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Hockey family
Looking for some help in locating a nice spatious park that will be somewhat quiet and accommodate 4 children (13,11,9,7). We are heading south from Chicago area and looking to travel 6-8 hours for first "extended" trip. Usually we travel in 4 day trips surrounding hockey tournaments. This one will be for relaxing, reading and a little fun. any places with caves, waterfalls, lakes etc..

Sorry we are so vauge but we are somewhat new. We want a clean location with full hookup and not on top of eachother if possible. Thank you in advance.
Wadcutter
QUOTE(Hockey family @ Mar 12 2009, 04:16 PM) *

Looking for some help in locating a nice spatious park that will be somewhat quiet and accommodate 4 children (13,11,9,7). We are heading south from Chicago area and looking to travel 6-8 hours for first "extended" trip. Usually we travel in 4 day trips surrounding hockey tournaments. This one will be for relaxing, reading and a little fun. any places with caves, waterfalls, lakes etc..

Sorry we are so vauge but we are somewhat new. We want a clean location with full hookup and not on top of eachother if possible. Thank you in advance.

Since you specify 6-8 hours out of Chicago in IL that would put you in far southern IL with time left over. You'll have to be more specific on what you consider "fun". "Fun" doesn't have the same meaning for everyone.
If you're planning on camping in southern IL it's going to be cold. Temps most likely highs about 60 with lows in the 40s but could be colder. It's not likely any of the state parks will have water and facilities turned on.
Ferne Clyff and Giant City State Parks are about center of the lower state. Plenty of hiking around the rock formations. Neither of those state parks have full hook ups. There's a fairly new campground just off I-57 in Marion which has full hook ups. Can't recall the name and have never stayed there.
Cave In Rock is an easy drive south east. Ft Defiance is at Cario altho don't expect to see a fort. Metropolis is south which has a bit of Superman stuff.
Other than nature there's not a lot of typical tourist stuff in the area. But the nature stuff is really good.
Jerry S
Hi Hockey,

For starters, I agree with everything Wadcutter said. As far as wanting caves, waterfalls, lakes, etc., It sounds more like you might want to go to western Kentucky (Land of the Lakes and Mammoth Cave) or Missouri (Lake of the Ozarks and Meremac Caverns) 50-150 miles west and south of St. Louis. While I have been to and enjoyed many of the natural areas in southern IL, I don't remember any waterfalls, the only recreational lake I am familiar with is Rend Lake (just south of Mt. Vernon), and Cave-in-Rock is just a large indentation (no tours, exploring, or spelunking to be had) in the bluffs along the Ohio River. As Wadcutter noted, 6-8 can get you pretty far south from Chicago. I usually make it to Effingham, IL (220 miles) in about 4 and 1/2 hours at a liesurely pace from the far northside of Chicago. In 6 hours you could probably make it to St. Louis and, in 8 hours you might be able to make it all the way to Paducah, KY. From St. Louis and Paducah, it is only 1-3 hours or two to the areas I mentioned above in MO and KY respectively.

As far as recommending RV parks goes, I always hesitate to do so because everybody's wants/needs/opinions differ. For example, I am not sure what you mean by "clean location", "spacious" is a relative term, and "accommodates children" can mean anything from accepts kids to all sorts of kids' stuff (playgrounds, pools (not in March), activities. At this time of year, I doubt that you will have much problem with crowded parks during the week. I can only suggest that you check the reviews on this site to try to find the parks in the areas you might visit.

You mentioned "extended trip", but did not specify how long. If you mean only a week, I'd stick with southern IL. If it is 10-14 days, I'd consider MO or KY.

Good luck, have fun, and hope for warmer weather.
Emma
QUOTE(Wadcutter @ Mar 13 2009, 08:44 AM) *

Since you specify 6-8 hours out of Chicago in IL that would put you in far southern IL with time left over. . . . There's a fairly new campground just off I-57 in Marion which has full hook ups. Can't recall the name and have never stayed there.


Marion Campground and RV Park is the fairly new campground in Marion just off I-57. http://www.marioncampground.com/

It's our first choice for a campground when we visit family in the area. We like its central location and proximity to the restaurants and retail in Marion. In fact, we have reservations to stay there for about a week in early April. RV Park Reviews has several reviews of the Marion Campground and RV Park and several other campgrounds in the area so I won't duplicate much of what has already been written.

