Home » Illinois » 15 Best Things To Do In Carbondale, Illinois

15 Best Things To Do In Carbondale, Illinois

What are some of the best things to do in Carbondale, Illinois?

After all, when we think about the city of Carbondale in Illinois, what typically comes to mind?

Well for starters, the city of Carbondale is situated in Jackson County of Illinois. It is considered to be the most populous city in Southern Illinois outside the St. Louis Metro-East region, and the most populous city in the Carbondale-Marion-Herrin, Illinois Combined Statistical Area.

The city of Carbondale, Illinois is actually a relatively small-sized city as it only has a total area of around 17.82 square miles. But even though the city is small, it is still a pretty popular place to live. For instance, according to the 2019 Census, the population was estimated to be around 25,083.

And fun fact: Carbondale, Illinois is also sometimes referred to as a “Town of Poets” for its flourishing poetry community. Notable poets who came from this place includes Rodney Jones, Judy Jordan, Allison Joseph, and the Transpoetic Playground collective.

Aside from all of that however, the city of Carbondale, Illinois is also a pretty popular tourist destination for people to visit.

For example, there are simply so many things for people to see and explore here. From it’s rich history to the amazing culture or even the beautiful attractions that surrounds this place.

In fact, some of the highlights from this city includes things like the Boo Rochman Memorial Park, Science Center of Southern Illinois, Honker Hill Winery, Cedar Lake and more all waiting for you to explore.

And with a plethora of delicious restaurants, fun cafes, amazing theaters, beautiful galleries and more, this city has everything you can ever need for some fun and entertainment.

Which is why, if you’re wondering exactly what you are able to see or do here in the city of Carbondale, Illinois, then you are in luck.

In this post, we’ll be detailing all the best things to do in Carbondale, Illinois.

So if you’re ready, lets get started!

Things To Do In Carbondale, Illinois

In no particular order, here are the best things to do in Carbondale, Illinois.

Visit The Boo Rochman Memorial Park 

Boo Rochman Memorial Park

One of the most popular attractions for you to visit here in the area of Carbondale, Illinois is called the “Boo Rochman Memorial Park”.

Boo Rochman Memorial Park is actually not a type of park you would actually see in many other places. In fact, this park was actually self-made by a loving family.

The story behind this park goes that there was once a person called “Jeremy “Boo” Rochman, who was a fan of the game Dungeons and Dragons. He tragically passed away in 1994 due to a car crash. His family created this park in memory of him and hopes to keep his memory alive and well.

It’s a private park that is extremely well made with lots of things for visitors to see or do.

For instance, the main centerpiece of this park is actually a wooden and stone castle that is basically a jungle gym. Inside you can find tunnels, stairs, bridges and more. There are also various creatures in the sculpture garden that surrounds the castle.

Although the demographic of this park might be towards the younger visitors, it is still a fantastic place to visit especially if you are a fan of the game “Dungeons and Dragons”.

Visitors who come here should know that the park is completely free to visit. However donations are accepted as the money will be used to keep the park alive and well for many years to come. Definitely one of the best places to visit here in Carbondale, Illinois.

Explore Around The Carbondale’s University Mall

Carbondale University Mall

If you love shopping and exploring things at the same time, then one place you definitely need to visit is called the “Carbondale’s University Mall”.

The Carbondale’s University Mall is a mall situated inside the city of Carbondale, Illinois. It’s a special place to visit as inside visitors can find all sorts of cool and amazing things to see and explore.

For instance, being as how it is a mall, visitors can find all kinds of name brand shops located in and around the building. From stores such as American Eagle, Claire’s, Finish Line, Hot Topic, Journeys and more.

But the most interesting thing here is that this mall is also home to two of the most popular museums in this city. Both the African American Museum and the Science Center are located inside this building.

The African American Museum is dedicated to identifying, preserving, and portraying the outstanding achievements of African-American citizens. While the Science Center of Southern Illinois is dedicated to teaching people all about the world of science.

