2023 Discover Downstate IL Visitors Guide

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Say hello to Discover Downstate Illinois

Thank you for picking up our annual Visitors Guide! As you have probably noticed, this commemorative issue is a big deal for us for a multitude of reasons. If you have read any of our publications in the past or follow us online, you know that our former identity was ILLINOISouth Tourism. While that name served us extremely well for a decade, as of 2023 we have rebranded to Discover Downstate Illinois. We are beyond excited to represent our 21-county region under this new moniker!

Secondly, this year marks the 20th edition of our modern Visitors Guide. Throughout this year’s publication you will notice some things that we have included in order to celebrate 20 years, including several personal accounts from past employees, board members, and community partners that have contributed to our success over the years.

As you read ahead, you will find a multitude of different travel ideas. We cover everything from



Dennis Potthast

Jes Adam


Bailey Maulding

Nora Swalls


Amy Allen

Doug Spitzner


Jim Sullivan

Sandy Timmermann


Lisa Schaefer

Sara Mehler


Billie Chambers

Tania Craig


Debbie Fearn

Dennis Turpin


Mayor Ricky Gottman


Beth Sandusky

Jerry Prince


Jane Casey

Donna Coad


Tom Robinson

Paige Harvey

road trips and budget conscious travel ideas to fantastic food and even NASCAR! If you’d like to do some research before making a trip to our neck of the woods, head to downstateil.org. On behalf of all of us here at Discover Downstate Illinois, we hope you enjoy our Visitors Guide as much as we enjoyed creating it! If you do make a visit, please share any photos of your experiences online and use the hashtag #downstateil. We absolutely LOVE to hear about first-hand adventures in our region!

HIGHLAND (City of)

Mallord Hubbard


Ben Stratemeyer

MONROE COUNTY Clyde Heller Jim Hill

PERRY COUNTY Judy Smid Carrie Gilliam

RANDOLPH COUNTY Emily Lyons Ronnie G White

RICHLAND COUNTY Belinda Henton Karen Bell



WASHINGTON COUNTY Marvin Steinkamp Dee DeMoss

Cathleen Lindauer John West WABASH COUNTY Jim Pfeister Brenda Bobbitt
Darlene Chapman – President & Finance Director Christine Orr – Sales & Marketing Director Andy Waterman – Communications Director Elaine Byrd – Office Manager/Executive Assistant Jordan Jackovich – Sales & Marketing Specialist Emily Titsworth – Content Creator Tyler Pletsch – Communications Specialist Jessica Haar – Graphic Designer CREDITS Kingery Printing – Publication Printer TimeZoneOne – Publication Design Distributor – Jeremy Drake • • • FollowtheQR Code toexplore • • • DiscoverDownstate Illinoisonline Discover the Data ........................... 2 20 Things to do Under $20 ..........................................4 Take it Outside ................................ 8 Splash Around in Downstate Illinois ........................ 12 Eat Your Heart Out........................ 14 The Road That Built the Nation 20 Discovered on Social 22 Drink Like a Local......................... 24 20 Notable Events in Downstate Illinois ....................... 30 Discover Our Neck of the Woods ...................................... 34 Public Displays of Art ................. 44 Stay in Style ................................... 48 Seasonal Selections 52 Made in Downstate Illinois 58, 68, 71 Gathering Ground ....................... 60 20 Historic Stops in Downstate Illinois ....................... 64
WAYNE COUNTY Daryl Hargrave Carrie Halbert WHITE COUNTY
2 | DISCOVER DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS Discover THE data Covered bridges 9 White squirrels in Olney 64 Gallons of spirits produced (Witness & Stumpy’s) Gateway Geyser 630ft 52,500 21 Counties 46,200 lb Weight of the World's Largest Rocking Chair Cases of Mullen’s Salad Dressing sold 8k 19 Popeye characters on the Character Trail in Chester



Can you explain how you got your start in tourism?

“I was at The Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows for 30 years and kind of began tourism there with The Way of Lights. I was able to travel nationally on behalf of the Shrine and got very involved with tourism because that’s really what it was, to bring the many buses there to the Shrine at Christmas time. Then I heard

What was your main goal for the bureau?

“I wanted for the bureau to become active in the eight counties that I inherited at the time. When I was here we had eight counties, and now there are 21. We’ve grown quite a bit over time, and we traveled quite a bit and got to know wonderful people in these communities.

I enjoyed meeting people, talking with people, getting to know who they are, where they are, what they want, their needs. And that to me was the key when we traveled, to get to know them and find out what they wanted and see how we could help them grow their community. That to me was the key and the best part of it.”

Is there anything that really stands out in your time here?

“To me, the biggest part of the job was to build relationships, that’s what I did pretty well, I think. I had good relationships with a lot of people, and some who when we first went in and talked to them about it weren’t interested at all. They just didn’t think we could do squat until they saw it happen, but we had to earn our stripes, I tell you. jo and I worked our butts off to do that, a lot of nights, a lot of weekends, a lot of meetings.”

Before you arrived at the bureau the Visitors Guide was done out of house. Why was it important to you for the bureau to take control of it?

that the bureau was looking for someone, I had been on the board of the tourism bureau back in the mid-80’s so I had connections in and out many years ago. So fortunately, I was hired and the rest is history – and we’re still here aren’t we?”

One of your early hires was Darlene Chapman, now the President & Finance Director. Can you explain how that came to be?

“After I became CEO at the time, that is when we uncovered, and I was unaware of it when I was hired, that we owed a quarter of a million dollars to the state. The state didn’t know it either, but we found that out with the help of the firm that Darlene was with. She was so competent and delightful, and I would have staff come in and say have you thought about hiring Darlene Chapman? I said, I’m on it – and I was fortunate enough to get her. I couldn’t imagine functioning without her doing our finances. Couldn’t imagine it.”

“All those years and all those successes thanks to the talented staff, my favorite part of the bureau was being surrounded by talent, and dedication, and loyalty – and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. We became a movement in the truest sense of team, and we were always there for each other, and there’s no question in my mind how it took us out of debt, how we enlarged our footprint in Illinois because of the talent of the staff, that’s what I miss most of all.”

When jo kathmann inherited a murky situation with the bureau, you were one of her first hires. How did that make you feel?

“She realized when she took over and found out what the problems were, that she wasn’t going to be able to handle it without someone who was really good at marketing. I have to give her so much credit for foresight, one of the reasons that we worked so well together is that she had the vision of where it could go and where it could be, and kind of how we could get there - but I implemented it. Jo and I just clicked from the beginning.”

“We completely revamped the Visitors Guide when we got here. I created the first media kit that had sizes of ads, pricing, and just information about what we want from our communities, calendar information. That kind of stuff was all in the folder and then I started passing those folders out to everybody we met with, and we started getting ads coming in, so it was a snowball effect. Then once we added all those extra counties, we had to figure out how to segment it so that regionally people would understand where they were. We didn’t want somebody thinking that they could hop in a car and in an hour be to Casey, it’s a little farther than that. But writing the stories was a lot of fun.”

When you think about your role in the early 2000’s, what was your biggest task?

Hand-pick a bouquet of flowers straight from a HUGE garden.

Bottle-feed a baby goat and hang out with camels and kangaroos!


things to do for $20 or less

There are plenty of spots in Downstate Illinois where you don’t have to spend a ton of money to have fun. Frankly, sometimes the best things to pass the time are free, or close to it. Here are twenty awesome things to do that won’t break the bank while you’re in our region.

1. Illinois Country Harvest, Prairie du Rocher – This is your chance to hand-pick a bouquet of flowers straight from a HUGE garden for just $15. Not only can you get a vase to place them in, but the photo ops are great as well!

2. Rainbow Ranch, Nashville – For $10 per person you can get up close and personal with all of these friendly animals. Bottle-feed a baby goat and hang out with camels and kangaroos!

3. The Edge, Belleville – The Edge has everything from go-karts to laser tag, but the best bang for your buck is the arcade games. You can get 20 plays for $20.

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Credit: Brandi Crawford, Anevay Photography,

The Centralia Carillon is a massive 160-foot tall tower!

One of the best mini-golf courses in Downstate Illinois.

4. Centralia Carillon, Centralia – One of the most unique things in Downstate Illinois is the Centralia Carillon. It’s a 160-foot-tall tower with 65 bells at the top that play lovely music. This Carillon is one of the 10 largest in the WORLD, and you can take a FREE tour by booking an appointment.

5. Sure Shot, Mascoutah – Just pay $5 to enter, and enjoy $15 axe throwing on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday.

6. The Woodlands, Martinsville – Climb on a giant spider web, go down a 90-foot slide, zoom across a zipline, work up a sweat on outdoor workout equipment, and play musical instruments all FOR FREE.

7. Grayville/I-64 KOA – Home to one of the best mini-golf courses in Downstate Illinois. Play up to 27 holes for just $4 to $13 per person depending on age and number of holes!

8. Eversgerd’s Civil War Fort – A local man out of Clinton County named Bob Eversgerd has spent decades building this replica Civil War Era Fort FROM SCRATCH. It’s free to experience, but donations towards upkeep of the site are welcomed.

9. Illinois Rural Heritage Museum, Pinckneyville – History buffs, listen up. This 17,000 square foot museum is full of all kinds of agricultural and rural artifacts. Best part is, it doesn’t cost a dime.

10. Carlyle Lake Beach – Build a sandcastle and dip your toes in the largest man-made lake in the state. Experience this and more at Carlyle Lake for free.

11. Gateway Grizzlies, Sauget – Catch a minor league baseball game without breaking the bank. $11 gets you a general admission ticket when you walk-up on gamedays!

As a family, we loved these attractions.
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Credit: Leah DiMaggio @ljdimaggio
Credit: Gateway Grizzlies Baseball
Chris Cooley


Visit the last returnable bottling line in the state, at Excel Bottling.

Take a cruise on the Modoc River ferry for only $2 each way.

13. Little Toot Railroad, Flora – ALL ABOARD! Kiddos and adults love to ride on this 15” gauge live steam railroad. It’s just $5 for one trip and $7.50 for two trips around the track.

Budget friendly and great to see attractions.

14. Sainte Genevieve/Modoc River Ferry – Get an up-close and personal view of the Mississippi River during this ferry ride that runs just $2 each way for pedestrians.

15. DeMoulin Museum, Greenville – This is probably the quirkiest museum you’ll find, and it’s so much fun. There are several lodge initiation devices on display from trick knife boards to collapsing chairs. It’s all FREE, but donations are accepted.

16. Piney Creek Ravine, Randolph County –Did you know the largest collection of prehistoric rock art in the state can be found at Piney Creek Ravine in Randolph County? This natural adventure is free, all it requires is a hike!

17. Heath Museum & Confectionery, Robinson – Fun fact for you, the always delicious Heath Bar was created in Robinson, Illinois! Learn about its history and purchase a bag of wrapped or unwrapped Heath Bars to enjoy. Admission is FREE, but the candy bars will run a few bucks.

18. Drive ‘N Theater, Jasper County – One of the few remaining drive-in movie theaters in the state can be found outside of Newton in Jasper County. Tickets are just $8 for folks 13 and up, and $5 for ages 4-12.

19. Wabash Cannonball Bridge, Lawrence County – This one-lane bridge dates back 125 years as a railroad bridge. Now it’s meant for vehicular traffic, and it’s quite an experience to drive across. You’ll go from Illinois into Indiana, and local tales even say that it’s haunted! It’ll only run you a couple bucks for the toll.

20. Mural Walk, Olney – The community of Olney recently finished SEVERAL murals throughout town. They have developed a map that illustrates the walking trail so that visitors can check out each mural. This art-filled experience doesn’t cost a thing!

Discover prehistoric rock art at Piney Creek Ravine.

The Wabash Cannonball Bridge dates back 125 years.

Excel Bottling, Breese – Home of the always popular ‘Ski’ soda pop, and the last returnable bottling line left in the state. Come to the source and purchase 24 fresh glass bottles for $15 and change. Credit: Midwest Nomad Family
@hops_adventures 12. 14. 16. 19.


