10 of the Best Sweet Shops in Southern Illinois You Must Visit

You got to try these amazing, sweet shops in Southern Illinois!

Whether you’re a local or someone visiting to enjoy the Shawnee National Forest and our state parks, these mom-and-pop sweet shops are to die for.

Support local. Get something unique. Enjoy something different. It’s better than the place that always has the broken-down ice cream machine.

A lot of these shops even sell Shawnee National Forest merch and other locally made items.

These are only 10 of the best sweet shops in Southern Illinois. There are more than what’s listed here. So, be sure to have a look around and tell us more shops to visit in the comments below.


Enjoy these Sweet Shops in Southern Illinois on Your Next Adventure

Let’s get right to these great sweet shops in Southern Illinois to visit on your next adventure in and around the Shawnee National Forest.

1 – Bunmakers by Carter & Co. near Little Grand Canyon

Bunmakers by Carter & Co. is a little shop that makes awesome cinnamon buns and breakfast items. You can walk up or go through the drive-through. There is outdoor seating available, too. The staff is really friendly.

They’re known for the cinnamon bun. It was a family recipe that everyone loved, and now everyone can enjoy it. I definitely recommend getting one. They’re nice and big, filling, and rather tasty.

Getting to Bunmakers by Carter & Co. is very easy. Take Old Highway 13 towards Murphysboro. About 2 miles before the Highway 127 turn-off, the shop will be on your right. There is a sign indicating it. (Google Maps Directions)

There are many hiking opportunities near Bunmakers by Carter & Co. to enjoy. Take a hike at Little Grand Canyon for spectacular views. Go kayaking at Cedar Lake. Walk to Snake Road to see some interesting wildlife. Enjoy mountain biking at Kinkaid Lake.

Sweet Shops in Southern Illinois

2 – The Custard Stand near Rend Lake

The Custard Stand ranks pretty high on the list of sweet shops in Southern Illinois. It’s some of the best ice cream you’ll ever taste. It’s been a favorite of the area for a long time. It’s a walk-up ice cream stand with some outdoor seating available.

Everyone loves the orange ice cream the most. I like their vanilla ice cream (or frozen custard, I should say). It really hits the spot after recreating in the sun nearby. The line was long, but it was well worth the wait.

The Custard Stand is located in the tiny, friendly town of Sesser. It’s easy to get to. It’s on the corner of S Park Street and W Franklin Street in Sesser. Look for the Old Coke Sign and the Statue of Liberty holding the ice cream cone in the air. Find a place to park. We parked at a nearby church. (Google Maps Link)

Sesser is close to Rend Lake. There is a lot to do at Rend Lake. You can go hiking. There is a big, mostly paved bike trail and even a few miles of single-track mountain bike trails. There are beaches, campgrounds, and a big lake to enjoy. It’s a place you can easily spend all day or all weekend and always have something to do.

The Custard Stand

3 – Makanda Boardwalk near Giant City State Park

The Makanda Boardwalk not only has awesome stores like Rainmaker and the Trading Company but there is also a great sandwich shop with hand-dipped ice cream available, too. This is a great stop along the Wine Trail or even if you’ve been hiking the River to River Trail. The whole boardwalk is a mini-mall of different assorted shops worth checking out. It’s also the hippiest town in Illinois.

I like just about any hand-dipped ice cream, so I recommend choosing your favorite flavor and enjoying what it has to offer. Then, you can walk around the boardwalk and check out the rest of the stores.

Makanda Boardwalk is easy to get to. Take Highway 51 south of Carbondale until you get to Makanda Road, and turn left. Look for the yellow smiley face water tower. You can’t miss it. Take Makanda Road all the way down into town. After you cross the tracks, the boardwalk is in front of you. (Google Maps Link)

Makanda Boardwalk is close to all sorts of great hiking and outdoor recreation opportunities. You can go hiking and backpacking at Giant City State Park. Go horseback riding at Giant City Stables. Camping is available at Giant City Campground. Ride on some of the best mountain bike trails in the region at the Touch of Nature Environmental Center.

4 – Heather’s Bakeshop & More near Crab Orchard Refuge

I was introduced to Heather’s Bakeshop & More when I started using Leaf Food Hub. You can order it from there or visit her store. She makes some of the best desserts that I’ve ever had. Go by there and get some snacks for an outdoor picnic or even after you’ve done your recreation for the day.

I’m a big fan of her scones. She also bakes other items, like sweet breads, cookies, and even food items. I find getting it from her store to be the freshest, but ordering from Leaf Food Hub is just as good.

Heather’s Bakeshop & More is easy to get to. It’s at 137 S. Division Street in Carterville, Illinois. Look for the pink door! This is definitely one of the best sweet shops in Southern Illinois. (Google Maps Link)

Heather’s Bakeshop & More is close to Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. You can go hiking at Rocky Bluff Trail as long as you have a vehicle decal. Camping is available, too. There are several lakes in the refuge. The Auto Loop is perfect for road biking, too.

Heather's Bakeshop

5 – Sissy’s Sweet Shop near Mermet Lake

Sissy’s Sweet Shop is a bakery located in Metropolis. They have a range of items, including baked goods, coffee, and hand-dipped ice cream. You can order ahead or pick up items in the shop. It’s located along the historic downtown section.

The hand-dipped ice cream is my favorite treat from Sissy’s Sweet Shop. It’s some of the best hand-dipped ice cream around. I also enjoy their cookies and their fruit pizzas, which are sugar cookies with icing and fresh fruit on top of them.

