Things to Do in Jefferson County
Jefferson County is home to many annual events and festivals, interactive historic landmarks, outdoor recreation adventures and activities for visitors and locals alike. Whether you’re enjoying street festivals in downtown Mt. Vernon, hiking, biking or horseback riding trails in Rend Lake’s Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park or making a splash in Mt. Vernon’s Aquatic Zoo waterpark – this county is more than an interstate intersection, it’s the original heart of Southern Illinois. With rich history in the beginnings of the State of Illinois, our community has transformed over the centuries and is now a thriving hub for many facets of life from our roots in manufacturing to an ever-growing arts culture with one common thread throughout our history – creative innovation.
Mt. Vernon Visitors Center
Learn more about the area at the Mt. Vernon Convention and Visitors Bureau, 200 Potomac Blvd. in Mt. Vernon, just west of the I-57/I64 exit 95. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Inside the Visitors Center is a unique gift shop called Made in Mt. Vernon featuring unique gifts made by local artists. For more information or to request a visitor’s guide, call (618) 242-3151 or visit www.enjoymtvernon.com.
Throughout Jefferson County, recreation is ample. The Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park is a mecca for outdoor recreation enthusiasts with water sports, horseback riding, picnicking, hiking, bird watching, wildlife observation and photography. The park also has fishing, boating and skiing Overlooking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 19,000-acre Rend Lake Reservoir, Wayne Fitgerrell State Park and Rend Lake is touted as Southern Illinois’ largest outdoor playground.
Jaycee Lake, on the outskirts of Mt. Vernon, is a beautiful place to relax with boating, fishing and breathtaking scenery. Bicycle trails can be found throughout Mt. Vernon. Hop on anywhere to enjoy the ride, but we suggest starting near Cedarhurst Center for the Arts or Veterans Park. If you’d like a different type of adventure, check out R & J Lazer Tag just off Illinois Highway 15 in Woodlawn, offering private parties and open play. Memories are sure to be made in the Southern Illinois woods playing laser tag with your friends or family. Nu Bowl Lanes in Mt. Vernon offers league play for all ages, open bowling and numerous special events. An arcade, lounge with gaming and restaurant round out the requirements to make this a fun outing for the whole family.
The Mt. Vernon Parks and Recreation Department oversees numerous parks. Lincoln Park offers a four-field complex for baseball and softball events as well as a soccer field. Veteran’s Park, situated in the heart of Mt. Vernon, is more than your average park with a memorial to veterans from all U.S. conflicts at the park entrance. The park also offers basketball courts, six lighted tennis courts, playgrounds, horseshoe and washer pits, walking paths, picnic facilities, community gardens and a community building available to rent for events and meetings. For more information,
call (618) 242-6890.
Archway RV Park is a family-owned and -operated campground with full hookup pull-through sites and back-in sites for the big RVs, plus some tent sites for the little campers. The park boasts clean showers and a laundromat along with a playground, fishing pond and dump station on-site.
For the golf enthusiast, Green Hills Golf Club in Mt. Vernon is widely considered to be one of the finest golf facilities in southern Illinois. Offering a beautiful and challenging layout combined with a friendly country club atmosphere, the course has an abundance of trees, natural creeks and large lakes to create unique playing conditions. Also in Mt. Vernon, Indian Hills Golf Club offers a picturesque course for 18 holes as well. Both clubs are open to the public and have memberships available.
The Aquatic Zoo is an outdoor water park on South 34th Street in Lincoln Park. It includes two slides with a monkey-themed water dumping bucket, zebra, giraffe and animal sound and light themed geysers, a lazy river, zero-depth entry leisure pool, an enclosed body flume slide and an enclosed tube slide. The park also features a 25-meter, six-lane lap pool with two diving boards in a separate section from the slides and lazy river and splash pad. For pricing, season passes or information, call (618) 242-6890 or visit www.enjoymtvernon.org.
Cedarhurst Center for the Arts has achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums, the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies and to the museum-going public. The United States has an estimated 35,000 museums and only a little over 1000 are currently accredited.
Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, an activity of the John R. and Eleanor R. Mitchell Foundation, is a private, nonprofit arts organization established in 1973. The museum is best known for its significant collection of late 19th and early 20th century American paintings, exhibitions featuring regional and international artists, a 90-acre sculpture park featuring over 60 works of art, extensive art education opportunities both on campus and in regional schools and an annual Art & Craft Fair held each September since 1977. They also host art classes and programs; live performances; and Thursday Night Live, a summer program with great food, entertainment and activities. The Cedarhurst campus is open to the public 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, with extended hours until 8 p.m. Thursdays between Memorial Day and Labor Day. For more information, visit www.cedarhurst.org or call (618) 242-1236.
On North 27th Street, the Jefferson County Historical Village is picturesque with two log cabins, the first log jail in the county, a one-room school, a medical building, newspaper and print shop, blacksmith shop, log church, general store, gift shop, a nature trail, history museum and Interpretive Center. For more information, call (618) 246-0033.
The Jefferson County Hall of Honor, Col. R.D. White Veterans Museum and Jefferson County Heroes Memorial are permanent memorials dedicated to area veterans on display inside the Koziara Terminal and outside at Mt. Vernon Outland Airport. The Hall of Honor is an ongoing, collaborative effort that complements other area veteran’s memorials; each veteran’s service history is preserved for future generations to see. “Just like the service of each veteran, no two tributes are identical. Each one has a different story to tell,” said Chris Collins, airport director. The Veterans Museum features authentic vintage uniforms, weapons, munitions, K-rations, era newspapers, magazines and letters from home from the Civil War to current conflicts. The Jefferson County Heroes Memorial honors the local family members, friend and neighbors who sacrificed their tomorrows for our todays.
Hall hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week and the museum is open every Wednesday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or by appointment. Call (618) 242-7016 for more information.
Festivals & Events in the Village of Bluford
- Village Memorial Day Service at noon at the Village Hall Memorial
- Annual village-wide rummage sale in the summer
- Annual Bluford Ruritan Ice Cream Social & Car Show – July
- Marlow’s Pumpkin Patch open throughout October
- Annual Christmas Parade in December
- Ruritan Chili Supper & Auction in December