What does the partnership with Discover Downstate Illinois mean to WWTR?

“Of all the groups I’ve worked with, the relationship and the program stand out the most because we work together on our advertising, and the initiatives and different programs that Discover Downstate Illinois offers, that opens those doors for us. A lot of racetracks have to focus, and they can’t take a lot of those risks outside of their own market. Working with Discover Downstate Illinois gives us that opportunity to make connections in other places, come up with some creative programming and some creative ways to advertise.”

Name one of your favorite non-racing events that we’ve partnered on together.

“Our WonderLights show is a perfect example. There have been times when I’ve had people who come up and ask me about working at the racetrack and I think they’re wanting to talk to me about the NASCAR race, or INDYCAR race, or NHRA, when they really want to thank me for having the Christmas lights show.”

“It just keeps getting better, and for me, I always look forward to it because I keep a copy of it in my vehicle just because there are lots of times where I’m out away from the racetrack just cruising through the area and I want to see what kind of other events might be taking place. It’s become a great resource for us! What I hear a lot from people who operate other racetracks, is ‘how did you get on the cover,’ and you know number two they say they wish they had those resources and that kind of relationship with their local tourism groups. That just shows that it is a good partnership piece and it just keeps continuing to get better.”

How has the Visitors Guide changed in the 10 years you have been involved?

Take it outside

It goes without saying that folks have rediscovered their love for the great outdoors over the last couple of years. That’s a great thing for local businesses and communities in Downstate Illinois, because the outdoor recreation opportunities are endless. We have everything from traditional golf to disc golf, as well as sunflower fields, orchards, bluff trails, caverns, kayak rentals and airboat rides. Whether you’re traveling solo, with a friend, or with the whole family, it’s easy to fall in love with all of the outdoor adventures that Downstate Illinois has to offer.

Credit: Governor's Run Golf Course
Credit: Tara Cook

The Governors Run Golf Course is perfect for all levels.

Test your skills in the Dahnke Family Farms corn maze!

Eckert’s, Belleville & Millstadt – Since 1862, the Eckert family has had their roots in Southern Illinois. In 1890, the first fruit trees were planted in Belleville and have since become a staple to the community. Enjoy picking fresh fruit in the orchard and warm apple cider donuts at their country store in Belleville. And be sure to take the kids to the Fun Farm in Millstadt for camel rides, pig races, a corn maze, and much more!

Governors Run Golf Course, Carlyle –Whether you’re an amateur or Phil Mickelson, this course is perfect to test your long and short game. This championship course includes 18 holes, 13 lakes, 5 sets of tees, and a par of 72.

Gateway National Golf Links, Madison –This 71-par, links-style course is coined as the most challenging public course in the area. Only a 10-minute drive from St. Louis, venture to Madison and experience a top-notch course and see why it is the official golf course of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Dahnke Family Farms, Martinsville – Start a new family tradition and visit with live reindeer after finding the perfect Christmas tree! Do pay a visit in the fall as well to load up on gourds and pumpkins!

Goshen Bike Trail, O’Fallon – This 19.5 mile trail begins on the north side of O’Fallon and is entirely paved and rarely crosses roads. Feel free to venture the entirety of the trail or turn back at any point! The trail is also welcome to walkers/ runners and is dog friendly.

Credit: Metro East Parks & Recreation District Credit: Dahnke Family Farms The Goshen Bike Trail is one of the best ways to explore Downstate Illinois!

The MetroBikeLink has over 14 miles of trail suitable for walking or biking.

We rode along that trail for hours.

Country Kids Pumpkin Patch, Hoyleton – Make unforgettable memories in Hoyleton this fall with the whole family! From picking out pumpkins and mums to having fun petting goats, playing a life-sized Candy Land game, racing pedal go-karts, sliding down a 30-foot slide, and way more!

MetroBikeLink, St. Clair County – Building started in 2018 with the Orchard Loop in Belleville and in 2022, two more additions were made along Old Collinsville Road in Belleville and Swansea. With over 14 miles of trail, there is much to discover by foot or bike!

Clinton Hills Disc Golf Course, Swansea –

A par-58 course with turf tees that tests your dynamic ability. While mostly a clear and open course, each hole uses distance and elevation changes to its advantage.

Fox Prairie Disc Golf Course, McLeansboro – This par-59 course is heavily wooded and moderately hilly, which will test your skills on each throw. Built in 2022, this free course has a short and long concrete tee.

Credit: SCCTD

Sam Parr State Park is best visited in August when the sunflowers are in full bloom!

Monroe County has tons of natural wonders to explore!

Sam Parr State Park, Newton – For outdoor enthusiasts, this park has it all from hiking and equestrian trails, to camping, hunting, fishing, and boating. August is one of the best times to visit so that you can experiences acres and acres of beautiful sunflowers.

Monroe County – From hundreds of feet in the air to hundreds of feet underground, Monroe County has tons of natural wonder. Test out your hiking boots on the Salt Lick Trail in Valmeyer, or at Fults Hill Prairie. Both trails are moderate in difficulty and reach over 380 feet in elevation. For those who like the dark, visit our

Kayaking the Wabash River is a great summer activity.

What an amazing view from the bluffs.

Duck Island Airboats sure is a thrill!

friends at the Illinois Caverns in Waterloo. While it is free, application permits are needed before entering the cave.

Duck Island Airboats, Keyesport – The only airboat service in Illinois is located here in Downstate Illinois! Experience beautiful Carlyle Lake like never before with up to five friends! Check them out on Facebook for updated pricing and ride information.

River Rat Kayaking & Rental, Mount Carmel – Discover the beauty of the Wabash River on a guided group kayak trip! At $30 a person, their 8-hour trips are a great way to spend those summer days!

For more outdoor activities throughout our region, go to downstateil.org/Play/Outdoor-Recreation

Credit: Andy Burns

in Downstate Illinois Splash


When the weather gets warm, it’s always nice to take a dip in the water. The great news is that Downstate Illinois has no shortage of places to splash around! Whether you like swimming indoors, or having fun at a splash pad outside – here are a few suggestions that are beloved by locals and visitors alike.

O’Fallon Family Sports Park Splash Pad, O’Fallon – This free splash pad is a great way to cool off on a hot day or after playing some baseball at the park! Fun for all the family and spacious enough to feel comfortable.

Pelican Cove Water Park, Robinson –Discover a sunken pirate ship, a breaching whale, and more at this unique splash pad in Robinson. Be sure to take a dip in the heated pool and enjoy the water slides as well!

Salem Family Aquatic Center, Salem – From adult swim to pool parties, this aquatic center has it all! When you have a twisty slide and a giant water bucket that soaks the kiddos when it gets full enough, this place is a child’s dream –and with admission at just $5 a person, it won’t break the bank.

Plenty of water play and swimming at Pelican

Cove Water Park.

The Rec, Fairview Heights – A day in the water is always great, especially when you can do it year-round! This indoor pool features a waterslide, splash pad, and a lazy river! Be sure to look for fun activities like the pumpkin plunge or aqua-Zumba. Also, check out other Rec amenities including a rock-climbing wall, a fitness center, and more.

Korte Rec Center, Highland – Another great indoor option, Korte offers multiple slides, a splash pad, lazy river, and lap swim! This rec center also offers an indoor track, gymnasium, and fitness.

For more outdoor activities throughout our region, go to downstateil.org/Play/Outdoor-Recreation

Credit: Midwest Nomad Family
DISCOVER DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS | 13 • Polar Plunge • Farmers Market • City Wide Yard Sales • Street Fair • Clinton County Fair • 4th of July Fireworks • Cruisin’ the Dam Car Show • Haunted Trail • Pumpkin Patch • Christmas in Carlyle Carlyle Lake ILLINOIS' LARGEST MAN-MADE LAKE 26,000 acres of water and 11,000 acres of public land, Carlyle Lake offers an abundance of recreational opportunities.
Eat your your taste buds.
20+ notable restaurants that specialize in everything
breakfast and baked goods to tacos and pizza.
up! 1. Lotawata Creek – Fairview Heights 2. June’s Breakfast + Patio – Shiloh 3. Peel Wood Fired Pizza – O’Fallon 4. MiCasa Sub Shop – Red Bud 5. Shorty’s BBQ – Waterloo 6. Soulcial Kitchen – Swansea 7. Covered in Chocolate – Breese 8. Chuck’s Place – Salem Shorty’s BBQ, Waterloo MiCasa Sub Shop, Red Bud 4 5 1 6 2 10 3 11. Marks’ Bakery – Du Quoin 12. Kahuna’s – Greenville 13. C-Town Twist – Centralia 14. Kretzer’s – Hoyleton 15. Two Farmers – Mt. Carmel Shorty’sBBQ,Waterloo Kretzer’s, Hoyleton RANDOLPH MONROE ST. CLAIR Credit:Kretzer'sGrill& Bar Credit:CoveredinChocolate Bak e r y Credit:Shorty'sSmokehouse Credit:June'sBreakfast&Patio
The unfortunate news is that we can’t possibly fit them all into one publication! As you can see by this nifty map,
have made it
to find
C-Town Twist, Centralia Chuck’s Place, Salem Ice Cream Korner, Iuka Covered in Chocolate, Breese Smokin’ Pig, Grayville Julians Drive-in, Flora DiMaggio's Pizza, Fairfield Bailey's Bistro, Albion Taco Factory, Carmi Carl's Pizza, Greenup BJ's Saloon, Newton Moonshine Store, Martinsville Monical's Pizza, Robinson Two Farmers, Mt. Carmel Ophelia's Cup, Olney Griffin's Pizza House, Bridgeport Blind Society, Vandalia Marks’ Bakery, Du Quoin Kretzer’s, Hoyleton 15 20 22 24 28 19 17 11 7 14 8 13 9 21 27 18 26 16 25 12 23 16. Carl's Pizza – Greenup 17. Deep South – McLeansboro 18. Moonshine Store – Martinsville 19. Taco Factory – Carmi 20. Smokin’ Pig – Grayville 21. Ophelia’s Cup – Olney Two Farmers, Mt . Carmel Blind Society, Vandalia PeelW a O’ Fal l o n CTown T w i s ,t ailartneC I c e Cream Korner, Iuka Moonshine Store, Martinsville Ophelia'sCup , Olney ocaTehT Ftca o r y , C a m i 'lraC s P i zz a , G r e enup CLARK CUMBERLAND JASPER CRAWFORD LAWRENCE RICHLAND CLAY WAYNE MARION FAYETTE BOND WASHINGTON CLINTON PERRY WABASH WHITE HAMILTON EDWARDS DISCOVER DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS | 15 22. Julian’s Drive-In – Flora 23. Blind Society – Vandalia 24. DiMaggio’s Pizza – Fairfield 25. BJ’s Saloon – Newton 26. Monical’s Pizza – Robinson 27. Griffin’s Pizza House – Bridgeport 28. Bailey's Bistro – Albion Credit:TheTacoFactory Credit :Ophella'sCup Credit :BlindSociety

Eat your

check. This place has developed a huge following; over a half-million hungry folks visit Lotawata Creek each year!

June’s Breakfast + Patio SHILOH

While this spot just opened in 2022, it has become a hot-spot for brunch enthusiasts in a short amount of time, offering seasonal dishes as well as vegan and gluten-free options.

Peel Wood Fired Pizza O’FALLON

With flavor pairings like chicken, bacon, and

of three of their menu offerings wrapped into one sandwich, including five different meats!

Shorty’s Smokehouse WATERLOO

While they have your traditional pork, brisket, and rib options – they also get VERY creative with options like jalapeño cheddar sausage and pork belly burnt ends.

Soulcial Kitchen SWANSEA

This is one of the most unique eateries in our region. They have a food truck park that is utilized on the weekends, as well as indoor dining for the weekdays. They also have a dog park, and a playground for kiddos.

Covered in Chocolate BREESE

These folks consider themselves ‘Pinterest Queens’ and it’s not hard to see why. Whether it’s their cake pops or their cheesecake, each dessert is more beautiful than the next.

