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.
As the reigning Midwest Collegiate League champions, the CrackerJacks pour onto the diamond at Brennan Field set to defend their title while showcasing some of the country's top collegiate ballplayers. A year ago—during the inaugural season for both the team and the league—the CrackerJacks established themselves as a spring of talent, sending nine recruits to the league's first-ever all-star game. During 23 home games this season, including five Sunday matchups, fans can scout the club's refreshed roster of up-and-comers, who will remain with the 'Jacks until they head back to their university programs or until they grow too big to fit into Brennan Field's dugouts.
Champions Boxing Gym's team of tenacious instructors help clients hone strength, speed, and discipline through a range of boxing and martial arts classes. There are co-ed boxing classes, but some lessons are geared specifically toward women or children. Learn to fight MMA-style in their submission grappling class, or take a more advanced sparring class if you've got a little experience under your belt. Kenpo karate and kickboxing round out the class selection. The spacious gym is filled with speed bags, heavy bags, and bags that are programmed to say "ouch" when you hit them.
Since the first fairway drive in 1923, players at Sycamore Golf Club have sent their golf balls cruising down tree-lined chutes blanketed in pristine bentgrass in effort to conquer the course par of 71. The 18-hole course straddles the Kishwaukee River and extends to a total length of 5,817 yards from the back tees and 5,302 yards from the front tees. A meticulous maintenance team keeps the course in excellent condition, meaning golfers will rarely have to hit out of fairway divots or find their golf ball running away with vagabond gangs of crabgrass tumbleweeds.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par 71 course
Total length of 5,817 yards from the back tees
Course rating of 68.2 from the back tees
Course slope of 120 from the back tees
Two sets of tees per hole
Opening weekend is a time for renewed hope, reordered batting lineups, and refreshing scents of glorious gunpowder in the sky. Catch the Flyers on May 28 for post-game fireworks after the hometown bats light up the Gary SouthShore RailCats, or pay homage to babies named Ruth as you run the bases with the kids on Family Day May 30. On May 31, remix Memorial Day grill-outs by downing two dogs off the bat, and score dollar dogs throughout game. Armed with a starter kit of ballpark eats and ballgame spheres, show the youngsters how to properly grip a fastball, a frank, and a cardboard sign that irrefutably proves fanmanship.
As the Plainfield community has grown, so has its park district. Although the district was established in 1966, a population boom in the early '90s led to more diversified facilities, each one with different features. The Ottawa Street Pool, for example, invites visitors to bask in 200,000 gallons of crystal-blue water with diving boards and lap lanes, while the Normantown Trails Equestrian Center offers horseback-riding lessons and neighing tutorials in an indoor arena.