15 Best Things to Do in Lockport, IL

Lockport, IL
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Lockport is a city born out of the famous Illinois and Michigan Canal.

This small but vibrant city in Will County, Illinois, started in the early 1800s after the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal's headquarters.

The canal, back in the day, was a vital waterway that connected the Great Lakes, the Port of New Orleans, the Gulf of Mexico, the Port of New York, and the Atlantic Ocean.

No less than former president Abraham Lincoln pushed for the project during his term as a congressman in Illinois.

Today, Lockport is a treasure trove of history, heritage, and unique travel experiences.

Visiting this city, about 40-minutes southwest of Chicago, is a worthwhile experience.

To find out, here are the best things to do in Lockport, Illinois:

Wander the Downtown Historic District of Lockport

Buildings along Lockport Downtown Historic District
MarjorieB, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

First on your Lockport adventure itinerary is a stroll through the Downtown Historic District of Lockport.

Aside from its historical significance, it serves as Lockport's official downtown area.

It's where you'll see most of the city's businesses and services.

Visiting this place is an excellent way to trace Lockport's history.

At the same time, you'll come across numerous historical buildings that further detail the city's rich history.

Amazingly, 59 centuries-old buildings still stand firmly across the entire Downtown Historic District of Lockport.

Some of the most notable buildings are Lock No. 1, Norton Building, the I&M Canal Warehouse, the I&M Canal Warehouse, Gaylord Building, Gladys Fox Museum, etc.

While exploring, you can stop by cafes, restaurants, and shops for some leisure side trips.

Play Outdoor Games at Dellwood Park

Gazebo at Dellwood Park
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Dellwood Park spans over 150 acres, one of the city's main areas for outdoor recreation.

This park is along Route 171 & Woods Drive, featuring a massive open space filled with numerous sports and recreation facilities.

Picnic table on the grounds of Dellwood Park
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This park has sports facilities for soccer, tennis, and inline skating.

In addition, it has a massive 27-basket disc golf course and a Frisbee field.

Besides sports, you can have a relaxing hike through its trails that take you to gorgeous scenic areas in the park.

Wooden walkway at Dellwood Park
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At the same time, you can watch various sports competitions at this park, giving you a different way to enjoy your visit there.

Visiting Dellwood Park lets you immerse with locals while having fun at one of its many amenities.

Daytime view of Dellwood Park
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Step inside the Historic Gaylord Building

Exterior of the Gaylord Building
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The Gaylord Building is one of the most famous historical buildings in Lockport.

This building along W 8th Street features local yellow limestone architecture, completed in 1838.

The building, which served as a former warehouse, was completed ten years ahead of the canal.

It also became one of the city's first few buildings back when Lockport was a vast wilderness.

Facade of the Gaylord Building
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Stepping inside this building lets you learn about Lockport's history through its exhibits and displays.

Likewise, touring the historic Gaylord Building lets you see its original furnishing and other items relevant to its history.

After your tour, dine at the "Landing Restaurant" in the building for delicious lunch or dinner.

Hike the Illinois and Michigan Canal Trail

There's no better way to explore Lockport than hiking through the Illinois and Michigan Canal Trail.

The trail spans 61 miles of scenic locations ideal for hiking and biking.

The trail also features the state's longest continuous snowmobile trail, making it an ideal location during winter.

To start your hike, you can easily access the trail through various areas in Lockport.

Meanwhile, most of the trail leads you as far as LaSalle in the west and Isle a la Cache in the north.

Likewise, you can rent a bike anywhere in the city if you're too lazy to hike.

Don't forget to bring your hiking boots because part of your itinerary is a hike at the Illinois and Michigan Canal Trail.

Exterior of Illinois State Museum-Lockport Gallery
Canoe Communications, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Illinois State Museum-Lockport Gallery is another historical attraction you mustn't miss visiting.

This museum along W. 10th Street features a vast collection of artifacts chronicling Illinois's life, people, arts, and land.

Lockport is a satellite location of this museum, while the other two are in Springfield and Lewistown.

Wandering this museum offers a fascinating and enjoyable experience in learning about history and the local arts scene of Illinois.

You'll come across various exhibits displaying artworks of past and present Illinois artists featuring their masterpieces.

An hour or two touring inside the Illinois State Museum-Lockport Gallery is a worthwhile experience involving the local history and arts.

Join the Lockport Canal Days

The Lockport Canal Days celebrate the massive contribution of the Illinois and Michigan Canal to Lockport's progress.

Every June, this annual celebration draws tens of thousands of visitors across Will County and other parts of Illinois.

Visitors love to witness the festive and colorful celebration featuring live music, a carnival, food trucks, arts & crafts, wines, and more.

One of the celebration's highlights is the Old Canal Days Parade.

The parade features various organizations, businesses, groups, and noted personalities.

The Lockport Canal Days is an amazing festival you mustn't miss.

Take a Historical Side Trip to Gladys Fox Museum

The Gladys Fox Museum is a unique and fascinating place to learn history.

You can find this museum a few blocks from the famous Lincoln Landing in the Downtown Historic District of Lockport.

The Gladys Fox Museum was the former Old Congregational Church constructed in 1839.

It underwent numerous restorations to maintain its historical value to the city.

Today, it's a charming museum named after Gladys Fox, a well-known Lockport local who served on the city's park district board.

A tour inside the museum lets you explore more of Lockport's rich history.

