Carbondale is a city in Jackson County, Illinois, United States. It lies within the Southern Illinois region informally known as ‘Little Egypt.’ The city developed from 1853 because of the start of railroad construction into the area.

Downtown Carbondale

It is a perfect destination for a walk or stroll, and has lots of interesting things to see. These include the Old Train Depot at the very centre, to some 25 historic buildings dotted around the Historic Town Square. This is the kind of downtown where local, independent businesses can thrive. You can pass a lot of time in the area’s one-off stores for art, fashion, collectibles, board games, musical instruments, and leather goods. Also on display are bikes, skating gear, vintage clothes and sewing accessories. The place has a great food scene. There is a cosmopolitan menu, running to crêpes, pizza, Indian cuisine, Mexican, Italian, Thai, Chinese, American classics and hot dogs.

Southern Illinois University

The SIU was established in 1870 and is the key to Carbondale’s identity. The campus is on the southern edge of downtown. It has culture, museums, sports action and architectural splendour. Inside lies the wonderful museum at the SIU campus and it is free and open to all. The collection was begun in the 1870s and now comprises 70,000 objects. These span the arts, humanities and the sciences. The museum has a lively program of exhibits, with up to five taking place at any one time. The workshops cover many interesting topics like geology to local metalwork or Guatemalan textiles and Chinese calligraphy. Our Region, an ongoing exhibit in the South Hall explores the nature and history of Southern Illinois. It features fascinating artefacts uncovered at SIU digs. The Lutes Gallery displays the marvellous collections of alumnus Carl W. Lutes, specialising in Renaissance sculpture, painting, furniture and tapestries.

Shawnee National Forest

Carbondale lies on the edge of an immense area of conserved natural beauty, There are 280,000 acres of federally managed lands including the Ozark and Shawnee Hills. There’s an extraordinary variety of scenery at Shawnee National Forest. You can see rugged bluffs and curious rock formations to rolling forests, creeks and lakes. The area lies along more than 400 miles of hiking and equestrian trails.

Carbondale Farmers’ Market

Here is a community of multigenerational farmers, artisans and producers. They converge at this well-attended farmers’ market where almost everything comes from Southern Illinois. The market is held on Saturday mornings. It has a summer location, at the Westown Centre, and then moves indoors at the University Mall (most recent location) for the winter season. The season lasts from early December to late March. The market is now well into its fifth decade and is a go-to for farm-fresh produce throughout the summer. You can also shop for eggs, honey, cheese, baked goods, pickles, salsas, diverse baked goods and unique gifts made by local craftspeople.