After breakfast, take I-57 south to Cairo, IL. (exit #1 off I-57) , or Hwy. 37 south. Follow Hwy. 51 into Cairo
10am Tour the Safford Memorial Library, (1609 Washington St) a working library of Queen Anne architecture, which houses a valuable collection of Civil War documents and museum quality antiques and paintings. (open Mon-Fri, 618-734-1840)
10:45 Tour the U.S. Custom House Museum, (1400 Washington St) which was built in 1872. Today it houses several unique historical items including a desk once used by Gen. U.S. Grant during the Civil War. ($2 per person donation, 618-734-9632)
Make a stop at Halliday Park at Washington & Poplar; to take your picture with the Hewer, sculpted in 1906, this original bronze statue was exhibited at the St Louis World’s Fair.
Lunch: Stop in small town, family friendly, Shemwell’s BBQ at 1102 Washington St for a delicious lunch, served by great people. Darrell Shemwell’s Bar-B-Que was chosen “Best BBQ on the Great River Road” by money magazine. Shemwell’s is open Mon-Sat…8am to 7pm. Specialties on the menu are BBQ pork, beef brisket, ham, and turkey and are sliced NOT chopped like other BBQ. Darrell also makes his own delicious BBQ sauce to enhance the hickory flavor of his scrumptious meat.
Visit Ft. Defiance State Park, where you can view the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers from atop Boatman’s Memorial. Picnic tables are available if you want to have your lunch here! (No admission charge)
Tour Magnolia Manor, (2700 Washington Ave, 618-734-0201) This 4 story, 14-room mansion is full of history. Historians will give a guided tour, and answer questions. (Admission fee)
Riverlore Mansion (2723 Washington St, 618-734-0731) is across the street and has recently opened for tours. (weekends only, or, by apt.) (Admission fee)
Take a scenic drive around Horseshoe Lake. Take a walk and watch for wildlife. Stop at Melton’s Fishing Camp (618-776-5504) for fishing supplies, or boat rental.
After breakfast head to Metropolis.
10am Visit Fort Massac State Park, where you can see a replica of the Fort, see a statue of George Rogers Clark, enjoy a view of the Ohio River and view a short video on the history of the park.
Continue into Metropolis to Superman Square.
Take your picture with Superman, and tour the Super Museum. (admission fee)
Around the corner from town square is the Elijah P Curtis Historical House.
Tour the Curtis House Museum at 405 Market St. (open on weekends, for donation.)
Or, down the block is the Noel Neill/Lois Lane statue (corner of 8th & Market)
Superman and Doctor Who fans won’t want to miss Daily Star Comics, 1000 Vienna St.
Lunch: The Grill Restaurant at 310 Ferry St offers a steak, pasta, sandwiches or salads & more. Or- Fat Edd’s Roadhouse at 323 Ferry St: offers a variety of foods and drinks. Many appetizers such as peel-n-eat shrimp, great food choices from salads to Roadhouse platters. They also offer a full bar. Open daily 11:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Don’t miss the Americana Hollywood Museum, corner of Ferry & Third St, with a huge collection of movie and television artifacts. The 40,000 sq. ft. has over 20,000 items on display. (admission fee)
Try your luck at Harrah’s Casino. (those over 21 only)(which also offers great dining options: Fresh buffet, or Bridges Dining Company) Or, walk along the River at Dorothy Miller Park (front Street) and see the Metropolis Lighthouse: “Hope Light”
Take Hwy. 45 north.
Take a drive around Mermet Lake for wildlife viewing. Scuba dive at Mermet Springs. (they have a ‘Try scuba’ program) www.mermetsprings.com
Continue north on Hwy. 45.
Near Belknap, stop at the Cache River Basin Winery (315 Forman Lane) to sample local wine. Perhaps have dinner at their new restaurant: Wineaux’s. Murder Mystery dinners are held once a month. (618-658-2274) www.crbwinery.org
After breakfast take Hwy. 37 south, past Cypress.
9am Visit the Cache River Wetland Visitor Center, 8885 St Rt 37 S, Cypress, IL. to learn about the area, be sure to take time to see the short film. (hours: 9am to 4pm, Wed-Sun)
10:30 Arrange for canoe rental on the Cache.
Even if you don’t canoe, the Lower Cache River access area is a ‘must see’. From Hwy. 37, take Perks Road west & follow the sign to the access point.
Big Cypress Trail: Is 250 feet from the access area parking lot. It will take you to a viewing platform of the bald cypress trees older than 1000 years and whose base circumference is more than 40 feet.
Lunch: Take Hwy. 169 east to Karnak, on Hwy. 169 have lunch at Our Place Deli & Pizza (Mon-Fri) on weekends, an option is:Wineaux’s. www.crbwinery.org
Afternoon: Follow the signs toward Belknap and Heron Pond.
The Heron Pond is a ‘must see’. (930 Sunflower Ln, Belknap,IL ph.618-634-9678) The 1.5 mile easy trail includes a truss bridge over the Cache River and features a floating boardwalk to the middle of Heron Pond’s cypress pond. There are 10 interpretive panels along the trail.
About 10:00 AM, after breakfast, get ready for a driving/walking/sampling tour of the Eastern side of the Shawnee National Forest.TECUMSEH was the chief of the Shawnee, who traded in salt and hunted these forests. He had wonderful values, and since the forest is named for his people, we think a visit to his statue at Glen O. Jones Lake is a good first stop.
