In Downstate Illinois, it doesn’t matter if you are a spectator or a competitor — there are plenty of opportunities to find your next sports adventure.
Baseball fans can catch a Minor League ballgame at GCS Ballpark, home of the Gateway Grizzlies. Athletes interested in training for baseball and softball will find beautiful, brand-new amenities at the Gaetti Sports Academy in Centralia. If playing a sport is more your speed, there are plenty of fields that host tournaments, but few are more popular than the O’Fallon Family Sports Park. This complex features lighted soccer fields, baseball and softball fields, as well as a running path and a free splash pad for families to enjoy. Hockey and swimming enthusiasts will enjoy the McKendree Metro Rec Plex in O’Fallon as well, which features a ten-lane competition pool and two NHL-sized hockey rinks that can be used for free skates, hockey games, and more. The Rec in Fairview Heights has so many activities to fill a whole day, including “Chip ‘N Climb” equipment and an aquatic center that features a lazy river.
The 1,600-acre World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta is another extremely unique venue, which features the longest trapshooting line in the world! The WSRC plays host to large events, and also welcomes folks for daily use. Camping, fishing, skeet shooting, sporting clay shooting, and much more fun awaits!
One of the most popular sporting venues in southern Illinois attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year for an array of different events. World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison hosts NHRA, INDYCAR, and NASCAR Truck Series races each year, along with a multitude of other races. On top of that, the track is home to the Gateway Kartplex, a premier go-kart racing track that allows visitors to lap the Kartplex at 55 miles per hour!
When it comes to outdoor sporting activities to partake in, there are a ton of socially distant opportunities. The Madison County Transit trails and the MetroBikeLink System in St. Clair County provide nearly a combined 150 miles of scenic interconnected bikeways.
Disc golf is an up-and-coming sport in our area, and there are a string of great courses to play at right along Route 50. Salem’s Bryan Memorial Park, Flora’s Charley Brown Park, and Olney’s Rotary Park all feature well-manicured 18-hole disc golf courses, and each provides its own challenges to players.
Roland Barkau Memorial Golf Course in Okawville is unique for its traditional-style front nine and it’s links-style back nine. And, they offer an affordable play-all-day rate.
If you prefer traditional golf, there are literally dozens of courses to choose from in our region. Fans of par three courses should check out Yorktown Golf Course in Shiloh. This 18-hole par three venue is completely lighted, so you don’t have to stop at sundown! Last, but certainly not least, Waterloo is home to Annbriar Golf Course, which was rated the #1 golf course in Illinois by Golf Advisor in 2020.
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Of course, with all of the lakes throughout Downstate Illinois, fishing opportunities are plentiful. You can stay at the Outdoor Sportsman’s Lodge, which is the closest accommodation to Newton Lake. Newton Lake has some of the best largemouth bass fishing you’ll find!
If you’d like a great view of the Gateway Arch while you fish, head to Horseshoe Lake State Park, near Pontoon Beach. In our eastern region, Clark County is home to two great fishing spots: Mill Creek Lake and Lincoln Trail State Park Lake. Mill Creek is stocked with eight different species of fish, including muskie and catfish.
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