Regional road trips are all the rage right now. Many folks feel most comfortable hopping in the car with their loved ones and exploring sights that are off the beaten path. Some of those sights may even be in your own backyard! For plenty of regional travel ideas, check-in every Wednesday for a Downstate Illinois Road Trip Roundup on themed topics showcasing several destinations across the southern portion of the state. Since autumn begins this week, we’ll focus on some of the best agritourism spots in our region!
Effingham’s fall season brings with it a bountiful harvest! Visit the Effingham Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., through the month of October, to enjoy fresh, locally-grown produce, autumnal arrangements, live music and other handcrafted, locally-made goods. Everything at the market is produced right here in the Effingham area and its surrounding communities! The mission of the market is to build and strengthen the community from within by educating patrons on the importance and advantages of buying local. It’s the perfect family excursion – even four-legged family members are welcome! From the market to the table… Enjoy farm fresh, locally-grown ingredients when you dine at Firefly Grill. Firefly is so passionate about their food that they grow much of it on-site! What they can’t grow on the restaurant’s property, they hand-select locally or source from artisan farmers, foragers and fisherman. At Firefly, each season is an experience. Plan a crisp, fall date night on their patio, where you can cozy up with a cocktail, fireside… Or bring the whole family for a breezy Sunday brunch. To plan your next visit, or to view their seasonal menu, visit www.ffgrill.com. Take in the fall foliage, and a glass of caramel apple sangria, at Tuscan Hills Winery… Boozy, sweet, tart and refreshing, this handcrafted drink is one of Effingham’s most highly-anticipated fall treats… in addition to their Apple Pie Wine Slushies, artisanal Tuscan flatbreads and savory charcuterie boards! The winery is home to countless weddings, showers, reunions, parties, musical performances, date nights, girls nights and more, making it the perfect place to gather together and be thankful for the season ahead. Visit Effingham… It’s what you're craving.
There’s nothing better than spending a day at the pumpkin patch with a cup of apple cider in the fall. Luckily, ILLINOISouth has several options for you to have a fun day with friends and family while also grabbing some pumpkins to bring home! Eckert’s has two locations packed full of activities for you to enjoy, from concerts and gardens to desserts and wagon rides. Eckert’s Country Store and Farm in Belleville and their Millstadt Fun Farm provide ample opportunities to pick your own apples to take home in addition to your pumpkin! In Lawrenceville, Dorney’s Pumpkin Patch sells an assortment of fall goodies like pumpkins, gourds, indian corn, and straw! They also have several exciting activities like a corn maze, pumpkin bowling, hayrides, and more! We hope you enjoy getting into the fall spirit at these beautiful pumpkin patches! Another place that your family will love is Schoenbeck Ranch in Randolph County. There aren’t many places that celebrate fall fun like Schoenbeck Ranch. They have hay rides, a corn maze, a petting zoo, pumpkin bowling, a barrel car train and more! Admission is six dollars, and pony rides are four bucks. Pumpkins and food are available for purchase, and masks are encouraged but not required. For more information, find Schoenbeck Ranch on Facebook. Make sure to take a ton of pictures and tag us, we here at ILLINOISouth LOVE to see all of your adventures!
Whether you're looking for locally grown sunflowers, pumpkins, or apples, or just a fun filled family experience, Rendleman Orchards is the place to go. Open every day of the week until Oct. 31. Create new memories with your favorite people in the flower fields while taking selfies at various photo opportunity installations. Take a stroll in the one acre field full of sunflowers. This magical experience is the launch of our fall season. Borrow a wagon or bring your own wagon and head out to select your pumpkins, snap some pictures, and enjoy fall on the farm! Wander through two beautiful Zinnia flower fields: the all-color field and white floral field. In addition to quality tree ripened, hand-picked apples, and apple cider, the Farm Market offers a wide variety of locally grown produce, jams, jellies, country gourmet specialty foods and gift items; and on weekends enjoy apple cider slushies! For more fun things to do in Shawnee Forest Country, visit www.southernmostillinois.com
If your idea of the perfect fall day includes pumpkins, corn mazes, hayrides, or just enjoying the wonderful fall weather in Southern Illinois, then plan your getaway to Williamson County! As the weather begins to cool down and the leaves begin to change, two of our most beloved Williamson County businesses open for the season! Bandy’s Pumpkin Patch has been supplying Southern Illinois with family fun for more than 30 years and we are so excited to welcome them back after a year of renovations. This season, Bandy’s in Johnston City will be introducing their inclusive and accessible hayrides, their redesigned play barn, and more! As always, you can enjoy their 10-acre corn maze, pick out the perfect pumpkin, or even plan a private party for all your closest friends! Just outside of Marion, The Patch is gearing up for a fall full of fun! Opening on September 25th, The Patch is the perfect place to get into the fall spirit! They offer U-pick pumpkins, 25-minute hayrides, an outdoor play area, and they even have goats available to feed! The Patch will also be introducing their “Sasquatch” themed corn maze this season! So, pick up your pumpkin spiced drink of choice and head to Williamson County for a fall to remember!