Streator is located just 25 minutes from Starved Rock State Park, one of the most visited and popular State Park destinations in Illinois. The Streator area is also home to two public golf courses, the famous Weber House & Gardens, Community Players of Streator/Engle Lane Theater, Streator Eagle 6 Cinema, the Streatorland Historical Society, the Streator YMCA, a historic downtown and an impressive inventory of parks and open spaces—most of which have some unique connection to the history of Streator.
Streator is also the birthplace and boyhood home of Clyde Tombaugh, the person who discovered Pluto in 1930 while working at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. The significance of this discovery (the only planet discovered by an American) was expanded in 2015 when the New Horizons Spacecraft passed by the distant planet and caused scientists throughout the world to modify inaccurate assumptions held about Pluto for decades. The Pluto and Clyde Tombaugh stories are laid out in detail at a historic marker on the north side of Streator, near Anderson Fields Golf Course.
Weber House & Gardens – located at 1503 North Baker Street, the Weber House is a 1930's era kit home that has been transformed into a storybook house dedicated to mid-20th Century radio personalities. Built originally by a local businessman for his family, today it is maintained by his son—who had a distinguished career in Chicago in broadcast journalism. The house is set in a large classic English garden setting, and is open for regular tours.
City Park – Many Midwestern cities have an entire city block set aside for use as a park. But when Streator was first laid out and platted, its founders had the vision to make their downtown park a 4-square block urban preserve. Over the years it has seen several different uses, and today it hosts a public amphitheater, fountain, splash park, picnic shelters, restrooms and several memorials; but more than two-thirds of the park’s area has been set aside as an urban forest preserve.
Spring Lake Park – in the early years of the 20th Century before the advent of electric refrigeration, an ice house business operated west of Streator near the confluence of Eagle Creek and Egg Bag Creek. Here private interests installed a small dam that formed Spring Lake. Ice produced on the lake during winter months was cut and stored for sale during warmer months. When ice was no longer produced in this manner, the dam was destroyed and the lake drained, but the 35-acre park remaining retains this heritage in its name. The park is a popular hiking and picnicking location, and hosts the area’s only public equestrian trail.
Marilla Park – Approximately 33 acres of land on the northeast edge of the city was donated for a park in 1919 by the Plumb Family. It is the site of the city’s first drinking water source where a low flow dam was built on Otter Creek. In 2015, a local philanthropist donated an additional 32 acres, increasing the size of Marilla Park to approximately 65 acres. It is home to disc golf, mountain bike trails, picnic shelters and is large enough to accommodate group events.
Hardscrabble Park – Streator’s lighting system was first powered and supplied by a coal gasification plant on the east bank of the Vermilion River at the end of Cedar Street, giving residents piped gas for lamps long before electricity was available. When electric service came to town, the power utility purchased the site of the gasification plant from the city. Most of this site has been returned to the city and is now called Hardscabble Park because it is also the site where some of the first settlers crossed the Vermilion River from the east. There are bluffs along much of the east bank of the river, but at this location the ‘hardscrabble’ up from the river was easier.
Oakland Park – This park on the south side of Streator near a school with the same name was formerly a popular spot for neighborhood and ethnic events when such gatherings were more commonly a part of the city’s social dynamic. It remains a location for family and neighborhood events.
James Street Recreation Area – Across the BNSF railroad tracks from Oakland Park is the sprawling James Street Recreation Area, formerly home to a railroad car repair facility, a meat processing plant and other industrial elements from the city’s past. In the 1970s the city acquired the property and slowly developed its current uses: multiple ball fields and support facilities for organized team sports. The park is managed for the city by the Streator YMCA.
Hop-a-Long Cassidy Trail and Vermilion River Greenway – Another of Streator’s favorite sons, Clarence Mulford (author of more than two dozen Hop-a-Long Cassidy novels) was born in Streator in 1883. His family’s home still stands along the banks of the Vermilion River on West Bridge Street, next to the trail that bears his name. The Hop-a-Long Cassidy trail and canoe launch are part of the larger Vermilion River Greenway that preserves open spaces along the Vermilion River, and which contributed to Mulford’s boyhood experiences, some of which found their way into his written works.
Ketchewan Lakes Park – this private park on the south side of Streator is the site of two former companies engaged in mining clay and producing bricks. When brick production ceased, the site became a park. The former clay pits constitute the park’s ‘lakes’ and provide fishing, camping and boating opportunities from April to October.
The city has other smaller ‘pocket’ and neighborhood parks.In the aggregate, the city has more than double the per capita allotment of public open space and park lands recommended by the National Parks & Recreation Association.
Train-watching in Streator – Once served by eight rail lines, Streator's remaining three railroads provide a daily glimpse into both historic and modern railroading. This was detailed by Bruce Stahl in the April 2017 edition of Trains magazine: Railroading in Streatorland