Monday, October 28, 2013

Lake Shelbyville - Family Camping Trip

A week long camping trip to Lake Shelbyville over July 4th holiday was a blast. It was the first time I went tent camping in my adult life. At first I wasn't sure how I was going to like it, the whole idea of sleeping in the tent with tons of bugs wasn't super appealing, but I decided I can do it, and we booked the campsite for a whole week. After that we booked the pontoon boat for 5 days, and it all started coming together very nicely. I started to get very excited about it, making plans, lists, menus... I love to plan things. We decided to make it into a family vacation, with both parents and few of my siblings.

Shelbyville is located in central Illinois, about 4 hour drive (south on Hwy 57) from Chicago, near Decatur. Tiny little town nestled between the farmland and 26 mile long man-engineered lake. Tons of different campgrounds around, few marinas where you can rent a boat, and Walmart. As much as I don't like Walmarts, it actually came very handy, picking up last minute needed food, extra sleeping bag or poison ivy potion... yup...

We picked Coon Creek Campground, Tim and his family used to camp there back in the days, and we decided to go to the same place. I reserved a buddy site, large enough to accommodate all of us - one RV, four tenets, 2 screen tents and we still had some grass left to set up washers game. Site 106, with flush restrooms right across the street - perfect! The site was perfectly located in the woods, so the privacy was not an issue. Below is the panoramic photo of our set up. Couldn't have asked for more perfect spot in the whole campground!

First few days of our stay were little cloudy, rainy and cooler. Sleeping in the tent while it was raining wasn't too much fun. I have a hard time sleeping in general, so imagine the noise of the rain drops on the tent... did not help at all... Red wine, my friend, helped!!!

 [The whole camping crew - 1st Annual Family Camping Trip, Lake Shelbyville, July 2103]

We didn't get to use our boat as much as we wanted to due to the weather, but we managed to get on the water every day between the rain storms, and the guys took advantage of the weather and spend some time fishing. Even the cloudy/cooler weather was fun to hang out on the boat, drinking wine and enjoy the quiet.

Around Wednesday the sun was shining and temperature started raising up. We packed up the boat and spend next 2 days on the lake. Lake Shalbyville is amazing. Even though it was July 4th weekend, and a tons of people on the lake, we were able to find a quiet cove, and spend all the time we wanted in it, with no one else around. The lake is huge, and definitely enough room for everyone to spread around.

Well, one thing for sure - we are doing it again over July 4th holiday in 2014. Two things I'd change - not to bring so much food, that I could feed the small army of french soldiers. Maybe get a small camper, you, know a travel trailer that we can pull behind a truck... r-pod would totally do. But I guess I have to just settle for a larger tent for now... one can dream! everything else was nearly perfect!


  1. Where did you rent your pontoon boat from? And do you recall the rates?
    Also, Did you have a view of the lake from your site, if not, how far was the lake from your site?
    .... Was your site a double or single site? and was there a firepit and grill at your site?
    I'm also booking a stay at cook creek for this fourth of july!

    Thanks, Michelle.

    1. Hi Michelle, we rented the pontoon boat from the Lithia Springs Marina, it's about 30 min drive from Coon Creek, one way. Boat must be stored overnight at the marina, so every evening someone would take the boat back to dock it, and drove 30 min to the campground. Same every morning. Not super convenient. But we didn't have that many options. I believe 5 day rental was around $900, plus security deposit (holidays and weekends are higher). They have a website, so check the rates there. We did not have a lake view from the campsite. It was nestled in the woods, 10 min walk to the lake/pier, where the boat would pick us up. It's not ideal. But it worked for us. Our site was a buddy site, for a larger group. There are quite of few areas in coon creek where you can set up for larger groups. All sites have fire pits with grilling racks.

  2. I'm not sure whether or not my comment went through last week, but would you be interested in letting Lake Shelbyville use some of your photos for our 2016 Lake Shelbyville Visitor Guide? They are excellent! Please contact or if you are interested! Thanks!

    1. Hello Sarah, thank you for your interest. I responded via email, I would be more than happy to supply some of my images to Lake Shelbyville Visitor Guide.


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