Will and Grundy Counties

Historic Joliet has been the anchor is the Southwest region of the Greater Chicago area is today the fastest growing city in Illinois. Thanks in part to the beautiful Rialto Square Theatre, which opened in 1926 as a vaudeville and silent film palace. But the architectural wonders of Joliet are not confined to the downtown because the city contains two historic districts both of which have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The aristocratic Upper Bluff District is where the visitor can admire the magnificent Queen Ann residences that tower over the curvilinear streets.

The city plays host to two casinos, as well as The Chicagoland Speedway, host of the NASCAR Sprint Cup and is itself part of a world-class motorsports complex that includes the Route 66 Raceway and the NHRA-affiliated 1/4-mile drag strip.

Beyond the Joliet borders, the region is gaining increasing national attention because of its standing as an Inland Port. Not only is the county crisscrossed by six class I railroads and four interstates but it also contains major intermodal facilities.

The Illinois and Michigan Canal, which opened in 1848, connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico helping to establish the Chicago area as a major transportation center before the railroad age. Today the former canal traverses a good part of Will County as a park with a 62.5 mile hiking and biking trail aligned along the tow paths by which mules pulled the canal boats. The sections of the canal between Lockport and LaSalle-Peru were designated as the first National Heritage Corridor in 1984 and include museums and beautifully restored canal buildings.

Outdoor activities abound throughout the region and into quaint and rural Morris. There are many small parks, ball diamonds, tennis courts, two golf courses, an outdoor swimming pool, an indoor olympic-sized pool as well as the Gebhard Woods State Park and the William G. Stratton State Park for boat launching on the Illinois River and a skatepark located near White Oak elementary school. Morris is home to the Grundy County Speedway, and the city also hosts the annual Grundy County Fair and Grundy County Corn Festival.

Nature lovers and all who love outdoor activities are well servedthe forest preserve districts, which , among other things, account for some 200 miles of trails and a host of Visitor Centers one of which, The Isle de la Cache Museum, tells the exciting story of the Great Lakes fur trade that flourished in the 18th Century. Taken together, this southwestern region of will and Grundy counties has outdoor activities to please just about everyone including horseback riding, canoeing, fishing and bird watching.