Chuck’s Place

Chuck’s is easily one of the most popular spots for burgers south of Interstate 70. They have small or large burgers depending on your appetite, but we recommend The Wimpy!

Ice Cream Korner

Out in rural Marion County sits this amazing mecca of dairy treats. If you’re a fan of LARGE banana splits, they may just have the best.

Mexico on Main TRENTON

Ever have a burrito with two full slices of pineapple on top? You can get it here.

Marks’ Bakery DU QUOIN

Everyone loves their themed cookies as well as their ‘Skunk Tail’ donut. Although it packs a sugary punch – it’s DELICIOUS.


Pro-tip if you’re into trying new things – get the Sunset Burger. It has a sweet chili cream cheese that is out of this world!


Yes, their ice cream is spectacular, and they have an ever-changing seasonal menu, but the atmosphere is just as good. They have a big ice cream cone and a large Adirondack chair for photo ops, and a mini-golf course is planned to open in 2023.

Kretzer’s Grill & Bar HOYLETON

Folks drive from two hours away just to enjoy all-you-can eat crab legs at Kretzer’s, and they’ve gone through over 5,000 pounds of crab in one weekend alone.

Two Farmers Burgers and Beignets MT. CARMEL

Fans of smashburgers will LOVE this place. You can get multiple patties, but make sure to add some of their bacon jam to that order as well.

Carl's Pizza GREENUP

Carl’s has 18 toppings to choose from, along with half a dozen specialty pizzas to try. On top of that, they also do Chicago style deep dish pizzas as well as gluten free options, including cauliflower crust.


The menu here is expansive depending on the day. They offer up everything from burgers and flash fried wings to bone-in ribeye. Keep in mind that on Saturday’s they often have all-you-can eat lobster and crab legs.

Moonshine Store MARTINSVILLE

Their half-pound patties are mouthwatering, and the fact that Moonshine is in the middle of nowhere is part of the experience. It has been featured on several national media outlets including CBS Sunday Morning and is always worth a visit.

The Taco Factory CARMI

This Mexican-American joint offers up a fast, casual experience. We highly recommend the taco salad!

The Smokin’ Pig GRAYVILLE

You can find Smokin’ Pig in the Westwood Saloon at the Grayville/I-64 KOA Holiday. Grab a bite to eat, then hit up their shooting gallery and play 27 holes of mini golf.

Ophelia’s Cup OLNEY

While they offer breakfast and lunch items, their cakes are reason alone to make the trip!

Julian’s Drive-In FLORA

If you have a hankering for a good old-fashioned cheeseburger, this is the spot. They’ve been serving them up for decades!

Blind Society VANDALIA

This spot serves up AMAZING appetizers like lobster rangoons and zucchini fries, and it’s conveniently connected to Witness Distillery.

DiMaggio’s Pizza FAIRFIELD

Pizza is what they’re known for, but DiMaggio’s also cooks up over a dozen different sandwiches and paninis, as well as pasta.

BJ’s Saloon


If a food challenge piques your interest, this place offers the ‘Gut Buster’ Challenge which consists of a burger, a pork tenderloin sandwich, and a huge pile of fries.

Monical’s Pizza ROBINSON

After you check out the Heath Museum & Confectionery in town, enjoy some amazing thincrust pizza at Monical’s!

Griffin’s Pizza House BRIDGEPORT

These folks cook up some amazing pies, including their ‘pizza of the month’ which usually involves unique flavor combos!

Bailey’s Bistro ALBION

Soups, salads, sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and even comfort food like meatloaf and mashed potatoes can all be found here – talk about options!


For more dining options throughout our region, go to downstateil.org/Dine

Mark s Bak e r y
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TheSmokin 'Pig, Gray v ille
niou 'JB s Sla o o n , N ewton
CreekSouthernGrill ,Fai r vi e w H e gi sth C
18 | DISCOVER DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS Welcome to Salem The residents of Salem welcome you and are looking forward to your next visit! • Disc Golf Course • Nature Walk • Forbes State Park • Inclusive Playground • Sand Volleyball • Indoor Skating • Historical Landmarks • Cozy Boutiques • Coffee Shops • Outdoorsman Stores • Fine Dining • Dive Bars Things to Experience: Peanut Butter & Jam Festival Schweizerfest Fireworks Madison County Fair Kirchenfest O’Fest Homestead Harvest Days Street Art Festival Art in the Park Trick or Treat Trail Lighted Christmas Parade Discover Download Highland Happenings in the App Store or Google Play
DISCOVER DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS | 19 www.marshall-il.com X \

Casey loves all things BIG!

built the nation The road that

History buffs and day trip enthusiasts, pack your bags and make a voyage on the National Road, also known as U.S. Route 40 or the Cumberland Road. It is one of the oldest highways in the nation, and it connects our region to the East Coast!

The National Road was the first federally funded road and is known to many as the “Road That Built the Nation.”

Martinsville –Home to one of the world’s largest horseshoes.

St. Elmo

Top Stops Along the Historic National Road

1. Schlafly Highland Square, Highland – No matter where you begin your journey, this makes for a great starting or ending point. Schlafly branched into Illinois in 2021 when they opened this location, and it has been a BIG hit. Their beer is obviously a selling point, but their burgers have earned quite the reputation.

2. Mercantile & Sweet Shoppe, Pocahontas - This old-fashioned general store will have you feeling like a time traveler! The Mercantile & Sweet Shoppe features everything from clothing and home décor to baked goods and novelty bottles of soda. Be sure to mark this spot on your map, you won’t want to miss it.

3. American Farm Heritage Museum, Greenville – Make sure to allow plenty of time for this stop. There are three buildings housing multiple exhibits on seven acres of land! Be sure to check their website while planning your road trip, because they have several family-oriented events throughout the year. While you’re exploring, make sure

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7. 4.
5 Highland Pocahontas Greenville Vandalia

to check out Hill’s Fort, which was originally constructed in the 1800’s and has since been reconstructed. The American Heritage Railroad is a hit as well, as this 15” gauge railroad takes folks for a mile ride around the property!

4. Interpretive Center + Roadside Attractions, Vandalia – Learn more about U.S. 40 by visiting the National Road Interpretive Center, right next to Vandalia’s City Hall. There are exhibits that explain exactly how the road came to be! While in Vandalia, there are several roadside attractions to experience. There’s the fire-breathing Kaskaskia Dragon near Interstate 70, and downtown you’ll find Honest Abe sitting on a bench right across from the Old State Capitol Building, as well as the Madonna of the Trail, one of just twelve memorials across the country to honor pioneer mothers of the covered wagon days.

5. Driftstone Pueblo, St. Elmo – At this authentic Native American store, you can shop for thousands of souvenirs including jewelry, moccasins, and pottery. This 8,4000 square foot showroom is one of the largest in the Midwest, making it a must-see experience!

6. Cameo Vineyards, Greenup – After crossing the always popular Cumberland County Covered Bridge, this vineyard will welcome you with open arms and a heavy pour! Owned by a local couple, Cameo has been serving beautifully crafted wines for more than 20 years. With over a dozen varietals to choose from, you’re almost certain to find something that pleases the palate.

7. Big Things in a Small Town, Casey –When you’re cruising down a two-lane highway, it’s REALLY hard to miss a GIANT bird cage and the World’s Largest Mailbox, among other big things. Casey is home to 11 of the World’s Largest items including a rocking chair that stands 56feet tall! These objects were built within the last decade to help draw in tourists and save the small community, and boy has it worked. Most of the items are outside while others are hosted inside businesses, but all are free to enjoy!

8. Big Anvil & Horseshoe, Martinsville –Just east of Casey lies Martinsville, home to even more BIG items. Here you will find a giant anvil weighing in at 5,530 pounds, as well as the Big Horseshoe that used to be the World’s Largest but has since lost the title. That said, they’re still fantastic photo opportunities!

9. National Road Welcome Center, Marshall – Housed in a building established in 1872 as a livery stable and opera house, it now serves as a community center and the National Road Welcome Center. Be sure to stop in and learn about the history of the Road That Built the Nation!

For more road trip ideas throughout our region, go to downstateil.org/Plan 6 7 8
3. 5. Enjoy a refreshing vino at Cameo Vineyards.
Take a snapshot of the National Road mural in Marshall. Kids love the American Heritage Railroad Train Days. 1. 9
Greenup Casey Martinsville Marshall
Driftstone Pueblo is a must-see shop experience in St. Elmo.
Discovered on We love seeing your adventures in Downstate Illinois, so be sure to share your experience with us by using our hashtag #downstateil #downstateil social IMAGE CREDITS: Top Left Clockwise Coulterville Holiday Lights @midwestnomadfamily Piney Creek Ravine @chanothedestroyer St. Nicholas Brewing Company @caffeineuntilcocktails Salger’s Ostrich Farm @forever_young.photography Washington County State Recreation Area @megawinner33 Tetzel Prime @ourownchaos FOLLOW OUR HASHTAG FOR MORE TRAVEL IDEAS #DOWNSTATEIL # 22 | DISCOVER DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS @DownstateIL @downstateil @downstateil

Owner of Rainbow Ranch Petting Zoo

How long have you been involved with the tourism bureau?

“We came aboard in the first couple of years that jo and Pat were there. We’ve been having so much fun, time has flown and twenty years later Rainbow Ranch is doing great, and the tourism bureau –I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

What sticks out to you when you think about the last two decades?

“One of my favorite memories was the first time Pat brought jo out, and jo just couldn’t believe all the animals. We made the cover of a guide, and I thought that was such a big deal because it had one of my peacocks on the cover. That was one of my favorite memories.”

Talk about what makes your partnership with the bureau so special.

“You guys are trying to make sure that everybody finds out what a great place we are. That’s your job, and you are doing the best because new people are showing up all the time. We had one of our best fall seasons in 2022 with the weather and the pumpkins and it just keeps getting bigger and better just like you guys. I’m selling smiles out here, I have the best job in the world, and my own slice of heaven and people come and give me money for the feed bills and the vet bills. The smiles I see makes it worth working my butt off. We’re doing good things, and you guys are doing good things – so we’ll keep it up for the next five, ten, twenty years, why not?”

Heritage House Museum
Okawville Parks
The Original Springs Indoor Pool & Spa
Rainbow Ranch Petting Zoo
Roland Barkau Memorial Golf Course
Simonton Orchard 618-243-5458 618-243- 6525 Stay with us! Located in Vandalia, IL, WITNESS® Distillery and Whiskey Underground are open Fridays and Saturdays for tasting, tours and specialty cocktails. Our products are made with spring water and locally-sourced grains. • Bourbon • Rye To make a tour reservation, check www.witnessdistillery.com or call 618-283-9900. Follow us on Facebook! M Witness Distillery • Vodkas • Rums

Drinklocal like a

One of the best ways to get to know a destination is to sit down and chat with the locals. What better way to do so than by drinking like one? Here are some of our favorite spots you must stop and sip at when you’re discovering Downstate Illinois!



Can’t decide on what to order? Try one of their flights.


Their beer garden is dog-friendly.

Beer Staff Pick


If you want to do yoga at a brewery, this is the place for you.

You can find this brewery in Chester, Du Quoin, AND the Southern Illinois Airport.




Waterloo You can learn more about the brewing process on the Stubborn German podcast.



Millpond is an amazing spot for beer lovers thanks to their small-batch brewing. With their ever-changing beer list and unique take on flavor creation, I love stopping by to see what's on tap. I recommend their classic 'Old Millstadt' which is there year-round and is a light lager. However, their take on a cheeseburger draft is my all-time favorite!

Red Bud Enjoy some live music in the beer garden. ST. NICHOLAS LANDMARK Chester

Staff Pick





Richland Co. Their wine slushie is a must-try.

Elaine's Rating


What a beautiful country setting for a winery! I often have a hard time finding a red wine that I really like, but their Marquette was just what I was looking for. The food at Irene’s Vineyard is amazing, as well, and has great options.