You'll find a fascinating collection of artifacts, photographs, and other materials relevant to Illinois, the Michigan Canal, and Dellwood Park.

At the same time, you can take photos of the museum's architecture and design to complete your visit there.

Appreciate Mother Nature at Lockport Prairie Nature Preserve

The Lockport Prairie Nature Preserve is a 320-acre forest preserve opposite the Des Plaines River floodplains.

One of the forest preserve's accesses is along Broadway Street, which you can enter to see its pristine natural beauty.

The forest preserve is home to rare native plant species such as slender sandwort and Ohio horsemint.

Hiking and trail running are the two best ways to explore this place.

The entire trail spans roughly a mile, featuring the area's natural landscape.

Overall, the Lockport Prairie Nature Preserve is a beautiful natural attraction featuring the city's natural beauty.

Likewise, it's a wonderful location in Lockport to take a break from exploring historical sites.

Uncover the Story of Lincoln Landing

Welcome sign of Lincoln Landing
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Lincoln Landing is a famous historical attraction along Commerce Street.

This place is within the Downtown Historic District of Lockport near the Gaylord Building.

This particular historical attraction pays homage to the site where Abraham Lincoln beached his flatboat back in the day.

To preserve the area's historical value, a bronze sculpture of three depicting the different ages of the famous American president now stands at the site.

Bronze statue at Lincoln Landing
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In addition, the site also interprets Lincoln and the famous Illinois and Michigan Canal's relevant history.

This place offers you a one-of-a-kind historical experience where you'll learn many things about the president's younger years.

At the same time, you can take photos and enjoy the serenity of Lincoln Landing's surroundings.

Get Serenaded at Central Square

Visit Central Square for afternoon relaxation and recreation.

This spot in the city is famous for its regular live musical performances from bands and singers around Illinois.

You can find this open-air attraction along E 9th Street.

It is home to Lockport's various concerts, wholesome activities, and a local market.

It regularly hosts various bands and singers who serenade the public for free, making it an enjoyable place to visit without burning a hole in your wallet.

Most of the time, locals flock to Central Square, bringing their foldable chairs to watch free concerts.

Meanwhile, kids also enjoy various activities in the area, courtesy of the hosts.

Reward Yourself with a Delicious Meal at Tallgrass Restaurant

Many of Lockport's restaurants are inside centuries-old buildings, which enhances the dining experience.

The Tallgrass Restaurant offers both history and an excellent gastronomic experience.

This restaurant on S. State Street features a 110-year-old gorgeous red-stone brick Victorian building.

The restaurant has served locals since 1981, remaining popular to this day.

In addition, it's also situated within the Downtown Historic District of Lockport.

You'll enjoy a fine-dining setting featuring three to five courses from over 30 choices of meals.

Above all, Tallgrass Restaurant has gained renown in Lockport for its affordable menu amidst its fine-dining setting, giving you more reasons to dine there.

Dive into Action at Legacy Adventure Park

Head to Legacy Adventure Park for an adrenaline-pumping activity.

This one-of-a-kind attraction along Canal Street features a 66-acre paintball arena overlooking the Des Plaines River.

It's an exciting place to try paintball with your loved ones or travel buddies.

At the same time, it has an airsoft arena for those who want a more hardcore experience.

Kids can also enjoy laser tag and low-impact paintball games, making this place ideal for bringing the whole family.

You can book the entire Legacy Adventure Park for an awesome birthday party with your guests.

Enjoy a Therapeutic Experience with Horses at the Legacy Ranch

The Legacy Ranch is an equine-assisted therapy center along S. Farrell Road.

It has earned renown in Lockport for its unique mental health therapy, where the patients interact with horses through equestrian-related activities.

Their method is also a scientifically-proven experiential therapy, providing a one-of-a-kind treatment for various individuals.

In principle, it's the same as having a therapy dog, but the difference is you're on a horse.

You can also enroll in equestrian riding lessons for regular clients.

The Legacy Ranch is a wholesome place to bring your loved ones to learn horseback riding, especially kids.

See Birds up Close at Lambs Woods

Lamb Woods is another natural attraction worth visiting.

You can find this 75-acre preserve along W. Bruce Road.

The entire preserve is part of the more extensive Des Plaines River Preservation System that spans over 2,400 acres.

This natural attraction is mainly popular for its old oak forest teeming with various bird species.

With that in mind, it's an excellent place to bring your binoculars for some exciting birdwatching.

Lambs Woods is home to various local bird species and migratory birds, making it a haven for birdwatchers.

At the same time, you can also have a lovely picnic with your loved ones or travel buddies at its picnic shelter.

Conquer Your Fear at HellsGate Haunted House

HellsGate Haunted House is a famous attraction throughout Will County.

You can find this place along Canal Street, featuring a legendary haunted house that has frightened thousands of visitors.

If you dare to enter the haunted house, expect a lot of scary surprises.

Go ahead and explore the multi-level mansion with maze-like corridors and rooms.

While exploring HellsGate Haunted House's mansion, you'll encounter terrifying entities that will give you nightmares.

Overall, this haunted house attraction is perfect for a thrilling activity before returning home from your adventure.

Final Thoughts

Lockport has more to offer than old buildings and its famous canal.

It's an idyllic city for a weekend getaway, especially those from Chicago, Milwaukee, and Indianapolis, the three nearest towns to Lockport.

Start planning your itinerary with this exciting list of the best things to do in Lockport, Illinois!