By the Region | So ILL East + Central + West

Deliciously Ordinary | Lindsay + Tim Stockhecke

March 2023 |

With seventeen counties overall, depending on who you ask, Southern Illinois is vast and far-reaching. It is a fountain of outdoor activities, art and culture but the enormity of the area can feel daunting and overwhelming for many visitors. Jackson County is one of these seventeen and if you visit one you will want to visit many more as the neighboring towns offer many enhancements to your experience.

The eastern corridor of Southern Illinois is made up of the counties Saline, Hamilton, White, Gallatin, Pope, and Hardin. Many visit this area to see Garden of the Gods but some additional notable visits are Jackson Falls, Bell Smith Springs and Cave-In-Rock State Park. Some more populated towns include Elizabethtown, Golconda and Harrisburg and a drive through this area will provide views of the Ohio River, rollings hills and lush farms. Being, arguably, the most rural corridor of the three the drive is a big part of the experience and should be emphasized and enjoyed. Be on the lookout for unexpected stops along the way that you may not find on a google search.

Garden of the Gods, Southern Illinois | East

The central corridor loosely follows Rte 57 and includes the counties Jefferson, Franklin, Williamson, Johnson, Massac and Pulaski. Hugging the interstate makes this corridor have more fast-casual shopping and dining and commuter towns as well as easily accessible activities. Some of the most notable attractions include Ferne Clyffe State Park, Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, Lake of Egypt, and Cache River Wetlands. Home of Superman, The more populated towns include Metropolis, Mt. Vernon and Marion.

Cache River Wetlands, Southern Illinois | Central

The western corridor is jam-packed with things to do with Southern Illinois University Carbondale being a hub in the area. It includes the counties of Randolph, Perry, Jackson, Union, and Alexander. It is home to Tom’s Place, a five star restaurant who’s chef is the host of Food is Love, a five-time Emmy nominated TV show and 17th Street Bbq, named best ribs in the US by Bon Appétit magazine. If you are a foodie the western corridor is where you want to be. In addition to a variety of notable eateries, this corridor boasts Giant City State park, Little Grand Canyon and Bald Knob Cross.

Bald Knob Cross, Southern Illinois | West

Whether staying in one corridor or exploring throughout, the landscape of southern illinois is ripe for slow travels and day-tripping.

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