 66 is such an iconic road, reminiscent of the days of family road trips, milkshakes, hot rods, Buddy Holly and James Dean.

I can imagine traveling cross country on Route 66, absorbed in the music, scenery and with a care-free disposition! Even though I am only sampling a small part of Route 66, along the Illinois & Michigan Canal Heritage Corridor, from where it begins in Chicago and runs south to Springfield, all 320 kilometers are met with unique places, quaint homes, and good old fashioned family fun.

Great Cooking in Romeoville

My first stop along Route 66 is Romeoville, known for a lovely restaurant called the White Fence Farm, which claims to have the “World’s Best Chicken.” The White Fence Farm has been family owned since the 1920s, and has stood the test of time. Their always fresh, never frozen chicken is delivered daily, and flash fried in the secret sauce, and is absolutely delicious! They are open every day for dinner except Monday, and even have a petting zoo for the kids!

Also in Romeoville, there’s the historic Fitzpatrick House, which once belonged to a Canadian, named Patrick Fitzgerald back in 1830. Fitzgerald spent most of his youth in Ireland, but soon became an important figure in Illinois. The home has a wonderful photography exhibit on the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal.  On your way through Romeoville, stop and take a look at the Route 66 Information Kiosk, which has a list of all of the best places to stop along Route 66. You can find similar kiosks along the Corridor in Joliet and Wilmington as well. Some of the must-sees along the route include the Gemini Giant, a 30-foot-tall statue, and the Polk-A-Dot Drive-In, which plays tunes from the 1950s and 60s and serves a famous turtle sundae.

The Route 66 Kiosk, a popular stop for visitors to discover all the attractions that Route 66 has to offer

The Route 66 Kiosk is a popular stop for visitors to discover all the attractions that Route 66 has to offer.
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Amon Focus/Jeanny Tsai

Theatres and Museums in Joliet

After all the fun of Romeoville, the next stop I made was in the lovely town of Joliet. There are some great restaurants, and nice places to walk along the canal, but there were two highlights for me: the first being the Joliet Area Historical Museum. This museum is full of state-of-the-art presentations and exhibits, and even has a lunar landing simulator that you can step into and pretend you are going to the surface of the moon, just like the moon landing in 1969! It also has the Route 66 Welcome Center and exhibit, full of Route 66 artifacts, memorabilia from the cult movie the Blues Brothers, interesting finds and facts about the area! The second highlight was the Rialto Square Theater. This historic theater is stunning; its European architecture and marble walls are truly breathtaking! It dates back to 1926, and still hosts concerts, plays and comedy shows.

Views inside the expansive Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, Illinois

Views inside the expansive Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, Illinois.
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Amon Focus/Jeanny Tsai

Outdoor Family Fun at Starved Rock State Park

Just outside of Joliet, you will find Illinois’ number one attraction, Starved Rock State Park. This park sits on the south bank of the Illinois River and has lots of trails, canyons and seasonal waterfalls. The tall bluffs are a gorgeous contrast to the otherwise flatlands of Illinois. Starved Rock offers camping, or you can stay at the lodge. With its enormous fireplace and gourmet food, the lodge is absolutely gorgeous, but then again everywhere in Starved Rock is breathtaking. You can enjoy activities for all ages and fitness levels throughout the year.

These are just a few of the great places I stopped at on my way down Route 66, but there’s plenty more to see along the Heritage Corridor in Chicagoland’s Largest Playground!

Exploring Starved Rock State Park in the Heritage Corridor in Illinois

Exploring Starved Rock State Park in the Heritage Corridor in Illinois
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Amon Focus/Jeanny Tsai