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The Shawnee National Forest is famed for its awesome Garden of the Gods, and is home to the Rim Rock Recreational Trail (the forest has a system of 403 miles of equestrian/hiking trails). Hikers are greeted by magnificent jutting walls of rock covered with emerald-green moss, and paths that meander through canyons under the forest canopy. Nestled between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, the stunning Shawnee National Forest landscape features rolling hills, lakes, creeks and rugged bluffs. If you’re into climbing than a must-see is Jackson Falls, located near the town of Ozark in the Hidden Springs Ranger District in Shawnee National Forest. The climb takes place on 60 feet of sandstone cliffs and boulders that include numerous freestanding towers.
Chicago’s 26 miles of lakefront and beaches are free and open to residents and visitors alike. In fact, they were foremost in Daniel Burham’s plan to make Chicago’s lakefront and beaches always open and unobstructed for the public to enjoy. And to this day, you can see that his vision is still alive and well, from the joggers and volleyball players to the swimmers and sail boaters who take to the lakefront every day. Of course, admission is free.
Central Illinois lake with over 11,000 water acres and 172 miles of shoreline. Lake Shelbyville has 5 federal campgrounds, and 2 state campgrounds with over 1,000 campsites from tent camping up to full hookup. There are several recreational areas with picnic areas and pavilions and 2 wildlife management areas. Three public beaches are available for swimming on the lake. The lake also hosts many launching ramps that are available for boats, and 3 marinas on the lake. Many hiking trails also encompass the lake such as the General Dacey which also includes fitness stations, the Chief Illini trail and others.
This deluxe water park features tube slides, the second largest lazy river in Illinois, zero-depth pools, sand activity areas and concessions.
Beautiful sandy waterfront on Cedar Lake. State certified Lifeguards on duty during beach hours, lap lane, restrooms, picnic tables and a concession area.
A quiet cove at dawn, where the only sound is the whir of a casting reel and the gentle splash of the fly hitting the water’s surface...that’s Lake Sara. A sunny afternoon slalom skiing behind a powerboat or running along the beach...that’s Lake Sara. A family picnic in the grass at water’s edge or a family reunion, with fried chicken and the works, under one of the pavilions...that’s Lake Sara. Lake Sara is an 800-acre recreational lake nestled into a wooded shoreline, encircled by a winding road. Spend a day, a week, or a season on the shores of Lake Sara. Lake Sara has something for everyone, in every season of the year.
Lake of Egypt is a privately owned reservoir located six miles south of Marion, Illinois and covers 2,300 acres with 90 miles of shoreline. The lake has an average depth of 18 feet. The lake is owned by the Southern Illinois Power Cooperative (SIPC), who created the impoundment in 1962, by damming the South fork of the Saline River, to supply cooling water for a coal-burning electric power plant.
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is located primarily in Williamson County, with small extensions into eastern Jackson and northeastern Union counties of southern Illinois. At almost 44,000 acres and with three lakes (Crab Orchard, Little Grassy, and Devils Kitchen,) endless opportunities abound for watching wildlife, hiking nature trails, photography, swimming, fishing from the bank or by boat, and hunting. Four seasonally operational campgrounds are open from April-October and offer full hook-up, water, electric, or non-electric sites. Refuge staff and volunteers at the visitor center welcome visitors and sightseers 7 days a week from 8am-4:30pm. Visitor activities such as guided hikes, bald eagle tours, and monthly F.U.N. programs help connect families with the diversity of flora and fauna that Southern Illinois has to offer. The Refuge provides many opportunities for wildlife-dependent outdoor recreation for the nature lover in us all.
