With 13 beautiful parks encompassing over 175 acres of ground and several gorgeous state parks in the surrounding area, there is a lot to love for outdoor enthusiasts in Granite City. The largest park in the District, Wilson Park comprises some 74 acres and a wide variety of recreational activities. Over 1,000 native and rare trees accent the parks many amenities, from our formal gardens that include a rotating variety of plants and flowers, a fountain and gazebo to our peaceful nature trail. Spread among the 13 parks, our Park District offers an abundance of sports & recreation facilities, including:
• 16 baseball/softball/T-ball fields (5 lighted)
• 6 lighted tennis courts
• 3 1/2 outdoor basketball courts (1 lighted)
• 2 indoor basketball/volleyball courts
• 1 outdoor football complex with a concession stand
• 3 soccer fields (7 additional soccer fields are operated by the Granite City Soccer Association)
• 12 picnic shelters
• 6 concession stands
• 10 playgrounds
• 2 gazebos
• A swimming complex/aquatic center (features a water slide and wading pool)
• 1.4 mile fitness trail
• An indoor ice rink with a concession stand and warming area
• An outdoor centennial pavilion and stage
• Formal gardens
• Granite City Veterans' Memorial
• 2 fountains
• Flags of Nations display
• Numerous open play areas and picnic tables
The Granite City Park District plans a comprehensive program of year-round sports, recreation, and special events. Included are:
• Boys baseball and girls softball schools & leagues
• Adult softball leagues
• Tennis lessons for all ages
• Aerobics and step aerobics for adults
• Country line dancing
• Flag football
• Golf lessons
• Youth ice hockey leagues
• Ice hockey training camp (youth)
• Instructional basketball leagues (2nd grade)
• Skating and figure skating lessons
• Band concerts
• Dances for seniors
• Dance classes (including ballet, tap and jazz classes)
• Cheerleading/pom pon classes
• Gymnastics for kids (ranging from beginner to advanced)
• Co-ed volleyball leagues
• Seasonal parties (e.g. Halloween Party, Talk to Santa, Easter Egg Hunt)
• Swimming lessons
• Youth basketball leagues (3rd-6th grade)
• Men’s ice hockey league
• Patriots in the park
• And much more…
External to our Park District, the area is also served by several other private and non -profit organizations which provide Granite City residents with even further recreational opportunities. The Granite City Soccer Association, for instance offers youth and adult soccer leagues which play at their 25 acre outdoor soccer complex on Rt. 3. They also make use of an indoor soccer facility located about ten minutes away in Pontoon Beach. Additional youth baseball and basketball leagues are available through the Mitchell Athletic Association.
For additional swimming options, residents can also opt for a membership to Paddlers, a private outdoor swimming facility. Granite also has two golf courses, The Legacy and River’s Edge, and there is another course just east of the City in Arlington Heights and two more in Edwardsville. The Legacy Golf Course is a wonderful 18-hole course with such amenities as a pro shop, restaurant, and driving range. River’s Edge is a 9-hole course located at the Tri-City Port Facility with the downtown St. Louis skyline as a backdrop and the river is just a few hundred yards away. Arlington is a 6,947 yard championship course which features a restaurant, shop, and driving range.
For those who would like to come indoors, our community has and is surrounded by several recreation opportunities, including Stopkotte’s Skating Rink, Funtown USA roller skating rink, and the YMCA, just to name a few. Being centrally located, there is also a plethora of fun things to do in the surrounding St. Louis area.
Granite City residents also often frequent St. Louis’ Forest Park, which is one of the nation’s largest metropolitan parks, covering almost 1,300 acres — more than 500 acres larger than New York’s Central Park — that house some of St. Louis’ premier attractions, including the Saint Louis Zoo, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, Boathouse, The Great Forest Park Balloon Race, Steinberg Skating Rink, the Saint Louis Science Center, the Jewel Box, the Muny, two golf courses, tennis courts, a six-mile running/biking trail, dozens of ball fields, and much more. Forest Park is also the site of the starting point for an annual balloon race.
