Carbondale and its surroundings offer both visitors and residents beautiful views and plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities. With four public golf courses, 17 public tennis courts, 14 public parks, one country club and access to lakes that offer opportunities to swim, water ski, fish and boat, it is easy to recognize Southern Illinois as a great place to be outdoors.
Looking for a Nice Vista?
Imagine a place with colorful flowers, lush ferns, moss blankets and sandstone bluffs. Imagine a place where mockingbirds and whippoorwills fly freely about. Carbondale is home to such a place – Giant City State Park. Located 12 miles south of Carbondale in the Shawnee National Forest, Giant City State Park is 4,055 acres of natural geological wonder and beauty.
Hiking trails of various length and difficulty wind through the park, but the Giant City Nature Trail is the most traveled. The high bluffs and walls of sandstone gave early visitors the impression of a giant city.
The park is open to hunting and fishing, picnicking and camping. Also available are 34 rental cabins.
The Bigger Picture
Home to the Giant City State Park is the Shawnee National Forest; one of the area's most stunning natural resources. With 270,000 acres, it provides some of the most beautiful scenery in the Midwest. Shawnee National Forest lies in the rough, unglaciated areas of southern Illinois, known as the Ozark and Shawnee Hills. The area offers more than 135 miles of trails as well as opportunities to picnic, swim, and view wildlife.
Going to the Greens
Although a sporting or recreational activity usually brings joy and satisfaction, Southern Illinois golfers have been smiling more than usual since the Carbondale Park District opened the Hickory Ridge Family Golf Center. Since the 18-hole public course was opened on a previously undeveloped piece of land just outside Carbondale in 1993, it has become quite a popular place to enjoy the sport.
Hickory Ridge features zoysia fairway grass and bent grass greens. It also includes plenty of challenges to hold golfers’ attention. Evidence to its challenges can be found in the fact that the course has been host of Nitro Senior Tour events.
Besides the course, the complex also has a driving range, a practice range, a putting green and a pro shop. The pro shop offers a large selection of golf clubs, golf clothes and accessories. Lessons also are available to help golfers improve their games.
The course is open throughout the year, barring freezing and snowy weather. Unlike many newer courses, golfers are allowed to walk at Hickory Ridge. The course also accommodates corporate outings, which have become increasingly popular in recent years.
Southern Illinois offers rolling hills, kind county-folk and plenty of things to do outside. How much more livable can a place be?
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