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.
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.
Family Fun Zone packs a spectrum of entertainment catering to ages 14 and under into one hub complete with roller-skating rink, laser-tag arena, and an arcade. Multicolored lights sweep over the roller rink where birthday-party guests practice figure 8s or 44s, fueled by pizza and soda. Visitors transition from gliding to ducking beneath laser rays, and watchful parents can enjoy free WiFi from the comfort of the snack bar. Guardians also dole out tokens for the arcade, where glowing machines spit out tickets to a soundtrack of buzzing TVs and family-friendly music.
In this professionally mentored Teen Driving Academy, developing drivers perform four drills reproducing common road issues, learn the finer points of vehicular dynamics, and study strategies for avoiding problems caused by other drivers. After an 8 a.m. breakfast and classroom time, students pile into the nine Autobahn-provided Mazdas, where they safely practice reflex-testing accident avoidance, wet-weather ABS usage, slalom drills, skid-control exercises, and proper hanging of fuzzy dice in an ornately wheeled, horseless training buggy. Lunch is also included, followed by a second classroom segment and more drills. Beyond highway-hugging safety, teens will also learn the basics of auto maintenance.
Against the backdrop of Bouncin Bonkers’s brightly painted walls, sock-clad children spring, bounce, and slide across inflatable structures in two arenas, letting out joyous shrieks and giggles under the watchful eyes of parents. Air-filled palm trees sway over obstacle courses, and rubber floors protect against errant tumbles or kid-seeking coconuts. Inside two private party rooms, guests of honor hold court from an inflatable throne as friends flock along benches, enjoying soda and snacks from a variety of party packages.
By highlighting the goings-on in the community of Joliet, The Joliet Area Historical Museum scans the entirety of American history from the perspective of the town's inhabitants. Housed inside the former Ottawa Street Methodist Church, multimedia exhibits artfully assembled from audio-visual displays, touch screens, and life-size models illustrate the stories plucked from the eventful timelines of the town and its people. Occupying two full stories, permanent exhibit The Soaring Achievements of John C. Houbolt honors the life and work of former resident Dr. Houbolt, who had a primary role in NASA's race to the moon. The exhibit's life-size Lunar Lander even allows guests to step inside and glimpse the accommodations and controls, revealing a control panel more complicated than a single button labeled "Go to Moon." In addition to its permanent collection, the museum also keeps an active calendar full of special events; check the schedule for a complete list of programming.