15 Best Things to Do in LaSalle, IL

LaSalle, IL
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LaSalle is one of the many cities of LaSalle County, Illinois.

It has a rich history to share with locals and visitors worldwide.

Nestled in the intersection of Interstate 39 and 80, it’s part of the Ottawa–Streator Micropolitan Statistical Area.

The city got its name from René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur (Lord) de La Salle, a French explorer who established a fort nearby in 1682.

LaSalle’s primary industry was coal mining and zinc, the same as Peru, making people call them twins and “Zinc City” in Illinois.

This beautiful city offers visitors panoramic sandstone bluffs and rivers, making the area an excellent place for hiking and adventure.

If you’re looking for a new and different escapade, uncover the best things to do in LaSalle, Illinois.

Tour the Historic Hegeler Carus Mansion

Side view of the Historic Hegeler Carus Mansion
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A National Historic Landmark of seven levels and 57 rooms, the Hegeler Carus Mansion is located on Seventh Street.

It offers different tours for the different levels of the structure with the help of its knowledgeable and accommodating staff.

The General Tour has a maximum of ten guests who are guided across the Main section of the Ground Floors of the Mansion, providing an aerial view of the oldest existing gymnasium in the United States.

After the General Tour, you can choose which other parts of the mansion you want to explore, including the Art and Artifact Tour, a 75-minute guided tour of statues, unique artifacts, paintings, and prints.

You can visit the Upper Half House, Lower Half House, and the Whole House at Hegeler Carus Mansion.

Exterior of the Historic Hegeler Carus Mansion
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Enjoy LaSalle Rotary Park

You must go to LaSalle Rotary Park on East 5th Road if you're looking for an all-in-one park.

This 52-acre park allows the entire family to enjoy many recreational activities without traveling to different parks.

It features a dog park, a wheelchair-accessible playground, adult and youth baseball and softball diamonds, a wheelchair-accessible playground, a fishing pier, and soccer fields.

Purchase an engraved brick from its Brick Program to help the park complete its paved walkway for succeeding generations.

LaSalle Rotary Park is also a great place to stop by for a snack or lunch on several picnic tables after your kids play with the playground equipment.

Check Out the Lock 16 Visitor Center & LaSalle Canal Boat

Visit Lock 16 Visitor Center & LaSalle Canal Boat on 1st Street, where you can have the opportunity to get on board a replication of a 76-foot canal boat.

While on the boat, you’ll learn about the I & M Canal’s history while appreciating gorgeous scenery or even paying the mule and its handler a visit.

Enjoy an hour of a fun boat ride on a canal that’s 96 miles long, 60 feet wide, and six feet deep.

Don’t forget to drop by the visitor center at Lock 16 Visitor Center & LaSalle Canal Boat visitor center.

It offers programs, exhibits, visitor information, a gift shop, and a cafe serving breakfast, lunch, specialty coffee, and homemade coffee dessert.

Explore Mitchell Grove Nature Preserve

Mitchell Grove Nature Preserve is located on East 5th Road and spans 184.5 acres, of which 170 are hunting grounds.

William H. and Irene Mitchell donated the land in 1998.

It consists of a fully-developed, second-growth forest comprising a wet prairie, sandstone rock bluffs, and remains of hill prairies.

The site shows proof of glacial till deposition, glacial gouging, and boulder deposition with a fault line spreading between Utica and Oregon near Mitchell’s Grove.

You’ll find swamp saxifrage, northern white cedar, and white pine in the nature preserve, while the remaining parts offer a hill prairie, white oak-shagbark hickory savanna, spring seep, and bur oak savanna.

These sections of the Mitchell Grove Nature Preserve contain more than 300 species of plants.

Some are listed as endangered.

Visit the LaSalle Public Library

Exterior of the LaSalle Public Library
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Like other people, your children will love returning to the LaSalle Public Library on Marquette Street because they offer free enjoyable take-home craft kits.

These kits adapt to various ages and abilities, consisting of detailed instructions, an image of the finished craft, and amusing facts about the craft theme.

You can assemble the kits at the library using the supplies in the building or complete them at home using basic supplies, such as scissors, markers, and glue.

The Children's Room of the LaSalle Public Library provides services, materials, and programs for children from birth through eighth grade, teachers, and families.

LaSalle Public Library also offers free three-hour computer access if you have a valid library card.

Even if you don’t have one, you can request a guest pass at the circulation desk.

Cool Off at Hegeler Park

Situated between Maple and McArthur Roads is Hegeler Park, donated by the Hegeler family in the 1900s.

Locals and visitors can use the pool, spray pad, and picnic shelters when it’s time for a snack or lunch.

You can play a friendly game with friends or loved ones with baseball, softball, volleyball, or tennis.

Your kids can devote their whole day to playing with the playground equipment.

Hegeler Park, with an elevation of 600 feet, is the largest park in LaSalle and offers clean restrooms and a concession stand.

Spend the Day at Pulaski Park

Located on 5th Street is Pulaski Park, situated between Crosat and Tonti Streets.

It consists of a historical marker and a vast picnic area near the school and residences.

There’s also a gazebo and a playground where your kids can play all day.

You can visit the veteran memorial or play disc golf, basketball, volleyball, tennis, or baseball with your loved ones.

Exercise caution, especially when supervising your kids, because Route 6 is a high-traffic road that borders Pulaski Park on the southern side.

Cross the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge

Daytime view of Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge
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Did you know that the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge is Illinois's longest Department of Transportation (DOT) bridge?