With so many things to see or do here, it’s no wonder this mall is considered one of the top tourist attractions here in Carbondale, Illinois.

Have Some Fun At Cedar Lake

cedar lake

Interested in having some fun out in the waters?

If so, then one area you have to visit is called “Cedar Lake”.

Cedar Lake is a reservoir located here in Carbondale, Illinois. It’s an important part of the city as it supplies local water for residents as well as providing many recreation opportunities for people to enjoy.

The lake is a huge lake that spans a whopping 1,750 acres, and is surrounded by beautiful scenery from all around. Visitors who come to this lake will find that they are able to do so many things such as kayaking, canoeing or even fishing.

There is even a beach located right on-site where visitors can come relax, have a picnic, or even just catch some rays. It’s truly a splendid experience to have.

And depending on when you visit this lake, you might even be able to join in on a few activities. For instance, fishing tournaments are a popular thing to do here as locals and tourists come together to try to catch the best fish.

Overall, it’s a beautiful area that provides lots of fun and entertainment. Definitely worth the visit if you ever have the time to spare.

Enjoy Some Thai Food At Thai Taste

Thai Taste

If you’re ever in the mood for some really delicious foods to eat, then one restaurant you have to visit is called “Thai Taste“.

Thai Taste is a restaurant specializing in serving up delicious Thai dishes for people to enjoy. They are a popular place to visit as according to Yelp, they are one of the highest rated as well as being one of the most reviewed restaurants here in the city of Carbondale, Illinois.

Visitors who come to this restaurant will find that they offer so many delicious foods for people to choose from. For instance, some of the dishes they may find here includes things like tom yum, poh tak, pad thai, pineapple fried rice and more all made fresh for you to enjoy.

From things like appetizers to soups or even noodles and riche dishes, you’ll almost never get tired of the food that they serve. Plus, the food here are all very affordable which is great as you won’t have to go broke eating here.

The restaurant is also very clean with the friendliest staff you can ever imagine. They truly go out of their way to make sure all of your needs are carefully met.

Definitely one of the best restaurants to visit here in Carbondale, Illinois.

Admire The Old Train Depot

old train depot

Train enthusiasts rejoice!

Here in the city of Carbondale, Illinois, visitors can find that there is a railroad museum dedicated to showing off all the amazing history and facts behind the railroad industry.

Known as the “Old Train Depot“, it was originally built back in 1903 by the Illinois Central Railroad to act as a passenger depot. However in today’s era, it has been completely transformed and now serves as a home for the Carbondale Train Museum.

Visitors who come to this museum will be able to see and learn so many interesting things about trains and railroad history.

For instance, inside, visitors can see things such as artifacts and souvenirs, displays, historical information about trains, as well as many interesting facts relating to Carbondale’s history.

Aside from that however, this museum also has a historical train that was presented to the city of Carbondale by Station Carbondale, Inc. Visitors can come up to this train which is located right on the tracks nearby and can even ring the bell.

It’s truly a fascinating place to visit and one where you and the entire family will see and learn many interesting things.

Pay Your Respects To The Woodlawn Cemetery

The Woodlawn Cemetery

If you’re into history and want to see something that is truly spectacular, then one place you need to head to is the “Woodlawn Cemetery”.

Woodlawn Cemetery which was established back in 1852, two years before the incorporation of Carbondale, Illinois. This cemetery is something of a historical treasure here in the city of Carbondale, Illinois, and also the country.

The reason for this is because it is widely believed that the first Memorial Day service in the state and country was held here in this cemetery.

The story goes that over twenty Civil War soldiers, most of whom were Carbondale natives, were buried here in this cemetery during the war. Then in April 1866, three Civil War veterans from Carbondale helped organize an event to honor the dead soldiers and decorate their tombs.

This event was one of the earliest observations of Memorial Day being held. In fact, this memorial even included a speech by then General John A. Logan, who in 1868 called for the national observance of Memorial Day as commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic.

And in December 19, 1985, this cemetery was even added to the National Register of Historic Places.

