Best Things to Do in Winter in Clinton County IL

The flurry of the holidays is over, and it is time to get up off the couch. But the question is, what are the best things to do in winter in Clinton County, IL? The slower pace of winter is an ideal time to learn a new skill, enjoy dinner with friends, browse, and just enjoy the beauty of the area. Here are our five favorite activities during the winter.

1. Spotting Eagles on Carlyle Lake

With 83 miles of shoreline, Carlyle Lake is a perfect habitat for bald eagles and contains all the elements necessary for their survival. Taking a nice walk at Carlyle Lake on a winter day has many rewards, including a chance to see bald eagles that migrate through and often nest there. The best locations for viewing are:

    •  The General Dean Bridge Area on the east end of the Lake, with ample parking.
    • The main portion of the Lake, especially if there are frozen areas. The Dam West Boat parking log will give you a great lake view.
    • The Coles Creek area is accessible at Elmwood, Grasher Creek, and Maple Grove access areas.
    • The North Fork and East Fork areas along the east side of the lake north of Boulder.
    • The Tamalco Access is located on the West side of Carlyle Lake, north of Keyesport.

There are usually annual weekends with educational events where you can learn more about the endangered bald eagle. Please be aware that Federal Law protects bald eagles, and possessing even a feather without a permit is illegal.

2. Learn to Play Pickleball

Rain, snow, and winter weather can keep even the hardiest outdoors person inside, and as these fall nights turn cooler, many people are forgoing their daily outdoor exercise to stay warm inside. Stay on track, or start your New Year’s goals and head to the Centralia Recreation Complex! This 60,000-square-foot building has something to keep everyone in your family entertained and moving during the cooler months.

Located near the old railroad depot, the Complex retains its historical look from the front, but once you step inside, it has been completely transformed! With state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, visitors can find many ways to stay active. The Complex features an elevated walking and running track, a fully serviced Fitness Room, a competition-grade pool, and a family leisure pool.

One of the more exciting features is the opportunity to learn and play one of the hottest new sports: pickleball.  There are six courts and open times to play Monday through Friday. So stop by today and see what new opportunities the Centralia Recreation Complex has on the schedule!

Pickleball paddles, balls, water bottle and cover on floor of indoor court and view of line on court and net.

3. Take a Polar Plunge

The Polar Plunge is definitely not for the meek, but it is for a good cause. The annual jump into the frigid Carlyle Lake raises money for the Special Olympics. In previous years, each participant was required to raise at least $100 in donations for the experience of immersing in ice-cold water. No wetsuits are allowed, but shoes are required, and costumes are encouraged.

If running for donuts sounds better than a cold dip, sign up for the Polar Dash for Donuts 5K, held in conjunction with the Polar Plunge. Runners stop for donuts along the path, earning a minute off their time for each donut eaten. Hmm, what a choice; freeze in icy water or eat donuts?

4. The Thrill of the Find–Antiquing

Looking for something fun to do on a dreary day? Go antiquing! A good place to start is Ten Pin Antique Mall in Carlyle, a large space chockfull of memorabilia, vintage items, home décor, furniture, collectibles, and lots more. Chances are, you won’t go home empty-handed! Just don’t get upset if you see something from your childhood that is now being called an antique!

5. Join Your Friends for Spaghetti Night

So after you have looked for eagles, played pickleball, and/or gone antiquing, what is next on the list? How about Spaghetti Night at Java Joe’s Coffeehouse? The popular spot in Centralia dishes up pasta on the first and third Thursdays of the month from 4 pm to 7 pm. It’s not only a great time to enjoy the community with dinner out, but it’s also a night without dishes to clean up!

Winter doesn’t have to be boring, and fresh air and laughter are vital in every season! At least one of this list of best things to do in winter in Clinton County, IL, must have piqued your interest! Call a friend, and make a plan to try one of them (even if it’s just going out and eating spaghetti).


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