Welcome to the LocalWiki page for Carbondale! Home to about 26,000 people, Carbondale is the economic and cultural hub of the southern end of the state. Historically the regional center of business and transportation, these days it is best known as the location of Southern Illinois University. With a population that is only growing with new incoming students each year, it is important to have a place where all the information you need to know as a newcomer can be found quickly and easily.
Like many college towns, there are many hidden gems to be found here, and this page will serve as your guide to them. All you need to know about Carbondale will be found on this page. From the history to delicious places to eat and fun places to explore, this page will make sure you get the most out of your stay in Carbondale.
Carbondale is located in Jackson County in southern Illinois. It was first established in 1852 and started off as a mere 360 acres of land. It grew in size and population due to its proximity to the railroad, which made it convenient for travel, shipping, and commerce. It eventually became the regional center for business and transportation. A further boost to the population came with the founding of Southern Illinois University in the late 1860s.
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale was established in 1869 and is one of the major reasons this town is known. Each year the incoming freshman class is larger and larger than the one before building to the population of this college town. One of the great things about this school is its diversity of students. There are students and faculty from all over the state, the country, and even the world, so there's a place for anyone to fit in. The university includes over 80 academic departments across 8 different colleges. Interested in finding out more? Maybe curious about applying? Start here: http://www.siu.edu/about-siu/
Who doesn't love food? Carbondale is full of many unique eateries and small restaurants that MUST be tried.
- Winston's Bagels - One of Carbondale's treasures is the time-honored late night bagel man. Operating since the '70s, Winston can be found working his food cart of toasted and deliciously topped bagels most nights on the weekends around the time most college students are heading out for the night. He offers a wide variety of bagel toppings including apples, cinnamon, sunflower seeds, cucumber, red onion, garlic powder, bacon bits, and raisins, with each bagel selling for a fixed price of $2.25. Not only does he provide some deliciously topped, toasted bagels, he is always there with a smile and a joke, and sometimes wise advice that it might be time to call it a night. He is a definite must-try when coming to Carbondale.
- Fat Patties - This is definitely one of those hidden gems we mentioned earlier. Located on the strip, Fat Patties has some of the most delicious homemade burgers you will ever try! With a great atmosphere and a wide variety of options, including vegan and vegetarian, this place has something for everybody. You're only hurting yourself if you miss out on the burger goodness that is Fat Patties while you're here.
Some other yummy places you should consider eating at while here are:
- Don Taco
- QQ Bubble Tea
- Quatro's Pizza - Delicious deep pan pizza
- Tres Hombres - fast mexican food and great for outdoor drinking in the patio
- New Kahala - tasty and fast Chinese food
- Fujiyama - great hibachi and sushi!
- El Greco - Great gyros and chicken pita, lots of options like burgers and salads
- Harbaugh's - delicious breakfasts and lunch options
- Pita Alley - great place for falafel, shwarma and other mediterranean foods
- The Neighborhood Co-Op - There's a great deli with all kind sof salads and a hot bar
- Town Square Market - Prepared sandwhiches and salads
- Global Gourmet - A fine dining establishment with amazing food, lots of options and a menu that changes every month
- Longbranch - A vegetarian place with great sandwiches, salads, and all kinds of delicious options
- Cristaudo's - Make delicious pastries but also has great breakfast and lunch options
- El Paisano Taqueria - Great Mexican food
- Hunan - awesome Chinese food, tons of options
- Thai Taste- awesome thai food!!
But don't forget about the amazing chain restaurants as well.
- Buffalo Wild Wings
- Panera bread company
- McAlisters Deli
- Golden Corral
- plus many fast foods places.