In today’s age however, this cemetery has become a popular attraction for people to visit. Visitors who come here can see over 60 Civil War graves and 30 freed slaves as well as many others buried in this cemetery.

Overall, it’s definitely an interesting place to visit and one where you’ll truly get a sense of history and respect.

Explore Around West Walnut Street Historic District

As you know, no matter what town or city you visit, there is always going to be a place inside where you can find a variety of historical things.

And here in Carbondale, Illinois, there is a specific area where visitors can visit and feel as if they have been transported back in time.

Known as the “West Walnut Street Historic District“, it is a residential historic district situated on part of West Walnut Street. Visitors who come here will be able to find as many as 54 historical houses being located here.

Many of these houses date as far back as the early 1850’s, with some even being early 20th-Century. These houses were built in a variety of different architectural styles of the period which includes things like Italianate, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival.

The only thing to note however is that these houses are not actually open to the public. Many if not all of these homes are privately owned, which means visitors will have to simply admire them from the sidewalks or streets nearby.

Definitely a fun place to roam around and explore.

Drink Some Brew At Big Muddy Brewing

Big Muddy Brewing

One of the best things about visiting a new town or city is that you’ll get the chance to try out all the amazing brews that the area has to offer.

Now here in Carbondale, Illinois, there isn’t a brewery built here yet (although one will be here soon), just a few minutes drive away in the town of Murphysboro, Illinois, visitors will find a brewery called “Big Muddy Brewing“.

Big Muddy Brewing is one of the most popular breweries around for people to visit. Started in 2009, they have quickly become a fan favorite for all the things that they have to offer.

For instance, visitors who come here will find a huge array of brews for them to choose from. Some of the highlights include drinks like pumpkin smasher, galaxy ipa, vanilla stout, pale ale, kinkaid wheat, and more all made fresh for you to enjoy.

And if visitors come during the days of Saturday and Sunday, they’ll be able to partake in a brewery tour where they’ll go in and around the entire brewery seeing and learning exactly how this place makes their drinks.

So whether you’re here for a sample of beer or just want to tour around the brewery, this is one experience you definitely can’t miss.

Eat Some Pizza At Quatro’s Deep Pan Pizza

Quatro's Deep Pan Pizza

Do you like pizza?

If so, then one restaurant you absolutely must visit is one called “Quatro’s Deep Pan Pizza”.

Quatro’s Deep Pan Pizza is a restaurant specializing in all things pizza. They are a crowd favorite as their pizzas are some of the best tasting pizzas you’ll have ever tried.

In fact, visitors will find that they offer both deep pan pizzas as well as thin style pizzas too.

And with so many choices to choose from, visitors will definitely have a hard time deciding. For instance, some of the pizzas you can find here include things like Vegetarian Delight, Backyard BBQ, Chicken Alfredo, Philly Cheese Steak Pizza and more.

They also serve pastas, sandwiches, subs, salads, special breads and more all made fresh for you to enjoy. All of which makes the entire experience so much more enjoyable.

Plus, the prices for all of the foods being served here are all extremely affordable. Not to mention that the staff here are incredibly nice and will try their best to make your experience as good as possible.

Definitely one of the best restaurants in Carbondale, Illinois.

Shop Around At Carbondale Farmer’s Market

Carbondale Farmers Market

Who doesn’t love shopping?

Here in the city of Carbondale, Illinois, one of the best places to do your shopping is at a place called “Carbondale Farmers Market”.

The Carbondale Farmers Market is the premiere destination where locals and tourists alike can come and buy some amazing things to bring back home.

For instance, visitors can find things such as fresh and organic foods like carrots, apples, lettuce, strawberries, cucumbers and more. They also have cooked foods like pies, burgers, hotdogs and anything else you can imagine.

They also have plenty of household goods as well. For instance, you can find things such as soap, shampoo, towels, toys, clothes, kitchen utensils and more all for affordable prices.

