Lemont is known for its church spires, limestone buildings, and neighborhoods rising on the bluffs above its downtown. Three waterways – the narrow I&M Canal, the wide Sanitary and Ship Canal, and the marshy Des Plaines River – help define the community. Native Americans traveled the river by canoe on their trading trips between the Mississippi and Lake Michigan. The I&M Canal made this natural passageway navigable for commerce in 1848, and in 1900 the Sanitary and Ship Canal created a modern shipping channel. Today, you can explore downtown eateries, taverns, and shops nestled into the hills and housed in original limestone buildings. In these buildings, you’ll find local makers who took a leap to create one-of-a-kind food, shops, and adventures.
You can’t fake real, and you don’t have to when you have the most picturesque terrain in Chicago and the best outdoor activities in the Midwest.
Lemont Downtown is where you can pick up the I&M Canal trail and walk or bike to The Forge: Lemont Quarries, where visitors can zipline, climb, rappel, kayak, ice skate, laser tag, and so much more. Three miles of trail loop around the quarry lakes and allow for fishing, boating, and picnicking. Must-see shops include Mabel’s Market, 1 Happy Girl Boutique, Three Stories Books, Jilley’s Boutique, and Smokey Row Antique Shop..
Lemont was settled by immigrant canal workers in 1836. The Lemont Historical Society & Museum offers exhibits in the “Old Stone Church” celebrating our past. Throughout town you will see limestone buildings, public art, and interpretive panels. Digging the I&M Canal with pick and shovel became impossible near Lemont – dolomite limestone was too close to the surface. The workers risked their lives when they blasted through with black powder and quarried with drills and chisels. You can still see this yellow stone in Lemont’s canal walls, its downtown commercial buildings and neighborhood churches. Tons of stone were shipped by canal to Chicago – its famous Water Tower is a surviving example. Thousands of immigrants worked in Lemont’s quarries, and later built the Sanitary and Ship canal.
Downtown hosts the Lemont Legends Cruise Nights on Wednesday nights and Sunset Soirees on Thursday Nights from June to August. Enjoy Live Music every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Digs on Canal, along with comedy specials. The Village hosts Lemontster Days throughout October, and Lighting Up Lemont & Hometown Holidays in December, and an Ice Fest in January.
Lemont Downtown is home to the original Pollyanna Brewery, an excellent spot for a brew along the canal and a stop on the Trails and Ales tour. More of a martini fan? Check out One Eleven Wine & Martini, as well as plenty of other options for cocktails or a pint.
The cuisine scene is not to be missed, with stand-out options like woodfired pizza from Wooden Paddle, new American food and cocktails from Barrel & Vine, mouthwatering Italian dishes at La Dolce Vita, and elevated southern comfort food at Corner Stone Tavern.
Stay in the heart of downtown at a charming B&B, the Inn at Smokey Row. Other choices include familiar chain establishments along I-55. Park downtown in free public parking lots, on the street or adjacent to the I&M Canal to shop, dine, enjoy Lemont’s architecture, or walk its 5-mile canal trail segment or through the quarries.