With Carbondale being a college town, it’s inevitable that the weekends might get a little crazy- not to mention Carbondale's historic reputation as a party town. This town is known for hosting massive events such as Polar Bear and Solar Bear, Unofficial Halloween, the Tour de Carbondale, and more. On any given night there is ALWAYS some fun to be found, especially on the Strip which is host to most of the bar scene. If you’re looking to join in on the fun, check out some of these popular places while you’re in town:
- Hangar 9
- Pinch Penny Pub
- Copper Dragon
- Saluki Bar & Grill
- Key West Bar & Grill
- The Grotto
With Carbondale's location in the heart of Southern Illinois, there is a bounty of outdoor activities you can participate in and beautiful scenery that you can enjoy. There are numerous lakes in the area that offer swimming, fishing, and boating. There are also extensive wooded areas that provide a place for hiking as well as hunting. The places listed are among some of the best spots here in Carbondale to go and enjoy a beautiful day.
- "The Spillway" - Located on Kinkaid Lake, the Spillway is a local secret. Having no specific address makes it difficult to find, but once you do, it's well worth the search. It is a large swimming hole with a number of beautiful little waterfalls above it. You can climb the slippery rocks all the way to the top where you will find a good sized lake that is perfect for swimming and fishing.
- Garden of the Gods - Created naturally by 320 million years of wind and rain chiseling away at large deposits of sedimentary rock, the Shawnee National Forest holds some of the most stunning and extraordinary rock formations known to man. This garden of sandstone monoliths and vast untouched wilderness was fittingly named Garden of the Gods. With over 3,300 acres of forest, there are many adventures to be had here! There is a wide variety of animal plant life to observe here as well as many different trails for hiking as well as horse back riding. The cool thing about the trails here is they vary in difficulty and are marked accordingly. So whether you're an avid hiker or just looking for an adventure for the day, Garden of the Gods is perfect! They are also open year-round for camping, charging only a $5 fee for a site. They have 12 campsites to choose from that include fire pits, picnic tables, bathrooms, and drinking water. Make sure you come prepared, though, because the closest town is 20 minutes away! Comments, suggestions, questions? Email: Info@shawneeforest.com
- Giant City State Park - From horseback riding to fishing and rappelling, it’s an outdoor lover’s paradise. Visitors will marvel at the many wilderness trails that run throughout the park. If you don’t fit in all you'd like to during a single day, stay overnight in one of over 30 cabins available for lodging. For lodge reservations, call (618) 457-4921. Or if you want more of the outdoor experience that have campsites available as well. With its breathtaking natural beauty and unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation, a trip to Giant City State Park near Carbondale is sure to delight visitors of all ages.
- Carbondale University Mall- There are several different types of stores to enjoy a fun and relaxed day of shopping. Also while your there stop and a get a wonderful tasting coffee from Gloria Jeans. Some stores include JC Penny, Macy's, Victoria Secret, Old Navy, Finish Line, Kay Jeweler, and a food court plus a movie theater.
Breweries & Wineries :
- St. Nicholas Brewing Company - wonderful bar foods and exceptional beer list that is constantly evolving and being updated http://www.stnicholasbrewco.com/
- Scratch Brewing Company - great beer in a beautiful setting, farmhouse brewery with lots of different beers including foraged beer http://www.scratchbeer.com/
- Big Muddy Brewing http://bigmuddybrewing.com/
- Little Egypt Beer: http://www.littleegyptbeer.com/
- Brews Brother's Tap Room
- Abbey Ridge Brewery and tap Room
- Von Jakob Winery & Brewery
- Russel Hill Winery
- Owl Creek
- Blue Sky
- + dozens more!
"City of Carbondale." History of Carbondale. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.
"Garden of the Gods - Southern Illinois - Shawnee Forest." Garden of the Gods - Southern Illinois - Shawnee Forest. Web. 20 Oct. 2014. <http://www.shawneeforest.com/Hiking/GardenoftheGods.aspx>.
"DNR Links." DNR. Web. 20 Oct. 2014. <https://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/R5/GC.HTM>
"Factbook 2014-2015". Institutional Research and Studies, Southern Illinois University. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.