Mom and Dad’s Weekend Away at Giant City State Park in Southern Illinois

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After what turned out to be a really exhausting start to September, my husband and I decided a weekend away was something we desperately needed. Time away from the kids where we’re actually alone is pretty rare. Actually in the 12 years we’ve been together I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve been alone for a date. It’s our fault really, we just never take time to nurture our relationship since we’re always so focused on being parents and working. We’ve come realize just how important we are as a couple and must take time for ourselves which is why we planned a weekend at the Giant City Lodge cabins in Southern Illinois. It’s the first trip we ever took together years ago and it’s a place I spent many weekend family trips with my parents. I like to think of it as a second home.


As with any trip, there’s the good and the bad. Starting with the good … the lodge. It’s a beautiful, rustic log cabin that invites you in with a comfortable lobby, wood burning fireplace and wildlife mounted on just about every wall.┬áMy husband got us all checked in while I took in the scenery, anxious for dinner.

Giant City Lodge Fireplace and Buffalo


The Giant City Lodge also has a huge dining area. I won’t say it’s the whole reason we came here but it’s a big reason. The all-you-can-eat family-style chicken dinner is something I look forward to every time we visit. There really are no words for just how good this meal is. It comes with all the fixin’s … golden fried chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, corn, green beans, dumplings, slaw and warm biscuits. It would be embarrassing to tell you how many refills we got on the bowls, so I’ll just say we thoroughly enjoyed dinner and payed for it later with over-stuffed bellies.

Giant City Lodge Family Style Chicken Dinner


And unfortunately, this trip came with the bad. The quality of the cabins just aren’t what they use to be. Or maybe that’s the problem, they’re exactly the way the were 10 years ago and badly in need of updates, starting with the mattresses. The mattress was covered in stains, hard as a rock and probably older than I am. Knowing we wouldn’t get any sleep my husband pulled out the wall mattress (a mini bed that folds out of a closet) which proved to be just slightly more comfortable than the queen sized bed. I ended up setting up two cushioned chairs and an ottoman into a make-shift bed.

As for the rest of the cabin, it was just as I remember, filled with rustic decor and an ancient television. They might as well just pull the tv out of the cabin altogether, that thing was pathetic.

Giant City State Park Cabins


Now we had two activities planned during our trip. Saturday morning we were going to get up super early and head out to Lake Murphysboro to rent a row boat and go fishing. We enjoyed this when we did it back in 2008 so we were surprised when we got there to find out they don’t rent boats anymore. Trying not to be discouraged we drove a bit further to Kinkaid Lake where they assured us we could rent a fishing boat. Well, we did get and did rent a boat but the darn thing wouldn’t start. A half hour later we got into a different boat that was working and poor Jon, not knowing how to actually drive a little motor boat nearly crashed us into a big yacht parked into the marinara. I think the staff was worried about us.

We did manage to finally get out on the lake and get our fishing day started. Except, no fish were biting. At all! To make matters worse my fishing pole kept breaking. I got so fed up with the thing I almost threw it in the damn lake.

Kinkaid Lake Boating

The rest of the day we were suppose to go hiking but after one bad night in the cabin and a bad morning on the lake we just decided it was time to go home. Some things just aren’t meant to be and this trip was one of them. But it’s okay, the trip may have not gone as planned but the time alone was good for us, filled with some great foods, some laughs and lots of hand holding. Next time I think we’ll just stick with bowling and dinner at home.

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  1. says

    I’m sorry it didn’t go as we’ll as you had hoped! I can count on one hand the times we have been alone as well.

    • says

      Nothing ever does but just having any alone time is better than none. It made me realize how we need to try harder to make time for it.

  2. Paula says

    I was wondering what made it a bad weekend when you said something on facebook. Hugs! You could have been using sleeping in the 30 degree weather in a TENT!

    • says

      Yeah I wouldn’t trade you on that one. It was actually a warmer down there, when we got back home it was freaking cold.

  3. says

    what a bummer. I know you needed time away and it sucks it wasn’t more enjoyable. I hate when places don’t update with the times. I get that it was a cabin but if you wanted to really “rough it” then you could’ve pitched a tent at a real campsite.

  4. says

    Atleast you had a TV. Ill tell you, i still laugh my ass off….a few years ago, well more than a few, probably 10, chris and i went to KOA cabins and it said TV…no TV. We are talking bare bones. Apparently it said “TV HOOKUP”. I was so pissed at chris that I made him act out scenes of Law and Order.


    • says

      Now THAT is funny. I could have done without the tv altogether. We ended up trying to walk off dinner rather than figure out that television. It had some kind of satellite hookup with 50 home shopping channels.

  5. says

    Well that food looked great! Old-fashioned home cooking that sticks to your ribs.

    I’m sorry it didn’t go better but I think the fact that you went is a huge step and hopefully the first of many weekends for you two.

  6. says

    Aw, I’m sorry to hear your trip to the cabin wasn’t what you guys were expecting-Life happens that way and you just have to roll with the “bad mattresses” and “Non-biting fish.” It’s nice you guys took advantage of the alone time and just generally tried to make the best of the situation :)