Southern Illinois Vacation Rentals Guidebook

Allison
Southern Illinois Vacation Rentals Guidebook

Best Coffee Houses & Breakfast

The best coffee and beautiful avocado toast creations.
Crown Brew Coffee Co.
116 N Division St
The best coffee and beautiful avocado toast creations.
Delicious homemade ice cream and craft coffee
Southern Illinois Mercantile Company
112 East Main Street
Delicious homemade ice cream and craft coffee
Common Grounds Coffee House
600 East Grand Avenue
Amazing breakfast, lunch and bakery on "the strip" in Carbondale
Cristaudo's
209 South Illinois Avenue
Amazing breakfast, lunch and bakery on "the strip" in Carbondale
This primarily vegetarian (serves eggs) restaurant is a mainstay of downtown Carbondale. Breakfast of champions- even if you aren't vegetarian!
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Longbranch Cafe and Bakery
100 East Jackson Street
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This primarily vegetarian (serves eggs) restaurant is a mainstay of downtown Carbondale. Breakfast of champions- even if you aren't vegetarian!
Cash only. Long waits. Cobden address. If you are a Seinfeld fan, you'll understand the Soup Nazi's soup is just worth it. Bloody Mary's and Mimosas to die for, Lox and Bagels that are just as beautiful as it tastes. The signature Dutch iron skillets are as mouth watering as the picture entails.
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The Iron Whisk Bistro & Bar
200 S Front St
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Cash only. Long waits. Cobden address. If you are a Seinfeld fan, you'll understand the Soup Nazi's soup is just worth it. Bloody Mary's and Mimosas to die for, Lox and Bagels that are just as beautiful as it tastes. The signature Dutch iron skillets are as mouth watering as the picture entails.
Beautiful old bank building, friendly staff and good Eggs Benedict
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The Vault Cafe on the Square
504 Tower Square Plaza
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Beautiful old bank building, friendly staff and good Eggs Benedict
Hearty portions of mind-blowing breakfast and lunch- and those potatoes! Perfect way to start your day if you are heading to Carbondale area.
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Harbaugh's Cafe
901 South Illinois Avenue
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Hearty portions of mind-blowing breakfast and lunch- and those potatoes! Perfect way to start your day if you are heading to Carbondale area.

Best Parks for Hiking in Southern Illinois

We have another category for our favorite hiking trails within the parks.
Truly our favorite place- 2 gorgeous waterfalls, amazing bluffs, picnic areas, playgrounds and both easy and challenging trails. In fact, we have a family tradition to do a little mushroom hunting in the spring around some secret spots off of Round Bluff Trail. Then, after opening presents on Christmas morning we take a walk on Big Rocky Hollow Trail (aka "the waterfall trail").
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Ferne Clyffe State Park
90 Goreville Road
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Truly our favorite place- 2 gorgeous waterfalls, amazing bluffs, picnic areas, playgrounds and both easy and challenging trails. In fact, we have a family tradition to do a little mushroom hunting in the spring around some secret spots off of Round Bluff Trail. Then, after opening presents on Christmas morning we take a walk on Big Rocky Hollow Trail (aka "the waterfall trail").
The legendary Camel Rock, Stone Face, and a day’s worth of breathtaking views of southern Illinois. It’s an hour drive and completely worth it. Fun places to stop along the way. Check out the MAP section for great places to stop and eat along your route.
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Garden of the Gods
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The legendary Camel Rock, Stone Face, and a day’s worth of breathtaking views of southern Illinois. It’s an hour drive and completely worth it. Fun places to stop along the way. Check out the MAP section for great places to stop and eat along your route.
A lot like Ferne Clyffe but just so happens to have a divine fried chicken restaurant (Giant City Lodge). Climb the water tower for a scenic view overlooking the treetops. On a clear day you can stop Bald Knob Cross to the west. Stop by the cabins there and you’ll recognize a few scenes from the movie Gone Girl.
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Giant City State Park
235 Giant City Road
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A lot like Ferne Clyffe but just so happens to have a divine fried chicken restaurant (Giant City Lodge). Climb the water tower for a scenic view overlooking the treetops. On a clear day you can stop Bald Knob Cross to the west. Stop by the cabins there and you’ll recognize a few scenes from the movie Gone Girl.
Dixon Springs is a nice park to drive through with bluffs for the kids to play around right at the picnic area. https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/Pages/DixonSprings.aspx This park also features 19 miles of mountain bike trails and a swimming pool.
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Dixon Springs State Park
982 Illinois 146
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Dixon Springs is a nice park to drive through with bluffs for the kids to play around right at the picnic area. https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/Pages/DixonSprings.aspx This park also features 19 miles of mountain bike trails and a swimming pool.

