With leafy state parks and pretty vineyards on its doorstep, this beautifully preserved 19th-century throwback town provides plenty of inspiration for local artists.
Makanda is a cozy village with stunning late 19th-century architecture and a lively local arts community. Stroll down the village’s historic boardwalk and be treated to a showcase of heritage façades and public artworks. Known as Carbondale’s gateway to Giant City State Park, Makanda is also a major destination on the tourist trails that wind around the Shawnee Hills.
Spend some time wandering down the boardwalk. Check out intriguing boutiques and local businesses, some of which are situated in elegant storefronts dating back to 1897. In days gone by, Makanda was a major railway hub for fruit and vegetable trade with Chicago. See the relics of the town’s grandeur brought to life through modern artistic interpretations. As a popular spot with artists from the nearby Southern Illinois University, Makanda has a constantly evolving arts scene.
Experience some of Makanda’s natural beauty by exploring nearby Giant City State Park. This picturesque woodland is dotted with natural and heritage landmarks. Climb a historic water tower and enjoy views across the treetops or hike around impressive rock formations. Sail above the canopy over the Shawnee Bluffs on an exciting zip-line tour.
Be sure to sample some of the region’s renowned wines on a trip through the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail. Visit local vineyards, attend a tasting and take home a bottle as a souvenir from the cellar door. If you’re looking for a more active experience of Makanda’s countryside, take on the challenge of the River to River Trail. This long-distance hiking trail spans the Shawnee National Forest from the Ohio to the Mississippi rivers.
Makanda is located in Southern Illinois and is 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Carbondale. You can reach Carbondale via Amtrak from Chicago, Memphis or New Orleans. Williamson County Regional Airport is 24 miles (38.6 kilometers) from Makanda. The region has pleasant summers and snowfall in winter, with occasional severe storms in spring. Visit the village during the Makanda Spring Fest or the Makanda Vulture Fest to join an exciting weekend of local art, music and food.