Visitors to downtown Lemont can soak up its historic charm while dining, shopping, or enjoying the attractions found throughout this compact and walkable town center. Quaint limestone and wood frame buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries line the streets, and recent construction fits into this historic fabric. These buildings, old and new, are full of great independently owned restaurants, shops and pubs that are uniquely Lemont. Visit our Shopping and Dining pages for more information on our local businesses.
The focal point of the downtown is the historic Illinois & Michigan Canal. Lemont owes its existence to this 96-mile waterway, which was begun in 1836 and completed in 1848. The I&M Canal, almost forgotten today, had a tremendous impact on the growth of the Midwest and the establishment of Chicago as continental hub of transportation and manufacturing. Downtown Lemont lies within the I&M Canal National Heritage Corridor. Such corridors, part of the National Park Service, are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape. Downtown Lemont remains one of the best places to view the I&M Canal—it looks much the same as it did 150 years ago. The towpaths used by mules to pull the canal barges are now trails that traverse the middle of downtown and take hikers and bikers to nearby county forest preserves or Lemont’s very own Heritage Quarries Recreational Area.
Lemont is an eastern gateway to the Heritage Corridor, which stretches as far west as LaSalle, IL. For more information on attractions throughout the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor, visit the I&M Canal Corridor Association and the Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Downtown Lemont’s many public art displays tell compelling stories from Lemont’s history. A large mural at Budnik Plaza and mosaics throughout the downtown depict Lemont’s quarrying past. Limestone quarrying was Lemont’s primary industry until the turn of the century and many notable buildings were constructed of Lemont limestone, including the Chicago Water Tower. Visitors can also see the life story of local aviator Rudy Kling depicted in the “Pride of Lemont” mural on Front Street.
The Lemont Historical Society is situated in Lemont’s historic Old Stone Church on the south side of downtown. The Old Stone Church once served as a recruiting station during the Civil War, but today it serves as a museum. The Society’s museum is open five days a week and the Society offers walking tours of downtown Lemont.