There’s nothing like sitting outside on a cool, crisp fall day, watching the leaves turn colors and savoring the flavor of a great glass of wine. That glass of white or red is even more satisfying as a hard-earned reward after a day of outdoor adventuring.
The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail in Southern Illinois is home to 12 award-winning wineries within a scenic 25-mile stretch on Highways 51 and 127 in Shawnee National Forest. While the wineries offer beautiful views of lush green vineyards, cozy accommodations at rustic cabins and lodges, and of course, delicious wine, there are plenty of other activities that make the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail the perfect fall vacation spot.
The most popular site in the Shawnee National Forest, the Garden of the Gods, is a hiker’s paradise. The panoramic views from the top of the quarter-mile Observation Trail are unparalleled, as visitors can gaze upon the breathtaking fall colors over miles of dense forest, as well as the incredible rock formations such as Anvil Rock and Devil’s Smoke Stack.
For a more relaxed tour through beautiful Shawnee National Forest, stop by Giant City Stables, where you can experience the beauty of nature from horseback. Private guided tours of either 30 or 60 minutes are a great romantic activity in between vineyard stops along the wine trail.
For a more exhilarating day along the wine trail, get your adrenaline pumping as you soar through the trees and above the valleys on 11 zip lines, the longest of which is more than 1,100 feet! There are also three suspension bridges and two short hikes on this exciting way to view all the diverse of flora, fauna and geology the forest has to offer.
For more suggestions on outdoor adventures in Southern Illinois and more information about the wineries on the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, find something more on EnjoyIllinois.com.
-Illinois Office of Tourism