Category Archives: Southern Illinois

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Trails to Adventure Light Festival Feature Image

The holiday season is just around the corner! From sipping hot cocoa with friends to taking pictures with Santa, Illinois hosts sparkling light festivals perfect for to experience with family and friends. Check out these five must-see light festivals in Central and Southern Illinois to make the most of this season!

East Peoria Festival of Lights and Folepi’s Winter Wonderland – November 23-January 1

With more than two million lights, East Peoria’s Festival of Lights and Wonderland is a mesmerizing display for visitors or all ages. The event kicks off November 21 with a three-mile Parade of Lights through downtown Peoria. The festival will crown a Lights Queen on November 15, conduct a citywide ornament hunt on November 25 and judge a Christmas splendor exterior decorating contest on December 8.

And for those looking to start the New Year on the right foot , sign up for East Peoria’s Get Lit New Year’s Eve Fun Run. This non-competitive and festive run starts at 11:50 p.m. on December 31, winding through Folepi’s Winter Wonderland and offering an exclusive view of the twinkling lights.

East Peoria Lights Festival 1

One of the vibrant displays at the East Peoria Festival of Lights.

Shelbyville Festival of Lights – November 20-January 2

Take a leisurely drive through Forest Park to see Shelbyville lit up in the holiday spirit. With new lights and themes every year, this festival of lights is a must-see this season. Families and couples are sure to enjoy the festive features including Victorian Village, Santa’s Shop, the North Pole and more.

Du Quoin Annual Holiday Lights Fair – November 25-December 31

For the holiday season, the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds get a festive makeover, transforming the grounds into a magical place of lights and decorations. Drive through  incredible lighted displays and decorated trees before enjoying live entertainment, delicious food and, of course, visits with Mr. Claus at Santa’s Train Ride and Workshop.

The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows Way of Lights – November 20-January 1

Illuminating the already beautiful 200 acres of landscape, the Way of Lights festival at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville features fun and festive events such as a new Lego Display play area for children and Tails, Trails and Twinkles, a perfect occasion to share the shining lights alongside four-legged friends.

Take a romantic horse-drawn carriage to admire the twinkling lights at the Way of Lights!

Take a romantic horse-drawn carriage to admire the twinkling lights at the Way of Lights!

Fantasy of Lights – November 30-January 1

Fantasy of Lights in Centralia is perfect for families with kids or couples looking for a spirited night out. Guests can appreciate the lighted displays on a drive through Foundation Park to experience twinkling candy canes or golfing Santa. In December, the ‘Little Obie’ train offers free rides for children – and adults, too – to meet Santa.

For more ways to celebrate the holiday season, visit

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Outdoor Adventures Feature Image

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.

Garden of the Gods

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.

Trails to Adventure - Garden of the Gods (@mcdansley)

Thanks to Instagramer @mcdansley for this gorgeous photo of the Garden of the Gods.

Giant City Stables

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.

Trails to Adventure - Giant City Stables (@jendugmo)

Adventure is waiting at Giant City Stables. Photo from Instagramer @jendugmo.

Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour

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.

Trails to Adventure - Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour (@thecreatornd)

Zip through the trees on the Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour like this adventurer, Instagramer @thecreatornd.

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

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Reveal Mermet Springs FEATURE

Southern Illinois is known for its winding nature trails, breathtaking cliffs and spectacular vineyards. Many don’t realize that Southern Illinois is also home to an array of offbeat museums and wacky monuments. Check out these four quirky attractions you didn’t know were in Southern Illinois!

The Super Museum—Metropolis

Childhood heroes come to life at The Super Museum in Metropolis, Illinois. The museum features more than 20,000 items of Superman memorabilia collected over 60 years—the largest collection of its kind on earth!

Super Museum visitors love learning about this mythical caped hero. (Photo by Donnelle Waldschmidt)

Super Museum visitors love learning about this mythical caped hero. (Photo by Donnelle Waldschmidt)

The Americana Hollywood Museum—Metropolis

After an afternoon exploring the Super Museum, Metropolis visitors won’t want to miss a trip to the nearby Americana Hollywood Museum. The museum is an amazing tribute to America’s most famous Hollywood icons, which features life-size figures, wardrobes, costumes, movie props, statues and celebrity collectibles from around the world. Travelers will love learning about the lives of Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and more!

Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tours—Makanda

Always wanted to try zip lining above a lush forest canopy? You don’t need to travel far! Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tours in Makanda consists of eight zip lines that crisscross the property’s stunning bluffs and valleys. A canopy tour is an exciting way to experience the flora, fauna, geology and history of Illinois’ great outdoors!