The best thing about this farmers market is that you are actually supporting the local community. After all, all of these vendors here are either local farmers or business owners who are trying to make some money to survive.

So if you have the time to spare and want to shop around while supporting the community, then this is one place you would love to visit.

Drink Some Wine At Honker Hill Winery

Honker Hill Winery

One of the most beautiful and relaxing places you can ever visit during your trip to Carbondale, Illinois is called the Honker Hill Winery.

Honker Hill Winery is considered to be one of the most popular wineries in the entire area of Carbondale. They are conveniently located on the highest point in Williamson County and is surrounded by many beautiful attractions nearby.

This winery is actually pretty new as the vineyard itself was only officially established in 2004, with the winery being opened in 2009. Since then, it has quickly grown in popularity for all the things that it has to offer.

For instance, Honker Hill Winery produces some of the finest Illinois wines from fruit grown directly on their vineyard. Some of the wines you can find here include things like Don’s Estate, Woody Red, Honker Hill Red, Goose Juice and more all made fresh for you to try.

Plus, while visitors are drinking all the delicious wines that they have to offer, they can also admire all the beautiful views directly from the patio. They can also explore around the unique wildlife room, gazebo or even stroll around one of the five large ponds located on site.

With so many things to offer, this winery is definitely one of the best places to visit here in Carbondale, Illinois.

Enjoy Some Tasty Foods At Harbaugh’s Cafe

Harbaugh's Cafe

If you’re in the mood for some really amazing foods to eat, then one place you have to visit is called “Harbaugh’s Cafe”.

Harbaugh’s Cafe is a restaurant/cafe that is situated inside the city of Carbondale, Illinois. It is one of the most popular places to go eat at, as according to Yelp, they are one of the highest rated as well as being one of the most reviewed places in all of Carbondale.

They specialize in serving up delicious breakfast and brunch type dishes for people to enjoy. For instance, some of the foods you can find here includes things like benedicts, omelets, mimdwestern frittatas, pancakes, toast, and more.

Now their menu might not be the largest you have ever seen, what they offer is pure quality. Each and every dish comes out fresh and tastes absolutely amazing.

Best of all is that the pricing for all of the foods here are extremely affordable. Which means you will definitely not go broke eating at this amazing restaurant/cafe.

So if you’re ever in the mood for some delicious breakfast or brunch type dishes, then this is one place you definitely have to visit.

Admire The R. Buckminster Fuller and Anne Hewlett Dome Home

The R. Buckminster Fuller and Anne Hewlett Dome Home

One of the most interesting and unique places you can ever visit here in Carbondale, Illinois, is an attraction called “The R. Buckminster Fuller and Anne Hewlett Dome Home”.

The R. Buckminster Fuller and Anne Hewlett Dome Home is a home unlike any other you have ever seen. In fact, to many people, it actually looks somewhat futuristic as if it is oddly out of place.

This dome was created by a guy named Buckminster Fuller. He was a research professor at Southern Illinois University’s School of Art during the years of 1859 to 1968. He designed this dome to be built as a private home for him and his wife Anne.

His vision for designing this home was that he hoped it would become a building technique which improved the way shelter was designed for all people. And seeing as how it lasted all of these years, it pretty much did its job. It’s strength and efficiency is definitely well built.

Because of what he has done, Fuller was even on the cover of Time magazine as well as being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Plus, in February of 2006, this dome was even listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In today’s age however, this dome has become somewhat of a popular attraction for people to visit. Reservations are required, but once visitors reserve their spot, they can tour the dome entirely and see just how well it was made.

Definitely one of the most interesting things to do in Carbondale, Illinois.

Explore Around Giant City State Park

Giant City State Park

If you love the outdoors and want to have some fun and excitement, then one place you should definitely visit is called the “Giant City State Park”.

The Giant City State Park is a State Park located about 15 minutes away from the city of Carbondale, Illinois. It’s one of the most popular places to visit as there are simply so many amazing things for people to see and do.