This vineyard is only open on weekends.


Come hungry!


Pocahontas If you’re looking to book an event venue, you can do so!
26 | DISCOVER DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS TIP TIP TIP TIP TIP Credit: Berryville Vineyards Credit: Cooperdock
Nashville The Boardroom has a Bloody Mary Bar the last Sunday of the month.



This house-turned café is the perfect place to cozy up with a cup of coffee.


Their breakfast sandwich is our favorite.

Emily's Rating Coffee

Breese Sit by the fireplace to


The Bold Goat serves more than just coffee; grab some lunch while you’re there!


This spot is a great place to snag Instagram-worthy pics.

Fusion Coffee in Fairfield gives you a piece of cityliving in a small town. The minimalist design of exposed brick and marbled floors offers the perfect backdrop for a morning of studying, a coffee date, or simply a place to enjoy delicious coffee and unwind. I recommend any of the hot lattes, because while they taste delicious, the latte art is something to marvel at.


FUSION COFFEE Fairfield Staff Pick
Salem This garage-turned coffee shop is drive-thru only.
Trenton Get there early to snag a table.
DISCOVER DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS | 27 TIP TIP TIP TIP TIP TIP TIP Credit:Fusion Coffee Credit:CommonGrounds Co f fe e L o u n eg
28 | DISCOVER DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS Photo Compliments of Trisha Mifflin SeeCentralia.com 618.533.7623 X SeeCentralia [ SeeCentralia Scan Me! Indoor Pickleball Courts & Indoor Pool for 365 days of swimming & fun! Centralia Recreation Complex Chapel in the Woods, Restored Prairie, Restored Wetlands, & a 36 Hole Disc Golf Complex Foundation Park Railroad Village, 2 Outdoor Pickleball Courts & a Skatepark Fairview Park 54 Buildings on the National Historic Registry & the Carillon the 8th Largest Bell Tower in the World Historic Downtown Centralia Fishing Piers and Boating Raccoon Lake Du Quoin ILLINOIS DU QUOIN FAIRGROUNDS Visit our picturesque, 1,600 acre Fairgrounds featuring hiking, fishing, picnicking and more than 1,500 camping hook-ups. Home of the Southern Illinois Center. EVENTS AT KEYES PARK Don’t miss the Summer Concert Series and the Fall Festival located in Keyes Park. HOLIDAY LIGHTS FAIR Southern Illinois’ Largest Winter Wonderland with over One Million Twinkling Lights! Thanksgiving Night through December 30. Visit Du Quoin Du Quoin Tourism Commission 618-542-3841 • duquointourism.org M Du Quoin Tourism
DISCOVER DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS | 29 Just 5 minutes from Scott Air Force Base Less than 30 minutes from Downtown St. Louis | I-64 Exit 23 City of Mascoutah www.mascoutah.org • 618-566-2964 M City of Mascoutah, Illinois Mascoutah Chamber of Commerce www.mascoutahchamber.com • 618-566-7355 M Mascoutah Chamber of Commerce MASCOUTAH ILLI NOIS ANNUAL EVENTS Springfest - May July 4th Celebration Homecoming - August Fall Fest, Chili Cook Off, & Car Show - October Lighted Christmas Parade - December


notable events in Downstate Illinois

One of the best things about Downstate Illinois is that there are SO MANY different events to discover. Some of these gatherings appeal to art lovers, others are centered around history, and many draw sports fans. Whether you’re looking for fall festivals or holiday light shows, our 21-county region is full of them.

Here are 20 notable events to keep an eye out for in 2023!

1. Centralia Balloon Fest – This is easily one of the most visually stunning events in Downstate Illinois each year since 1990. Balloon Fest brings in 30,000 folks to Centralia – and they would be excited to see you August 18-20, 2023.

2. American Thresherman Association, Pinckneyville – When hundreds of tractors and old-school steam engines converge upon Perry County each August, you know it’s time for the American Thresherman Association Steam, Gas, and Threshing Show. This year’s 65th annual show is scheduled for August 14-18.

3. Du Quoin State Fair – Talk about a tradition! The Du Quoin State Fair is now in it’s 101st year. The midway is always full of rides, food, and other entertainment and the grandstands are always hosting talent from REO Speedwagon to Jeff Foxworthy. Mark your calendars for August 25 through September 4, 2023.

4. NASCAR Cup Series, World Wide Technology Raceway – Racing fans, here you go! Mark your calendars for June 2-4 of 2023 for the Enjoy Illinois 300. The NASCAR Cup Series returns for the second straight year to southwestern Illinois, along with the Craftsman Truck Series.


5. McLeansboro Fall Festival – Acts from Diamond Rio to Ricky Skaggs have graced the stage in Hamilton County in front of crowds of 8,000+ people that pay absolutely nothing to enjoy the music, thanks to amazing sponsorships throughout the community.

6. Pioneer City Rodeo, Palestine – Every Labor Day weekend for the last 68 years, the small community of Palestine in Crawford County quadruples in size for the Pioneer City Rodeo. It’s a PRCA Pro Rodeo sanctioned event that NEVER disappoints.

7. Metro East Pride Fest, Belleville – Celebrate diversity, equality, and inclusion at the largest Pride event in Downstate Illinois! There are two stages of entertainment, craft, beer, and food vendors as well as activity areas for kids and teens. Metro East Pride is looking at October of 2023 for its 15th annual celebration, so keep an eye out on their social pages!

8. Mascoutah Homecoming – One of the longest running events in Downstate Illinois is hosted each August in Mascoutah! Their ever-popular Homecoming event is entering it’s 96th annual celebration, and features everything from tractor pulls and car shows to parades and live music.

9. Grand American World Trapshooting Championships, Sparta

– The World Shooting and Recreational Complex is a one-of-a-kind venue that draws thousands of competitors from different countries to our region each year for the Grand American. The Grand is comprised of 20 different events and is a sight to behold even if you’re just a spectator. Mark your calendars for August 2-12, 2023.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns for the second year!

So many great events throughout the year!

10. Olde Tyme Christmas, Vandalia – This is one of those iconic holiday events that has become an absolute tradition for dozens of area families each year. The community of Vandalia lights a huge Christmas tree, and Santa comes to town during the parade. Look them up on Facebook for this event that usually happens in mid-November.

11. Fairfield PaintOut – If you’re a fan of plein air painting then this is the event for you! Over the span of four days, 20 artists come to town and paint a wide variety of outdoor scenes. Look for their next event on September 26-30 of 2023.

12. Vine Street Market, O’Fallon – Downtown O’Fallon is the place to be every Saturday, May through mid-October. Vine Street Market at O’Fallon Station features everything from pottery and wine to meat and artisan breads. Add in live music and food trucks, and there’s no wonder why this place is so popular!

13. Corn Day, Carmi – The second weekend of October always means one thing in Carmi each year…it’s Corn Day. We’re talking about a tradition

Belleville holds the largest Pride event in Downstate Illinois!

nearly a century old. If you enjoy car shows, corn hole tournaments, concerts, and that ‘Americana’ sort of vibe – this is the event for you.

14. Midwest Salute to the Arts, Fairview Heights – Walk through Moody Park and enjoy several different mediums of art, then take a piece home with you. There’s also a Children’s Creation Station, which is a huge hit with families. This outdoor show usually takes place in late-August each year.

15. Rendezvous at Fort de Chartres, Prairie du Rocher – The boom of cannons, the smell of campfires, and a parade of colorful uniforms transports thousands of visitors back to the 1700s. The Rendezvous at Fort de Chartres is the largest gathering of its kind in the Midwest, and is slated for June 3-4, 2023.

16. Songs4Soldiers, Columbia – The biggest party for the best cause is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2023. Songs4Soldiers is a benefit concert that is usually held each September, and all proceeds go to help combat veterans and their families.

17. Christmas in Carlyle – If you’re a fan of Christmas lights, then here is a display you MUST make plans to visit. Each year, the Carlyle City Park turns into a holiday wonderland with over 100,000 strands of lights making up this drivethrough display. If you go the Friday evening after Thanksgiving when it opens, there are even fireworks to kick off the occasion!

Songs4Soilders – A great concert for an even better cause.

Lebanon Fall Festival is the best place to shop local!

18. Okawville Wheat Festival – This is another one of those ‘Americana’ types of events that has definitely withstood the test of time for 75 years. We’re talking everything from a 5K and a talent show to a carnival and tractor pulls. Their 76th celebration is set for September 15-17, 2023.

19. Marshall Autumn Fest – Cake walk, check. Car show, check. Parade, check. Marshall’s Autumn Fest is a GREAT time with a TON of different events. Their Autumn Fest is September 15-17 this year!

20. Lebanon Fall Festival – If shopping is your game, then the Lebanon Fall Festival is right up your alley. They shut down Brick Street to traffic and dozens of local vendors set up shop! Make sure to have room in your car, and your wallet at the ready for October 7th, 2023.

For more information on events throughout our region, go to downstateil.org/Events

15. 16. 17. 20.
Credit: Midwest Nomad Family Credit: Zac Votrain
DISCOVER DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS | 33 VISIT Fort de Chartres APRIL 1 ST & 2ND Fort de Chartres Colonial Market Faire JUNE 3RD & 4TH The Annual Rendezvous at Fort de Chartres NOVEMBER 4TH & 5 TH Winter Rendezvous at Fort de Chartres DECEMBER 9 TH Fort de Chartres Colonial Holiday Market Faire DECEMBER 31 ST La Guiannee at Fort de Chartres Getto know @KnowColumbia MNPV Save the D e Free Admission | Children’s Gallery Artist Demos | Live Entertainment Food Trucks | Local & National Artists August 25, 26, 27 2023 WWW.MIDWESTSALUTE.COM M dy Park Fairvi Heighʦ

discover of the woods our neck

As you’ve probably noticed by now, we cover 21 counties in Downstate Illinois. That makes us the largest tourism bureau in the state, but it also makes us one of the most diverse regions because each community has something unique that they’re known for.

Let us shine a spotlight on each county that makes up this wonderful area.



Believe it or not, but Highland

THE community to visit if you have a sweet tooth. Pat Jacoby owns Cakes on the square, and she has won the ‘Ultimate Cake Off’ on TLC twice! That is reason enough to go try her baked goods! Highland is also home to The Chocolate Affair, which is an ‘Illinois Made’ recipient, as well as City Scoops Creamery and Urban Farmhouse if you’re craving ice cream or pie.

City of Highland St. Clair County

World Wide Technology Raceway is located in the northern portion of St. Clair County, and it brings more than just racing fans to our area. Tough Mudder is bringing their massive following to the track in the spring of 2023, and we couldn’t be more excited about it! MidAmerica Airport is another great asset to St. Clair County, as this facility offers non-stop flights to a dozen different markets. They’ve recently undergone a renovation as well, so be sure to check it out.

Did you know that the first road in Illinois used for walking and stagecoaches can be found in our region? It’s true! The Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail runs through three different counties, including Monroe. It cuts through communities like Waterloo and Columbia, making for a GREAT weekend road trip.

One of the neatest hikes in our area is the Kaskaskia River Confluence Trail near Modoc in Randolph County. It’s handicap accessible and is only about a mile long. This out-and-back trail runs right along the water and provides AMAZING views of where the Kaskaskia and Mississippi Rivers meet. There’s also a rock amphitheater to sit down and take it all in!

Waterloo Chester Red Bud Sparta O'Fallon Belleville Mascoutah Columbia Monroe DISCOVER DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS | 35 Kaskaskia–Cahokia
CliffMilesCemetery K a s k a s k ia River ConfluenceTrail Kaskaskia-Cahok i a T r a i l Pat t y C a k e s TheChocolateAffai r NASCARCup
Trail Eagle
Series at WWTR

If you’re traveling along Interstate 70, a stop in Greenville is a must. It’s an agritourism mecca, because Greenville is home to Rolling Lawns Farm & Marcoot Jersey Creamery. Pick up a bag of fresh cheese curds and a few bottles of chocolate, orange cream, and strawberry milk!



you’ll notice two restaurants that sit right across the street from each other - Wally’s . They’re both staples in the community, both will have long lines of loyal customers, and they both offer AMAZING burgers. Which one will you choose? Just ten minutes east you’ll find Carlyle Lake, the largest man-made lake in the state. This 26,000-acre lake has a reputation for being one of the best sailing lakes in the Midwest. It’s home to the Carlyle Sailing Association, which hosts numerous sailing events in Carlyle every year.


