Less than 90 minutes from St. Louis, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum houses the world’s largest collection of original Lincoln artifacts, complete with the Gettysburg Address. A life-size replica of Lincoln’s log cabin set back in a forest of artificial trees stands 40 feet tall just like the President’s iconic top hat. The museum also houses a re-creation of the Presidential Box at Ford’s Theatre, where the president was assassinated, and the state-of-the-art Union Theater, which projects films such as Lincoln’s Eyes, a broad overview of Lincoln’s personal and political life with a special focus on slavery. In the Ghosts of the Library exhibit, transparent phantoms of Lincoln and his contemporaries drift around powered by Holavision technology. Youngsters, supervised by parents, can try on period dress, pose for photos with life-size cutouts of young Abe, or reenact historic scenes in the Lincoln Home dollhouse located in Mrs. Lincoln’s attic, the hands-on learning center. Before heading home, patrons can browse the museum store—more than 3,500 square feet of artifact replicas and Lincoln-themed merchandise.
Wind whistles and engines roar as custom go-karts zip around Jet Karting's outdoor race track at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour. Rented – along with all necessary safety equipment – to guests of all experience levels, the low-riding vehicles cruise the course in 15-minute bouts, during which up to 15 riders race each other. Speed School classes tailored to three different age groups prep more experienced racers to take laps in powerful spec racers and Rotax karts. The staff recommends guests bring long pants, close-toed shoes, and a desire to move quickly while basically in the fetal position.
Perky’s Pizza rustles up a variety of traditional and imaginative pizzas for famished families. With the family combo meal, banqueting broods choose one large signature pizza from Perky's Pizza's doughy roster, relieving a meat-masticating hankering with the double-cheeseburger deluxe, loaded with crispy bacon, hearty beef, and zesty barbecue sauce, or floating away on the Maui Wowie, which features chicken and sweet pineapple basking in a beach of red sauce. Choosy chowhounds point their noses toward the also-included one-topping pizza, selecting a meat, vegetable, or fat-free mineral to add sustenance. Six breadsticks take a dip in garlic or cinnamon before joining the culinary crew, and a troop of 12 chicken wings marches into position while chanting fight songs before being defeated by mercenary molars. Like bookends, a family-sized garden salad and dessert support the meal on either end.
Costumed actors hide inside Heaps Haunted Corn Maze, ready to scare all those who dare enter. Alternatively, the flashlight maze is completely unhaunted and challenges visitors instead with a series of dead ends, switchbacks, and branching paths that they must navigate armed only with a flashlight. After walking through the maze of their choice, guests can unwind during a half-hour moonlight tractor ride, staying in the mood by singing the Scooby-Doo theme song under their breath.
A hailstorm of paint projectiles rains down upon CPX Sports' more than one dozen fields, each of which poses different challenges and requires specialized tactics. The crown jewel of the park is the Town of Bedlam, a massive maze of small-town 1950s buildings that jut out between streets dotted by paint-splattered cars and streetlights. There, snipers poke their heads out of the central city hall's tower as the opposing team hides out or checks for abandoned shampoo samples inside the post office. The Jungle of Doom drops teams into a heavily wooded field to vie for control of a central temple, and chromatic combatants weave between desiccated cars in the Wastelands, attempting to collect the most gas cans. A full pro shop outfits players with markers, protective gear, and Sesame Street coloring books for target practice.
The Joliet Park District sprawls across more than 1,000 acres, engaging visitors with everything from sports to nature. Guests can wander through the foliaged paths of the Pilcher Park Nature Center and the organic community garden, or treat their senses to the floral colors and aromas that fill the bird-haven greenhouse. The 10,000-seat Joliet Memorial Stadium hosts high-school and college sporting events, while a dozen athletic fields fill with recreational players hitting baseballs, catching softballs, and spiking soccer balls when the referee isn't looking. During the summer, inner tubes transport patrons down Joliet Splash Station's high-speed water slides and 865-foot lazy river, and the glittery strands of Fourth of July fireworks color the skies above the stadium.