"Beach" might be one of the last words to escape your mouth when listing all of the things you'd like to visit during your trip to Southern Illinois. But a summer's day spent sinking your toes into the rich sands that surround portions of Cedar Lake in Carbondale or Lake Glendale Recreation Area in Pope County will show you why beaches are one of the area's best-kept secrets.
And if you're visiting the region during the humid summer months, a day enjoying the beach and swimming in the cool lake waters might be the perfect way to beat the heat.
The Cedar Lake beach promotes a family-friendly atmosphere and includes a concession stand, restrooms and picnic tables. On any given summer day, people can be found soaking up the sun on their beach towels or standing off the banks with their fishing poles, reeling in crappie and bass. The Poplar Camp Beach sandy waterfront leads to a swim area that accommodates rafts and floats. To drive to Cedar Lake, take U.S. 51 to Cedar Creek Road and follow the signs to the beach or the boat dock. For more information on Cedar Lake call 618-549-8441.
Lake Glendale is close to Interstate 24 - making it an easily accessible destination - but nestled far enough into the Shawnee National Forest to give it a quaint, tranquil feel. The beach of the 80-acre lake is open from May through August and includes a concessionaire with snacks and cold drinks for beach-goers. The area also features fishing, bicycling, hiking, horseback riding and camping. Located south of Glendale on Illinois 145 in Pope County, Lake Glendale is pet-friendly and surrounded by tall pine and mixed hardwood trees. For more information on Lake Glendale call 618-949-3807.
Public beaches are also located at Pounds Hollow, Rend Lake, Kinkaid Lake and Crab Orchard Lake.
- Joe Szynkowski