Family Friendly

Enjoy most any of the hikes listed here! Disclaimer: If you are traveling with very young children, we personally would not recommend Garden of the Gods. That is just our opinion, but there is a path immediately adjacent to sheer cliffs.

Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods
Walk or ride on Tunnel Hill Trail

Great biking or walking fun for everyone.  Amazing opportunities to get up close and personal with nature.

Contact Sandburn Junction for bike rental and drop off/pick up. If you just want to check out the tunnel go to Tunnel Hill, IL and it is just a short distance down the trail.

If you are going to head down to canoe the Cache River or hike at Heron Pond, don't forget to take the kids to the Wetlands Nature Center on the Cache. Lots of hands on for them and for you to enjoy the wildlife and nature of Southern Illinois!

Swimming areas are provided here , as well as at Bell Smith Springs and a pool and slide at Dixon Springs State Park . If you visit Dixon Springs be sure to indulge your sweet tooth at The Chocolate Factory

For a taste of a historical farm in Southern Illinois, visit Saline Creek Pioneer Village.

We also recommend feeding the ducks and playing at Paul Emery Park in Harrisburg, IL.

Take some time to visit an old river pirate cave, then take one of the last 2 free ferries across the Ohio river. You can head down that highway to Amish stores around Marion, KY if you want, or be like us, and just ride the ferry across and back on foot, to say you did! Also near Marion, KY enjoy an actual dig for minerals and gems at an old fluorescent mineral mine with a museum . They even have night digs for fluorescents under black lights!

Romantic Weekend

Garden of the Gods
Cave In Rock
Hogg Hollow Winery
Hogg Hollow Winery is Pope County's first winery, surrounded by the scenic hills of the Shawnee National Forest and centered in the Shawnee Hills AVA.
Bella Terra Winery
Nestled in the beautiful surroundings of Johnson County, IL, with a scenic view of ponds, trees, and our vineyard, we provide the perfect setting for sipping wines or celebrating special occasions.
Windy Hill Vineyard & Winery
We have constructed the winery ourselves giving it a nice Southern rustic atmosphere. Kind of like that down home feeling, which makes our family comfortable and hopefully our guests as well.
The Chocolate Factory
Come down and satisfy your craving for chocolate with our handmade treats! We’re located on Illinois Rt. 146 just across from Dixon Springs State Park in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest, on the beautiful Ohio River Scenic Byway in Southern Illinois, and just a short drive from Lake Glendale Recreation Area.
Harrah's Casino
Located in Metropolis, IL, home of Superman. Visit Cave In Rock and the old river pirate cave there, then take one of the last 2 free ferries across the Ohio River. You can head down that highway to Amish stores and a mineral museum around Marion, KY if you want.
Go shopping in historic Southern Illinois and find unique items at our antique stores and visit Pickers Outlet Mall.
Shawnee Forest Horseback Riding
Take a relaxing horseback ride around Lake Glendale and enjoy the wildlife and nature with your beloved.

Extreme Outdoors

Rappelling and Rock Climbing

Jackson Falls Climbing
Explore the Shawnee National Forest and Jackson Falls which is full of vast climbing routes for you to explore!
Vertical Heartland
Some of the best guided rock climbing and rappelling in Southern Illinois.
Rock Climbing
Specific directions to Jackson Falls, Draper's and Cedar Bluffs, Ferne Clyffe, and Giant City are given on their respective pages.

White Water Rafting/Kayaking

Garden of the Gods
White Water Rafting
American Whitewater
Lusk Creek is the most well-known whitewater run in Southern Illinois. It is one of the most pristine waterways in the state and is up for consideration as a National Wild & Scenic River. It is currently protected as a National Forest Wilderness area and sections as an Ecological Area. The Lusk Creek Canyon section of Lusk Creek in Illinois is 5.1 miles long and it is classified as a class I-III section by American Whitewater
Canoeing the Cache
The Lower Cache River Trail offers paddlers a quality canoe experience, 3 to 6 miles in length, through magnificent Cypress-Tupelo swamp. The highlight of the trail is Illinois' largest, and, therefore, state champion bald cypress tree. Like many trees within the Cache River State Natural Area, it is more than 1,000 years old.
White Crane Canoe Rentals & Guide Service 
White Crane Canoe Rentals offers guided tours with boat rental, lifejacket, and all the necessities. Make sure to call ahead to get your tour started!

Scuba Diving

Mermet Springs
Mermet Springs is a full service dive site and scuba training facility that offers on-site scuba instruction. We strive for excellence and cater to dive shops, instructors, students, and certified scuba divers of all experience levels and certifying agencies.

River-to-River Extended Hike or Annual Run

Illinois River to River Relay
Teams of eight runners compete on an 80-mile course. Each runner completes three sections that range in length from 2.5 to 4 miles. Teams are started in groups every 30 minutes beginning at 6:15am and continuing until the last group is started at 8:45am.
River to River Trail
If you want to fully experience the beauty of the Shawnee National Forest and Southern Illinois then the River to River Trail is for you. The trail is 160 miles long and there are many points of access.