Visiting SIU? Plenty to do in the Carbondale area

 
Published11/9/2008 12:00 AM

Q: We are going to be driving to Carbondale to check out Southern Illinois University for one of our youngsters. We thought we'd stay a couple of days and are wondering what there is to do in that area.

A: You didn't say what time of the year you'll be going to Carbondale but I hope it's springtime because spring comes early to southern Illinois and Carbondale is in a very scenic area.

 

Jackson County, where you'll find Carbondale, borders the Mississippi River and is a land of rolling hills, towering sandstone bluffs, many beautiful lakes, state parks and the nearby Shawnee National Forest.

If you're interested in the work of local artisans, stop in the Art Lovers Trading Post at 201 E. Main St., in Carbondale, where oil paintings, watercolors, sculpture, jewelry, pottery, weaving and fabrics are showcased and are for sale. Also the work of local artists can be seen in Art Alley at SIU's Student Center.

Woodlawn Cemetery on East Main is an interesting spot. Memorial Day's origins can be traced to this cemetery where Gen. John Logan organized the first post-Civil War service in 1866. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Giant City State Park is about 12 miles south of town, located in the rugged hilly section that often is called the Illinois Ozarks. Its name comes from the large cubical blocks of stone that rise from its canyons. Near the park's northern entrance lies the Old Stone Fort. It's open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. at no charge.

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The region also has been developing its wine industry over the past few years. An Illinois Wineries Guide is available in Carbondale's 1903 historic Illinois Central Railroad Passenger Depot and it outlines the 26-mile Shawnee Hills Wine Trail. A steam engine is on display at the train station.

The university itself has some worthwhile sites. McLeod Theater stages several productions each year in its 488-seat facility. Shryock Auditorium is a 1,200-seat theater on the historic "old campus" that hosts every genre of performing arts. It was built in 1918, renovated in 1972 and includes a 58-rank Reuter pipe organ. SIU operates a center for environmental learning in the lush Shawnee National Forest where outdoor sports are available. Lastly, the university has its own museum that features permanent collections as well as traveling exhibits.

More information, maps and listings of accommodations are available by calling (800) 526-1500 or checking Carbondale's Web site, www.cctb.org.

• Send your questions at least six weeks before travel to Madelyn Merwin in care of Travel, Daily Herald, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006, or e-mail dpmerwin@sbcglobal.net.

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