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10 cozy cabins that are perfect for a getaway

Choose from cabins, cottages, and even luxurious glamping sites at Big Cedar Lodge in southwest Missouri. Photo courtesy Big Cedar Lodge

It’s the sounds you notice first on a cabin getaway. The creaking of the screen door. The rustle of the wind through the leaves. The croak of frogs and the mesmerizing song of the cicadas. The muffled thud of boots on a trail. And the silence.

Across the region, you can find many such places where you can settle in to the peaceful, easy pace of cabin life. Tucked into forests, overlooking lakes, and hugging mountainsides, abundant options ranging from simple to luxurious await. Amenities vary, but most have fireplaces or firepits to gather around when temperatures drop.

Near your cabin, you can often hike, paddle, bike, and take in splendid views. But don’t forget to simply sit on the porch and enjoy the stillness. Step away from your everyday routines for a getaway in these 10 cozy cabins throughout the Midwest and South.

Jump to cabins in: ArkansasIllinoisIndianaLouisianaMissouri

1. Camp Long Creek

Ridgedale, Missouri

Big Cedar Lodge accomodations

In the Camp Long Creek area at Big Cedar Lodge, some of the cabins might be simple, but they exude cozy comfort and luxury. Photo courtesy Big Cedar Lodge

As the sun began to sink below the Ozark Mountains across an arm of Table Rock Lake, a lone bagpiper launched into a sonorous melody that signaled the end of another day at Big Cedar Lodge.

The nightly sunset ritual is offered year-round (weather permitting) at the resort’s Top of the Rock Ozark Heritage Preserve and concludes with the firing of a Civil War–era cannon at the very moment that the last sliver of light disappears below the horizon. As wilderness resorts go, it doesn’t get any better than Big Cedar, and this ceremony is just one of the many reasons why.

While Big Cedar has 3 lodges and scores of cabins and cottages, my wife and I opted to stay at the resort’s Camp Long Creek, which opened in 2019 and is continuing to grow. Located about 4 miles west of the main campus, the camp-inspired destination features small camp huts, cabins, and luxurious glamping tents. With vintage camp decor, simple shiplap walls, and exposed wood beams, our 1-room cabin exuded rustic yet stylish comfort.

Many of the camp’s accommodations overlook the lake, and you can take advantage of a marina, a zero-entry infinity pool, and a canteen located in a vintage Airstream trailer that’s open for breakfast and lunch seasonally. Cabin rates start at $231.

Getting to Big Cedar’s restaurants and attractions is easy using an app-based shuttle system. Enter your destination and the size of your party, and it alerts you to when the shuttle will arrive. You can even track the shuttle’s progress on a small map. We used it several times to visit Top of the Rock, where we enjoyed drinks on the stone patio outside the Buffalo Bar after dining on steak and scallops at the upscale Osage Restaurant—both of which offer outstanding lake views.

Set in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, Big Cedar celebrates its surroundings with several experiences. At Top of the Rock, we boarded an electric cart to follow the 2.5-mile Lost Canyon and Nature Trail through the forest, near stunning rock formations and waterfalls, and into a cave. We paused often to take in dramatic vistas. Adult tickets start at $32.50 and include admission to the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum on-site.

We also drove about 16 miles west of the resort to explore the 10,000-acre Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, which features tours by tram, bicycle, horseback, and foot. There’s also a restaurant, a treehouse built by Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters, and a nature center. Adult admission starts at $15; tours are additional.

You may also like: 10 refreshing swimming holes in the Midwest and South

2. Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park

Middle Brook, Missouri

Couple eating at a picnic table outside a cabin

Settle into simple camper cabins at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park for a rustic experience. Photo courtesy Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Of Missouri’s 92 state parks and historical sites, 16 offer lodging, ranging from modern hotel rooms to rustic cabin outposts, including Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park in the state’s southeast corner.

Choose from 6 no-frills cabins equipped with electricity, heating, and air-conditioning but no running water or restrooms; a restroom facility with showers is nearby. Each cabin has a grill, a compact refrigerator, and a microwave, as well as a queen-size bed and a sofa. Rates start at $75.

With the cabins as your base, explore the park’s ancient splendors, including the dramatic Shut-Ins area where the East Fork of the Black River courses around boulders, through chutes, and over small waterfalls in a rocky gorge.

People flock to the area in the summer to splash in the natural water park, surrounded by the St. Francois Mountains. If you visit when temperatures discourage swimming, you can view the spectacle from a boardwalk along one of the park’s 6 trails.

You may also like: Check these Midwest adventures off your bucket list

3. Lake of the Ozarks State Park

Kaiser, Missouri

Lake of the Ozarks Outpost cabin

Outpost cabins at Lake of the Ozarks State Park provide a great base to enjoy the park’s natural wonders. Photo courtesy Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Nestled in an undeveloped cove along the shoreline of Missouri’s largest lake, Lake of the Ozarks State Park has 8 rustic Outpost cabins for campers who want an outdoor experience without pitching a tent.

