Carbondale (Illinois)

Pulliam Hall on the SIU Campus

Carbondale, Illinois is a small city of about 27,000 in southern Illinois about 14 miles east of the Mississippi River at roughly the southern edge of the plains, and the northern limit of the Shawnee hills. The surrounding area boasts some pleasant countryside, particularly in the Shawnee National Forest preserve.

The town itself serves as the site of the main campus of Southern Illinois University.

Get in

By train

Carbondale is served daily by Amtrak's The Saluki, Ilini, and City of New Orleans trains to and from Chicago (with intermediate stops e.g. at Champaign-Urbana), and New Orleans (stops in Memphis and others).

The Saluki train departs Chicago at 9:15AM and greets Carbondale at 2:45PM (on the reverse it leaves Carbondale at 7:30AM and arrives to Chicago at 1PM). Illini train usually departs in the afternoon around 4PM and arrives at 9:30 (same on reverse), but the New Orleans southbound to Memphis and New Orleans (leaves Chicago at 8PM) doesn't arrive until 1:20AM, and the northbound to Chicago doesn't arrive until 3:10AM (arrives Chicago 9AM)

By bus

Map of Carbondale and vicinity

Greyhound has a station across the street from the train station. Amtrak also runs a regular express bus to St. Louis Mo. which leaves from the train station itself at (ugh) 4AM.

By car

Carbondale sits at the crossroads of Illinois highway 13, and U.S. route 51. Most visitors who drive in will arrive via IL 13 from Marion, where it intersects with Interstate Highway 57. Another much more scenic option for those driving from St. Louis, Missouri is to take IL 3 South to IL 149 East, which intersects with IL 13 in Murphysboro (look for an exit just on the Illinois side of the Poplar Street bridge.) Highlights include the picturesque Mississippi river town of Chester, Illinois and the many bluffs which offer fantastic views of the river.

By plane

Lambert Field in St. Louis (airport code: STL) is the closest major airport, with flights to and from most destinations in the U.S. and a few international destinations. From there BART Airport Shuttle, +1-800-284-2278, provides door-to-door service to Carbondale, and other destinations in Southern and Central Illinois for around $50. Call for a quote.

Flights to and from St. Louis arrive/depart at Williamson County Airport (airport code: MWA) (four flights daily, each way), which is also served by BART.

Get around

On foot

Map of Carbondale

Most of what's interesting in Carbondale itself is within walking distance of the center of town (Main and Illinois), at least for most fit travelers. Generally however, sidewalks are most reliably available and intact within the center city between Oakland Avenue on the west and Wall Street on the East, including the SIU campus of course, which with its many well-tended and winding paths, grassy knolls, several woods, and a lake is an urban hiker's bonanza.

By bus

By taxi

By car

Driving in Carbondale is pretty straightforward, with only a couple of instances of one-way streets (Main St. West-bound, Walnut St. East-bound, Illinois Ave. North-bound, and University Ave. South-bound).

The biggest hassle for drivers is the difficulty of parking anywhere near the SIU campus when classes are in session. Most spaces on campus require a special sticker which are available to older students or to staff or faculty. A few spaces are reserved strictly for visitors, however the best advice is probably not to bother, since there are ample parking spaces a few blocks away in town, and the walk is generally quite pleasant.

By bike

There are bicycle lanes on many of the bigger streets throughout town, and the smaller streets are generally quiet enough that even the least experienced urban cyclist should feel completely safe. The latter is especially true in the western (mostly faculty inhabited) parts of town.

If you feel like taking a longer ride there are ample opportunities around Carbondale, especially to the east and west. Try riding Grand Avenue toward Crab-Orchard lake (take a little jog to the right at Giant City Road). Illinois Highway 13 leading west from Carbondale to the neighboring city of Murphysboro is surprisingly bicycle friendly: the shoulder is paved and the width of a full traffic lane. The whole trip center-to-center is about 7 miles, but with the growth of the incorporated parts of the two towns it's only about 1½ miles between the two city limits.


Altgeld Hall on the SIU campus

It should be noted that the City of Carbondale prohibits cyclists on city sidewalks.






Most Carbondale hotels are on Main Street (Illinois Highway 13) at either the extreme East or West edges of town. This doesn't make for the easiest stumble home from say, South Illinois Avenue, but there's always the cab company.

Go next

Routes through Carbondale

Champaign Centralia  N  S  Memphis Jackson
Champaign Centralia  N  S  END
Decatur Centralia ← Jct W E  N  S  Makanda Memphis

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, February 28, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.