Mattoon, IL serves as an excellent starting point for unforgettable road trips that take you beyond the city limits and into the surrounding scenic beauty. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or simply looking to explore charming small towns, these road trip destinations will satisfy your wanderlust. Buckle up and get ready to discover the hidden gems awaiting you just a short drive away from Mattoon.
Charleston: A Quaint College Town
Just a 15-minute drive from Mattoon lies the charming town of Charleston. Home to Eastern Illinois University, Charleston offers a delightful mix of small-town charm and vibrant college life. Don't miss these highlights:
- Charleston Historical District: Take a leisurely stroll through the historic district and admire the beautifully preserved architecture. Visit the Coles County Historical Museum to learn about the town's rich history.
- Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site: Step back in time at this state historic site, where you can explore the reconstructed home of Abraham Lincoln's father and learn about pioneer life in Illinois.
- Lincoln Prairie Grass Trail: Rent a bike and cycle along this scenic trail that winds through picturesque landscapes and offers lovely views of the surrounding countryside.
Shelbyville: Lakeside Tranquility
A short drive south of Mattoon will lead you to Shelbyville, a charming town known for its scenic lakes and outdoor recreational opportunities. Here's what to see and do in Shelbyville:
- Lake Shelbyville: Spend a day by the shores of this expansive lake, known for its excellent fishing and boating opportunities. Relax on the beach, go swimming, or rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore the serene waters.
- Eagle Creek State Park: Nature lovers will appreciate the beauty of this state park, with its hiking trails, picnic areas, and opportunities for birdwatching. Don't miss the chance to spot majestic bald eagles during the winter months.
- Downtown Shelbyville: Take a stroll through the historic downtown area and explore its charming shops, restaurants, and the Shelby County Courthouse, a magnificent architectural gem.
Effingham: Gateway to Adventure
For those seeking a blend of outdoor activities and cultural experiences, a road trip to Effingham is a must. Located west of Mattoon, Effingham offers a range of attractions to explore:
- Mid America Motorworks: Car enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to this automotive-themed destination, featuring a museum, a restoration shop, and various car events throughout the year.
- Lake Sara: Spend a day on the water at Lake Sara, which offers boating, fishing, and swimming opportunities. Pack a picnic and enjoy a relaxing afternoon by the lake.
- The Cross at the Crossroads: Marvel at the towering 198-foot cross, a landmark symbolizing the city's faith. Take a moment to appreciate the view from the observation deck, offering panoramic vistas of the surrounding countryside.
Unveiling Hidden Gems
As you embark on road trips from Mattoon, keep an eye out for hidden gems along the way. Serendipitous discoveries await around every corner, whether it's a charming roadside diner, a picturesque vista, or a small-town festival. Embrace the spirit of exploration and let the road guide you to unexpected treasures.
With Mattoon as your starting point, the surrounding area offers an abundance of road trip adventures. Fuel up your car, grab your camera, and embark on a journey of scenic beauty, historical discoveries, and the joy of the open road.