On cool evenings, a wood-burning stove will take the chill out of the air, but the cabins also offer supplemental heating as well as electricity, air conditioning, a microwave, and a dorm-size refrigerator. A shower house and bathroom is nearby. Several cabins allow guests to bring dogs. Rates start at $50.

During warm weather, the park’s 2 beaches fill up with families eager to splash in the lake, and 2 marinas rent fishing boats, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards to explore the lake and its 1,100 miles of shoreline. And year-round, follow 13 trails that showcase the lake and the park’s other nature features. In the Lake of the Ozarks area, you’ll also find plenty of shopping opportunities, golf, and dining.

4. Shawnee Forest Cabins

Herod, Illinois

Shawnee Forest Cabins Treehouse cabin

Among the options at Shawnee Forest Cabins in southern Illinois is a Treehouse cabin with a hot tub accessed via a swinging bridge. Photo courtesy

The mountains and canyons of the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois are home to dozens of cabins and guesthouses that can accommodate groups of vacationers ranging from couples to large families. Boasting close proximity to the inspiring views of the Garden of the Gods Recreation Area, Shawnee Forest Cabins has 7 units, each with its own hot tub, with 2 more cabins set to be unveiled this summer.

The most popular choice on the 8-acre property is the Shawnee Forest Treehouse, which we stayed at earlier this year. While not actually suspended in trees, the cabin is encircled by them. Openings in the decking allow oaks and a sycamore to rise mere feet from the structure so that the view from the sleeping loft gives the impression of being suspended in the forest canopy.

The interior has a natural feel, with knotty pine paneling throughout, simple lights hanging from a branch in the kitchen, and a circular staircase supported by a bare tree trunk. Adding to the cabin’s appeal, a suspended bridge over a dry creek bed leads to a covered platform with a tranquil seating area and a hot tub. Cabin rates start at $159.

An outdoor lover’s paradise, the Shawnee National Forest spans 289,000 acres across southern Illinois between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Trails delve into lush canyons, trace razorback ridges, and cut through beautiful oak-hickory forests. Don’t miss the stunning sandstone cliffs and rock formations at the aptly named Garden of the Gods.

If you’d like to explore more urban delights as well, just head south about 60 miles to Paducah, Kentucky, where the walkable downtown features quaint shops, fine restaurants, and the National Quilt Museum, with a collection that appeals even to non-quilters.

You may also like: Explore arts and culture in Paducah, Kentucky

5. Woodland Cabins

Carbondale, Illinois

Woodland Cabins interior

Perfect for couples, the Woodland Cabins nestle on 44 secluded acres in the woods near Carbondale, Illinois. Photo courtesy Woodland Cabins

Located on the edge of the Shawnee National Forest about 5 miles southwest of Carbondale, the Woodland Cabins invite couples to escape to its 4 luxurious accommodations set on 44 secluded acres.

Perfect for romantic getaways, each cabin sleeps only 2 people and comes with a hot tub, a gas-log fireplace, a firepit, and a private deck with a barbecue grill. Three of the cabins offer views of the 3-acre pond, and you might spot deer, red foxes, or turkeys. Rates start at $149.

The Woodland Cabins are located along the 40-mile-long Shawnee Hills Wine Trail. Its 11 wineries include Kite Hill Vineyards in Carbondale, where a tasting room and inviting deck overlook a small lake. In addition to sampling the area’s bounty, you can golf, hike, and bike, while excellent fishing awaits in nearby lakes and state parks like Giant City State Park, so named because the sandstone formations resemble the streets of a city for giants.

You may also like: 10 top state parks in the Midwest and South

6. Patoka Lake Marina & Lodging

Birdseye, Indiana

Patoka Lake Marina & Lodging floating cabins

Gentle waves and the sound of lapping water will lull you to sleep in the floating cabins on southern Indiana’s Patoka Lake. Photo courtesy Patoka Lake Marina & Lodging

You can check in to a variety of cabins across southern Indiana, but for an out-of-the-ordinary escape, consider the floating cabins at Patoka Lake Marina & Lodging. Instead of looking out your window at a forest scene, you’ll be greeted by the beautiful 8,800-acre Patoka Lake, located just south of French Lick and West Baden Springs. Two- and 3-bedroom options are available from April through October.

Each cabin has its own deck, gas grill, kitchen, and private boat slip. You’ll be lulled to sleep by the sounds of water lapping outside the cabin and enjoy lovely views of the lake, which is surrounded by the Hoosier National Forest. Rates for 2-bedroom floating cabins start at $299.

Landlubbers can opt for cabins on the property that can accommodate as many as 12 guests. Plus, the on-site Patoka Lake Winery features suites above the tasting room and 2-story silos attached to the winery with unique round rooms.

