Choose Charleston

Lincoln Sculpture
Lincoln Douglas Debate Museum

Choose Charleston
         For outdoor recreation- Lake Charleston offers over 9 miles of trails, fishing, birdwatching, picnicking, kayak rentals, and more. Connecting Charleston and Mattoon, the Lincoln Prairie Grass Trail provides 12 miles of paved surface for bikers, walkers, and joggers with a comfort station midway on the trail. Fox Ridge State Park, 3 miles south of Charleston, sits on over 2,000 acres of timberland and prairie, with miles of trails to hike, Embarras River access, fishing, picnicking and camping.  Charleston has numerous city parks and outdoor sports complexes, from baseball to soccer. Did you know Charleston is the Butterfly Capital of Illinois? Visit over 20 butterfly hotspots, more information at

Choose Charleston for shopping- Shop our historic downtown square for unique products, local antique shops for those hidden treasures, and charming gift shops for the perfect gift. Charleston is home to the original Jimmy Johns sandwich shop, visit store #1 for a sandwich and check out the memorabilia from the first shop.

Choose Charleston for arts and culture- Experience the music of local performers or a play by local actors in the Daum Amphitheater at Kiwanis Park. Enjoy an art exhibition at the Tarble Arts Center, or a world-class symphony or jazz ensemble at the Doudna Fine Arts Center, both on the campus of Eastern Illinois University.  

Choose Charleston for Lincoln history- Visit the Lincoln Douglas Debate Museum commemorating one of the seven debates between Senator Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln and built at the very site of the 1858 debate. Learn about Lincoln’s family ties to Charleston by visiting Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, the last farm of his father and stepmother, Thomas and Sarah. Get your National Parks Passport stamped while at Lincoln Log Cabin since Charleston is within the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, a National Park Service initiative. Stop by the Moore Home to see the location where Abraham said goodbye to his beloved stepmother before assuming the presidency in Washington.  Read the historical markers on the square telling the 19th- century story of the Charleston Riot and the historic courthouse. Download the Discover Downstate Illinois app to access a Lincoln Sites tour, or access via the web here

For for a hard copy of the Visitor Guide, send a mailing address to  or call (217) 348-0430.