15 Best Things to Do in Murphysboro, IL

Murphysboro, IL
wayfarerlife / shutterstock.com

It's easy to get lost in the gorgeous views of the city of Murphysboro in Illinois.

The city is the county seat of Jackson County and was established in 1843.

It's a namesake for William C. Murphy, one of the three key people who chose a new location for the first county seat when its courthouse caught fire.

Murphysboro is known for its Apple Festival, a four-day fun event celebrating its apple harvest and local businesses.

It is also home to beautiful outdoor attractions, which draw in many tourists and locals.

Although it's the tornado and windstorm's hardest-hit area, the city stands up to the test of time by keeping its natural beauty.

If you're considering visiting southern Illinois, don't miss a chance to take a trip to this city.

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

Camp at Lake Murphysboro State Park

The waters of Lake Murphysboro State Park
hammer from so. illinois u.s.a., CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Beautiful woodlands, rolling hills, and a stunning lake backdrop bring a fun and enjoyable experience at Lake Murphysboro State Park.

The star-shaped lake is surrounded by stunning woods and hills unbeatable for camping and other fun activities on the water.

The park has 20 tent sites and 54 trailer sites, whichever you prefer for camping.

You only have to obtain a camping permit from the park's office, and you can enjoy and experience the beauty of the lake and its surroundings.

There's also an archery range in the park if you're into it.

Otherwise, other water activities, including fishing and boating, are also permitted in the park.

There's also a three-mile trail for hiking if you prefer sightseeing, where you can see many bird species and other animals.

There are also picnic areas in the park if you prefer that way.

Lake Murphysboro State Park was established on Cinder Hill Drive.

Have Tee Time at Jackson Country Club

Lush greenery in a beautiful location will make your entire golf experience in Murphysboro comfortable and fun.

At Jackson Country Club, you can shoot some holes while surrounded by gorgeous woodlands.

The 18-hole, par 71 golf course on Country Club Road is well-maintained, and you will also enjoy excellent value from the courses offered.

Jackson Country Club was established in 1923.

Book your tee time and enjoy the game!

Learn Southern Illinois' History at the General John A. Logan Museum

Major General John A. Logan, son of Dr. John and Elizabeth Logan, who donated a tract of land in Murphysboro, was a distinguished volunteer during the Civil War.

His contributions and legacy are showcased at the General John A. Logan Museum.

General Logan established Memorial Day as a National Holiday.

The museum tells the story of the Civil War and his participation in this combat to save the country.

It also highlights his political career as a senator and his family history.

You will see an archive of southern Illinois' history, memorabilia, photos, and more at the museum.

On the site, archaeologists were able to excavate about 20% of Logan's family home foundation in 2000.

They started another excavation in 2017, and visitors can see this area in the museum.

Visit the General John A. Logan Museum on Edith Street.

Taste the Best Ribs in the US at 17th Street BBQ

Award-winning 17th Street BBQ is where pork is pulled, beans are baked, and ribs are juicy.

The restaurant's ribs have been named the "Best Ribs in the US."

Moreover, 17th Street BBQ has also been featured on several food and cooking TV channels.

Similarly, online media and food magazines have rated the restaurant as one of the best BBQ restaurants in Illinois and the US.

The legendary Mike Mills, World Champion and award-winning barbecue guru, established the restaurant in 1985.

He was inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame in 2010.

Satisfy your barbecue cravings and enjoy your ribs at 17th Street BBQ!

Celebrate Like a Local at the Murphysboro Apple Festival

The city is home to the famous Apple Festival to celebrate and emphasize the importance of horticulture and the local orchards.

The Murphysboro Chamber of Commerce started the Murphysboro Apple Festival in 1952 to promote local businesses in the city.

It's the oldest and biggest alcohol-free festival in southern Illinois, which takes place every second weekend past Labor Day.

If you're in Murphysboro on these days, celebrate with the large crowd and experience the southern hospitality.

Enjoy the carnival rides, grand parades, pageants, car shows, live music, and a menu filled with apple-themed treats.

The Murphysboro Apple Festival takes place on South 14th Street.

Get a Taste of Murphysboro Ales at Big Muddy Brewing

Since its establishment in 2009, Big Muddy Brewing has prided itself on crafting ales that are not only of high quality but something to remember.

The micro-brewery is Illinois' first brewing company outside the Chicago area, catering to all cities in Jackson County and its neighborhood.

Chuck Struenberg started the brewery.

Big Muddy Brewing's Vanilla Stout, Blueberry Bond, Winter, Saluki, and Big Muddy Monster are among the favorites of many locals and tourists.

Stop by for a brewery tour and taste their craft beers with great food!

You can find Big Muddy Brewing on North 7th Street.

Buy Vintage Gift Items at Think Vintage

A quaint and cozy vintage gift and curio shop, Think Vintage offers unique gift items that you can take with you back home.

The shop is small but packed with vintage items, which makes it more interesting and unique.

It has a wide selection of stuff ranging from accessories, home decor, home, and kitchen goods, linens, and more.

It’s a great place to shop for vintage items that breathe new life.

Think Vintage is located on Walnut Street.