You may also like: 10 places to savor spectacular fall foliage

7. Devil’s Den State Park

West Fork, Arkansas

Devil's Den State Park cabin

Originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the renovated cabins at Devil’s Den State Park have welcomed guests for generations. Photo courtesy Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism

Celebrating its centennial this year, the Arkansas State Park system has 12 parks with cabins, including Devil’s Den State Park in the state’s northwest corner. Becoming part of the system in the 1930s, Devil’s Den has been a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts for generations.

Many of the park’s rustic stone-and-wood structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) remain today as vestiges of its legacy, including the accommodations. Renovated in the 1960s and 1970s, the 17 cabins include kitchens, air-conditioning, and heating, and they range from studios to 3-bedroom options. Nine camper cabins with few amenities are also available. Rates start at $127 (basic cabins are $75).

Rest up because you’ll want to explore the 2,500-acre park, which showcases some of the state’s most spectacular Ozark Mountain scenery, including lush plant life, wet-weather waterfalls, and dense forest vistas. In all, 15 trails crisscross the park, including a quarter-mile interpretive path that winds through the main CCC camp that was used during the park’s construction.

Whether you choose a bare-bones option or a cabin with all the comforts of home, what’s important is getting away from your routine and back to nature. Unplug, read a book on the porch, and embrace the peace and quiet.

8. Mississippi River State Park

Marianna, Arkansas

Visitors walking toward a camper cabin

Bed down in new camper cabins at Mississippi River State Park and explore the St. Francis National Forest. Photo courtesy Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism

Home to the nation’s first national river, 2 mountain ranges, and 3 national forests, Arkansas deserves its Natural State nickname. Cabins, including more than 200 in Arkansas state parks alone, offer a front-row seat to the wonders.

The newest options, which opened in 2022, are camper cabins in Mississippi River State Park, which borders the river in east-central Arkansas and is located in St. Francis National Forest through a partnership with the National Park Service. You’ll find 1 queen bed and 2 bunk beds in these simple accommodations that don’t have a kitchen but do include a grill and a fire pit outside. A bathhouse is nearby. Rates start at $68.

Seven bodies of water in the 22,600-acre forest offer plenty of places for fishing, kayaking, or other water sports. The park is located on Crowley’s Ridge Parkway National Scenic Byway, which is dominated by a geological formation that rises as much as 200 feet above the surrounding flatland and forests. Get an up-close look at Crowley’s Ridge flora and fauna on the state park’s 1-mile Bear Creek Lake Nature Trail.

9. Poverty Point Reservoir State Park

Delhi, Louisiana

Poverty Point Reservoir State Park cabins

Revel in beautiful lake views from the deluxe cabins on stilts at Poverty Point Reservoir State Park. Photo courtesy Louisiana Travel

Although New Orleans and Mardi Gras are often the first things that people associate with the state, Louisiana’s natural resources are just as captivating. In northeast Louisiana, for instance, you can fish for largemouth bass and channel catfish in a 2,700-acre lake and catch a glimpse of birds migrating along the Mississippi Flyway at Poverty Point Reservoir State Park.

Settle in for the night in one of 8 deluxe cabins on stilts that seem to float over the lake, or choose a 2-bedroom lodge with a loft on land. Rates start at $150.

Nearby, the Poverty Point World Heritage Site preserves earthworks from an ancient Native American civilization. Follow a 2.6-mile hiking trail to see the park’s wonders, including a massive 72-foot-tall mound and enormous concentric half-circles formed with soil. A museum displays artifacts discovered at the site, including projectile points, beads, and small clay figurines.

You may also like: 10 easy hikes with beautiful views, natural wonders, and history

10. Bayou Segnette State Park

Westwego, Louisiana

Bayou Segnette floating cabin

Floating cabins at Bayou Segnette State Park, located not far from New Orleans, have screened-in porches that overlook the park’s canal. Photo courtesy Louisiana Travel

Dip a paddle or cast a line at Bayou Segnette State Park, which is situated where woodlands meet the marsh less than 30 minutes from New Orleans. Both freshwater and saltwater fish, including bass, trout, redfish, bream, and perch, can be found in the park’s waterways.

When you’re ready to relax, bed down in one of 16 floating cabins that opened about 5 years ago. The 2-bedroom units include a kitchen, a screened-in porch overlooking the canal, and a living room/dining room area. Rates start at $150.

In addition to water sports, there’s a popular wave pool at the park and a 2.8-mile nature trail from which you might spot a bald eagle or a nutria, a massive South American rodent that’s found in south Louisiana swamps. If you don’t land your own fish, stop by the nearby Westwego Shrimp Lot, an open-air market where local fishermen sell their catch, and cook up a seafood feast before enjoying the sunset.

Dennis R. Heinze is a regional editor of AAA Explorer magazine.

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