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.

Ramada by Wyndham Effingham
Ramada by Wyndham Effingham
3 out of 5
1606 W Fayette Avenue, Effingham, IL, 62401
The price is $72 per night from Jan 3 to Jan 4
$72
per night
Jan 3 - Jan 4
Stay at this 3-star business-friendly hotel in Effingham. Enjoy free breakfast, free WiFi, and free parking. Our guests praise the helpful staff and the clean ...
4/5 Very Good! (356 reviews)
Wonderful staff, rough and dirty facility
"The hotel was one of the least expensive we could find as we were travelling on quite a budget. We knew that would likely mean it would be older and not as nice. The facility was definitely rough...you could tell lots of things are older and not maintained well. The pool was a bit sketchy and floors ..."

Reviewed on Nov 22, 2022

Ramada by Wyndham Effingham
Harrah's Metropolis Hotel & Casino
Harrah's Metropolis Hotel & Casino
3.5 out of 5
100 E Front St, Metropolis, IL, 62960
The price is $99 per night from Dec 5 to Dec 6
$99
per night
Dec 5 - Dec 6
Stay at this 3.5-star business-friendly hotel in Metropolis. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking, and 2 restaurants. Our guests praise the helpful staff and the clean ...
4.2/5 Very Good! (1,002 reviews)
"Best surprise stay during our cross country trip!!!! Will stay here again!"

Reviewed on Nov 30, 2022

Harrah's Metropolis Hotel & Casino
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, 62401
The price is $106 per night from Dec 18 to Dec 19
$106
per night
Dec 18 - Dec 19
Stay at this business-friendly hotel in Effingham. Enjoy free breakfast, free WiFi, and free parking. Our guests praise the breakfast and the helpful staff in ...
4.4/5 Excellent! (1,002 reviews)
Nice layover
"Stopped here for an overnight stay. The hotel was clean, beds comfy and service professional. Recommend!"

Reviewed on Nov 27, 2022

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.
Beautiful Gardens, 2 bdrm WIFI with Private Hot Tub-Southern Hospitality-2 Bikes
Beautiful Gardens, 2 bdrm WIFI with Private Hot Tub-Southern Hospitality-2 Bikes
Harrisburg, IL
Stay at this family-friendly condo in Harrisburg. Enjoy free WiFi, a spa tub, and a fitness center. Our guests praise the helpful staff and the comfy rooms in ...
4.9/5 Exceptional! (112 reviews)
Great place to stay
"We really enjoyed our stay. It was very clean and cozy. The hosts were very nice and inviting."

Reviewed on Nov 24, 2022

Beautiful Gardens, 2 bdrm WIFI with Private Hot Tub-Southern Hospitality-2 Bikes
Shawnee Forest In Town Retreat
Shawnee Forest In Town Retreat
Harrisburg, IL
Stay at this vacation home in Harrisburg. Enjoy free WiFi, onsite parking, and a garden. Popular attractions Shawnee Hills Country Club and Saline County Area ...
5/5 Exceptional! (3 reviews)
Thanksgiving stay
"We stayed here while in-town visiting family for the holiday. Property was as listed, and loved that we were able to travel with our pet. The backyard is very dark at night, seems the solar lights have stopped working. Other than that, enjoyed our stay."

Reviewed on Nov 29, 2022

Shawnee Forest In Town Retreat
Golconda Lock & Dam Homes
Golconda Lock & Dam Homes
3 out of 5
1419 Water Street, Golconda, IL, 62938
Stay at this 3-star vacation home in Golconda. Enjoy free parking, a balcony or patio, and cable TV. Our guests praise the helpful staff and the comfy beds in ...
4.4/5 Wonderful! (12 reviews)
"The property has been restored to a 1920 homestead and it is extremely inviting and comfortable. The porch overlooking the Ohio River was an awesome feature and we enjoyed our coffee while waiting for the sunrise and listening to the water flow by. The houses are very private at the end of Water ..."

Reviewed on Dec 30, 2018

Golconda Lock & Dam Homes
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.

Cities near Southeast Illinois