Parks really are great, aren’t they? From smaller city parks to larger state parks, they all provide something different. Some have phenomenal playgrounds for the kiddos, while others are centered around our four-legged friends who enjoy some outdoor time as well. In Downstate Illinois there are SO MANY parks throughout our 21-county region, and here are a few to put on your bucket list.
In the western region of our 21-county area, there is no shortage of places to pack a picnic or take a little hike. One of the coolest parks can be found next to Casino Queen in St. Clair County. Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park sits right across the Mississippi River from the Gateway Arch and there is a two-tier observation deck on the grounds of Malcolm W. Martin Park to experience the area from a great point-of-view! This park is also home to the Gateway Geyser, the largest water fountain in the country, reaching heights of up to 630 feet. Our Western Region also has many dog parks! Rock Springs Rotary Park in O’Fallon, Highland Jaycees Dog Park, and Mascoutah’s Scheve Park all feature various options for pooches to climb on and explore!
Other Western Region beauties:
Frank Holten State Recreation Area (Centerville)
Moody Park (Fairview Heights)
Randolph County State Recreation Area (Chester)
Silver Creek Preserve (Mascoutah)
Konarcik Park (Waterloo)
Have you had your dose of summer flowers yet? If not, head out to Bobwhite Access in Keyesport to get your fill of the always beautiful sunflowers! For an extended stay at a local park, look no further than the Washington County State Recreation Area. There are 50 camping sites, multiple spots for picnicking, and a very long hiking trail along the shoreline of the lake. Speaking of the lake, we’ve been told that the fishing here is pretty darn good!
Other Central Region spots:
Bryan Memorial Park (Salem)
Eldon Hazlet State Park (Carlyle)
Lincoln Park (Vandalia)
Northland Nature Preserve (Trenton)
Pyramid State Recreation Area (Pinckneyville)
Ramsey Lake State Recreation Area (Ramsey)
Stephen A Forbes State Recreation Area (Marion County)
Whether you’re crossing the Indiana border or coming down from the Windy City, our eastern region is full of beautiful parks! In Jasper County, visit Sam Parr State Fish and Wildlife Area to bask in the sun and the rows of sunflowers that bloom here in late July/early August. Another park to try is Heard’s Pond Park in McLeansboro. This natural area features a pond for fishing as well as great spots to relax.
Other Eastern Region outdoor areas:
Buckhorn Wildlife Preserve (Noble)
Lincoln Trail State Park (Marshall)
Norris City Park (Norris City)
Oblong Park and Lake (Oblong)
Robinson City Park (Robinson)
Sumner City Park (Sumner)
Lake Charleston (Charleston)
East Fork Lake (Olney)
Photo credit: @theforestchronicles, @_kowski_