15 Best Things to Do in Carlyle, IL

Carlyle, IL
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There’s no better place to visit and enjoy the largest man-made lake, Carlyle Lake, than Carlyle, Illinois.

Founded in 1818, Carlyle is in Clinton County, Illinois, with a population of 3,253.

Carlyle is known for its fine homes, business blocks, and public buildings.

As the best location to access Carlyle Lake, it has gained fame among outdoor sports enthusiasts and sailors for its beautiful harbors!

Visit Carlyle and awaken your love for outdoor water sports and beautiful scenery!

Here are the best things to do in Carlyle, Illinois:

Appreciate the Architecture of the General Dean Suspension Bridge

Daytime view of General Dean Suspension Bridge
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After a short drive south from Dam West, you can find the historical General Dean Suspension Bridge, a bridge named after William F. Dean.

The bridge crosses the Kaskaskia River.

Constructed in 1859, the General Dean Suspension Bridge allowed early Carlyle residents to cross the Kaskaskia River, a huge improvement compared to their old route by ferry or a measly mud bridge.

Since then, the city recognized the bridge’s historical and architectural importance, and had it restored in 1951 and 1953.

Entryway of General Dean Suspension Bridge
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Today, there’s no reason to travel by bridge as there’s a road for vehicles just south of it, but still, the General Dean Bridge stands tall with its beautiful architecture and rich history.

You can take a walk on the deck and admire the view of the Kaskaskia River.

Don’t forget to read all the plaques and plates filled with informational tidbits.

View within the General Dean Suspension Bridge
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Take a Swim in the Beautiful Keyesport Beach at Carlyle Lake

One of Carlyle’s most prominent attractions is its own Carlyle Lake.

The Carlyle Lake is Illinois’ largest man-made lake, and also the largest lake contained wholly in the state.

This 25,000-acre lake and reservoir are large enough to have multiple beaches on different shores and many fish species, perfect for swimming and boating.

Found at 103 Republican Street, the Keyesport Beach is the best location to swim among the four public beaches at Carlyle Lake.

It’s one of the less-crowded beaches so expect a quiet day relaxing by the sands, or swimming in the roped swimming areas.

The Keyesport beach is one of the most visitor-friendly beaches at Carlyle Lake because of convenient facilities for visitors such as restrooms, and playgrounds perfect for children to play around and enjoy after a dip at the lake.

Don’t expect crystal clear water, but rest assured, the area is safe to swim in for everyone.

Visit the Keyesport Beach alongside the west of the lake, and don’t forget to bring sunscreen!

Revisit Carlyle’s History at the Clinton County Historical Society Museum

Are you interested in learning about the history of Clinton County?

Stop by the Clinton County Historical Society Museum at 1091 Franklin Street in Carlyle.

This elegant, white, two-story house built in the late 1800s was a private home converted into a museum, attracting visitors from around the world.

They have all sorts of historical books, genealogical materials, artifacts, and periodicals about the county’s history.

If you want to learn more about Clinton County, set an appointment at the Clinton County Historical Society Museum through the phone as they don’t allow walk-in visitors.

Taste World-Class Wine at the Twelve Oaks Vineyard

When you get tired from all the fun lake activities, visit the Twelve Oaks Vineyard for a relaxing afternoon tasting award-winning wine.

There’s no better place for wine in Carlyle than the Twelve Oaks Vineyard.

With its beautiful architecture and wide open fields, you will find a truly a serene country setting that will soothe any visitor.

Their tasting room allows visitors to sample their varieties of quality wine.

You can also buy beer and non-alcoholic beverages there.

While you enjoy their award-winning drinks, they also offer options for cheese and an actual menu for meals to complement the drinks.

After tasting the wine, take a stroll around their premier Vineyard, often visited for photoshoots and events.

See the beautiful vegetation, and the rich and colorful grapes, here at the Twelve Oaks Vineyard.

They are located at 18975 Vogel Road.

Go for a Hole-In-One at the Governors Run Golf Course

Drop by the Governors Run Golf Course and have a passionate game of golf!