Best Trails to Hike in Southern Illinois

Big Rocky Hallow Trail is a beautiful, easy out-and-back chat gravel trail that is safe for strollers, pups and durable wheeled devices. The trail is 0.7 miles one way. It leads to a 100 ft waterfall that is creek fed. The best time to see the fall is after a big rain or during the wet season (winter-spring). Even when it is not flowing in the summer, you can soak in the canopy of tree shade, gorgeous bluffs that flank the trail and do plenty of hiking on either side. Note: If you are planning on more hiking, be sure to check out Hawk's Cave, just on the opposite side of the parking lot!
Big Rocky Hollow Trail
Big Rocky Hallow Trail is a beautiful, easy out-and-back chat gravel trail that is safe for strollers, pups and durable wheeled devices. The trail is 0.7 miles one way. It leads to a 100 ft waterfall that is creek fed. The best time to see the fall is after a big rain or during the wet season (winter-spring). Even when it is not flowing in the summer, you can soak in the canopy of tree shade, gorgeous bluffs that flank the trail and do plenty of hiking on either side. Note: If you are planning on more hiking, be sure to check out Hawk's Cave, just on the opposite side of the parking lot!
Hawk's Cave not actually a cave, but it's the largest shelter bluff in the state of Illinois. It's an impressive bluff that extends over a shallow grave of boulders that is fun for all ages, especially children that love to climb.
Hawk's Cave Trailhead
Hawk's Cave not actually a cave, but it's the largest shelter bluff in the state of Illinois. It's an impressive bluff that extends over a shallow grave of boulders that is fun for all ages, especially children that love to climb.
Round Bluff Trail is literally a 2 mile trail that circles a giant bluff. There is plenty to see, but if you are short on time or just want to go straight to the best parts, start clockwise by walking past the pavilion and on to the trail.
Round Bluff Nature Preserve Trail
Round Bluff Trail is literally a 2 mile trail that circles a giant bluff. There is plenty to see, but if you are short on time or just want to go straight to the best parts, start clockwise by walking past the pavilion and on to the trail.
Unassuming by name, Giant City Nature Trail is made of fantastic rock formations such as "Fat Man's Squeeze" and "Balanced Rock."
Giant City Nature Trail
Unassuming by name, Giant City Nature Trail is made of fantastic rock formations such as "Fat Man's Squeeze" and "Balanced Rock."
What else can I say? GOTG Observation Trail is hands-down most photographed trail of southern Illinois- and with good reason. It's 100% worth the drive.
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Garden of the Gods
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What else can I say? GOTG Observation Trail is hands-down most photographed trail of southern Illinois- and with good reason. It's 100% worth the drive.
This trail has it all: gradual changes in elevation, bridges, streams, cliff overhangs, and sandstone sculptures.
Indian Creek Trail
This trail has it all: gradual changes in elevation, bridges, streams, cliff overhangs, and sandstone sculptures.