We've stayed at Giant City State Park in Makanda and it was ok if you don't mind only having electrical service on your site. Water is available at centrally located spigots. The setting and park are top quality if you want to be close to nature and in the midst of walking and horse trails. Marion is about 30 miles from Giant City SP/Makanda. The drive is a scenic one especially if you take Giant City State Park Rd at the east edge of Carbondale.

If you decide to go to Western Kentucky, you may want to call ahead since parts of the area are still recovering from severe ice storms this past January. Paducah, KY is an easy 60 mile drive from Marion. Cairo, IL where the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers merge is also an easy 60 mile drive. The city has seen better times yet it is worth the drive at least once to see where these historic and important rivers converge.

The area has a fascinating history of river city trade and commerce and river pirates and outlaws. You could think about taking your kids to the Pirates exhibit currently at The Field Museum in Chicago and then extending their adventure with stories about what was happening right here in the Midwest in the early days of our country (along with a trip downstate).

I have to admit that I am biased since I was born in Southern Illinois. You will find many things to do in far Southern Illinois (south of Springfield) year-round. This time of year the weather varies greatly. Easter weekends can be as cold as winter days or warm as hot spring days.

Here are some links with more info about the area. I would also Google "Cape Girardeau, MO" and "Harrisburg, IL" and "Paducah, KY" and "Trail of Tears." Also in this Abraham Lincoln bicentennial celebration year, you'll find many smaller historic sites renewing their connection to Lincoln (David Davis mansion in Bloomington, IL, sites of Lincoln-Douglas debates like the one in Jonesboro, IL). Springfield, IL has much to offer about where Abraham Lincoln lived and worked before becoming President. So many sites and sights and so little time.

Southern Most Illinois Tourism
Enjoy Illinois
Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky
Mark Twain's Mississippi
Shawnee Hills Wine Trail
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge


Have fun and safe travels!
EmmaMae

Jerry S
Emma,

What an absolutely wonderful post for information on southern IL. Tourism boards should pay you.

Hockey,

As I re-checked this topic just now, I realized that, as noted in your subtitle to the topic, that your trip is for 8 days. As previously noted, I would stick with staying in southern IL. The MO or KY trips I suggested would take up up too much (1 and 1/2 days going and coming) of an 8 day trip. The Marion park suggested by 2 previous posters would probably be a good base park as long as you don't mind driving a few hours every day to see the sights. The park may not have much for the kids to do but not many places in the area do at this time of the year.
There are also private parks around Cape Girardeau, MO (just across the Mississippi River from I) and Paducah, KY just across the Ohio River from IL) if you don' mind moving every other day or two. I depends mostly on whether or not you want to set up camp just once or do 3-4 times during the trip. With 4 kids, I would think one base camp for the trip would be preferable.

Again, have fun.
Emma
QUOTE(Jerry S. @ Mar 14 2009, 08:40 PM) *

Emma,

What an absolutely wonderful post for information on southern IL. Tourism boards should pay you.



Wow, Jerry, thanks for the kind words. I've thoroughly enjoyed living in upstate Illinois these last several years. However, in my heart, I'll always be a "Southern Illinoisan." I grew up as an Army brat with a very strong connection to my "hometown" no matter where we lived.

Take care and safe travels to you.
Hockey family
QUOTE(Emma @ Mar 15 2009, 10:54 AM) *

Wow, Jerry, thanks for the kind words. I've thoroughly enjoyed living in upstate Illinois these last several years. However, in my heart, I'll always be a "Southern Illinoisan." I grew up as an Army brat with a very strong connection to my "hometown" no matter where we lived.

Take care and safe travels to you.



Thank you all for you rhelp and i was very new when i sent this question. We did stay in Effingham, Camp Lakewood, at a very quiet and serine RV Park with two lakes. Did some fishing,, had a site facing the woods and walked through woods several days. Not a big kid place but we did have a blast gathering as a family, scavenger hunts, fires and fishing! Hospitality was great.

Thank you again.
Fordiesel250
I would suggest Forest Glen county park which is in Georgetown and its about 3-4 hours south of Chicago. Nice park with plenty of walking/hiking trails along with a neat tower that you can climb. If you go in the fall you can watch them tap the maple trees and make maple syrup. Nice quiet park off of the beaten path.
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