Sip & Stay

Wine lovers will want to linger on the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, located along a 40-mile scenic drive through the hilly Shawnee National Forest. Eleven award-winning wineries make up the trail. Many of them feature decks and patios where guests relax and drink in the lush forest scenery, and some of the wineries even offer lodging.

Photo Alto Vineyards.

Rows of vines at Alto Vineyards in Southern Illinois.

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Start your tour at Starview Vineyards near Cobden. StarView produces its wines from French-American hybrid grapes grown in the vineyards. The cafe and live music on the weekends make the large patio overlooking the vineyards and koi pond one of the most popular gathering spots in the area.

At Owl Creek Vineyard, hoist a glass of Apple Knocker hard cider among the leafy canopy of trees on the second-floor deck as a band plays from the back of an old pickup truck below.

Hedman Vineyards pairs the beautiful views with Swedish-inspired gourmet food at The Peach Barn Café. Outdoors, you can watch hummingbirds from the outdoor pavilion or relax inside a restored barn.

Alto Vineyards is the oldest winery in southern Illinois, and features a tasting room plus the rooftop Vine Deck, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and Bald Knob Cross.

Von Jakob Winery & Brewery has tasting rooms in Alto Pass and Pomona, plus a bed and breakfast with five cottage suites.

End the day at Kite Hill Vineyards, which offers a vineyard bed and breakfast where guests can relax on the porch with a fine glass of wine.

If you want to truly immerse yourself in the Shawnee Forest experience, stay the night in a cabin in the woods. Rocky Comfort Cabins in Makanda offers the whimsical Hobbit House, inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novel, The Hobbit. This ecofriendly, grass-roofed earthen shelter has round windows, surprisingly tall nine-foot ceilings and sun tunnels that allow natural light to flow into the cabin. Best of all, guests of the Hobbit House have their own private wooded trail that leads right to Blue Sky Vineyard.

Woodland Cabins in Murphysboro is located right on the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail. The four beautifully decorated knotty pine cabins are designed to sleep two, and feature outdoor hot tubs that let you commune with nature.

Trails to Adventure Events

The Southern Illinois Music Festival

Venues throughout the Carbondale area host international artists and ensembles that perform orchestral and chamber music, opera, ballet and jazz over three weeks each June. Southern Illinois University’s School of Music coordinates more than 30 performances that appeal to music lovers and families.

Superman Celebration

Expect to see hundreds of people in blue tights and red capes at the World's largest festival devoted to Superman. Metropolis hosts this quirky weekend event each June, which features a film festival, costume parade and autograph sessions with heroes and villains from Superman comics, movies and television series.

HerrinFesta Italiana

The city of Herrin celebrates its Italian roots with a week-long festival of music, food and games that culminates over Memorial Day weekend. See popular bands in the piazza, enjoy the carnival atmosphere and Italian food vendors on the midway, and take a shot at the pasta-eating contest. The International Championship Bocce Tournament draws a crowd, too.

Balloon Fest

Centralia hosts this popular hot-air balloon festival each August. Forty thousand people come to gaze at nearly 50 colorful balloons that glow at night and take to the sky by day. Visitors also enjoy tethered balloon rides, live entertainment, a craft fair and a car show during the weekend.

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