What to Do This Weekend: Spot Birds of Prey in Chester, Illinois
Fancy fliers: They’re everywhere right about now
Oh, Say Can You See
If it’s early February, which it will be this weekend, it must be bald eagle-spotting time in Southern Illinois. In January, the region boasts one of the largest populations of the majestic creatures in the continental U.S. This weekend, you can join naturalists in spotting the national bird on short guided walks starting at the Kaskaskia Lock and Dam in Chester, Illinois. The spot is home to eagles roosting near the confluence of the Mississippi and Kaskaskia Rivers and a top feeding ground, where the birds stock up before beginning their annual migration to Canada.
GO Chester, Illinois. For information, call 618-566-4451 or go to thetourismbureau.org
While you’re in the area: Consider exploring a mini-wine trail among the dozen or so family-owned wineries nearby. Among the possibilities:
- Kite Hill Vineyards and Winery (83 Kite Hill Rd., Carbondale, 618-684-5072, kitehillvineyards.com) makes a tawny port and three types of Chambourcin—a full-bodied red, a reserve, and a white—among other varietals.
- The Pomona Winery (2865 Hickory Ridge Rd., 618-893-2623, shawneewinetrail.com/pomona-winery) is known for table and dessert wines made from fruit other than grapes.
- The Von Jakob Winery and Brewery (230 Illinois Hwy. 127 N., Alto Pass, 618-893-4600, vonjakobvineyard.com) offers eight micro-brews and 20 wines.
Where to Stay: Kite Hill Vineyards (see above) has two guest rooms nestled alongside a five-acre lake and offers guests free wine tastings; rooms are $125 per night. The Train Inn (406 Stoker St., Carbondale, 618-549-1717, train-inn.com) has four guest rooms and is located near wealth of Southern Illinois attractions including the Southern Illinois Artisans Shop and Gallery and the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail); rates range from $99 to $150 per night.
Where to Eat: The Global Gourmet (102 E. Jackson St., Carbondale, 618-549-0771) offers a seasonal menu, in small and large portions, with vegetarian options. The Longbranch Coffeehouse and Vegetarian Café (100 E. Jackson St., Carbondale, 618-529-4488, lbchouse.com) has omelets, pizza, sandwiches, and soups.
Photograph: Courtesy of the Illinois Department of Tourism