Stretching leisurely for 6 1/2 miles along the sandy shore of Lake Michigan, this 4160-acre park is recognized for its geological structure, unique flora, spectacular beauty and recreational opportunities for swimming, boating, hiking, picnicking, biking,
DuPage County, Chicago’s Western Suburbs - Jump in to summer fun at Centennial Beach! Featuring four acres of grass and trees, a sand beach, water play features, an NCAA/U.S.S.-approved diving complex, this historic beach is a place the whole family can enjoy! With water depths ranging from zero to 15 feet, the facility caters to swimmers of all skill levels. Combined with a playground, Frisbee® Area, shallow end slide, concessions stand and Beach store, Centennial Beach is the perfect way to beat the summer heat. Named "best public place to swim" in 2008 by Fox News Chicago viewers in an online poll!
Zero-depth sand beach, two islands, youth water slide, drop slide and diving tower with two-and four-meter platforms. Kid tested and family approved. This beach features a sand bottom swimming area covering 60,000 sq. ft. that includes: slides, an island diving area, playground, sand volleyball courts, a large sandy area for building castles, picnic area and concessions. Open May 23 through August 16. Hours 12 - 6 pm (Hours extended to 7 pm Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays).
This aquatic center has a frog slide, water slide, wet playground area, a sand playground, concessions, a shaded picnic area and a bath house.
Dive into this beach-themed water park with 2 tall tube slides, drop-slide, diving well, walk-in swimming pool, splash ‘n spray playground, sand play area and café. Locker rooms, showers & family restrooms. Available for group rentals for 50-1500 people.
Whitewater Junction is a railroad-themed aquatic facility. Two water slides, spray toys, zero depth edge and shallow water play area.
Two different locations on Lake Sara. The pavilions offer a chance to host a meeting on the lake. The two outdoor facilities are perfect for receptions and parties with plenty of outdoor space. It also features a large open room, kitchen area, boat dock and outdoor decks.
Fun for the whole family! Zero depth activity pool, six lap swim lanes, separate pool for drop slides and diving boards, as well as a sand/water play area for children and two competition sand volleyball courts.
Little Grassy Lake Campground and Marina is located on Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge and is a destination stop for returning campers, boaters, and sportsmen. They offer full service camping, primitive camping, boat rentals, concessions, and a bait shop. Reservations accepted to reserve boats and campsites. Pontoon boats, fishing boats, and kayaks can be rented. You don't want to pass up the opportunities to explore the thirty miles of shoreline and embrace the solitude you will find on the lake. The 1200 acre lake is stocked with catfish, crappie, and bass, and offers plentiful oppourtunities for fishing, paddling, boating, and wildlife observation. Amenities include waterfront camping sites, remodeled bathrooms with hot showers, dump station, swimming, pets allowed, monthly educational programs and a renovated concession/bait shop which is stocked with minnows, crickets, camping supplies, cold beverages, food items, ice cream, firewood and ice.
Gillson Park offers 60 acres of beautiful lakefront property, including a harbor and beach. It is ideal for picnics, bicycling, volleyball, tennis and other outdoor sports.
A beautiful 105-acre campground, with a 45-acre stocked lake. Enjoy free fishing, beach swimming, hiking, boat rentals, hayrides and more. Cottages and cabins are also available.
Lake Lou Yaeger, this 1400+ acre lake offers 45 miles of beautiful shoreline and several recreational opportunities. Visitors can enjoy boating, skiing, swimming, fishing, and camping. The 300 acre park has five picnic areas, two playgrounds, pavilions, grills, restrooms, and hiking trails. With miles of horse trails and a new equestrian campground with full hook-ups and shower house, Lake Lou is a great destination for horse enthusiasts. Milnot Beach has two diving platforms, showers, snack bar, and lifeguards on duty.
If you want to spend a day on Lake Sara but don't have a boat, don't worry The Marina at Lake Sara offers boat rentals, tackle, gas, food and drinks.
Middle Fork Forest Preserve, 1600 acres in northeast Champaign County, offers visitors a campground (53 of 65 campsites have electricty), brand new playground, swimming beach, fishing, hiking, boat rentals, cross-country skiing, picnicking, a Waterfowl Management Area, renovated meeting facility and programs. The campground now accepts online reservations.
Indoor/outdoor pool with aerobic classes and open swims. Rec Center has volleyball and basketball courts.