A very special place | Makanda, Illinois

Lindsay + Tim Stockhecke


Makanda, Illinois is known by locals and transplants alike but depending on who you are will determine what it means to you or what you know it for. Nevertheless, anyone who has visited knows it is special. Frequently called the hippiest town in Illinois, it has made a name for itself, one that reaches far beyond any moniker. The first time we visited the quaint artist hub was during their Vulture Fest, a day that feels anything but quaint. This annual event is hosted every October as a way to signify the arrival of the fall colors, and the surrounding trees (almost) always put on a show. All the while artisans sell their handmade goods, live music fills the air, and good times are had by all. The valley and the Shawnee National Forest hug you and everyone feels like family.

The next time we visited was much different, an expected and welcomed reality of the boardwalk, no two visits are alike, as Makanda shapeshifts with each passing visitor. The art within the shops is sold and swapped out. Renters and businesses change hands and hours move with the wind. The expected within Makanda is the unexpected. Everyone is welcome and free to come and go as they please without judgment. Be kind and you are home. There are the inner workings that many know about but the casual tourist won’t ever see. The best part is that it is allowed. When you visit you can feel this, that you are being given access to something truly special, being given a tiny piece of a secret, and if you’re willing to slow down and breathe it in it will stay with you for an eternity.

Positioned as the gateway to Giant City State Park and just 24 minutes from Murphysboro Mainstreet, Makanda has a few things that you can look forward to on any given visit (keeping in mind the above-mentioned fluidity).

  1. Makanda Trading Company | Referred to as ‘the rock shop’ by our kiddos, you can expect to find a variety of crystals, incense, jewelry, and metaphysical supplies. Open Mon-Sun 10am-5pm
  2. Makanda Country Store | This is currently the only spot you are able to get a snack on the boardwalk. White bread sandwiches and scooped ice cream is always a must when we cruise through. Open Mon-Sun 9am-5pm.
  3. Visions Art Gallery | With floor-to-ceiling curated local art this gift shop is full of beautifully handcrafted goods.
  4. PB&J | This funky shop has a mix of old and new goods. Art, tapestries, clothing and more.
  5. The Rainmakers Garden | David Dardis, aka The Rainmaker, has his art studio located on the boardwalk with an enchanted garden in the back. Not marked and somewhat easy to miss, be sure to cruise through his shop to the back patio to discover more art nestled amongst trailing ivy.
The Rainmakers Garden, Makanda Illinois

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