The First Hundred Miles of the Mother Road is lined with some unbelievably beautiful parks, zoos and natural attractions. From heart-pounding adventures like ziplining and mountain biking to serene natural activities like bird watching and hiking, there’s outdoor fun to be had around every bend of America’s Mother Road. Join us as we highlight some of the best parks where you can experience Fall Colors and other fun seasonal activities along The First Hundred Miles of Route 66.
8400 W 31st St, Brookfield, IL
Located only 15 miles west of Chicago, this 200+ acre zoo is widely regarded as one of the best in the nation, thanks in no small part to its accessibility and amazing array of animals. Opened to the public in 1934, Brookfield’s unique design utilized moats in place of bars and cages resulting in an up-close experience, unlike anything visitors had seen before. Now, with over 450 species represented by more than 2,500 animals, everyone is sure to find one of their favorite creatures. Be sure to visit the park’s famous Mold-A-Rama souvenir machines. These fun throwback contraptions vend holiday-themed souvenirs, that are created right in front of your very eyes by a pneumatic molding device.
Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve
I55 & Lemont Road, Lemont, IL
Whatever your favorite outdoor activities might be, Waterfall Glen in Lemont has it all. With over 11 miles of meandering trails, you can enjoy everything from hiking, to horseback riding to cycling, all just a short drive from the Mother Road. If your dog is accompanying you on your cross-country trip, this is the perfect place to stop. This popular picnic and fishing area is also dog-friendly. Discover the park’s beautiful tiered waterfalls while enjoying the 740+ documented species of native plants. If you’re a fan of birding, Waterfall Glen hosts hundreds of species of feathered friends every year.
The Forge: Lemont Quarries
1001 Main Street, Lemont, IL
Get ready for some real adventure at ‘The Forge’ in Lemont, Illinois. Built in and around the picturesque Lemont Quarries, this area is action packed, offering rope courses, ziplines, climbing walls, mountain biking and an assortment of running trails, perfect for entertaining visitors of all ages and abilities. Check out The Forge’s Winter events calendar to see all the fun Holiday activities they’ll be organizing over the next few weeks. If you’re looking to experience the thrill of The Forge’s massive 1000′ zipline and tower climb, act fast. Limited spaces remain for season.
Rock Run Preserve
3669 Black Road, Joliet, IL
Explore Illinois as it was centuries ago at Rock Run Preserve, a wetland prairie with direct access to the I&M Canal. Conveniently located just outside of Joliet, this park is a major destination for those looking to picnic, fish, hike and bike a rambling 320+ acre site. You’ll find a diverse natural habitat featuring wetlands, prairie and forest landscapes, open to the public year round.
Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
30239 S State Rt 53, Wilmington, IL
Known as ‘The Largest Prairie Restoration Site East of the Mississippi River’ the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is also the single largest open space in Illinois. Managed by the US Forest Service and recognized as a US National Grassland, Bison were reintroduced back on the prairie in October of 2015, making this gorgeous plot of paraire even more authentic. While it’s not guaranteed, every visit offers the opportunity to see these elusive animals as they roam throughout the prairie.