Heartland Weekend Getaway: Marion, IL

Explore acres on acres of wilderness, cool off with a sweet treat, and root for the home team

Adventure awaits.

This Heartland Weekend why not take a getaway to Marion, Illinois.

Explore acres on acres of wilderness, cool off with a sweet treat, and root for the home team, all on a single tank of gas.

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge

Calling all nature lovers! Outdoors adventure awaits at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.

Here you can learn about the natural beauty of Southern Illinois at the visitor center, snap a picture of a migratory bird along a nature trail or reel in a catch on one of the lakes or many ponds.

“If you like to fish, if you like to walk and look at the scenery, you won’t find a better place,” Don Russell said, a regular visitor to the refuge.

With almost 44,000 acres, there are endless opportunities to get out and explore nature.

Go for a hike along the Rocky Bluff Trail. It is located off of Tacoma Lake Road, adjacent to the Devils Kitchen Lake. The 2.2-mile loop trail traverses moderate terrain including ridges, valleys, and bluffs. In the springtime, you’ll see tons of wildflowers and maybe even a waterfall after a good soaking.

Cast your line at the Pigeon Creek Day Use Area or the Prairie Creek Recreation Area. Both are very popular spots for anglers.

At Crab Orchard, you can also watch for wildlife, swim, fish by boat, and hunt.

CLICK HERE for more information.

Southern Illinois Mercantile Company

They say money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy ice cream!

You can cool off with a sweet treat at Southern Illinois Mercantile.

Here, they are scooping up 44 flavors of homemade artisanal ice cream, all churned by a husband and wife duo from just outside the Heartland.

“Our favorite, most popular flavor is pecan pie and he makes the homemade pecan pie from scratch and then he churns the whole pie into the ice cream,” Tanya Miller said.

Owners Tanya and Ellen Graff opened their doors in 2016 with the idea of offering a place where you could come in, sit down, and enjoy the company of others.

Inside, you can also find all sorts of handmade items.

The mercantile features creations made by at least 50 different local artists.

Whether it’s ice cream you’re after, a gift for a special someone, or coffee with a friend, you can count on feeling like you’re a part of the family here.

“We wanted to bring something family friendly to our community that when people came into our doors they would kind of feel like they stepped back in time for a second maybe stopped over at grandmas house,” Miller said.

Find the Southern Illinois Mercantile Company just off the square in Marion.

Rent One Park

Play ball!

Professional baseball is officially returning to Rent One Park.

The Southern Illinois Miners start their 12th season on the road on May 10, 2019.

Manager Mike Pinto is very excited.

“It’s my happiest day really is when everyone starts filling up the clubhouse, we get on the field for the first time,” Pinto said. “There’s this energy, there’s this renewment of spring again.”

This season you can see all nine innings at the new birthday village, think private party deck.

You can also try your hand at hitting a home run on the new whiffle ball field.

“When you come to the game there are lots of things to do,” Pinto said. “I’ve used the term Disney at the diamond.”

You can’t strike out at pitcher Austin Dubsky’s favorite part of the park.

He loves the mini-golf course.

“I play the put-put course more than anyone. You can ask Mike. He doesn’t allow me to play in the spring training put-put competition anymore,” Dubsky said.

The bases are loaded with food, family, and fun.

“I have so many people say when they get here wow, I can’t imagine this ballpark in a small community and we have this here and its something to be treasured,” Pinto said.

CLICK HERE for the full Miners schedule to plan your visit to a game.