One Tank Trips: Historic Rt. 66/Joliet

Nothing says road trip better than Route 66. This is pure Americana- and you don't have to drive from Chicago to L.A. to experience "The Mother Road."

Route 66 starts in downtown Chicago at Adams and Michigan. Leaving Chicago, much of it parallels I-55 with several fun landmarks along the way-- like White Fence Farm and Dell Rhea Chicken Basket Restaurant. Forty miles southwest is your first Rt. 66 "hub," Joliet, a destination in itself.

"We're here in Rt. 66 Park, you'll see lots of Rt. 66 Joliet Kicks signs coming up to it, you'll be greeted by an 8-ft. tall Rt. 66 shield and you can stop and take a picture with it!" said Rebecca Lantka, Joliet Visitors Bureau.

In the park are several informational kiosks to guide you to the various Rt. 66 sites, including the Rich & Creamy ice cream shop, a fixture since 1965! Next stop-- the Joliet Area Historical Museum. As soon as you walk in the door, you're greeted by the route 66 experience. It's informational.

"Rt. 66 was commissioned in 1926 as a part of the better roads movement that was starting to come up because cars were being manufactured / / in many areas it was built over stagecoach trails or old Native American trails," said Kim Shehorn-Martin, Joliet Area Historical Museum educator.

It's nostalgic - at the Drive in Diner you can hear radio clips from the '20's through the '80's.and, it is totally fun! Remember those old photo booths? You can take a picture with a rt. 66 background.

Another must see - the magnificent Rialto Square Theatre, built in 1926 as a vaudeville movie palace, with architecture designs from around the world.

"The Esplanade as you enter is designed after the Hall of Mirror s in the Palace of Versailles, as you go into the Rotunda, you walk under the Arch de Triomphe in Paris and the Rotunda area is designed after the Pantheon," said Randy Green, Rialto Square Theatre GM.

This historic gem was almost torn down in the late '70's to make way for a parking lot! Fortunately it was saved, and instead underwent a 7-million dollar renovation in 1980. Your trip to joliet isn't complete without a glimpse of its other claim to fame, Joliet Correctional Center - And The Blues Brothers!

The prison officially closed in 2004 and has since been used in various tv shows and movies. All this in just a fraction of the 2200-miles of Route 66!

Upcoming Event:

Joliet's Route 66 Car Show
June 14 & 15

Bicentennial Park


Featured Places

Joliet Area Historical Museum
204 N. Ottawa Street, Joliet IL 60432

Ph: 815/723-5201

Joliet Visitors Bureau

For more information, visit

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