Instagramer @trashhand loved zooming through this leafy forest.

Instagramer @trashhand loved zooming through this leafy forest.

Mermet Springs—Belknap

Mermet Springs in Belknap is a unique spring-fed stone quarry where divers marvel at underwater treasures such as a submerged motorcycle and cement petting zoo—deep sea adventurers can even explore the airplane used in the movie U.S. Marshals! A dive at Mermet is the perfect way to explore something new on a summer day in Southern Illinois.

Planes, trains, and automobiles have all been sunk as attractions at this Illinois diving spot. (Photo by Mermet Springs)

Planes, trains, and automobiles have all been sunk as attractions at this Illinois diving spot. (Photo by Mermet Springs)

For more information on fun places to explore in Southern Illinois, check out

–Illinois Office of Tourism

Cahokia Mounds Feature Image

This week we asked followers to “find something more” in Illinois! If you identified and found Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville, congratulations! Be sure to follow us on Instagram for upcoming weekly challenges.


The challenge photo of Cahokia Mounds (Photo by Dustin Holmes)

Cahokia Mounds is Illinois’ only United Nations World Heritage Site. Located near historic Route 66 in Collinsville, the 2,200-acre site preserves the largest historic Native American settlement north of Mexico. Cahokia’s Interpretive Center presents a coherent account of this sophisticated prehistoric culture. Visitors can Climb Monk’s Mound for an unforgettable view of the ancient village grounds.

Reveal @itsalyrae

Photo by Instagramer @itsalyrae


Photo by Instagramer @brightjoey


Photo by Instagramer @caddis_hat

@sjali1 (1)

Photo by Instagramer @sjali

@sjali1 (2)

Photo by Instagramer @sjali


Photo by Instagramer @superbrewhaha

-The Illinois Office of Tourism

Family Travel Carbondale FEATURE IMAGE

The winter season in Illinois is a great time for a weekend away with the kids. Carbondale, Illinois is not only home to Southern Illinois University, but is also a mecca for family-friendly attractions, restaurants, and overnight accommodations. Below is a list of great options for seeing eating, and staying in Carbondale with the kids.

Have other recommendations? Comment below and we will consider it for future blog posts!


Old Illinois Passenger Depot Railroad Museum

If your little ones are train fanatics, they will go crazy over the Old Illinois Passenger Depot Railroad Museum in Carbondale. The Depot is restored to its 1903 glory and is loaded with information, artifacts and souvenirs. The best part? Kids can explore an original train car from the Illinois Central Railroad and ring the conductor’s bell!

Old Illinois Passenger Depot Railroad Museum

An original train car rests on the tracks at the Old Illinois Passenger Depot Railroad Museum

The Science Center of Southern Illinois

Sprinkle learning moments into a family trip to Carbondale by visiting The Science Center of Southern Illinois. The learning center is tailored towards children, with hands-on exhibits that appeal to little zoologists, biologists and scientists. Kids can become a pilot in a flight simulator or even walk beside an Allosaurus dinosaur!

Science Center of Southern Illinois

Larger than life dinosaurs at the Science Center of Southern Illinois offer children the opportunity to walk besides the prehistoric creatures


The Lodge at Giant City State Park

Home to all-you-can-eat chicken dinners, The Lodge at Giant City State Park is a great place to take the kids for an awesome meal after a busy day touring Carbondale. The family-style dinner comes with golden brown fried chicken, mashed potatoes, country milk gravy, made-from-scratch dumplings, veggies and homemade biscuits. If that doesn’t make you want to visit right now, The Lodge offers a special reduced price for children under 12.

MiniAbe at Giant City Lodge

MiniAbe devoured the chicken dinner at The Lodge

Quatro’s Deep Pan Pizza

Local families in Carbondale flock to Quatro’s Deep Pan Pizza for the restaurant’s signature deep pan pizza, which falls in-between traditional pan and Chicago-style pizza. The menu at Quatro’s has classic favorites like cheese and sausage, and unique flavor combinations like the Taco Pizza and Chicken Alfredo.


Quatro’s is ranked #1 on TripAdvisor for restaurants in Carbondale and won a 2014 Certificate of Excellence


Davie School Inn

Families can experience award-winning hotel service at the Davie School Inn, located in Anna just a short drive away from Carbondale’s destinations, including the Science Center of Southern Illinois and the Old Illinois Passenger Railroad Museum. This former elementary school still showcases some of the historical desks, chalkboards and other school elements, making it a unique destination for families.

For more family-friendly trip ideas, visit

-Illinois Office of Tourism