Column: Gus Bode’s top ten hangouts in and around Carbondale

By Farrah Blaydes and Gus Bode, Staff Reporters

Week three and we’re already burnt out at the Daily Egyptian, so here’s where we’re ready to go to decompress.

1. Lake Kinkaid Spillway, 30-minute drive from campus

The spillway is a tranquil getaway for students who are interested in exploring nature.


The spillway ends at a tiny lake where students could go kayaking, canoeing, and swimming, but that’s just the start of your light hike to the top.

For students that hate hiking, a “light hike” refers to a 10-minute walk [tops] up the gentle waterfall, or alongside it if you’re trying to stay dry. Though if that’s your intent at the spillway, maybe this isn’t your trail.

At the top of the spillway is a large swimming area for Lake Kinkaid, but be ready – in the water lies a lot of sharp and jagged rocks, as well as entangling algae.

2. Giant City state park, ten-minute drive from campus

Giant City State Park is a whimsical area for hiking with friends or by yourself, with trails ranging from a half-mile to 12 miles.

In Autumn, the leaves fall, turning bright hues of red and orange. The park scenery is like an enchanted forest you read about in fairytales. But if you find a house made of candy, run.

Giant City also has an indoor lodge with scrumptious fried chicken. What sets this chicken apart is the endless supply. The staff will continuously bring fried chicken to your table until you leave, or you enter a coma.


3. Blend Tea and Crepe Lounge, 15-minute walk from West Campus

Blend Tea and Crepe Lounge is a convenient place to study and get fruit or milk tea. You can order regular tea, but plenty of other places serve that.

The more interesting alternative is bubble tea, which has small tapioca balls that add pizzazz to your drink.

Even if you don’t like tea, there’s still the crepes. Normally crepes are flatter than a pancake. But Blend takes it to a “diabetical” level by wrapping them in a cone shape and filling it with the ice-cream of your choice.

Outside their lounge there is an inviting patio area decorated with black furniture and string lights dangling from the overhang and surrounding trees. Luckily the Underground bar is never too loud to let you unwind.

Inside there’s room to study, relax or chill with plush couches and many tables for groups.

4. Longbranch Cafe, eight-minute drive from West Campus

Longbranch Cafe is one of the only restaurants in Carbondale where the entire menu is vegetarian-friendly.

A little pricey the plant-based menu has a lot of tasty options.

This is a double-edged sword- if you’re looking for meat as your protein, look elsewhere. The calzone isn’t filled with pepperoni, but rather spinach and other veggies.

The restaurant hosts community events such as Big Muddy Film Festival and art shows, so if you’re looking to see events with your food, this is a solid choice.

5. Little Grassy Lake, 15-minute drive from campus  

One of the more popular getaways for students, Little Grassy Lake has boat rentals that cost $20 for a couple of hours.

The grass isn’t actually in the lake, so you might be put off by the misleading advertising.

6. Garden of the Gods, 1-hour and 20-minute drive from campus (Or a 19-hour and 27-minute walk, if you’re into that)  

If you need to get away from Carbondale entirely, Garden of the Gods is beautiful year round. with great hiking trails and campgrounds comparable to Colorado’s mountains.

The trail really lives up to its name with impressive views and a nice lodging area, but you won’t get to meet any of the gods themselves.

7. Common Grounds, six-minute drive from West Campus (20-minute walk)

Common Grounds coffee is a great, quiet getaway for those looking to study in a small, cozy cafe.

The coffee shop has caffeinated and non-caffeinated drinks along with baked goods. We’re talking, baked really goods.

This place attracts hipsters from near and far, so if you’re wearing plaid or an inspirational tee you’ve found your new home.

(Editor’s Note: For those who aren’t hipster the coffee shop is still worth the drive.)

8. Hangar 9, six-minute drive from West Campus (20-minute walk)

Hangar is a cool hangout with low lighting and good vibes. The bar is great for students who like alternative music, cheap drinks and not being able to hear the person next to you.

Tuesday night karaoke is a popular event at Hangar 9, drawing students from all majors and different areas of interest, tone-deaf or not.

9. Bluesky Winery, a 27-minute drive from campus

Bluesky winery is a chic hangout for students above and below the legal drinking age.

The winery has a personal pond and a beautiful mini-waterfall nearby. If you’re 21 you can sip wine and pretend you’re on a vineyard in Tuscany, Italy. Or, just pretend you don’t have a paper due tomorrow.

The winery offers live music on the weekends and is family friendly.

10. Morris Library

Who doesn’t like this booming building? Six floors of pure party, Club Morris is state of the art, equipped with smart boards and fancy desks with built-in phone chargers.

It’s the best hangout because you can chill with your friends you don’t want to talk to and not feel bad because at least you’re in the library.

Beware of the “quiet floors”, one sound of laughter and you’ll be getting stares from everyone within earshot.

(See more: Gus Bode’s top ten ways to survive the residence halls)

Staff reporter Farrah Blaydes can be reached at or on Twitter at @Farrah_Blaydes.

Staff funny-guy Gus Bode can be reached at [email protected].

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