N 37° 41.506 W 088° 23.654
16S E 377076 N 4172531Above are GPS coordinates, but the following directions can be helpful. Take Route 45, towards Harrisburg. Turn right and proceed to the outskirts of Harrisburg. Turn right at the junction of 34 and 145, and watch for signs to Glen O. Jones Lake. Don’t miss the lake, because the sign there says Saline County Conservation Area or Water District. Turn in right and follow smaller signs to see Tecumseh, and enjoy the beauty of this under-appreciated lake and park. Garden of the Gods is over 320 million years old and covers more than 3,300 acres. You can follow signs from Glen O. Jones Lake to the Garden of the Gods by taking a right turn as you leave the park where you visited Tecumseh. If you go there first, continue on Route 34 to Karber’s Ridge Road (turn left), and continue to next up to the park entrance which will also be a left turn. Pass camping, horse areas, and go all the way to the parking area for the walking path. Look for interpretive signs. This GPS reading is not exact, but is for a nearby campground.
W88°23.088'.Cave-In-Rock: Return to Karber’s Ridge Road (turn left) and proceed to Route 1 (turn right) to the town of Cave-In- Rock. Once there, follow signs to the park that features the cave. You can park high on a bluff overlooking the Ohio River and walk down to the cave, which is a good stone stair workout. If you want a lower impact way into the cave, park at the first parking area before the park, and take the Riverwalk. This is a mostly flat walk around the rocks and on the scenic river for any fitness level.
W -88.16642.Amish: If you fancy a little side trip into Kentucky, take the ferry at Cave-In-Rock over to Marion, Kentucky. You can shop at the Amish store on the way and get some great home-made foodstuffs or well-made furniture. This could take all day, so don’t tarry too long in Kentucky or you’ll miss the last serving (7:00 PM) for some of the best catfish you ever tasted! Catch the ferry back to Cave-In-Rock. Catfish: From Cave-In-Rock take 146 to Elizabethtown (locals call it “E-Town”). At the foot of the hill and on the Ohio River is a great catfish restaurant called the E-Town River Restaurant 618-287- 2333. This place is sometimes called the “catfish barge,” and you will walk a gangplank to enter. The portions are huge, so if you are not big eaters, share one order. You may want to go for the all-you- can-eat catfish dinner. Unfortunately, this great eatery is not open in winter (closes after Thanksgiving). Golconda: Take 146 West to Golconda, and drive by the courthouse. The town’s flat roofs and wide boulevard reminds some visitors of a “Wild West” town where an outlaw would call the sheriff out for a shoot-out. Drive up on the levee for a great view of the Ohio River, looking across to Kentucky. Chocolate: No trip to this side of the forest is complete without a visit to The Chocolate Factory (618-949-3829), but you will have to get there before closing time (Monday through Saturday 5 PM). Enjoy free samples, hand-dipped ice cream, and hand-made chocolates of every kind. Take 146 West to Dixon Springs. Don’t eat too much chocolate all at once, but definitely buy some to take home and to bring back for your good friends! Wine: Take a left out of The Chocolate Factory parking lot to Route 145. There is an access road to the left, but at the stop sign you will turn right. Continue on 145 to the town of Glendale, and look for the blue signs to Hogg Hollow Winery. Call first: 618-695- WINE. At the far end of Glendale (and it is a very small town), take the last right turn, then again to the right, and look on the left for the vineyard and the Hogg Hollow sign. If you like sweet wines, try Hog Wild or the new strawberry wine. If you prefer dry, try Vintner’s Choice, and there is everything in between. Tastings are free, and you will enjoy the owners, Steven and Debbie Hogg, who will serve cheese and other snacks with the wine. Trigg Tower: Take a right back on 145, but turn to the left at 147 toward Robbs. Just after you see the sign for Robbs, turn right on a gravel road (this is Rushing Road but may not be marked). Continue until the road ends, and turn right (Trigg Tower Road). Just after the turn, Trigg Tower is will be on your right. If it is still light, you can climb the steep tower. It is the last fire observation tower in the country that can still be climbed, so it is a bit of a right of passage. Many local couples have stolen a kiss on top of Trigg Tower if you dare to follow in their footsteps!
Shawnee Hills Wine Trail
In the heart of the Shawnee National Forest lies the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, Illinois` first and most award-winning trail. Eleven unique, family owned and operated, wineries offer a diverse selection of nationally and internationally acclaimed wines for your enjoyment.
Southern Illinois Wine Trail
Sip, savor, and relax on the Southern Illinois Wine Trail. Find tranquility, adventure, country farms and tasting rooms. Spend the day with us, you’ll want to return again. Located in the Shawnee hills American Viticultural Area. For travel and lodging information call 800-248-4373.
Shawnee National Forest
The Shawnee National Forest is famed for its awesome Garden of the Gods, and is home to the Rim Rock Recreational Trail. Hikers are greeted by magnificent jutting walls of rock covered with emerald-green moss, and paths that meander through canyons under the forest canopy on over 400 miles of trails. Nestled between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, the stunning Shawnee National Forest landscape features rolling hills, lakes, creeks and rugged bluffs.
Explore the sites of Cobden in Union County!
Have an adventure in Hardin County and the surrounding areas!
Cache River Auto Tour
Cache River Wetlands is a rich and diverse area that provides habitat for many unique and fascinating plants and animals. It is a place to enjoy hiking, birding, kayaking and canoeing, hunting, fishing, photography and learning about the natural world. One could spend a lifetime exploring this gem – but, if you only have a weekend, or even a few hours, the Cache River Auto Tour is designed to showcase the area’s highlights and whet your appetite for a return visit!