Just southwest of Chicago along I-55 and I-80 offers FUN and engaging opportunities for your next FUNction -- next board meeting, staff retreat or staff training session. The I&M Canal National Heritage Corridor offers several unique locations for you to add a memorable experience to your next business FUNction!
As the Forest Preserve District of Will County suggests "Reconnect with Nature" -- enjoy guided hikes and trolley tours at Starved Rock State Park Lodge & Conference Center (Oglesby); view an impressive seasonal waterfall at Matthiessen State Park (Utica); enjoy the scenic riverwalk at the Four Rivers Educational Center (Channahon); or meet nestled away at the Isle la Cache Museum (Romeoville). All 2,630 acres of Starved Rock State Park are stunning, but the waterfalls are what make a hike through the canyons and trails worth it. The best time to see them is after a heavy rainfall or in the spring when the snow and ice have melted.
Meet in one of the many canal towns and explore the historic charm and vibrant specialty retail and dining options. Lewis University's (Romeoville) many classrooms and meeting spaces offer an ideal location for large or small business functions. After your meeting, tour the Isle la Cache Museum. In Lockport, the downtown offers meeting space, restaurant and museum opportunity all rolled into one at the Gaylord Building (Lockport).
The Grundy County Historical Society (Morris) offers a nice retreat location to explore local history and meet away from traditional conference centers. The location is just minutes/steps away from Gebhard Woods and the I&M Canal tow path.
The 407 Building and Reddick Mansion offer great board retreat locations just a few steps from the meeting of the Illinois and Fox Rivers in downtown Ottawa. Of course, for an adventure filled meeting enjoy a boat ride or water sport activity provided by Quest Water Sports (Ottawa). The Uptown Grill, Lock 16 and Hegeler Carus Mansion all provide unique spaces in historic downtown LaSalle. The Hegeler Carus Mansion, offers both indoor and outdoor meeting locations, was recently filmed for possible episode of upcoming cable television show. At Lock 16, your staff could enjoy a mule-pulled interpretive boat ride on the I&M Canal (seasonal) and freshly prepared pastries and savory salads and sandwiches.
The Bolingbrook Golf Club offers 6 meeting spaces for groups from 5 to 800, as well as an 18-hole championship golf course and driving range. The Nest is an on-site restaurant for a meal or a beer.
If you're craving a little excitement as part of your meeting, the Autobahn Country Club and Chicagoland Speedway both offer unique driving and/or riding experiences as a great added value meeting experience. With Hollywood Casino Joliet and Harrah's Casino Joliet both offering traditional meeting locations with a bit of luck on your networking break.
Get Your Kicks with your Meeting on 66. The beloved Rialto Square Theatre (Joliet) and interactive Joliet Area Historical Museum/Route 66 Welcome Center both offer fun locations for your upcoming business function. The museum offers a scenic rooftop space, or lower level space in which to host your event. Further south on old Route 66, immerse your group in authentic Route 66 memorabilia at either the Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum (Pontiac) or the Eagle Performing Arts & Conference Center (Pontiac).
Pair your next meeting with a wine and/or beer tasting at one of the following unique locations: Pollyanna Brewing (Lemont); Gordon Biersch Restaurant (Bolingbrook); Lone Buffalo Restaurant (Ottawa); and August Hill Winery & Illinois Sparkling Company Tasting Room (Utica).
Pollyanna Brewing Company experiments with local fruits and spices, seasonal lagers, barrel-aging, wild yeast and bacteria and cider-beers on occasion. In an intimate taproom, they offer tastings as well as free tours and a scenic look at the brewery. Bring your own food or look for special dates with food offerings.
Tangled Roots Brewing Company includes The Lone Buffalo "farm-to-table" restaurant. With meeting space overlooking the copper kettles -- this location combines a great meeting space, delicious restaurant and brewery all under one roof.
Make your next meeting, special event or workshop FUN -- courtesy of the unique venues in the region and the knowledgeable staff of the Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau. Call (800) 926-CANAL (2262) or go to HeritageCorridorCVB.com for meeting ideas!
• Bob Navarro is president and CEO of the I&M Canal Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The CVB generates economic impact to the communities and counties along the Illinois and Michigan Canal through tourism marketing and development.
Starved Rock Lodge's Guided Hikes (Utica)
August Hill Winery (Utica)
Pontiac Route 66 Mural (Pontiac)
Gaylord Building (Lockport)
The Lone Buffalo by Tangled Roots Brewery (Ottawa)
Bolingbrook Golf Club Clubhouse (Bolingbrook)