The State Park spans a whopping 4,000 acres wide and is a haven for nature lovers. It’s surrounded by enormous sandstone bluffs, forests, plants and anything else you can probably imagine.

Visitors who come to this park will find that they are able to do so many things. Some of the most popular activities include horseback riding, picnicking, and rock climbing. Hiking is the most popular as there are also many hiking trails include Giant City Nature Trail, Red Cedar Trail, and Trillium Trail.

There are also a number of different ponds all around the area which makes this place also suitable for fishing. In fact, some of the fish you can catch here includes things like catfish, crappie, bluegill, and largemouth bass.

And if you’re tired, you’ll be happy to know that there is also a place called “Giant City Lodge”, where visitors can come in, relax, eat some food, and just have a good time.

With so many things to see and do, visitors from all over will love to visit this amazing State Park.

Visit The Beautiful Shawnee National Forest

Shawnee National Forest

As you probably know, the city of Carbondale, Illinois is surrounded by various attractions for people to visit. Many of which are absolutely stunning and full of things for people to see and do.

One such attraction is an area called “Shawnee National Forest“. Shawnee National Forest is located about 30 minutes away from the city of Carbondale, Illinois.

This National Forest is in fact one of the most popular places to visit as photographers from all around love to take pictures of the amazing scenery here in this area. In fact, it is arguably the most photographed area in the entire state of Illinois.

Especially the area called “Garden of the Gods”, which was sculpted after millions of years by wind and rain slowly chiseling away at the large deposits of sedimentary rock located in this area. This area offers some of the best views that stretches for miles high over the hills of this forest.

Aside from that however, this National Forest is also able to offer visitors a wide range of recreational activities for them to see or do. For instance, hiking, rock climbing, horse back riding, picnicking, and more are all available choices to do here.

Plus, there are also various kinds of roads and trails here where people can simply drive their car around and enjoy some of the most beautiful views this forest has to offer.

Being as how this place is situated so close to Carbondale, Illinois, it almost makes perfect sense for you to visit it. Definitely one of the best places to visit if ever given the chance.

FAQS About Carbondale, Illinois

Why is Carbondale called Little Egypt?

There are many theories as to why Carbondale, Illinois is referred to as “Little Egypt”. One such theory is that the region supplies grain to northern and central Illinois during an 1800’s famine. Another is that people are comparing Illinois southern tip to Egypt’s Nile delta region.

How far is Carbondale from St Louis?

The distance between Carbondale, Illinois and Saint Louis, Missouri is about 105 miles or 169 kilometers.

What college is in Carbondale Illinois?

Southern Illinois University.

When was Carbondale IL founded?

Carbondale, Illinois was incorporated on August 23, 1873.

Visit Carbondale, Illinois

Overall, the city of Carbondale, Illinois is a fantastic place to visit if you ever have the time. Visitors who come here will find that there are simply so many amazing things for them to see or do.

So hopefully this post about the “15 Best Things To Do In Carbondale, Illinois” was able to help you out in some sort of way. This way if you ever find yourself visiting the city of Carbondale, Illinois, you will know exactly what things you are able to do for some fun.

Also, if you’re going to be traveling around to the state of Illinois anytime soon, you might be interested in some of my other Illinois related posts:

Or you can check out all my blog posts by clicking this link.

Hope you have a safe and fun trip~

🛫Book Your Flights

Planning on booking your flight? Use Google Flights to find the cheapest and best deals available for your next flight. This is our favorite website to use in order to save a lot of money as well as finding the best deals available.

🛏️Save On Your Next Accommodation

If you’re looking for the best deals on hotels to stay at, one best site to use is Booking.com. We highly recommend them to any and all travelers as they are able to find deals all across the world.

If you’re looking for something other than hotels, like a hostel for example, then one of the best places to look for cheap hostels is Hostel World.

💵Get Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance is one of the most important things you’ll need to get if you are ever traveling around to a new place. Do not forget it! One of the best travel insurance companies around that we recommend is World Nomads. They are simply fantastic, easy to work with, and amazingly helpful.