expr:class='"loading" + data:blog.mobileClass'>

Aug 12, 2014

Weekend Getway: Giant City

This past weekend the husband and I met up with some family for a fun weekend getaway at Giant City State Park, just south of Carbondale, IL. We had such a wonderful time that I thought I would share some photos in case anyone out there is looking for a place to go for a quick break from the city before the summer ends.

Giant City is 120 miles from St. Louis, a little over a two hour drive. The park has lovely campgrounds, but since we didn't want to set up a tent, we stayed in one of the cabins at the Giant City Lodge. Our cabin was somewhat rustic (read: no wi-fi), but very clean. We stayed in one of the Prairie Cabins, which had a queen size bed and a full-size Murphy bed. My sister and her husband split the cost of the cabin with us, so we only ended up paying $120 per couple for lodging the weekend. All cabins at the lodge have full bathrooms and televisions; the Prairie Cabins also have mini fridges and coffee makers.

Another great advantage of staying at the lodge is pool access!

One of the most notable landmarks of Giant City State Park is the 82-foot, 100,000 gallon water tower.

Climbing the water tower is a must: the observation deck offers amazing panoramic views of the area.

Though the park is only 20 minutes from Carbondale, it feels pretty remote, especially from above.

Another must: hiking some of the park's fantastic trails. We chose to check out the park's most popular: the Giant City Nature Trail.

The trees and wildlife were beautiful, but the highlight of the trail was walking through the Giant City Streets, huge bluffs of sandstone formed over 12,000 years ago.

The bluffs are worn away on the sides, so they look uniform, like buildings, and the spaces between them are like little alleyways. Walking through them feels like walking through the streets of a giant city made of rock, or at least that's where the name of the park comes from.

The trail was covered in gravel in most areas, which made for a pretty easy hike, though there are some steep inclines. A walking stick isn't necessary, but it would be helpful.

Another fun feature of the trail is the gravity-defying Balanced Rock.

A word of warning, be sure to watch out for snakes while hiking. A copperhead crossed our path just after we finished passing through the Giant City Streets. I was too busy running in the opposite direction to snap a picture!

If hiking isn't your thing, there are lots of other attractions in the area, including the wineries (over 15 of them) on the nearby Shawnee Hills Wine Trail.

One of my favorite wineries on the trail is Blue Sky. The building and surrounding grounds are gorgeous.

In addition to wine, Blue Sky also has food. We had a delicious little lunch of bread, dipping oil, cheese and sausage along with some sangria. If you prefer to bring your own food in, they have grills for public use on site.

Blue Sky lived up to its name on the day we were there. I love the cheerful striped umbrellas.

When you tire of sitting under your umbrella and drinking wine, you can wander through the vineyards.

If you would prefer to eat your wine grapes instead of drinking them, try stopping at the Murdale Farmer's Market, located between Carbondale and Murphysboro (hence the name). The market is open every Saturday from 8am-noon. If you've never had wine grapes, you really should try them!

A wide variety of food aside from the expected fruits and veggies is available at the market. It's a great place to grab a quick breakfast.

It's always amazing to see all the colors tomatoes can be.

And peppers too!

One of my favorite things about the farmer's market was the lady playing music from The Phantom of the Opera on what looked like a homemade harp.

If you stay at one of the Giant City Lodge cabins, the most convenient option for dining is probably The Lodge itself, which was built in the 30s.

The Lodge's decor is appropriately rustic, though it is actually the only place in the park where you can enjoy wi-fi.

The Lodge also offers food, including an all-you-can-eat family style chicken dinner every day of the week. They also serve wine and cocktails.

All-you-can-eat fried chicken isn't something I can pass up. The chicken was juicy and delicious, and it was served with all of the possible accompaniments you might desire, including biscuits. If fried chicken isn't your thing, there are lots of other great dining options nearby in Carbondale as well. A few of my favorites: Quatro's Pizza, Don Taco, Global Gourmet, and Harbaugh's Cafe for breakfast.

We are already planning our return trip so we can try a few more trails and some of the other activities in the area that we didn't get around to (horseback riding, zip lining, antiquing, boating, rappelling, etc.). I hope you enjoyed this guide and that it has inspired you to plan your own weekend getaway!

No comments:

Post a Comment