The largest State Recreation Area in Illinois can be found just a few miles from Pinckneyville. Pyramid State Recreation Area boasts over 19,000 acres, 48 camping sites, and more than 20 ponds and lakes. Perry County is also home to the Du Quoin Holiday Lights Fair, which has over three miles of lighted displays and other entertainment for families in the Expo Hall.

Pinckneyville Du
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We spent the weekend enjoying the lake and exploring nearby towns.


Vandalia is obviously known for Abe Lincoln and the State House, but it’s also home to Vandalia Lake. Located just a few miles from town, this lake has 12 miles of shoreline including a beach! It is the place to be during the summer months.

Here’s a fun fact! Former MLB player Gary Gaetti is from Centralia. Yes, he played for the Cardinals and the Cubs, but he also opened the Gaetti Sports Academy on the grounds of the Castle Ridge complex in Centralia. Check it out!

If you’ve never been to Nashville, we highly recommend a trip in mid-July when they’re celebrating the Washington County Fair. It’s several days long with everything from a carnival to demolition derbies, and all the fair food you could stomach.

Fayette Marion
Va n da l ia Lake GaettiSports
Credit : @k r i s t i j58seno Credi t : @d a r 1 5 r a n gi gn Credit: NashvilleWashingtonCounty Fair
on Carlyle Lake is one of the many activities to do in Clinton County.

Southeastern Illinois



One of the longest running county fairs in the entire state can be found in Greenup

The Cumberland County Fair has been going strong since 1888 and will celebrate their 135th year this August.


Newton Lake has some of the best bass fishing you’ll ever experience. If you’re a fisherman, we highly recommend a visit as well as the accommodations at The Outdoor Sportsman’s Lodge near the lake.

Did you know that in 1960 Flora was named Ford Town USA? Ford Motor Company provided Flora families with a brand-new Ford vehicle to drive for a week. The community still celebrates the occasion to this day!

Wayne JunkyardArtbyTamI

In rural Wayne County near Barnhill, a local artist known as Tammy Lee owns ‘Junkyard Art by Tam I Am.’ She welds together pieces of scrap metal to form masterpieces. Her work has gone viral on TikTok!

Some of the best camping in Downstate Illinois can be found at the Hamilton County State Fish & Wildlife Area. There are 60 tent and trailer sites, but we recommend the cabins!

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Red Hills State Park in Lawrence County is a great place
up nature.

For the first three weekends each October the community of Olney hosts their ‘White Squirrel Count.’ Locals and folks from afar partake in the tradition of charting the number of white squirrels in town.

We’ve mentioned Casey has 11 of the World’s Largest items, but there are actually 12. One of them sits a couple towns east in Marshall at the Clark County Courthouse, and it’s the World’s Largest Gavel!

There is an ‘Illinois Made’ maker in Palestine that has certainly made his mark on the community. Steve Meadows of S.D. Meadows Folk Art Gallery not only has his quirky items on display in his shop – but you can find them scattered throughout Palestine, including a face with a giant tongue coming out of a resident’s garage!

Here is a fun fact! Albion home to the oldest public library in Illinois. It was established in 1819, and still operates as a library today.

Red Hills State Park in rural Lawrence County features 967 acres of outdoor wonder – including over 8 miles of trails that can be used for hiking, biking, and equestrians. Pause to enjoy the spectacular scenic view from atop Red Hills, the highest point of land between St. Louis and Cincinnati.

One of the biggest events in Mt. Carmel each year is Wabash Roots ‘N’ Que. There is great barbecue, fantastic music, and the Wabash Cannonball Downhill Derby!

machines that
to quidditch brooms, and they’re ALL amazing. Clark Crawford Wabash
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Roots'N'Que C r e dit: milly_ n_me
friend Claudie Parson at Sunflower Broom Shop in Crossville is the real deal. She crafts handmade brooms
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Newton Sainte Marie Oblong


Crawford County, Illinois has something for everyone - historical sites, golf courses, camping, recreational lakes & rivers, beautiful parks, unique shops, family-oriented events, museums, fine dining & excellent overnight accommodations.
DISCOVER DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS | 43 Belleville, Illinois is Home to... • Art Galleries, Historic Museums & Unique Attractions • Festivals, Parades & Fairs • Hiking & Biking Trails • Golfing & 250 Acres of Recreational Parks • Concerts, Plays & Shows • 5K Runs/Walks & Marathon • Antique & Boutique Shops & Flea Markets • More than 35 Holiday Events • Dining, Entertainment & Lodging • More than 300 Year-Round Special Events

Public Displays of Art

There is plenty of PDA to go around when you Discover Downstate. We don’t mean Public Displays of Affection, though. We mean Public Displays of Art! Here are some of the best spots in our region to admire several forms of art.



Tarble Arts Center, Charleston

Located on Eastern Illinois University’s campus, the Tarble Arts Center has a year-round schedule of changing visual arts exhibitions.

The Hettenhausen Center for the Arts, Lebanon

Located on McKendree University’s campus, the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts brings distinguished speakers, concerts, and performances to the Metro area.

Nostalgia Theater, Flora

This nonprofit organization brings the arts to Flora and the surrounding area.

Salem Community Theater & Cultural Center, Salem

The Salem Community Theatre and Cultural Center hosts live performances and movie screenings.

Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, Mt. Vernon

Cedarhurst Center for the Arts has four galleries, an interactive family learning center, and a performance hall. They also host multiple art events throughout the year.


Freedom Rock, Shiloh

This is the first ever Freedom Rock in Illinois painted by Ray Sorensen II and features prominent historical contributions to the area.

Lions, Marshall

It’s easy to see that the community of Marshall is proud of their Lion mascot! Take a scavenger hunt throughout town to find all 40 of Marshall’s beautifully decorated lion statues.


More and more communities in Downstate Illinois are embracing murals. Some towns have one while others have dozens! Of course, each one makes for a fantastic photo op. Some of our favorite spots to snap a pic are in Albion, Waterloo, and Marshall –these towns each have murals unique to their town history. You’ve got to check them out!


Art on the Square, Belleville

This is one of the biggest art events in Downstate Illinois year after year. It is slated for May 19-21 in 2023 and features original work from over 100 artists annually.

Art in the Park and Street Art Fest, Highland

Highland is home to not one but two annual art events: Street Art Fest in September and Art in the Park each October. The Street Art Fest showcases artists who thrive with chalk, and Art in the Park is a weekend full of exhibits, live music, and more!

more information on the
throughout our
go to
Credit: City of Waterloo

Pinckneyville your destination

Place to Be

Boekhoff Guest Suites


Enjoy the views of downtown Red Bud from a second story balcony at Boekhoff Guest Suites.

Stay in style

While there are several great hotels throughout our region, there are also some unique accommodations that are sure to make your trip VERY memorable.

George Inn

The Fox Den


This accommodation is a shipping container turned into a tiny house! The perfect secluded getaway.

EighteenNinety Sleepover Gryffindor Room


Harry Potter fans, this one is for you! Experience a taste of Hogwarts when you stay in the Gryffindor room at Eighteen-Ninety Sleepover.

For more options on where to stay in our neck of the woods, go to downstateil.org/Stay


The Social
CARMI This Inn, built in 1905, features neoclassical revival architecture and ten different rooms to stay in.
MAEYSTOWN This restored 1884 hotel and saloon serves a delicious breakfast spread in their Victorian-style dining area.
Credit: Kacey Wolters Credit: The Fox Den Credit: The Social House

Vi i C i hi !

The Parks

Celebrate the holidays!

us! Every year Carmi comes home
Visit Burrell Park, one of southern Illinois most popular camping and picnic destinations. Or have fun at one of our other parks around town! Celebrate Corn Days with
weekend autumn celebration, with parades, vendors, big name entertainment
more. Don’t miss it - 2nd Weekend in October Register a campsite today at Burrell Park. Buy going to https://cityofcarmi org/burrellwoodsonline/
Take a trip through Christmas Light Of Hope, watch our night time Christmas parade or do a bit of shopping. cityofcarmi.org



You were involved with the bureau for over a decade, what makes that time so special?

“I enjoyed meeting all of the people from various communities. When we merged with the group from the southeastern side of the state, we got to meet a whole different group of people that were involved in tourism. That was a pretty exciting time.”One of your early hires was Darlene Chapman, now the President & Finance Director. Can you explain how that came to be?


Past Board Chairman

What is your first memory of the bureau?

“I got on right when the changeover of the previous bureau happened. One of the first things I did was get on a committee, the same one that interviewed jo kathmann, so if it has been 20 years since her first publication then that’s about how long that I’ve been here.”

You have watched the bureau grow exponentially over the last two decades, how does that make you feel?

“It makes me proud to be honest. It feels unfathomable where we were and where we came from. The first number of years we were under supervision from the state, we had an attorney working for us to try to get cleared up from the previous administration and now we’re probably second to none as far as I’m concerned in terms of people recognizing ILLINOISouth. We’re a mainstay, it’s come a long way. Maybe 20 years is a long time but honestly, it goes by pretty quick.”

We’ve talked about the last twenty years, how do you feel about the next twenty?

Describe one of your most memorable moments in your time with the bureau.

“When we went to Casey on one of our trips, that was pretty astounding to me. To see what a little bitty town like Casey could do, that was an eye-opener.”

What is your favorite aspect of serving on the board for the bureau?

“The relationships, for example - meeting Belinda Henton out of Olney, I didn’t know Belinda. But over the last two or three years I went over there and played in a pickleball tournament with them, I would have never done that before had I not met Belinda. Ricky Gottman out of Vandalia, we’ve kept in contact with things we need to do between the two cities. What the bureau is about to me is not just tourism, but the friendships, I do miss that. I miss everybody getting together and finding out what’s going on, and of course the Christmas parties were always fun too!”

It is the 20th edition of our Visitors Guide, what stands out to you as you look at all of past editions?

“You guys have evolved so much from when I started. There are so many things in the Visitors Guide that I like that I can’t just narrow it down to one. I think it looks very classy and elegant, and it’s come a long way.”

“In my lifetime, and I’m starting to get more seasoned in age, technology was minimal when I first got on the board to where we’re going with that - and now communities are linking together and interacting together to get people to take that trip and make a trip through a community. I think the technology in the next 20 years will probably be unfathomable just like it was 20 years ago, and I think a lot of places will improve their offerings of tourism too. There are always new things popping up in our area, we’ve made a name for ourselves now and better things will come.”

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Spring into Summer!

When May rolls around, Downstate Illinois pops to life! It is the perfect time of year to sit outdoors and enjoy a few glasses of wine while taking in the scenic landscape that our region has to offer. Mix in a couple of nights in a cabin and some amazing food, and you have a perfect weekend getaway.


Day One

Getting outdoors and enjoying some wine is the perfect way to pass the day when the weather warms up. Twelve Oaks Vineyards just south of Carlyle is the perfect place to sip on award-winning wine, all while enjoying an amazing view of their scenic property. Bretz Wildlife Lodge & Winery is another great spot for vino, and their South African lodge concept is unlike anything you’ve seen in our region. Eventually, you’ll need to eat – and there is no place better than Popeye’s Chop House in St. Rose for a sit-down dinner that will leave you stuffed. Cap off the evening with one last tasting at Hidden Lake Winery and watch the sun set while sipping lakeside!


Cabins at Hidden Lake Winery

Tucked away in the woods, Hidden Lake offers a remote getaway with ten cozy cabins to choose from.

