The Run Down

This guide has you travelling 30 miles from the city and spending the day jumping off 90 foot climbing walls, ziplining across a lake, and traversing a ropes course suspended high in the air. Afterwards, you'll take it easy by exploring a nearby historic downtown village for drinks and eats in one of the oldest communities in Illinois.

1. Ropes Course @ The Forge

2. Tour @ Historic Downtown Lemont

1. The Forge

Our first stop is to The Forge, a 300 acre adventure park located in Lemont, IL. If you were to visit this site over a century ago, you’d find thousands of laborers excavating dolomite out of the ground and shipping it 30 miles east to fuel the building boom in what would become one of the greatest cities in America.

Eventually, these dolomite quarries were abandoned as other types of building material gained favor, and nature eventually took over. Over the following years, the quarries filled with water and the village of Lemont turned the area into parkland. Integrated within the parkland is The Forge, which is marked by see these climbing towers that poke above the tree line. You’ll be climbing and jumping off each one.

Before we get into it, here are a few logistics notes.

-The most practical way to get there is by car, and with normal traffic, it’s about an hour drive from the city.

– You can also get there via Metra’s Heritage Corridor line which drops you off in Lemont. The the only drawback is that the train has a limited schedule and doesn’t run frequently.

– The Forge is located within the Heritage Quarries Recreation Area, a public park with miles of hiking trails and quarry-filled lakes. It’s free to enter the park and The Forge. The only costs are for the different activities operated by The Forge.

– For this particular guide, you’ll be doing their climb and zipline adventure course. You can book a time here. It costs $95 for adults, but there always seems to be a promo code or Groupon deal that brings that price down. Try not to pay full price.

Right below the towers is where you’ll check-in. They’ll give you a pair of climbing gloves, a harness, and walk you through a 15-minute training orientation. From there, you’re free to start exploring each of the structures on your own.

The first one is a 90-foot climbing wall and at the top is a standing platform where a staff person will connect you to a rappel system where you’ll free fall down to the ground.

Here’s a view from the top of the climbing wall.  There multiple climbing structures, each with varying levels of difficulty. And within each climbing structure, there are multiple route options you can pick based on difficulty. Once you get to the top of a climbing structure, your choices are to either zipline to another one or rappel down to the bottom. 

When you feel like you’re done climbing for the day, at the top of one of the structures is a zipline that runs the length of an adjacent lake. You have to save this for last because can only do this once. After you go down the zipline, there’ll be staff waiting on the other end who will help reel you in and collect all your equipment. 

As your heart pounds waiting to make the leap, just look out across the horizon and you’ll be able to see the downtown skyline. Not too shabby of a view if this is the last thing you’ll see.

2. Historic Downtown Lemont

Once you finish up at The Forge, your next stop is about a half-mile away to Historic Downtown Lemont. If you still have energy after your climb, you can get there via a hiking trail that connects to the downtown area. 

Downtown Lemont covers about 14 city blocks and you can probably cover it all on a self-guided walking tour in about 45 minutes.

There are tons of bars, restaurants, and shops to explore. Here is a rapid fire highlight of some of the places we checked out.

Digs on Canal

If you’re looking for a casual burger and wings type of place with a large outdoor dining option, then this is your spot. This is in the middle of Downtown Lemont and runs parallel to the train tracks that cut through the center of town.

Wooden Paddle

For something a little more refined, about a block away is a wood-fired pizza joint called the Wooden Paddle. It’s the type of place where you can find pizzas topped with things like housemade fig jam, hand-sliced prosciutto, and some more non-traditional toppings like Korean bulgogi beef and gojuchang mayo.

You could move this place into any popular Chicago neighborhood and it would fit right in. 


Any small downtown needs an ice cream parlor and this is Lemont’s defacto spot. This family-owned shop has its roots in the south Chicago suburbs with its first shop opening in 1981. It’s been making its way across these small downtown districts in Illinois and finally made its way to Lemont in 2021. It’s catty-corner from the Wooden Paddle, and between the two places, has revitalized this small corner of town. 

Tom’s Place

Operated by the same family since 1924, Tom’s Place is a shot and beer bar and one of the longest running businesses in Lemont. This place is like a time capsule. Maybe except for a few TVs and some decorations on the wall, walking through the door today today is largely what you would’ve seen decades ago.