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There's always time to relax and reconnect with family and friends, and our local park systems offer all you'll need. Our communities offer a wide variety of parks to meet your recreational needs.

Fox Ridge State Park
8 Miles south of Charleston on Ill. Highway 130 

With miles of rugged, scenic hiking trails, playgrounds, picnic shelters, fishing, hunting and camping, Fox Ridge State Park is the perfect place to get back to nature.

Douglas-Hart Nature Center
Helen Douglas-Hart had a dream of developing a natural area that would reflect the native habitats of East Central Illinois. Her dream became a reality in the late 1960s by planting a 33-acre nature preserve. Today, the Douglas-Hart Nature Center features more than 70 acres of prairie, wetland, and forest habitat. Also, it provides the people of the surrounding communities the unique opportunity to learn about and discover the wonders of nature.

Lincoln Prairie Grass Trail
Whether you want to quietly pedal or jog briskly, the Lincoln Prairie Grass Trail is an excellent place to experience sights between Mattoon and Charleston. With 12 miles of paved surface for walking, equestrian riding and biking. This was a "rails-to-trails" project, in which railroad tracks were removed and the trail was constructed.

Lytle Park
Lytle Park, located on the West side of Mattoon, IL has been serving the recreational needs of our residents since 1914. There are many opportunities to enjoy nature, fitness, play, relaxation and recreation. Come visit us. Operated by Mattoon Township Park District, formed in 1912, we take pride in maintaining Lytle Park as a clean and safe environment to enjoy the outdoors.

Charleston Parks and Recreation Department
Fifteen parks offer a variety of recreational areas and activities including swimming, tennis, skateboarding, playground, picnic shelters, amphitheater, ball fields and walking trails. 

The City of Mattoon offers many parks and outdoor spaces for entertainment and recreation including Peterson Park and Lawson Park. Groomed baseball and softball fields, soccer and football fields and tennis and skateboard parks are featured in the park system.

There are a few privately owned parks and recreation spots including Lytle Park with an outstanding public pool and tennis courts, Friendship Park for enjoying nature, and the Douglas-Hart Nature center with wildlife displays and walking trails.

Warbler Ridge Conservation Area
Grand Prairie Friends is a volunteer-led, not-for-profit, conservation organization and land trust composed of people from many walks of life who share a commitment to preserve and restore tallgrass prairie and woodlands in east-central Illinois. The area features 1000 acres and 10 miles of hiking trails through upland forests with deep ravines and floodplain areas that follow the Embarrass River. There are three trailhead access points at Warlber Ridge.


Lake Charleston
1 Mile south of Charleston on Ill. Highway 130 Covering 440 acres, Lake Charleston has a fishing pier and gazebo, docks, small craft boating, kayaking, playground and pavilions.
 Hiking and mountain bike trails encompass the lake with a paved, flat section on the east side of the lake. There are 3 access points to the trails at Sister City Park, Woodyard Conservation Area and at the lake. Recent upgrades to the lake area have made this a popular spot for locals and travelers.

The City of Mattoon owns two lakes located in the south west corner of Coles County extending into the counties of Shelby and Cumberland.
 Lake Paradise: Boats are allowed on Paradise, but is a "No Wake" lake with no skiing, swimming, knee boarding, tubing, etc.

Lake Mattoon: This has become a popular recreational site for camping, fishing and boating. Boating and fishing are available almost year round. 

Lake Shelbyville is the second largest man-made lake in Illinois and is home to cabin cruises, float boats, ski boats and fishing boats. It features several beaches and large playground equipment, fishing tournaments, camping and hiking. It is operated by the US Corps of Engineers for water conservation purposes, but the entire community enjoys the beauty of the area and memories made while there. A large Welcome Center is located near the Dam.


Rotary Community Aquatic Center
With an Olympic-sized pool, zero-entry pool with large splash toys, a 121-foot waterslide, diving boards, large umbrellas, deck chairs and concessions, there is fun in the sun for everyone!

Lytle Park Pool
Originally built following WWII, Lytle Park is a beautifully manicured township park nestled on the west side of the city. It features a large zero-entry pool with slides, umbrellas and plenty of fun for everyone. The park features tennis courts and free family-friendly summer “walk-in” movies.

Private Clubs

Charleston and Mattoon both boast lovely country clubs with 18-hole golf courses, pools and club houses for dining.