Best Waterfall Trails in Southern Illinois

Easily our favorite waterfall. Easy to walk to, plenty to see, and fun rocks to climb by the 100 foot falls. It is our family tradition to take a walk to this waterfall Christmas Day. There is never a bad time to visit! Always be safe (rocks + water= falling accidents!) and remember that almost all southern Illinois waterfalls are intermediate waterfalls which means they are best seen during the wet season (winter/spring) or after a heavy rain. They will dry up during the dry season. 📸 by Grant Twiss
Big Rocky Hollow Trail
Easily our favorite waterfall. Easy to walk to, plenty to see, and fun rocks to climb by the 100 foot falls. It is our family tradition to take a walk to this waterfall Christmas Day. There is never a bad time to visit! Always be safe (rocks + water= falling accidents!) and remember that almost all southern Illinois waterfalls are intermediate waterfalls which means they are best seen during the wet season (winter/spring) or after a heavy rain. They will dry up during the dry season. 📸 by Grant Twiss
Bork Falls is a breathtaking twin waterfall that flows into quite the swimming hole. WARNING: The road to get to Bork Falls is commonly washed out and very steep. Additionally, you drive over the rockbed top of the falls to to park and then descend on the trail to the base. I highly recommend 4 wheel drive or at least a high-sitting vehicle. (I last drove it in my Lincoln MKZ and it took a few hours before the color returned to my face.) Possibly with a regular car, but not recommended. Always be safe (rocks + water= falling accidents!) and remember that almost all southern Illinois waterfalls are best seen during the wet season (winter/spring) or after a heavy rain. 📸 by Grant Twiss
Bork Falls
Bork Falls is a breathtaking twin waterfall that flows into quite the swimming hole. WARNING: The road to get to Bork Falls is commonly washed out and very steep. Additionally, you drive over the rockbed top of the falls to to park and then descend on the trail to the base. I highly recommend 4 wheel drive or at least a high-sitting vehicle. (I last drove it in my Lincoln MKZ and it took a few hours before the color returned to my face.) Possibly with a regular car, but not recommended. Always be safe (rocks + water= falling accidents!) and remember that almost all southern Illinois waterfalls are best seen during the wet season (winter/spring) or after a heavy rain. 📸 by Grant Twiss
Jackson Falls is nothing short of amazing. The trails are not for the faint at heart but they are worth the hike if you are up for the instagrammable scenery.
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Jackson Falls
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Jackson Falls is nothing short of amazing. The trails are not for the faint at heart but they are worth the hike if you are up for the instagrammable scenery.
In the wet season and right after a rainfall, this trail also features a beautiful waterfall! 📸: : Grant Twiss
Red Cedar Trail
248-842 Giant City Rd
In the wet season and right after a rainfall, this trail also features a beautiful waterfall! 📸: : Grant Twiss

Best Orchards to Visit in Southern Illinois

Strawberries, then Peaches, then Apples The roadside stand with homemade treats are the best around.
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Flamm Orchards
8760 Old Hwy 51 N
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Strawberries, then Peaches, then Apples The roadside stand with homemade treats are the best around.
You-Pick berries- Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries
Hallsberry Farms
20 United Missionary Lane
You-Pick berries- Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries
Not only does Rendleman's have a delicious variety of peaches, then apples, it has the most beautiful flower fields to take pictures. Bring your best outfits because this will be your next profile picture!
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Rendleman Orchard
9680 IL-127
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Not only does Rendleman's have a delicious variety of peaches, then apples, it has the most beautiful flower fields to take pictures. Bring your best outfits because this will be your next profile picture!
You-pick Lavender farm with refreshing lavender lemonade and small gift shop.
Shawnee Hills Lavender
480 Brown Section Road
You-pick Lavender farm with refreshing lavender lemonade and small gift shop.
Wonder little farm of ferns in the spring and mums in the fall
The Patch
14656 Pittsburg Road
Wonder little farm of ferns in the spring and mums in the fall

