Chicago is the Midwest’s most populous city, but Illinois is full of opportunities to get away from it all with a special someone. Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois is a broad swath of wilderness in a region filled with farmland. The park protects around 280,000 acres and of hardwood trees and many species of plants and animals. There are a number of natural features that draw visitors to Shawnee National Forest, including the Little Grand Canyon where running water has carved out a huge chasm over 200 feet deep. The canyon leads down to the Big Muddy River, which is excellent for rafting and fishing. Hikers can enjoy 400 miles of trails and Illinois’ highest waterfall, as well as the “Garden of the Gods,” a collection of incredible rock formations that jut out of the dense forest surrounding. With much to see, we recommend an overnight stay in picturesque environs. Check out our list of romantic accommodations and book a cozy tree house or luxury log cabin near Shawnee National Forest.