Day Two

Head south to Centralia for some great coffee at a unique railroad-themed destination, RAIL Coffee Room. Be sure to walk a couple of blocks to Crooked Creek Winery DOWNTOWN, a recently new destination featuring Cooked Creek wines. DOWNTOWN offers a wine bar, full bar, and live entertainment in their outdoor portion coined “The Yard.” Be sure to visit Schwartz Orchard to pick fresh strawberries in late spring/early summer. For dinner, Stonewater at Castle Ridge has a wide food and drink selection including flatbreads, wine, and way more!

Twelve Oak Vineyards has amazing wine and views! Schwartz Orchard Strawberries are yum! Cabins at Hidden Lake. Credit: Castle Ridge

Falling for Downstate Illinois

What is better than viewing the brilliant colors of millions of leaves that you don’t have to rake? Mix in pumpkin picking, kayaking, and wine tasting for a fantastic fall adventure.

Kayaking on East Fork Lake is the best place to admire beautiful fall foliage.

Credit: @phillipsfamilyadventureteam

Day One

Discover fall foliage while hiking through Beall Woods State Park Mount Carmel. This old-growth forest also includes a 15-acre lake with great bass and panfish angling. Get refreshed in West Salem by visiting Homestead Vineyards and sampling some wines including their Flowerpower varietal. If you are wanting a great-tasting burger or seafood, Jovalou Cocktails and Cuisine in Fairfield is MOST DEFINITELY worth a Google search. You’ll find that basically every patron has rave reviews.


Victorian on Main

This unique lodging option allows you to stay in an 1895 Queen Anne Victorian home in Fairfield. Pick from multiple rooms including the Squirrel’s Nest, the Tower Room, and others!

Day Two

One of the best activities for admiring fall foliage is a nice kayak ride on East Fork Lake in Olney. When you’re finished, head to Possum Patch Farms and shop for home décor in their barn shop followed by some pumpkin picking and other family-fun activities! From there, head east to visit Lasata Winery in Lawrenceville and find some unique pairings including their Raspberry Romance or their Summer Strawberry. End your journey at COCO’s Café and Wine Bar in Lawrenceville. This venue includes indoor and outdoor scenery. Enjoy cocktails, wine, espresso, comfort food and live music on Friday evenings.

The beautiful rooms at Victorian on Main, Fairfield. Possum Patch Farms is the place to get your pumpkins! COCO's Cafe & Wine Bar has great food and live music. Credit: Coco's Cafe & Wine Bar Credit: Possum Patch Farms Jovalou Cocktails & Cuisine

Holiday Happenings

Tis the season to shop at a German-style Christmas market, sip on some deliciously warm coffee drinks, and drive through miles worth of holiday light displays! Make sure to take a ton of pictures, because this holiday trip is definitely one to remember.

SEASONAL ITINERARIES Christkindlmarkt WonderLight’sChristmasDisplay
Credit: WonderLights Christmas in St Louis Credit: Belleville Illinois Chriskindlemarkt 56 | DISCOVER DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS
The drive-thru holiday lights at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Day One

Start your day in Columbia for breakfast or lunch at Café on the Abbey where you will find great bakery items, seasonal espresso drinks, and a unique food menu. Go shopping at the POP-UP SHOP, an initiative by the city to help local retail entrepreneurs test their brands. This shop has a large rotation which creates the chances of finding one-of-a-kind items or gifts! For wine lovers, head to the Weingarten in Belleville and enjoy a wide variety of wines from around the area and the world. Once the sun sets, head to the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows their Way Of Lights display, a tradition for thousands of folks for more than 50 years.


Holiday Inn, Shiloh

Right off of Interstate 64, the Holiday Inn & Suites in Shiloh is located in a shopping mecca. There are boutiques, restaurants, and national chain retailers within walking distance of the hotel.

Day Two

Find the perfect gift at the Pop-Up Shop in Columbia.

Explore downtown Belleville and walk through the Christkindlmarkt where you can shop from dozens of vendors boasting items from baked goods to home décor. Go back in time by watching newly released movies at the historic Lincoln Theater, followed by a great dinner at Tavern on Main in Belleville. Before heading in for the night, head to the World Wide Technology Raceway for WonderLight's Christmas, the only holiday light display in Illinois that you can experience by driving through on a NASCAR track.

Café on the Abbey National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows Credit: Nick Hardy

made in Downstate Illinois


Stumpy’s Spirits Distillery


Southern Illinois native Adam Stumpf has dreamed big his entire life. One of his biggest goals was to own a distillery, even if his wife Laura wasn’t quite aware of it from the beginning. “You put the business plan together, married me, and then said I want to open a distillery,” Laura Stumpf says while sitting elbow to elbow with her husband on a warm July day. “It worked,” responds Adam with a sly smile.

In November of 2013, the couple bought a distillery going out of business in Grand Junction, Colorado. They hauled all of the equipment back to the family farm in Columbia, Illinois for the licensing and construction process. The Stumpfs officially opened Stumpy’s Spirits & Distillery in July of 2015 by using Adam’s business plan, which included using their family farm to grow basically everything that goes into their products. They use fresh limestone well water and grain grown on the 8th generation family farm, to give them full control of the process. Stumpy’s is able to plant, harvest, mill, mash, ferment, and distill their spirits from grain to glass. Not a lot of other distilleries can say that.

“That’s really a labor of love,” Adam explains. “The biggest thing to us is quality and transparency if you had to boil it down to two words. Quality of course, we can control what is going into your bottle all the way from the moment that a seed goes into the ground,” he adds. From a transparency standpoint, Stumpy’s goes out of other way to put their batch number on every bottle. “You can go and see what the mash bill of a particular batch is, how old it is, etcetera,” Adam says. “So really wrapping the farming piece to it is probably the biggest thing for us.”

That approach has helped Stumpy’s grow exponentially from when they started. Now, they’re on countless shelves in grocery stores and liquor stores around the region. The Stumpfs say that being able to make a name for themselves from a small town in Downstate Illinois is amazing.

“We’re both from southern Illinois, it’s home,” Adam admits. “It’s so important to us that we put it on our logo, look at our Stumpy’s Spirits logo, it’s got the state of Illinois right up on the top of it. It’s super cool to be able to show people what we can do in southern Illinois. Great bourbon doesn’t have to come just from Kentucky, look what we can do right here in southern Illinois. It’s a super unique area where we’ve got the benefit of agriculture, we’ve got all of the forestry and barrel manufacturing, we’ve got everything we need to make fantastic whiskey in southern Illinois,” Adam adds.

Word of this Illinois made whiskey has certainly spread, Adam and Laura are constantly amazed at where visitors are coming from. “It’s

awesome,” Laura says with a smile. “Especially when we ask people when we do our tours, where did you come from, where did you hear about us? It’s really neat to see just how far people travel just to come see us, it really is.”

Those tours that Laura mentioned are something of legend as well. If you look at their Google page, Stumpy’s has received a perfect fivestars from EVERY SINGLE review, with a majority mentioning the tour as a highlight. Talk about impressive!

“I would put them up against any other tour that you’ve been on in Kentucky, it doesn’t matter where they are, they’re going to blow you out of the water,” Laura says enthusiastically. “That’s one thing that we’ve heard consistently – your tour was better than tours in Kentucky, and that’s obviously not because of us or our system, that’s because of our team and their ability to verbalize and interact with customers and those types of things. So I mean you’re going to get treated like family when you come here, that’s for sure,” Adam says. “And you’re going to have fun, that’s huge to us, just come and have fun on the weekend –bring your family out, your friends out, make a day of it,” adds Laura.

It's easy to see that the Stumpfs have had great deal of success with Stumpy’s in less than a decade’s time, so what exactly does the future hold for the business and the family?

“Growth as long as we’re still having fun doing it,” Adam admits. “Whiskey by definition is not a get rich quick scheme, so it’s not the intention to build something and flip it and sell it – in our minds distilling is a lot like a family farm. It’s like a generational thing, especially if you look at those distilleries in Kentucky. So, we hope to build something that hopefully our family if they’re interested in it, something they can take over in the future.”

For more information on Stumpy’s, head to their website at stumpysspirits.com. There you can get more information about the tours, as well as information about where the nearest location is that carries Stumpy’s products.


DuBois Center

A hidden gem in our region that can play host to large groups for team building, retreats, and even family reunions is DuBois Center in Washington County. There are 300+ acres with two lakes, countless trails, and a conference center.



There is no meeting or party too big or too small in Downstate Illinois. Our region offers up an array of different options for group gatherings. Anything from baby showers to big company functions are right in our wheelhouse, and they all have their own unique flair.

For more information on event spaces throughout our region, go to downstateil.org/Meet

The Olde Wicks Factory

The Olde Wicks Factory in Highland specializes in weddings, but they can accommodate other functions as well! Their Gatsby Room is one of the most unique areas for an event.

One of the newest venues in our territory can be found in Crawford County. The Woods Event Center near Robinson just opened in the summer of 2022, and they have already played hosts to weddings and fundraisers. They have a large stage in case you’re considering a band for your event!

The EventWoodsCenter

If a smaller venue is more your speed, we recommend Havoline Hall in Lawrenceville. This is a great spot for birthday parties, bridal showers, and even multi-family rummage sales.

Havoline Hall

Credit: DuBois Center Credit: Havoline Hall Credit: The Olde Wicks Factory

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62 | DISCOVER DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS Contact us for your Welcome Guide! 618-939-8600 • www.Waterloo.il.us Follow Us On M P V
DISCOVER DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS | 63 RCHS Creole House Prairie du Rocher ca 1800 Kaskaskia Immaculate Conception Church 1675
Near Ellis
1860 Village of Kaskaskia, Illinois' First Capital 1703 8-Sided Charter Oak School Schuline - 1873
Pierre Menard Home
Red Bud Museum
Roscoe Misselhorn Gallery, Sparta-1907 Mississippi & Kaskaskia Rivers Lock & Dam Heritage Confluence Park
1741 Fort de Chartres Prairie du Rocher 1718-1765
Liberty Bell of the West Kaskaskia Island Mary’s River Covered Bridge, Near Chester 1874 Lafayette's Tour Marker Kaskaskia Island Governor Bond’s Memorial, Chester These landmarks are on theNationalRegisterof Historical Places.

20 historic stops in Downstate Illinois

There is no shortage of historic sites in our region, and we know that history buffs are always on the lookout for places that they haven’t explored yet. So, here are 20 different historic stops that are worthy of a road trip!

1. Vandalia State House, Vandalia – The world ‘iconic’ is an understatement for this site. It’s the oldest remaining Capitol building in the state, and the original hardwood floors upstairs are the same floors that Abraham Lincoln walked on when he began his political career.

2. Fort de Chartres, Prairie du Rocher – This piece of history dates back to the 1700s, and the powder magazine on the site is believed to be the oldest building in the ENTIRE state.

3. Hutson Memorial Village, Crawford County – This reconstructed 1812 settler village opened to the public in 1967 and has played host to meetings, tours, and even weddings.

Abe Lincoln in front of the oldest remaining Capitol building.

Hutson Memorial Village was reconstructed in 1967.

Fort Kaskaskia is a magical place in Fall.

4. Lincoln Log Cabin, Charleston – Honest Abe’s father, Thomas and stepmother Sarah Bush Lincoln lived in this log cabin in Charleston. A working, living history farm has been established around the cabin today.

5. Liberty Bell of the West, Kaskaskia – Many people have heard of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, but did you know that there is a Liberty Bell of the West? It’s true! It resides in Kaskaskia, and it was a gift from King Louis XV of France to the Catholic Church of New France in the 1700s.

6. Fort Kaskaskia, Randolph County – While only earthen remains are the only remnants of Fort Kaskaskia to experience, the Mississippi River overlook is the true attraction here. It’s an understatement that this place is magical for foliage views in the fall.

7. Burl Ives Monuments, Jasper County – The famed actor and musician that is well-known for his role as Sam the Snowman in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is from Jasper County. In Newton there is a Memorial Statue on the town square, and there is also a granite monument at his gravesite at Mound Cemetery near Willow Hill.