Enjoy a Cup of Coffee at Cold Blooded Coffee & Roastery

For coffee lovers, Cold Blooded Coffee & Roastery is the place to relax and unwind while sipping on your favorite coffee.

If you're looking for delicious cold brew coffee, there's no better place to visit than this coffee shop.

Cold Blooded Coffee & Roastery's founder TJ Cowan only did home deliveries at first.

When the demand grew, he decided to put up a brick-and-mortar coffee shop packed with imported quality beans from Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, and more.

Visit Cold Blooded Coffee & Roastery at Walnut Street.

Come for the coffee and stay for the experience!

Buy Fresh Produce at Murphysboro Farmers Market

Nothing beats organic and fresh produce!

At Murphysboro Farmers Market, you get to buy from their wide selection of fresh, locally sourced produce.

Their vendors only sell what they produce, ranging from fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish, meat, handcraft items, and many more.

If you happen to be in Murphysboro between May and September, you should visit the farmer's market on the block of Walnut Street.

Murphysboro Farmers Market also hosts live music performances.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Only a few minutes from Murphysboro, you'll also get to enjoy and experience the natural beauty of the city's surrounding areas.

Most of them are nestled right on the city's border, making them easier to visit.

Spend a Day of Sightseeing at Shawnee National Forest

Aerial view of Shawnee National Forest
Jason Patrick Ross / Shutterstock.com

Located in Herod, Shawnee National Forest is one of the best tourist attractions to visit on a side trip from Murphysboro.

The diverse forest stretches west and south of Murphysboro with sweeping views of its natural formations.

Stairs along a trail at Shawnee National Forest
Wildnerdpix / Shutterstock.com

You'll be face-to-face with the forest's magical rock formations, hills, bluffs, ponds, lakes, rivers, and caves.

There are well-maintained trails where you can hike, bike, or take scenic walks while experiencing a breath of fresh air.

The wildlife and plant life are also abundant in the forest, and you'll see deer, geese, pheasants, quails, rabbits, squirrels, and turkeys.

Bay creek at Shawnee National Forest
Oleksandr Koretskyi / Shutterstock.com

Since its establishment in 1939, Shawnee National Forest has earned a good reputation regarding natural beauty and the abundance of wildlife.

It's only 18 minutes away from Murphysboro.

An owl at Shawnee National Forest
Paul Winterman / Shutterstock.com

Hike up the Pomona Natural Bridge

Formed after numerous soil erosions over the years, the Pomona Natural Bridge is hailed as a natural formation.

Take a picturesque hike, which will last for about an hour, and enjoy gorgeous views of plants, wildflowers, rocks, animals, and more.

The short loop trails will lead you to an old oak-hickory and beech forest.

Keep descending to the bottom of the creek to see the natural bridge's beauty from above.

For a great photo, the base of the bridge has a backdrop of trees and rocks that show the gorgeous view of this natural beauty.

The Pomona Natural Bridge, which is 90 feet long, is only a 22-minute drive from Murphysboro via Highway 127.

See the Wildlife at Little Grand Canyon

Aerial view of Little Grand Canyon
Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock.com

During the spring and fall seasons, Pomona's Little Grand Canyon is incredibly exquisite for its stunning wildflowers and colors of the fall.

It's also known for its animal diversity, especially neotropical migratory songbirds.

There are well-maintained marked trails along the way, although you have to be extra careful with some poisonous snakes during hunting seasons.

Enjoy sightseeing while hiking or taking scenic walks around.

Rock formations at Little Grand Canyon
Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock.com

There are also picnic areas and grills that are free to use.

In 1980, the area was designated as a natural landmark.

Little Grand Canyon is only 18 minutes away from Murphysboro via Hickory Ridge Road.

A frozen waterfall at Little Grand Canyon
Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock.com

Raise a Glass of Wine at Kite Hill Vineyards

Taste the southern Illinois wine at Kite Hill Vineyards, which is part of the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail.

The vineyard's founder started growing wine grapes in the 1990s, where it all started.

Jim and Barbara Bush purchased the vineyard in 2006 and continued producing world-class, high-quality wines.

Stop by for a glass of wine or stay a little while and enjoy the gorgeous hilltop rolling in the Shawnee Hills.

Kite Hill Vineyards is located in Carbondale and is only eight minutes away from Murphysboro.

Go Fishing at Kinkaid Lake

The waters of Kinkaid Lake
Jon Kraft / Shutterstock.com

If you're into fishing, Kinkaid Lake houses different varieties of fish ranging from largemouth bass, catfish, crappie, bluegill, muskie, and walleye.

You will also get to enjoy its gorgeous rolling hills, bluff formations, and hickories and oaks surrounding the lake.

Camping, boating, picnicking, and hunting are also allowed in the lake's designated areas.

Kinkaid Lake was established in 1968.

It's located northwest of Murphysboro and is only an 11-minute drive away.

Final Thoughts

Murphysboro is a majestic city filled with gorgeous tourist attractions.

If you want to take a few days away from the big city's hustle and bustle, you should consider taking a trip to southern Illinois.

Book a trip now and experience the best things to do in Murphysboro, Illinois!