Area Attractions Near Us

The Area

The map and page highlight some of the endless supply of things to do in this magnificent playground called Southern Illinois. Take a hike, go shopping or Zip-Lining, we invite you to come and stay with us to explore the area for yourselves.

The area is made up of rolling hills and massive rock bluffs that are called the Shawnee Hills.

To the West is the Mississippi River, to the East the Ohio, they come together at the Southernmost point of the State.

Fed by the Missouri and Wabash, respectively making up a group of the most voluminous rivers in the United States.

Rich in history, geology, and natural splendor Southern Illinois is the home of the Shawnee National Forest. For a more detailed map click here.

Following is a list of areas of interest that we will expand on as we explore and enjoy the Shawnee Hills.

Giant rock formations that resemble a city street-great hike Giant City State Park

The western boundary is right across the road from Makanda Inn & Cottages with the visitor center only a 2.6-mile drive. It derived its name from rock formations resembling City streets between Giant rock walls that remind one of the city buildings. The hiking here is excellent with many options from a half-mile to a 12-mile hike around the park.

You can also hire horses from the Giant City Stables and explore the park on horseback. Rock bluffs abound, and there is Fern Rock Nature Preserve that is only accessible by the Trillium Trail. Trail-only exploration helps to protect this fragile eco-system and is home to a myriad of wildflowers. Much of the park is open to deer hunters including the piece of the park that is right across the road.

The Famous Makanda Boardwalk

The Makanda Inn & Cottages located a half mile South of what is known as the Makanda Boardwalk. Makanda, formerly a thriving produce junction that dwindled over the years after a series of floods. The town was resettled by a group of hippies back in the late ’60s, and early 70’s who found the beauty of the place and never wanted to leave. Since then it has grown into a unique cluster of shops and eateries that thrives today. It is a great shopping destination that is a must see while in the area.

The Shawnee National Forest
Most commonly known for the Garden of the Gods, Shawnee National Forest contains about 280,000 acres. Places like Lusk Creek, Bell Smith Springs, and Burden Falls, to name a few, provide a seemingly endless supply of outdoor recreation. Go to the Forest website to explore the many options available in this great piece of land preserved for our enjoyment. If you like to hike the choices are many.


There are plenty of options whether food shopping for your cottage stay or shopping for fun it is all within 15 minutes of Makanda Inn & Cottages. You can go into Carbondale where you will find everything from grocery stores to a mall.

Cobden like the Makanda Boardwalk for that small town shopping experience.

We recommend a stay with us late November into early December. Get your Holiday shopping done in a laid back and stress-free environment. Think about it, stay in a charming cottage or inn where you can relax and then go out shopping without the crowds, a shopping vacation!

Cache River State Natural Area

Made up of 14,960 acres it is home to many natural attractions most notably, the northernmost cypress swamp with trees over 1000 years old. Paddle through the Duckweed to see these magnificent trees on your way to Eagle Pond.  

This sizeable natural area was created during the glacial melt-off after the ice age and remains one of the many natural wonders.

At this site, you can enjoy many recreational activities such as biking, hiking, seasonal hunting, and fishing.Try out White Crane Canoes, for rentals in this area, call ahead for reservations.

For the Cyclists

Area roads are a cyclist’s paradise. Light traffic is the norm here. Options for short and long rides limited only by your willingness to explore new routes.

Tunnel Hill Trail, a crushed rock old railroad bed that provides an excellent surface for road bikes in the summer. Many of our guests have toured this trail, and all enjoyed it.

Horse Back Riders
Exploring the local area on horseback is a great way to see a natural beauty that surrounds us. Giant City’s horse trail runs through the park and runs along the bluff that is just up the hill from the Inn. A couple of stables to choose from, Giant City Stables just a few miles down the road and Black Diamond Ranch in Cobden.

The lake and shoreline of Little Grassy Lake from the deck of our pontoon boat for the dayBodies of Water for Fishing, Swimming, and Boating

We are close to several lakes with Cedar Lake and Little Grassy Lake only a stone’s throw away. Little Grassy Lake Campground and Marina is a 15-minute drive where you can rent Paddle Boards, Kayaks, Canoes, Jon Boats, & Pontoon Boats.  Drive a little further, and you can enjoy Devils Kitchen Lake, Crab Orchard, and Lake of Egypt. For a day in the Cache River State, Natural Area you can rent a canoe or kayak or take a guided tour and see Southern Illinois’s Cypress Swamp. Hike the boardwalks to see the swamp on foot.

Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tours

See the Shawnee Forest from above, zip lining at its best! Many of our guests have gone zip-lining and rave about how great it is. The tour combines eight zip lines, 11 platforms, three suspensions bridges and two short hikes on the ground. One zip line is 1100 feet. Wow! Surely an adventure filled, fun day!

Me in my yellow cache river t-shirt climbing on some local rocksRock Climbing
Southern Illinois and the Shawnee Forest is known for its rock bluffs that are all over the area. The link above will get you started.

There are plenty of designated climbing areas in Giant City State Park, our neighbor. One of those areas is called Devils Stand table, and it’s just a short hike from the trail parking area.

The Arts
For live performances check in to see what’s playing at The Stage Company and the Marion Cultural and Civic Center.

Sixth hole green looking back to the tiered tee box.Golf

Keller’s Crossing at Stone Creek Golf Course, just a couple of miles away, Ask for a discount greens fee chip available to our guests.

The course has been renovated with new greens and modifications to make it a golfer’s Paradise. The eleventh green overlooks the Makanda Valley and the twelfth is a par three over Stone Creek. If you are a golfer, you won’t want to miss this course, and we suspect you will be back for more.

In Sync

Mind-Body Therapy Center has been serving Southern Illinois residents, students, and visitors for almost 25 years. Check out our reviews on Facebook and Google to see what our clients have to say. With eight full-time massage therapists, two yoga instructors, a mindfulness & meditation teacher and an in-house organic & natural salon, you will find something for everyone; Individuals, couples, family, friends – we welcome everyone and will do our best to accommodate you & enhance your stay at Makanda Inn & Cottages. All guests receive $5 off of any massage or spa service. We suggest booking in advance for weekend stays especially. Our office closed on holidays, but we usually have a few therapists offering services, so please call to find out what is available. We look forward to serving you.

The Massage Boutique

The Massage Boutique, in Carbondale Illinois, offers high-quality massage for men and women. they have three Licensed therapists and offer many types of massage to suit each client’s needs. They are offering a special deal for our guests; a one-hour couples massage for $125. You can make reservations by visiting their website or calling 618-519-0472.


There are so many places to explore in Southern Illinois, take a day, pick a spot, and we are sure it will be a great day and a great stay. Following are some of the natural areas great for a day hike.

Quetil TrailSpring pink flowering tree set against the rock bluffs and clear blue sky-great hike

This trail is multi-faceted in that the official trailhead is in town at Alto Pass. You can also access it from one of the two overlooks on Skyline Drive. A hike down a set of stone steps takes you down from the overlook to the trail. Rock climbing is available here with bolts installed on various routes.

It is quite picturesque in the spring. Of course like everything here it is excellent all year round. The view from the overlooks is fantastic, and you can see Bald Knob Cross not too far in the distance.

Kinkaid Lake Spillway

Kinkaid Lake Spillway is a beautiful and peaceful place to visit. If you are a waterfall enthusiast or looking for a place to cool off in the summer, you will want to check it out.

Just a 40-minute drive from the Inn the lake also offers boating, fishing and picnicking. There are four boat ramps to choose from and a full-service marina.

Ferne Clyffe State Park
Ferne Clyffe has gotten rave reviews from our guests who have gone there. One couple, in particular, went for the rock climbing and loved it. If we have had some rain, you will see a 100-foot waterfall. Ferne Clyffe is a diverse natural area that provides hiking, rock climbing, hunting, and Fishing.

The lake is 16 acres and is accessible for bank fishing. While boating and swimming are prohibited, you can take in the scenery of the lake while hiking the Blackjack Oak Trail.

Cave in Rock State Park

At the sound of a cave mystery and ancient times come to mind. You have the chance to experience all this by visiting the Cave in Rock State Park. It is a historic site that was used by Native Americans a thousand years ago.

On the Ohio River, the Park offers opportunities for fishing, boating, and water sports. Cave in Rock is a destination for great views and hiking with the atmosphere that comes with being on a riverfront. Rich in history this stop is worth the drive.