8. Eagle Cliff Miles Cemetery,


County, you’ll notice this site HIGH atop the bluffs. This cemetery is the final resting place for more than 450 people, and it is open for folks to experience. Exploring the mausoleum as well as the stunning views from the site are easily worth the drive.

on Bluff Road

9. Cahokia Mounds Interpretive Center, St. Clair County – This site is a hot spot for school groups, and for good reason. The Cahokia Mounds Interpretive Center showcases exhibit galleries, a life-size village recreation, an orientation show and more – all highlighting Native American culture in the region. As a note, this site was closed to the public for renovations in 2022 and is scheduled to re-open in the spring of 2023.

10. Greenup Train Depot & Museum, Greenup – Train enthusiasts will LOVE this place. There is a model railroad running throughout the building which boasts the ticket counter, as well as the second story living quarters that folks used quite a bit.

Eagle Cliff Miles Cemetery is full of history and scenic views.

Walk in the steps of music legend Burl Ive.

Monroe County – you’re driving in Monroe
5. 7. 8. 6.
Credit: Eagle Cliff-Miles Cemetery Credit: Gary Adams Photography

18. Kinmundy Log Cabin Village, Marion County – There are a dozen different 19th century pioneer-era log cabins on this property, and they all have a unique story! Call ahead to check them out, and visit during their fall festival each year.

19. History Museum of Monroe County, Waterloo – There is such a wide array on display here, that it really does take a while to experience it all. One of the real gems is a 1917 Chevrolet Chummy Roadster, because of only 500 made – this is just one of a handful remaining.

20. Wabash County History Museum, Mt. Carmel – Hi-Yo, Silver, Away! Did you know that Brace Beemer, the radio voice for The Lone Ranger for 13 years is from Mount Carmel? There is an exhibit celebrating his career at the Wabash County History Museum, along with a dozen other exhibits.

11. Village of Maeystown – Founded in 1852, the ENTIRE VILLAGE of Maeystown is on the National Register of Historic Places, which is rare. There are over 60 historically significant buildings from that time along with stone walls, flagstone gutters, and a cozy bed and breakfast!

12. Lincoln Trail State Memorial, Lawrenceville – This monument commemorates the crossing of Abraham Lincoln and his family from Indiana into Illinois in early 1830.

13. Original Springs Hotel, Okawville – This unique accommodation was established in 1867 after the landowner discovered the property sat over mineral wells. Today, it’s the last natural mineral spa in Illinois.

14. Perry County Jail Museum, Pinckneyville –It’s not very often you get to experience the artwork of former inmates on jail cell walls, but this former jail from the 1870s is the place to do it.

15. Illinois Oilfield Museum, Oblong – This is one of just seven such facilities in the nation, making it unique from the getgo. The amount of historical equipment on display is simply amazing.

16. Mary’s River Covered Bridge, Chester – Covered bridges are iconic, aren’t they? This one in Randolph County was built in 1854 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a GREAT spot for a picnic and photo op!

17. Cahokia Courthouse, Cahokia Heights – Check out the oldest courthouse in Illinois, and the only one remaining from the state’s territorial period. It’s architecture is quite rare as well, because it is an example of the French Colonial vertical log poteaux-sur-solle technique.

For more information on historical attractions throughout our region, go to downstateil.org/Play/History-and-Culture

Illinois Oilfield Museum has the best display of historic equipment.

Mary's River Covered Bridge was built in 1854!

I never knew so many historic places were here.
16. 19.
Credit: @rlhersom


Talk about one or two of your favorite moments while serving the bureau.

“Well, the one that really sticks out to me right now is I had never been to a NASCAR race. So, being able to go and help represent the bureau at the NASCAR race and just get to experience that. I’m a car guy, so the other thing that stands out is when the bureau did the event at the racetrack and we got to go on the fresh asphalt with the professional drivers, that really was a highlight for me.”

It's the 20th edition of the Visitors Guide, what stands out to you the most about how it has evolved?

“I like the fact that it seems to be getting more user friendly. The way it’s developed, people look at things, they want to look through things quickly and find something that catches their attention, and I think we’ve gotten a lot better at picking and choosing those single events for tourism locations for them to really catch onto.”

What is the one aspect of being affiliated with the bureau that you’ve really come to appreciate?

“You spend more time with people from all over southern Illinois, and you get to know them a little and develop those relationships and it is key to networking – you can bounce ideas off of other people. It doesn’t even have to be tourism, you can get into other topics, little rabbit holes here and there that you’re able to help out with, and it makes a difference. I also like how we have some big players with the bureau, but we also have a lot of little players. And how we try to include everybody, and that is very important to me, and I really appreciate the way we’ve been able to do that. So, I think it’s been great.”

What do you think makes the bureau so valuable to the region?

“I feel like we’ve gotten to where we’re on the cutting edge of what’s going on, and I really appreciate the way we’ve stayed up front with videos and other

things that are really effective. Not just coming in, putting in the hours and going home at the end of the day, but really thinking about what’s best for the members of the bureau, and how we can most effectively promote tourism in our area. There are other governmental agencies that I don’t get that feel from, so I’m super excited about where the bureau is going from here.”

RIC GOLDING Past Board Chairman

You have a long history with the bureau, even farther back than 20 years ago. Can you explain the history and how far it has come?

“We came aboard with the previous version of this bureau, then it had some hiccups and from that we really revamped and formed this organization through the court system, to have two representatives from each of the counties. I was on the committee that interviewed and eventually hired jo kathmann to run the facility and I’ll tell you what, it was immediate from the start that she was the right person for the job.”

Is there anything that stands out in your time with the bureau that you’re especially excited about?

“I used experience that I saw from other counties and working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers we were able to get a bike path built along the Kaskaskia River on either side of the river right below the Dam right down to U.S. 50. My wife and I walk that almost every day, and of anything that I’ve done I think that is probably one of the things that I’m very, very proud of.”

After being affiliated with us for so long, do you still find yourself following along?

“Oh yes. There’s a large billboard in the Breese area on new 50 coming toward Carlyle, and it’s always got a nice advertisement – in the corner you’ll see the ILLINOISouth Tourism logo, and that’s a big deal to me. I still always look for that logo, I just can’t help it.”


made in Downstate Illinois


Wildflour Bakery & Candy Company


Right off of Interstate 70 near the Illinois-Indiana border, there lies a community that has certainly boomed over the last decade. Casey, Illinois is home to several Guinness World Record holders including the World’s Largest Rocking Chair, the World’s Largest Windchime, and the World’s Largest Mailbox. Each new HUGE addition to the town has attracted more and more visitors every year. The community has since capitalized on the influx of tourists, as many different shops and restaurants have opened to give folks other things to do while they’re checking out the big things. Enter Mariah Huddlestun, a local resident who was fresh out of culinary school.

“I was shopping locally downtown one day when I was approached by another business owner to open a small business bakery,” Huddlestun recalls. “I decided to open it within a three-month time period, and it has grown since. I was then forced to expand because my foot traffic was so heavy, so in 2020 I bought the Casey Candy Depot and relaunched it into Wildflour Bakery and Candy Company, and here we are now.”

Wildflour is located right next to the World’s Largest Mailbox, and you can find the World’s Largest Wooden Shoes inside Huddlestun’s shop as well. While those are amazing draws for visitors, the offering of sweets and treats is just as fantastic.

“Here at Wildflour we do a full bakery case, we have a novelty candy store, we also do custom cakes, anything from weddings and anniversaries to birthdays,” Huddlestun says. “We also have a gourmet chocolate case, vintage sodas, just a little bit of everything for everyone.”

With one step into Wildflour Bakery and Candy Company, sensory overload can kick in. The combination of amazing smells with all the bright, colorful candies and toys is quite the experience. The baked goods are Huddlestun’s specialty though, especially the jumbo cupcakes.

“Whenever I was in high school I started doing jumbo cupcakes, and from there I just knew that eventually I would like to have a bakery with those items in it,” Huddlestun explains. “So, everything

that we make is from scratch, everything from the cake batter to the buttercream, to the toppings and garnishes. Nothing here is premade or anything like that. That is very important to me because not only are you getting unique flavor, but you’re also getting the good quality that you pay for. You could easily go to a normal supermarket, get cupcakes and pastries, anything like that – but right here you know it’s coming from our heart, our soul, and everything is homemade.”

The Illinois Office of Tourism took notice of Huddlestun’s dedication to quality, and recently inducted her into the ‘Illinois Made’ program, which celebrates the work of local makers, artisans, and crafters in Illinois. While she was completely honored by the recognition, Huddlestun is quick to credit the community for her success.

“It shows that you don’t have to go to a giant community in order to succeed, you can do it right here in your hometown,” Huddlestun says with a smile. “I just want to say thank you to our amazing customers for your continued support and coming back to us every day. We really appreciate that, and I couldn’t do this without you.”

Wildflour Bakery and Candy Company has made quite the name for itself in Casey in just a short amount of time. Huddlestun’s goal is to keep growing her brand one sweet treat at a time.

“In the future my goal is definitely to expand,” she admits. “Go to other small towns and bring them the bakery and the candy store, because I feel like not a lot of surrounding towns have this unique store in them. So, I believe that by me coming to them it won’t only improve their small town, but it will also improve my business.”

Much like the roadside attractions in town, Huddlestun dreams BIGso definitely be on the lookout for more exciting news from Wildflour Bakery and Candy Company. We highly recommend you follow them on social media, as they’re constantly posting weekly specials and other need-to-know information for visitors. Of course, if you’re anywhere near Casey during an upcoming road trip, you should check out their shop in person!

70 | DISCOVER DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS PLAN YOUR VISIT Tram Ride to the Top • Monument to the Dream Movie • Museum at the Gateway Arch Riverfront Cruise* • Specialty Cruises* • Paddlewheel Cafe* *Open seasonally ATTRACTIONS Tram tickets sell out early and often - advance tickets are strongly recommended. The Gateway Arch legs are exits only. The entrance faces Fourth Street and the Old Courthouse. GET YOUR TICKETS TO THE TOP GATEWAYARCH.COM

made in Downstate Illinois

Voss Pecans


This story starts with a young boy from Clinton County who loved to be outside on his family farm, collecting pecans and keeping a few at a time in his pockets.

“As a kid I loved pecans,” admits Ralph Voss. “I loved picking them up, cracking them and eating them. That’s why with our property when we cleaned up the trees that we wouldn’t farm, I left the pecan trees. They were just a passion, I worked with pecan trees in the groves, cleaning the groves in hundred-degree and come home like it’s another day. When you enjoy something it’s easy to do.”

Decades later, Voss is still cracking those nuts – but on a much larger scale. Ralph and his wife Karen started Voss Pecans in 1985 with the native pecan trees they had on their land, and they are now the LARGEST producer of pecans in the entire state of Illinois.

“We were picking up native pecans by hand, but we had so many that we didn’t know what to do with them,” Ralph explains. “So, we found a cracker to crack them, we started selling pecans and our business grew from there. We now have about 160 acres of pecan trees ourselves, and I manage another 100 acres for another family.”

So how exactly do you harvest pecans? Voss says he had most of the equipment on hand from his row crop operation, but one of the most important things he had to buy was an attachment that is used to shake the nuts out of the tree.

“We shake the nuts to the ground, and then we have a mechanical harvester pulled with a small tractor that picks up a five-foot swath, and it’s like a mini combine. It scrapes through the grass and picks up everything, all of the pecans get conveyed into a hopper, and that hopper I dump into a wagon which comes to our farm which continues to go through a cleaning process to come up with a perfectly clean, intact pecan ready for sale as a full pecan or with further processing to sell as a cracked or made-out pecan.”

One thing is certain, the pecan industry is not a get rich quick scheme. Voss planted many of his trees in 1989, but they didn’t yield enough pecans for him to break even until 2002!