The Governors Run Golf Course is Carlyle’s premier golf course, with 18 holes each and five tees for all skill levels with a beautiful golfing landscape and environment.

It’s perfect for professionals and people who just want fun.

While walking between holes, enjoy the beautiful landscape.

Catch the flowers blooming with the picturesque surroundings that will keep you immersed throughout the game.

They have a Pro Shop with all the golfing essentials, perfect if you forgot to bring your trusty gloves or if you require a new club.

Relax after a thrilling game with delicious snacks and meals at their Bar and Grill at the clubhouse.

The Governors Run Golf Course is at 3300 Governors Drive, just north of Dam West Beach.

Visit the Governors Run Golf Course with your friends and family and have a fun golfing experience in Carlyle!

Awaken Your Inner Sailor at the Carlyle Sailing Association

Since Carlyle Lake is a vast man-made lake, it’s the perfect place to set sail and enjoy the waters.

Although there are a lot of spots and locations to start boating on the lake, the best place to go for a sailing experience is the Carlyle Sailing Association.

Founded in 1971, the Carlyle Sailing Association is a non-profit organization devoted to sailing, offering some of the best facilities for sailing in Illinois.

They are the perfect organization to start sailing, with many active one-design ships, club ships, and family-oriented and friendly members.

You can learn to sail with their professional instructors with courses such as junior sailing, adult sailing seminars, and exclusive member sailing lessons.

Moreover, you can rent ships such as monohulls and catamarans once you are a qualified member.

You can find them at 20960 Hazlet Park Road, and their harbor is at Carlyle Lake.

What are you waiting for?

Take the Kids to the McNair Group Recreational Area

The McNair Group Recreational Area is the best place to bring your friends and family to enjoy activities and have fun bonding moments.

The kids can enjoy the spacious playground perfect for children to play in.

While the adults can relax under the picnic shelter, have a meal, or bond with each other.

There is also an amphitheater for special events, shows, and educational programs.

Come over to the McNair Group Recreational Area at 13160 McNair Campground Road and bond with your family!

Take a Dip at the Carlyle City Pool

Are you looking to swim but don’t like sand?

Maybe pools are for you.

Take a dip at the Carlyle City Pool, which welcomes everyone who wishes to escape the hot, sunny days at Carlyle.

This large pool has specific time slots reserved for swim team practices and the occasional pool party events.

There are vending machines perfect for snacks, drinks, and the kids’ favorite ice cream.

The Carlyle City Pool is the best place for an affordable swimming experience and fun with family, and a chance to get to meet and bond with the locals.

Visit the Carlyle City Pool!

Eat Delicious Meals at Bretz Wildlife Lodge & Winery

Whether you’re a wine drinker or not, the Bretz Wildlife Lodge & Winery has everything you need.

Founded in 2008 with only five items and eight wines on the menu, Bretz Wildlife Lodge & Winery has become one of the most popular places in Carlyle.

It is South African-themed and has a nice rustic decor paired with the many African wildlife plaques and mounts collected through the years.

Besides the delightful selection of wine and the cozy, comfortable atmosphere, there are also many other activities and things to do.

For instance, there’s live music, and areas for sand volleyball and washers toss.

You won’t run out of things to do here at the Bretz Wildlife Lodge & Winery.

Get in Touch with Nature at the Eldon Hazlet Recreational Area

Scenic view of Eldon Hazlet Recreational Area
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Whether you’re a person who enjoys outdoors or not, you’re sure to have a blast at the Eldon Hazlet Recreation Area.

The Eldon Hazlet Recreation Area is at 20100 Hazlet Park Road.

It’s a very popular site and getaway for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and enjoying the wildlife.

Their camping facilities are top-notch, one of the biggest reasons why the Eldon Hazlet Recreational Area is a popular campsite for visitors.

You can rent class A and class C campsites, and two rustic cabins.

The children can go for a swim at the public pool, but you have to make reservations in advance.

If you didn’t get to reserve a spot, don’t worry.

You can have fun at the playground instead.

Despite its popularity, you’ll find the place to be very welcoming and quiet.