Stretching 7,122 feet, the bridge crosses the Illinois River and three wetlands.

It carries Interstate 39 over Illinois 351, along with the I&M Canal, towpath, and two active railroads.

The bridge has two lanes for northbound travelers to Ottawa and two more for southbound travelers to Peru.

The Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge is also a historical landmark on I-39, giving travelers a spectacular Illinois River view.

Aerial view of Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge
Joseph Norton and Ronald Frazier, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stop by Mary Hegeler Carus Memorial Park

Located on Fourth Street between Central and Buck Streets is the Mary Hegeler Carus Memorial Park.

This astonishing 110-acre memorial park is a great place to take a break, take a leisurely walk, jog, or run.

The park was named after Mary Carus, who died from a severe illness on June 27, 1936.

She and her son donated considerable cash to the Mathematical Association of America to produce a succession of math books called the Carus Mathematical Monographs.

Mary Hegeler Carus Park is a beautiful place to stop with family or friends.

Enjoy a Staycation at Tiki RV Park

It’s always a great idea to take your family on a great staycation they won’t forget.

Along May Road is Tiki RV Park, which provides unmatched amenities the entire family needs.

It has pull-thru RV campsites providing RV owners with more effortless parking without the need to back up.

It offers electric service to the sites, and you can choose from 20 amp, 30 amp, or 50 amp and water hookups or water fill locations.

The site also has full hookup amenities, including water, electricity, and sewer service at specific campsites.

Tiki RV Park also features clean restrooms, a dump station, and hot showers.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Going somewhere else near LaSalle would be a great idea if you’re still looking for more fun, adventure, and excitement.

Nearby cities such as Oglesby, North Utica, and Ottawa have wondrous places to offer you, your family, or friends.

Explore Starved Rock State Park

The waters of Starved Rock State Park
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Nothing comes close to Starved Rock State Park, located on 875th Road in Oglesby, Illinois, only nine minutes from LaSalle.

The park’s main attractions are magnificent bluffs, canyons, and 13-mile well-marked trails.

You can launch your boat from the park’s west end.

A waterfall at Starved Rock State Park
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However, these vessels aren’t allowed within 600 feet of the dam because of strong currents and violent undertows.

Hunting is allowed during hunting season, and fishing is likewise permitted, but you mustn’t swim or wade in the river, shorelines, or canyon creeks.

There are also picnic areas at Starved Rock State Park for couples, friends, or family gatherings, drinking water, and clean restroom facilities.

The grounds of Starved Rock State Park
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Discover Local History at the La Salle County Historical Museum

Exterior of the La Salle County Historical Museum
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Nestled on the shores of the significant Illinois and Michigan Canal is La Salle County Historical Museum in North Utica, Illinois, seven minutes from LaSalle.

It has notable exhibits and activities, including Canal Market, One-Room Schoolhouse, Canal Warehouse, and the Blacksmiths Shop.

You’ll see an expansive collection of Indian artifacts discovered at the Zimmerman site, including ceremonial and valuable tools.

There’s also Lincoln’s Carriage, the same carriage he rode for the Lincoln-Douglas debate officiated at Washington Park in Ottawa, Illinois.

The La Salle County Historical Museum was spared from the wrecking ball.

It has been the historical society's headquarters for over half a century.

Check Out the Little Vermilion River

Do you know that there are two "Vermilion Rivers" in Illinois?

The Little Vermilion River is a tributary of the Wabash River in Illinois and Indiana.

The Wabash tributary stretches 59.6 miles long.

It usually flows south,h while the other known Vermillion River flows north to the Illinois River.

Both rivers may share the same moniker because early settlers considered them one river flowing in two directions.

The Little Vermillion River is located in LaSalle Township, Illinois, only ten minutes from LaSalle.

Take a Hike at Buffalo Rock State Park

An overlook at Buffalo Rock State Park
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If you’re in the mood for a hike, the Buffalo State Park has the best trails for a trek or a family excursion in Ottawa, Illinois, 14 minutes from LaSalle.

This magnificent 298-acre park provides a nice picnic area and beautiful nature for every visitor,  regardless of age, color, and ability.

During your hike, you'll be amazed at the five earthen sculptures made from Illinois clay called Effigy Tumuli.

Landscape of Buffalo Rock State Park
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The sculptures represent a snake, frog, catfish, insect, and snake, inviting visitors to explore the place.

This area is well-known for the war between the Illinois Indians and French explorers approaching the Illinois River.

Buffalo Rock State Park also offers camping, hunting, geocaching, biking, and shelter reservations.

Enjoy the Outdoors at Matthiessen State Park

Cascades at Matthiessen State Park
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Matthiessen State Park is located on IL-178 in Oglesby and offers grand canyons, prairie, streams, and forests.

The park welcomes those interested in geology and recreation, thanks to impressive rock formations apart from rare and lush vegetation and wildlife.

Swimming is prohibited in waterfalls, rivers, or creeks, including rappelling or rock climbing.

A waterfall at Matthiessen State Park
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Additionally, you can't go biking, skating, scootering, or skateboarding on the trails in the Matthiessen Dells Area.

Still, you can ride your bike on the Matthiessen Vermillion River Area's bike trails.

You can reach the unique and beautiful Matthiessen State Park just 14 minutes from LaSalle via IL-178 S.

The grounds of Matthiessen State Park
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Final Thoughts

Give yourself a breather because opportunities for a break don't always come your way.

Explore the ten best things to do in LaSalle, Illinois.

Plan your trip today!

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