Southeast Illinois, IL

Travel Guide
Fort Massac State Park featuring a lake or waterhole, a statue or sculpture and a park

Take a drive through beautiful prairieland, where open plains are interrupted by wineries, lakes, characterful towns and lush protected woodland.

Southeast Illinois is a wonderful, and sometimes overlooked, place to go on vacation. Follow the road and discover wide-open spaces, gorgeous forest and many small towns where community is strong and local traditions are preserved. Fish or swim in sparkling lakes, camp beneath the stars and stop at plenty of wineries during your trip.

One of the area’s major attractions is Shawnee National Forest, a gorgeous protected natural area covering a vast 280,000 acres (110,000 hectares). This scenic place is ideal for outdoorsy travelers. Bring a tent and find a good spot to camp overnight. Swim in the bodies of water sprinkled around the forest and hike trails leading past hidden waterfalls and along rocky peaks.

Southwest of the forest find Mermet Springs, another unmissable open-air attraction. Go diving in this truly unique pool in a quarry to find a weird and wonderful array of objects deep beneath the water. Look for sunken airplanes and a fire truck, along with water-dwelling animals.

The area around Shawnee National Forest is also a great place to pick up outstanding local wine from picturesque wineries. Follow the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, which includes many welcoming independent wineries, such as Owl Creek Vineyard, Blue Sky Vineyard and Hickory Ridge Vineyard.

Taste local produce at the thriving farmers markets held regularly in towns such as Albion, Mount Carmel, Fairfield and many others. Good food and local gatherings are important here. Specifically “chowders” offer another chance to enjoy these crucial ingredients of Southeast Illinois life. In this part of the world, chowders are not just thick soups, but community events at which the soup is prepared in a large cauldron and served to the masses. Chowder season runs through the warmer months.

Follow a ribbon of highway south from Chicago toward Southeast Illinois, switching onto smaller roads to reach the most easterly parts. Driving here is a pleasure, with big skies overhead and beautiful farmland and countryside all around.

Where to stay in Southeast Illinois

Baymont by Wyndham Metropolis
Baymont by Wyndham Metropolis
2.5 out of 5
203 E Front St, Metropolis, IL
The price is $62 per night from Nov 30 to Nov 30
Situated in Metropolis, this motel is steps from Ohio River and Harrah's Metropolis. Americana Hollywood Museum and Superman Statue are also within 15 ...
3.3/5 (881 reviews)
"Was ok"

Reviewed on Oct 1, 2021

Baymont by Wyndham Metropolis
Best Western Delta Inn
Best Western Delta Inn
2.5 out of 5
1509 Hampton Dr, Located right off of I-57/70, Effingham, IL
Fully refundableReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is $93 per night from Dec 19 to Dec 19
Located in the heart of Effingham, this hotel is 1.1 mi (1.7 km) from HSHS St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital and 1.3 mi (2.1 km) from Effingham Performance Center. ...
4.6/5 Exceptional! (670 reviews)
"The Facilities and Continental hot breakfast were perfect in value to our budget."

Reviewed on Nov 22, 2021

Best Western Delta Inn
La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Effingham
La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Effingham
2.5 out of 5
1103 Avenue Of Mid America, Effingham, IL
The price is $98 per night from Dec 5 to Dec 5
Situated in Effingham, this hotel is within 2 mi (3 km) of Effingham Performance Center, TREC Calico Trail, and HSHS St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital. Effingham ...
4.4/5 Wonderful! (882 reviews)
"First time I’ve stayed at this hotel chain. I was shocked at the narrow hallways and stepping into the bathroom right inside the door. Really small and rather tight."

Reviewed on Nov 26, 2021

La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Effingham
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Peaceful Retreat with a View
Peaceful Retreat with a View
Golconda, IL
The price is $98 per night from Dec 6 to Dec 6
Situated on the waterfront, this historic aparthotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Ohio River and Shawnee National Forest. Hardin County Court House and Hardin County ...
4.7/5 Exceptional! (17 reviews)
Lovely
"Property is beautiful! It is a serene, pleasant gem off the beaten path."

Reviewed on Nov 28, 2021

Peaceful Retreat with a View
Come stay in the historic downtown district of Metropolis, IL. Home of Superman
Come stay in the historic downtown district of Metropolis, IL. Home of Superman
Metropolis, IL
The price is $125 per night from Dec 1 to Dec 1
Located in the heart of Metropolis, this apartment building is within a 10-minute walk of Superman Statue and Harrah's Metropolis. Super Museum and Americana ...
4.9/5 Exceptional! (33 reviews)
Great location!
"We loved the property! Very unique and a great location. Lots to eat and do within walking distance. Perfect weekend getaway."

Reviewed on Nov 22, 2021

Come stay in the historic downtown district of Metropolis, IL. Home of Superman
 Spring is for Hiking!  WIFI. Private Hot Tub. Hospitality. Outdoor fireplace.
Spring is for Hiking! WIFI. Private Hot Tub. Hospitality. Outdoor fireplace.
Harrisburg, IL
The price is $116 per night from Dec 20 to Dec 20
This family-friendly Harrisburg condo building is located in a rural location, within 3 mi (5 km) of Saline County Area Museum and Shawnee Hills Country Club. ...
4.9/5 Exceptional! (87 reviews)
Get away weekend
"Beautiful gardens, comfortable accommodations, nice hot tub.. everything you would expect for a getaway weekend."

Reviewed on Nov 22, 2021

Spring is for Hiking! WIFI. Private Hot Tub. Hospitality. Outdoor fireplace.
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Popular places to visit in Southeast Illinois

Top things to do in Southeast Illinois

Cities near Southeast Illinois