Explore the western terminus of the I&M Canal in LaSalle and enjoy a leisurely mule-pulled boat ride on its tranquil waters. End your journey in Lockport with a walk or ride along the towpath canal trail in Lockport.
Established by the Canal Commissioners as the canal’s western terminus, LaSalle was an economic crossroads where I&M Canal boats met Illinois River steamers. Today, downtown LaSalle offers dining, theatre and shopping, as well as the full-size replica canal boat known as “The Volunteer.”
WHERE TO PARK
On-street parking is available for guests arriving by car. The Center is conveniently located off either I-80 or I-39, about two blocks from where the I&M Canal Boat rides depart.
Housed in a restored vintage building that was once home to a horse buggy maker, Lock 16 Center contains a visitor center, café and gift shop, and interpretive exhibits. Linger, learn, dine and shop in this historic space, now a hub for boat rides, visitor services, lectures, afternoon teas and cultural programs. Serving breakfast and lunch, the Lock 16 Café offers healthy and seasonal cuisine, as well as vegetarian-friendly options, all using fresh ingredients and prepared to order. Choose from signature menu items like Land of Lincoln Biscuits & Gravy, Sunrise Tacos, or a Sesame Ginger Asian Wrap.
Take a moment to browse around the canal-themed heritage gift shop. Boasting a wide selection of unique items, seasonal décor, cards, books, souvenirs and mementos, the Lock 16 Gift Shop is filled with exclusive items you won’t find anywhere else! Shop for gifts you’ll love to give. Be sure to check out Canal Cargo, the new vintage market across the street from Lock 16.
WHERE TO PARK
Park in the lot for the I&M Canal Boat, two blocks south of downtown LaSalle, where Ill. Rte. 351/Joliet Street crosses over the I&M Canal. Purchase tickets online or at Lock 16 for the boat ride. Tours run May through October. Visit the online calendar to see available dates.
I&M Canal Boat – 815/220-1848
Free parking is available in the lot immediately south of the I&M Canal. Turn west off of Ill. Rte. 351/Joliet Street into the parking lot.
Step aboard the I&M Canal Boat and enjoy the scenery and relaxation of a mule-pulled ride on the historic Illinois & Michigan Canal. “The Volunteer” is a 76-foot-long, 70-passenger boat docked in downtown LaSalle, only 5 miles from Starved Rock State Park. Have fun learning a little history as lively period-dressed guides tell the stories of the I&M Canal Passageway. Every boat trip begins with “Mule Tending 101” as the guides introduce passengers to their intrepid canal mules, Larry and Moe. The Captain regales everyone with tales of life on the canal while his deckhands guide the vessel a mile up the canal to the Little Vermillion aqueduct and back. Mary Todd Lincoln has been known to ride the boat, knitting in the corner and sharing fantastic stories of her time in the nation’s capital with President Lincoln.
WHERE TO PARK
A National Historic Landmark, this stately house museum is a showcase of premier 19th century architecture and design. Architecture buffs will notice that the lavish seven-level home features a mansard roof, dormer windows, molded cornices, decorative brackets, and a tower crowned by a 30-foot-tall cupola.
The 16,000-square-foot mansion’s breathtaking interior is virtually unchanged since the 19th century. Restoration of the original decor is ongoing. Interpretation focuses on the Hegeler, Matthiessen, and Carus families, who were important early industrialists in LaSalle County. Before departing, stop by the downstairs gift shop to check out their fine selection of vintage items and the Mansion’s unique collection of books related to philosophy and Victorian life.
WHERE TO EAT
Jake’s Pour House, 201 9th St., 815/223-8232
Uptown Grill, 601 1st St., 815/224-4545
Lock 16 Café, 754 1st St., 815/223-1851
Haze Smokehouse, 159 Bucklin St., 815/780-837
La Michoacana, 836 2nd St., 815/220-1840
Mickey’s Massive Burritos, 620 1st St., 815/220-1599
The Dog House, 848 1st St., 815/780-1333
Conclude your tour in Lockport
WHERE TO PARK
Free public parking is available in the Public Landing parking lot, which you can enter at State and 10th streets.
Gaylord Donnelley Trail (on the I&M Canal Towpath) – Lockport to Joliet
Get some exercise and see a different section of the canal on foot or bicycle. Walk or ride north to pass the Gaylord Building and the Will County Historical Museum & Research Center, which once housed the I&M Canal Commission Headquarters. Both are open to the public. Enjoy the Lincoln Landing Park along the way and the unique sculpture of Lincoln.
At 2nd Street, you’ll encounter the Heritage Village, a collection of settlement-era buildings from around Will County. The Village includes the Wells Corner schoolhouse, the Symerton Depot, the Greenho farmhouse and the Mokena jail, along with other small buildings and farm implements. Head south towards Joliet past Lock 1, whose massive limestone walls are a mile from the Public Landing. Continue on and you’ll eventually pass canal ruins, a closed amusement park, the old Joliet prison, and finally the ruins of the Joliet Iron Works.
As you walk along the Gaylord Donnelley Trail, bear in mind that in Lockport the canal was once twice as wide as it is today, allowing boat captains to pass each other and transact business. When the canal was active, this part of the trail was underwater. Lockport and Joliet were two of the most influential Illinois cities of the 19th and 20th centuries. The Gaylord Donnelley Trail is 11 miles long with a surface that is part paved and part crushed limestone.
POINTS OF INTEREST
Gaylord Building, 200 W. 8th St., 815/588-9400
The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Gaylord Building features canal exhibits, visitor information, and a fine restaurant.
Will County Historical Museum & Research Center, 803 S. State St., 815/838-5080
The Museum is filled with treasures that offer insight into Will County’s early days when farmers had to make their own tools and soldiers fought wars with swords.
WHERE TO EAT
Public Landing Restaurant, 200 W. 8th St., 815/838-6500
Mamma Onesta’s Italian Restaurant, 1100 S. State St., 815/588-0900
George’s Restaurant, 990 N. State St., 815/838-7225
Embers Tap House, 933 S. State St., 815/552-3031