A Walk in the Park

Capaha Park in Cape GirardeauAs onion sprouts start to pop up, clouds begin to clear, and garden sections open in stores, spring is teasing us with promises of warm weather. Soon the last of winter will fade, and there is no better place to enjoy it than our local area, laden with parks, where there are so many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with all those we love - family, friends and furry companions.


The state parks in the area offer many natural escapes from everyday life. A simple hike through Trail of Tears State Park will put you up close to not only the plants and woodland animals that are native to the area, but also to the history of the Cherokee Indians that were marched amid treacherous conditions through the region. Stop by the visitor's center to learn more about the voyage, and pick up a book to read more. If you’re in Illinois the Giant City State Park is located just outside of Carbondale, and will be sure to please any outdoor-lover with its tall sandstones, and wilderness trails. Giant City is just one of the many offerings from the Shawnee State Park and allows rock climbing, and rappelling for those hard-core explorers.    

For Fido and his furry friends, you can make a trip to the dog park. The large Kiwanis Park in Cape Girardeau has a special section called Dog Town, one acre of puppy-loving fun that includes a tunnel, dog water fountain, fire hydrant, picnic tables and pooch disposal containers. Also keep an eye out for their annual Bark in the Park carnival. If you’re in the SOIL area the Friends of Murphysboro Dog Park is the place to be, they host events all year long, including a Dog Day 5K.

Of course, if you’re wanting to cool off, water parks are the way to go (though it may be a bit early to swim, now is the time to be thinking of a season pass). Cape Splash has something for everyone, kids who want to run through the water playground, or adults who just want to relax on the lazy river. The Farmington Water Park has a similar set-up, with the added bonus of an adjacent indoor pool for those not-so-sunny days. Both water parks host a dog day, where visitors can bring their four-legged swimmers to cool off and join in the pool fun. Season passes are on sale at Cape now and beginning April 1 in Farmington.

This year several new parks in the area will be sure to excite the little ones. There will be a new playground at the soccer park in Jackson, MO where kids can have some down time between practice. The new playset will have a rock climbing wall, and climbing nets as a bonus to the traditional slide and monkey bars. A much bigger project is underway in Cape Girardeau; Capaha Park has been taunting us all winter with construction of a new playground. Plastic evergreens peek up over the construction wall, and a beautiful new pavilion promises plenty of fun this summer. And that’s just the beginning, Capaha will be adding new trails, extra parking, outdoor art, a spray/splash pad, and several other improvements that will bring fun for everybody.

Whether it’s a quiet Sunday afternoon with the kids at the local playground, or an overnight campout full of hiking, our region has every opportunity for a fun and eventful summer time. Shed those winter layers, soak up some of that vitamin D, and enjoy all the great outdoors the area has to offer.

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