Visit the Eldon Hazlet Recreational Area now and enjoy a complete camping experience here at Carlyle!

Other Things to Do Nearby

The Clinton County is full of attractions and destinations you definitely have to visit.

Once you’re done having fun in Carlyle, check out these other things to do.

Enjoy a Remarkable Lunch at the Keys on Lake Carlyle

Stop by The Keys on Lake Carlyle for an enjoyable signature dining and drinking experience in Keyesport, Illinois, 18 minutes from Carlyle.

The Keys on Lake Carlyle has multiple rooms perfect for every occasion.

You can relax in the Main room with the Main bar, the most significant area for dining and drinking.

You can also have an enjoyable time at the outdoor bar and enjoy band performances on Saturday night.

For a romantic and private meal, reserve seats in the Dining room.

Finally, their upstairs area has an inside bar with tables overlooking Lake Carlyle and opens on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Order from their expansive menu, with appetizers perfect for snacks with or without alcohol and entrees, served with two side dishes for a complete meal.

Grab their baskets for large group settings, sandwiches and wraps, salads for healthy eaters, and a kid’s menu if you come with your family.

Visit the Keys on Lake Carlyle and experience the best dining experiences near Carlyle.

Enjoy a Romantic Wine Experience at the Hidden Lake Winery

Are you looking for a special place to have an intimate moment with someone?

The Hidden Lake Winery might be what you’re looking for.

You can find the winery at Aviston, Illinois, 24 minutes from Carlyle.

The Hidden Lake Winery is a hidden gem that offers a romantic and quiet experience perfect for couples and families.

They offer fantastic, award-winning Illinois wine in their tasting rooms and dining menus that compliments the seasonal wines, with each course promising to please your taste buds.

They also have warm, cozy, and intimate cabins with a fireplace, a Jacuzzi, a king-sized bed, and most essentials.

This place is perfect for an intimate night after a day spent tasting wine.

Visit the Hidden Lake Winery in Carlyle to take your relationships to the next level.

Visit the Excel Bottling Company

In Breese, Illinois, lies the charming family bottling company called the Excel Bottling Company.

This place is 12 minutes from Carlyle.

Drink a wide variety of pure cane sodas and craft beer, made from vintage bottling equipment.

They even have bottled teas and water for the tea enthusiast.

Savor a unique drinking experience at one of the last remaining independent bottlers in the country.

Check out the Excel Bottling Company and marvel at the great flavor and service.

Experience Gorgeous Architecture and Music at Centralia Carillon

After a 23-minute drive from Carlyle, you can see the world’s sixth-largest carillon, the Centralia Carillon, in Centralia, Illinois.

William V. Joy spearheaded the construction of the carillon, which began in 1957 and formally founded in 1982.

Even after his death, he ensured funds that would help keep the Carillon maintain itself.

Their professional musician climbs the flight of 173 steps to play the bells during a concert.

You can have a professionally guided tour, but you have to reserve an appointment.

If you’re curious about what a carillon is, come by the Centralia Carillon at 114 N Elm Street.

Treat Yourself to Dairy at Marcoot Jersey Creamery

Take the family to a one-of-a-kind experience in a family-built and run farm and creamery, the Marcoot Jersey Creamery.

It’s at 526 Dudleyville Road in Greenville, Illinois, just a 21-minute drive from Carlyle.

Generations of the Markut family built up the creamery, starting from simple jersey cattle dairy farm.

Succeeding generations have improved the creamery; in 2010, they started producing other dairy products such as cheese, to great success.

Take a tour of the farm, a perfect trip for your family.

You can also purchase their delicious cheese, slices of beef, and homemade ice cream!

Bring your family to the Marcoot Jersey Creamery and enjoy learning bout the creamery!

Final Thoughts

Carlyle is the perfect place to experience beach trips without going on hours-long drives to the ends of the country.

Lake Carlyle is beautiful, and the people of Carlyle truly capitalize on their city’s beauty.

Make the most of your trip with the help of the best things to do in Carlyle, Illinois.

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