Joliet encompasses much in the way of both active and passive recreation. Comprising the community’s landscape is a medley of amenity-filled parks, multi-use trails, golf courses and preserved natural areas.
One of the city’s largest sources for parks and recreation is the Joliet Park District. The park district operates nearly 80 well-maintained parks and facilities, and offers hundreds of different programs to residents of all ages. From early childhood learning, senior trips and sports for youth and adults to arts and leisure classes, safety courses and performing arts, there is truly something for everyone through the Joliet Park District.
Parks are scattered throughout the community, offering picnic areas, athletic fields, play equipment, tennis and basketball courts, recreational trails and plenty of open space. The park district’s list of rec facilities is extensive, as well, and includes the Hartman Recreation Center, the Inwood Athletic Club powered by ATI Physical Therapy, the Multi-Purpose Center, ATI Field at Joliet Memorial Stadium and three golf courses. It also manages Pilcher Park, a 640-acre outdoor haven featuring multi-use trails, natural habitats, the Bird Haven Greenhouse & Conservatory, the Barber & Oberwortmann Horticultural Center and the Pilcher Park Nature Center.
In 2002, the Joliet Park District and the City of Joliet came together to open Splash Station Water Park – a summertime favorite. The park is home to the Midwest’s only 200-foot, six-lane racing slide, along with an 865-foot lazy river, various tube and body slides, a zero-depth pool, a sand play area and full-service concessions.
The options for recreation don’t end there. The Forest Preserve District of Will County maintains several trails in the Joliet area.
Several portions of the 1,200-acre Rock Run Greenway are located here, including the Black Road Access, Paul V. Nichols Access, the I&M Canal Access and the Rock Run Trail/Joliet Junction Trail loop.
The district also oversees the Joliet Iron Works Historic Site, which is an access point to the 12.5-mile I&M Canal Trail/Centennial Trail, which links City Center in Joliet to the Centennial Trail in Cook County.
The Greater Joliet YMCA is another staple in the local recreational community. Tens of thousands of residents use the Y each year for activities including aquatics, youth sports leagues, health and wellness programs and before- and after-school day care. The Greater Joliet Area YMCA currently operates five branches in the region, thanks to a recent official charter in nearby Morris. For those who prefer to exercise their minds, the Joliet Public Library system has been serving Joliet residents since 1876. The Joliet Public Library currently offers two facilities housing more than 300,000 books, 400 magazine subscriptions, numerous audio and videotapes, nationwide magazines and newspapers, reference materials and a calendar year of programming for all ages.
Forest Preserve District of Will County
Forest preserves are nestled all over Will County, beckoning nature lovers, exercise enthusiasts and wildlife watchers to visit and explore these pockets of paradise that are located just a short walk, bike ride or drive away.
Each year, thousands of people accept the Forest Preserve District of Will County’s invitation to enjoy their local preserves, lakes, trails and visitor centers. Whether you want to bike, boat, camp, canoe, cross-country ski, hike, fish, kayak, picnic or volunteer, the district has a spot for you that is close to home. The Forest Preserve District features nearly 22,000 acres of preserves and 127 miles of trails in all corners of the county. Around 200 programs are presented annually – most of them free – to educate, entertain and enlighten preserve visitors. From bird hikes in spring to sled dog racing in January, the district’s offerings highlight many species of flora and fauna as well as the history of the region and the many recreational activities that are available.
Off-leash dog parks that are sprinkled throughout the country provide wide-open spaces where both dogs and their owners can stretch their legs and socialize. The five dog parks are conveniently located in Homer Glen, Joliet, Naperville, Shorewood and Wilmington. A sixth dog park will open in Crete Township later in 2017.
Five unique Forest Preserve visitor centers are year-round hubs for learning and fun. Isle a la Cache in Romeoville celebrates nature and the history of the 18th century fur trade era. Plum Creek Nature Center in Crete Township hosts many children’s programs and is home to resident reptiles, a working beehive and an outdoor nature playscape. Monee Reservoir is an angler’s delight with a 46-acre lake and boat and sports gear rentals. Monee Reservoir is just one of 20 fishing spots located throughout the district. Some lakes are simply for the birds. For instance, only the magnificent herons, cormorants and egrets can fish at Lake Renwick Heron Rookery Nature Preserve in Plainfield each spring summer and fall as they nest and raise their families.
Four Rivers Environmental Education Center, located where the DuPage, Des Plaines and Kankakee rivers meet to form the Illinois River in Channahon, hosts programs and school groups and offers facility rentals for banquets, meetings and conferences. The center also features a picturesque setting for wedding ceremonies and receptions. Four Rivers is a model of green architecture, as is the Sugar Creek Administration Center, which is located in Sugar Creek Preserve in Joliet. Sugar Creek features a parking lot for equestrians who ride the 22-mile Wauponsee Glacial Trail, one of three equestrian trails that weave through forest preserves throughout the district.
For more information on the district’s programs and preserves, visit ReconnectWithNature.org or call (815) 727-8700.
VISIT YOUR LOCAL BRANCH TODAY!
C.W. Avery Family YMCA
15120 Wallin Dr., Plainfield
Galowich Family YMCA
749 Houbolt Rd., Joliet
Morris Community YMCA
320 Wauponsee St.,Morris
Smith Family YMCA
1350 Briggs St., Joliet
The Greater Joliet Area YMCA has been a mainstay in our community for 90 years. With four locations in the surrounding area – two in Joliet, one in Plainfield and one in Morris – the Y serves thousands of residents in Will and Grundy counties each day. As one of the nation’s leading nonprofits, the Y is committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
Think of the Y as more than just a place to work out; more than a place to swim; more than a place to play sports; more than a place for families to spend time together; and more than a place for seniors to socialize. The Y is all those things and more. The Y is a place where you belong.
At its core, the Y is about helping individuals reach their full potential, and giving them opportunities to connect with the community around them, all in service of making us better as individuals, communities and as a nation. That’s why, when you step through YMCA doors, you’ll find no shortage of quality programs aimed at creating positive change. From before- and after- school care to youth sports, group exercise classes to swim lessons, senior social clubs to diabetes prevention programs, everything it does helps strengthen local neighborhoods and the people who live there.
To meet the unique needs within the community, the Y works closely with a number of community partners. Through collaborations with school districts in Joliet, Plainfield, Morris, Minooka, Troy, Rockdale and New Lenox, the Y provides safe and affordable before and after school programs at dozens of area schools. Partnerships with Presence Health and Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers propel members to new levels of healthy living. It is through these types of collaborations that the Y is making a difference in the community each and every day.
There is no other place quite like the Y. Because the Y is for everyone, they it brings together kids, families, adults and communities like no other organization can. Through its scholarship fund, the Y provides financial assistance to those who need it most, ensuring no one is turned away due to the inability to pay. Last year, the Greater Joliet Area YMCA answered 8,000 calls for help in the form of $1.1 million in scholarship assistance to make its facilities and services accessible to all.
To learn more about what the Y can do for you and your family, visit www.jolietymca.org, call (815) SAY-YMCA or follow the Y on Facebook.