State & National ParksThe area surrounding our community is rich with outdoor state park recreation facilities.
Horseshoe Lake State ParkHorseshoe Lake State Park, which is shared between Granite City, Pontoon Beach and Madison is a 2,960 acre state park with a 1,200 acre U-shaped lake. It offers 48 tent and trailer camp sites, fishing and boating including a boat ramp and boat rental, picnicking and playgrounds. The park is also popular with birdwatchers, as over 55 different species of bird have been spotted along the lake’s banks.
Pere Marquette State ParkJust a few miles north of the City, in the Alton, Illinois area lies Pere Marquette State Park. This is an 8,050 acre park full of rolling hills, gorgeous trees of seemingly every variety, and is a popular spot for avid eagle watchers. At Pere Marquette, families can partake in horseback riding, hiking, biking, boating, fishing, swimming and camping. The park is most famous for its thousands of beautifully colored trees each autumn and draws thousands of people from miles away every year. After admiring the trees and playing in the leaves, families can kick up their feet at the 72 room lodge which has a 150 seat dining facility, a beamed great room with an immaculate stone fireplace and the largest chess set in Southwestern Illinois with 3 ½ foot tall pieces. The facility also features an indoor swimming pool.
The Cahokia MoundsHistorical Preservation Site contains the remnants of the largest pre-historic Indian city north of Mexico. The City was the religious, political and economic hub of the Cahokia Indians, who lived in the area between 700 and 1400 A.D. The preservation area is a 2,200 acre tract of land and contains an interpretive center, where families can examine archeological artifacts from the Indians and see what life might have been like to be a Cahokian Indian more than 600 years ago. Guided tours are also offered of the entire campus, which contains more than 100 different ancient mounds for families to explore.
About an hour to the east of Granite City lies mammoth Carlyle Lake, which is 18 miles long and covers 26,000 acres, with 11,000 acres of public land surrounding it. Three thousand-acre Eldon Hazlet State Park stands on the western shore of Carlyle Lake. It features 328 camp sites accommodating trailers and a walk-in area containing 36 tent camping sites. There's also a group camping area. Carlyle Lake, itself, offers power and sail boating, fishing, and the full roster of water sports. The lake has several marinas, a sailboat harbor, and four large sand beaches for swimming.
One of the gems of Southern Illinois, Shawnee National Forest is located about two and a half hours from Granite City. The recreational options are nearly endless at this glorious preservation area. Whether your preference is for hiking and exploring, camping, fishing, spelunking, rock repelling, or hunting, the Shawnee National Forest has it all.
Shawnee National Forest
The Forest also has significant, yet tragic historical significance, in that it covers a portion of the area where the Cherokee Nation people were forcibly marched to western reservations in Oklahoma during the winter of 1838-1839. The "Nunna-da-ul-tsun-yi" or "the place where they cried" became known as the Trail of Tears because many Cherokee people perished from cold, hunger, and exhaustion during the journey. It is now designated as a National Historic Trail and extends across the Shawnee National Forest from the Ohio River to the Mississippi River.
Nearly equidistant as the Shawnee National Forest, Rend Lakeis an 18,000 acre reservoir built by the Army Corp of Engineers. The lake, with its marinas, boating, water-skiing, camping, hiking trails, fishing, hunting and golf has become a weekend getaway hotspot in Southern Illinois.
The parks in Illinois are just half of what the region has to offer. In Missouri, there are a multitude of parks, many of which offer a different variety of activity. With the Black River, where you can go canoeing, kayaking and whitewater rafting, the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, or one of dozens of other state parks (including the Ozarks a few hours drive to the west) outdoor enthusiasts can partake in virtually any outdoor activity imaginable, and it is available to them only a short drive away from Granite City.
Missouri State Parks
To learn more about all the Illinois and Missouri state parks have to offer, visit the following websites:
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Missouri Department of Natural Resources