Best Beaches & Swimming Holes in Southern Illinois

Of Course we would recommend our own little pond! Even if you are not staying at the cabins, you are welcome to take a swim at the little beach. It's only 1.5 acres pond but it's perfect for us. :)
Dam Near Lake of Egypt Cabins
2291 Market Road
Of Course we would recommend our own little pond! Even if you are not staying at the cabins, you are welcome to take a swim at the little beach. It's only 1.5 acres pond but it's perfect for us. :)
Neat place to hike and wade in the cool water of the spillway.
Kinkaid Lake Spillway
432 N Spillway Rd
Neat place to hike and wade in the cool water of the spillway.
Unofficially the favorite local summertime swimming hole! Not close to anything, but worth the drive!
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Bell Smith Springs Scenic Area
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Unofficially the favorite local summertime swimming hole! Not close to anything, but worth the drive!
Great location in a beautiful park. Great pairing- Stop by The Chocolate Factory on the way!
Lake Glendale Recreation Area
Great location in a beautiful park. Great pairing- Stop by The Chocolate Factory on the way!
Busy, clean beach just south of Carbondale- if you have little ones, they will love Castle Park that’s not too far away!
Poplar Camp Beach at Cedar Lake
Busy, clean beach just south of Carbondale- if you have little ones, they will love Castle Park that’s not too far away!
Excellent rainy day fun! $10 per person covers an all-day pass for the Indoor Waterpark, fitness center, and track. Perfect rainy-day back-up plan.
The HUB Recreation Center
917 W Main St
Excellent rainy day fun! $10 per person covers an all-day pass for the Indoor Waterpark, fitness center, and track. Perfect rainy-day back-up plan.
Daily, 11AM-7PM, Seasonally Clean, new, bright and fun… and you can bring your own cooler in and have a picnic.
Super Splash Park
625 S Lewis Ln
Daily, 11AM-7PM, Seasonally Clean, new, bright and fun… and you can bring your own cooler in and have a picnic.

Entertainment & Activities in Southern Illinois

Giant City Stables offer affordable and enjoyable horse rides for all skill levels. They are also the host of Specialized Equine Services, a non profit organization that specialized in equine therapy for all walks of life.
Giant City Stables
722 Giant City Rd
Giant City Stables offer affordable and enjoyable horse rides for all skill levels. They are also the host of Specialized Equine Services, a non profit organization that specialized in equine therapy for all walks of life.
Rolling Oak Alpaca Ranch
1335 Hall Church Rd
Boo Park or Castle Park is still our favorite park even as our own kids are well into middle school. The large wooden castle is filled with maze-like passes and climbable towers. The plaster-built dragon is one of many additional features to let imaginations run wild. Don't worry parents- everything is built big enough for parents to trail behind!
Jeremy "Boo" Rochman Memorial Park
31 Homewood Dr
Boo Park or Castle Park is still our favorite park even as our own kids are well into middle school. The large wooden castle is filled with maze-like passes and climbable towers. The plaster-built dragon is one of many additional features to let imaginations run wild. Don't worry parents- everything is built big enough for parents to trail behind!
See Southern Illinois from a whole new angle! Make a reservation with Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tours and have lunch afterwards at Blue Sky Vineyards.
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Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour
635 Robinson Hill Road
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See Southern Illinois from a whole new angle! Make a reservation with Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tours and have lunch afterwards at Blue Sky Vineyards.
Ray Fosse Park is the park in Marion, IL. This park is home to the Marion Aquatic Center Putt-Putt Golf Pickleball courts Summer ball diamonds All-abilities playground/ inclusive playground built in 2019
Ray Fosse Park
500 East Deyoung Street
Ray Fosse Park is the park in Marion, IL. This park is home to the Marion Aquatic Center Putt-Putt Golf Pickleball courts Summer ball diamonds All-abilities playground/ inclusive playground built in 2019
Bike rentals for use on the Tunnel Hill Bike Trail (note: the bike trail is a great stop on it’s own and the railroad tunnel is just a short walk from the trailhead parking lot)
Sandburn Junction
490 Sandburn Ln
Bike rentals for use on the Tunnel Hill Bike Trail (note: the bike trail is a great stop on it’s own and the railroad tunnel is just a short walk from the trailhead parking lot)
Ahhhh, The Cache River Wetlands Center. There are concrete trails there and it is close to a boardwalk in Section 8 Woods and to Lower Cache access where you can see the big trees. The Michael Wolff Memorial at the Marshall Ridge Access has a wheelchair accessible wildlife viewing platform by some ponds.
Barkhausen Cache River Wetlands Center
8885 Illinois 37
Ahhhh, The Cache River Wetlands Center. There are concrete trails there and it is close to a boardwalk in Section 8 Woods and to Lower Cache access where you can see the big trees. The Michael Wolff Memorial at the Marshall Ridge Access has a wheelchair accessible wildlife viewing platform by some ponds.