“When you lose money for 13 years, that’s a passion,” Voss admits. “When you lose money for that long and you’re still out there doing it – that’s why not a lot of people just jump into pecans because it takes a long time to make money. But if you’re patient, it is a moneymaking crop.”

Luckily, the pecans have gained enough of a following that the Voss family does indeed turn a profit on them. Not too shabby for a boy who once collected them in his pockets for fun. For more information on Voss Pecans, head to their website at vosspecans.com. There you can get more information about their hours of operation, and you can also place an online order if you’d like some pecans shipped to your house!



Pocahontas – 1 (Mercantile Pg20-21), 2 (Copper Dock Pg24-27)

Greenville – 1 (DeMoulin Pg4-6), 2 (Marcoot Pg14-17), 3 (AFHM Pg20-21), 4 (Kahuna’s Pg14-17), 5 (Rolling Lawns & Marcoot Pg34-39)


Casey – 1 (Pg2), 2 (Big Things Pg20-21), 3 (Gryffindor Room, Pg48), 4 (Tetzel Prime Pg22)

Marshall – 1 (Welcome Center Pg20-21), 2 (Murals/ Lions Pg44-45), 3 (Autumnfest Pg30-32), 4 (Gavel Pg34-39)

Martinsville – 1 (The Woodlands Pg4-6), 2 (Horseshoe/Anvil Pg20-21), 3 (Dahnke Pg8-11)

Rural – 1 (Moonshine Store Pg14-17)


Flora – 1 (Little Toot Pg4-6), 2 (Nostalgia Theater Pg44-45), 3 (Common Grounds Pg24-27), 4 (Ford Town USA Event Pg34-39), 5 (Julian’s Pg14-17)


Breese – 1 (Excel Pg4-6), 2 (Olde City Café & Bar Pg2427), 3 (CNC Pg14-17), 4 (Wally’s/Dairy King)

Carlyle – 1 (Beach Pg4-6), 2 (Xmas in Carlyle Pg30-32), 3 (Governor’s Run Pg8-11), 4 (Wineries Pg52-53), 5 (Voss Pecans Pg71)

Keyesport – 1 (Airboat Pg8-11)

Aviston – 1 (Hidden Lake Pg 52-53)

Germantown – 1 (Bob’s Fort Pg4-6)

St. Rose – 1 (Popeye’s Pg52-53)

Trenton – 1 (Mexico on Main Pg14-17), 2 (Press Pg2427)


Oblong – 1 (Oilfield Museum, Pg64-66)

Robinson – 1 (Heath Pg4-6), 2 (Pelican Cove Pg12), 3 (The Woods Pg60), 4 (Monical’s Pg14-17)

Palestine – 1 (Pg2), 2 (Pioneer City Pg30-32), 3 (S.D. Meadows Folk Art Pg34-39)

Rural – 1 (Hutson Cabins Pg64-66)


Greenup – 1 (Depot Pg64-66), 2 (Cameo Pg20-21), 3 (Bridge Pg2), 4 (County Fair Pg34-39), 5 (Carl’s Pizza Pg14-17)

Rural – 1 (The Fox Den Pg48)


Albion – 1 (Colyer, 24-27), 2 (Library Pg34-39), 3 (Murals Pg44-45), 4 (Bailey’s Bistro Pg14-17)

West Salem – 1 (Homestead Pg54-55)


Vandalia – 1 (Pg2), 2 (OTC Page30-32), 3 (State House Pg64-66), 4 (Interpretive Center + roadside attractions Pg20-21), 5 (Vandalia Lake Pg34-39), 6 (Blind Society Pg14-17)

St. Elmo – 1 (Driftstone Pg20-21)


McLeansboro – 1 (Fox Prairie Pg8-11), 2 (Fall Festival Pg30-32), 3 (Camping Pg34-39), 4 (Deep South, Pg14-17)


Newton – 1 (Drive N Pg4-6), 2 (Sam Parr Pg8-11), 3 (Burl Monuments Pg64-66), 4 (Newton Lake Pg34-39), 5 (Irene’s Pg24-27), 6 (BJ’s Saloon Pg14-17)


Lawrenceville – 1 (Lincoln Trail State Memorial Pg6466), 2 (Havoline Hall Pg60), 3 (Lasata & Coco’s Pg5455), 4 (Red Hills State Park)

Bridgeport – 1 (Griffin’s Pizza House Pg14-17)

Rural – 1 (Cannonball Bridge Pg4-6),


Centralia – 1 (Carillon Pg4-6), 2 (Castle Ridge, Schwartz, Rail, Crooked Creek Pg52-57), 3 (Balloonfest Pg30-32), 4 (C-Town Twist Pg14-17), 5 (Gaetti Sports Academy Pg34-39)

Salem – 1 (Aquatic Center Pg12), 2 (Salem Theater Pg44-45), 3 (6:10 Coffee Pg24-27), 4 (Chuck’s Place Pg14-17)

Iuka – 1 (Ice Cream Korner Pg14-17)

Rural – 1 (Kinmundy Pg64-66)


Columbia – 1 (Pg2), 2 (Songs4Soldiers Pg30-32), 3 (Café on the Abbey/Pop-Up Shop Pg56-57)

Waterloo – 1 (History Museum Pg64-66), 2 (Breweries Pg24-27), 3 (Murals Pg44-45) 4 (Shorty’s Pg14-17)

Maeystown – 1 (Village as a whole Pg64-66), 2 (Corner George Pg48)

Rural – 1 (Hiking Pg8-11), 2 (Eagle Cliff Pg64-66), 3 (KC Trail Pg34-39)


Du Quoin – 1 (State Fair Pg30-32), 2 (Marks Bakery Pg14-17), 3 (DQ HLF Pg34-39), 4 (IG collage Pg22)

Pinckneyville – 1 (Rural Heritage Pg4-6), 2 (Thresherman Pg30-32), 3 (Jail Museum Pg64-66)

Pyramid State Recreation Area – 1 (Pg34-39)


Chester – 1 (Popeye statues Pg2), 2 (Mary’s Covered Bridge Pg64-44), 3 (St Nick Pg24-27)

Sparta – 1 (WSRC Pg30-32), 2 (Lieferbrau Pg24-27)

Kaskaskia – 1 (Liberty Bell Pg64-66)

Red Bud – 1 (Lieferbrau Pg24-27), 2 (Boekhoff Pg48), 3 (MiCasa Pg14-17)

Coulterville – 1 (Christmas lights Pg22)

Rural – 1 (Ferry Pg4-6), 2 (Piney Creek4-6), 3 (Fort Kaskaskia Pg64-66), 4 Confluence Trail (Pg34-39), 5 (Piney Creek IG Page22)

Prairie du Rocher – 1 (IL Country Harvest 4-6), 2 (Rendezvous Pg30-32), 3 (FdC Pg64-66)


Olney – 1 (Pg2), 2 (MuralsPg 4-6), 3 (Ophelia’s Cup Pg14-17), 4 (East Fork Lake, Possum Patch Farms Pg54-55) 5 (Berryville/Fox Creek Pg24-27), 6 (White Squirrel Count Pg34-39)


Belleville – 1 (Edge Pg 4-6), 2 (Pride Fest Pg30-32), 3 (AOTS Pg44-45), 4 (Eckert’s Pg8-11), 5 (Weingarten, Way of Lights, Christkindl, Lincoln Theater, Tavern Pg56-57)

Mascoutah – 1 (Sure Shot Pg 4-6), 2 (Homecoming P30-32), 3 (MidAmerica Pg34-39)

Lebanon – 1 (The Hett Pg44-45), 2 (Fall Festival Pg3032)

O’Fallon – 1 (Splash Pad Pg12), 2 (Vine Street Pg3032), 3 (Goshen Trailhead Pg8-11), 4 (Peel Pg14-17)

Shiloh – 1 (Junes Pg14-17), 2 (Freedom Rock Pg44-45), 3 (Holiday Inn Pg 56-57)

Sauget – 1 (Grizzlies Pg4-6)

Millstadt – 1 (Millpond Pg24-27), 2 (Eckert’s Pg8-11)

Cahokia Heights – 1 (Courthouse Pg64-66)

Fairview Heights – 1 (The Rec Pg12), 2 (Lotawata Pg14-17), 3 (Salute Pg30-32)

Swansea – 1 (Swansea Disc Golf Pg8-11), 2 (Soulcial Kitchen Pg14-17)

Gateway Geyser – 1 (Pg2)

WWTR – 1 (Event Pg30-32), 2 (Wonderlights Pg56-57), 3 (Pg34-39)

Gateway National Golf – 1 (Pg8-11)

Cahokia Mounds Interpretive Center – 1 (Pg64-66)

MetroBikeLink Trail – 1 (Pg8-11)


Mt. Carmel – 1 (River Rats Pg8-11), 2 (Museum Pg6466), 3 (Food Truck Pg14-17), 4 (Beall Woods Pg54-55), 5 (Roots N Que Pg34-39)


Okawville – 1 (Original Springs Pg64-44), 2 (Wheat Fest Pg30-32)

Nashville – 1 (Rainbow Pg4-6), 2 (The Boardroom Pg24-27), 3 (Washington Co State Rec Area Pg22), 4 (Washington Co Fair Pg34-39)

Hoyleton – 1 (Country Kids Pg8-11), 2 (Kretzer’s Pg1417)

Rural – 1 (Du Bois Center Pg60)


Fairfield – 1 (PaintOut Pg30-32), 2 (Victorian, Loofah Farms, Jovalou Pg54-55), 3 (Fusion/Bold Goat Pg2427), 4 (Junkyard Art Pg34-39), 5 (DiMaggio’s Pg14-17)


Carmi – 1 (Social House, Pg48), 2 (Corn Days Pg3032), 3 (Taco Factory Pg14-17)

Grayville – 1 (64KOA Pg4-6), 2 (Smokin’ Pig Pg14-17)

Crossville – Sunflower Broom Shop Pg34-39


Highland – 1 (Schlafly Pg20-21), 2 (Korte Rec Center Pg12), 3 (Olde Wicks Pg60), 4 (Art events Pg44-45), 5 (Sweet Treats Pg34-39)

Charleston – 1 (Tarble Pg44-45), 2 Lincoln Log Cabin (Pg64-66)

Cedarhurst Arts Center – 1 (Pg44-45)




Person in sunflower field near Keyesport –

Front Cover Photo Credits
in front of Belleville Flower Mural –
Belleville Mural Project Motorcycle by Wabash Cannonball Bridge –Credit @hops_adventures
drinking on bar at St Nicholas in Du Quoin – Credit @caffeineuntilcocktails
on Embarras River –
Chris Wagner @wagnerct
Braeutigams Orchard 2022 –Credit Kelly Vogt
Credit uryjahbrooke
The Village of Shiloh • 618-632-1022 • shilohil.org • Find us on Facebook! M Shiloh, Illinois
(75M, 2023) FollowtheQRCodetoexplore Discover Downstate Illinois online
4387 North Illinois Street, Suite 200, Swansea, IL 62226

Articles inside

Drink Like a Local

page 29

Drink Like a Local

page 28

Discover Our Neck of the Woods

pages 36-41

Seasonal Itineraries

pages 58-59

Seasonal Itineraries

pages 56-57

Seasonal Itineraries

pages 54-55

Public Displays of Art

pages 46-47

20 Notable Events in Downstate Illinois

pages 32-34

Drink Like a Local

pages 26-29

Through the Years

page 52

Through the Years

page 52

20 Historic Stops in Downstate Illinois

pages 66-68

The Road that Built the Nation

pages 22-23

Stay in Style

page 50

Through the Years

page 25

Gathering Ground

page 62

MADE in Downstate Illinois

pages 60-61

Through the Years

page 5

Through the Years

page 69

Through the Years

page 69

MADE in Downstate Illinois

pages 70-71

MADE in Downstate Illinois

page 73

Eat Your Heart Out

pages 16-19

Splash Around in Downstate Illinois

page 14

Take it Outside

pages 10-13

Through the Years

page 9

Through the Years

page 5

20 Things to Do for $20 or Less

pages 6-8
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