Sissy’s Sweet Shop is very easy to get to. Drive into Metropolis to Market Street. The shop is located on your right at 613 Market Street (Suite A). (Google Maps Link)

When visiting Sissy’s Sweet Shop, check out downtown Metropolis. There are many great mom-and-pop shops, a Superman Museum, and even a Superman Statue. That’s right, Metropolis is Home of Superman in case you didn’t know. Go for a hike, kayak, gravel bike ride, or even a scenic drive at Mermet Lake. Heron Pond is also close by.

6 – Frosted by Mollie near Fort Massac State Park

Frosted by Mollie is another great bakery in Metropolis. You can order ahead or visit the shop during work hours to purchase sweets. It’s better to come early, though, because their baked goods are typically in very high demand.

My favorite thing from Frosted by Mollie is her cookies. She makes one of the best sugar cookies with icing that I’ve ever eaten. I could eat a dozen of them in one setting if Michelle would let me. She gets fresh donuts every day made by Munals Donuts in Paducah. Her cinnamon rows and cinnamon roll in a cup are also to die for.

Getting to Frosted by Mollie is very simple. While driving on US 45 (Ohio Scenic Byway) towards Metropolis, her shop is on the corner of US 45 and Butler Street. You can go in, go through the drive through, or call in ahead of time. (Google Maps Link)

Frosted by Mollie is close to Fort Massac State Park. There is a lot to do at the park. It’s the FIRST state park in Illinois, by the way. You can see a wonderful museum in the visitor center with more arrowheads than anywhere else in the region. There is a replica fort you can walk around. There is a challenging disc golf course, hiking trails, a rail trail for cycling, and access to the Ohio River.

7 – The Chocolate Factory near Dixon Springs State Park

The Chocolate Factory is one of the most unique sweet shops in Southern Illinois. They make their own chocolate! They also have really delicious hand-dipped ice cream that you have to try once, twice, or a dozen times.

My favorite thing to eat there is their vanilla black cherry hand-dipped ice cream. I get two scoops on a waffle cone. I also really like their novelty chocolate, which is shaped into many different things, like arrowheads, tractors, and even deviled eggs!

Getting to The Chocolate Factory is very easy. Take Highway 146 towards Golconda to Dixon Springs State Park. The Chocolate Factory is right across from the main entrance of Dixon Springs State Park. (Google Maps Link)

The Chocolate Factory is right across from Dixon Springs State Park. The state park offers hiking trails, mountain biking, waterfalls, camping, and even a public swimming pool. You can also visit Lake Glendale nearby which offers camping, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, and a public swimming beach. It’s my favorite lake to kayak and my favorite mountain bike trail in Southern Illinois.

The Chocolate Factory

8 – Riverside Mercantile near Cave-in-Rock State Park

The Riverside Mercantile is located in the heart of Elizabethtown (E-Town for short), which is right on the Ohio River in Southern Illinois. This store not only sells hand-dipped ice cream, other sweets, and local produce but also Shawnee National Forest merch and locally made unique gift items. You have to check this place out for yourself.

My favorite things to eat there were the coconut ice cream and the freeze-dried candy from the Kinkaid Candy company. We also tried some habanero mushroom jerky, which was pretty good.

The Riverside Mercantile is easy to get to. Take Highway 145 into Elizabethtown. It’s on the corner of 145 and Main Street. Parking is in the front and side of the building. Outdoor seating is available. (Google Maps Link)

If you need a place to stay, check out the Riverside Lodge right next door to the Mercantile. It’s the same owners. The start of the River to River Trail is also right down the road from the shop. You can see it from the shop. Cave-in-Rock State Park is also close by, which offers hiking and more. You can even take a free ferry ride into Kentucky from the Village of Cave-in-Rock.

Riverside Mercantile

9 – Garden of the Gods Outpost near Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods Outpost is one of the coolest sweet shops in Southern Illinois. This shop is more than just sweets and fun food. If you want Shawnee National Forest t-shirts, hats, hoodies, and other goodies, this is the store for you.

My favorite thing to get from Garden of the Gods Outpost is their ice cream. It’s soft-serve, and it’s the best soft-serve ice cream I’ve ever had. It’s way better than the chain restaurant that sells it, too. They even have cones available for your dog.

Getting to the Garden of the Gods Outpost is very simple. Take Karbers Ridge Road towards Karbers Ridge. The outpost is across the road from the Sassy the Sasquatch statue on the corner of Karbers Ridge Road and Garden of the Gods Road. (Google Maps Link)

Garden of the Gods is obviously close to this shop. You can enjoy hiking in the wilderness, the famous Observation Trail, and the Indian Point Backpackers Loop. High Knob is a great area to visit, too. Kayaking and biking are available at Glen O. Jones Lake. Be sure to check out Old Stoneface for one heck of a view.

Garden of the Gods Outpost

10 – Miranda’s Delight near Tunnel Hill State Trail

Miranda’s Delight is a bakery located in downtown Vienna. It is unique because it is an authentic Mexican establishment. The owner is a Hispanic woman who is very skilled at her job and brings her culture to her bakery.

We really enjoyed the cookies from her shop. They’re big and freshly made. They make for perfect carbs during and after a long hike or bike ride in the area. She also sells wonderful donuts.

Miranda’s Delight is easy to get to. Take Highway 146 (W Vine Street) through Vienna. Her shop is located on the corner of 146 and N 5th Street. Park in front of the bakery. (Google Maps Link)

There are many activities nearby this bakery. Enjoy a bike ride on the Tunnel Hill State Trail. You might even see me riding there. I like to ride from Vienna to Tunnel Hill and back. It’s about 20 miles total and the most scenic portion of the trail. Dutchman Lake is nearby and is great for kayaking.

Sweet Shops in Southern Illinois Conclusion

That concludes some of the best sweet shops in Southern Illinois.

Notice that I said “some.” I want to emphasize that because there are more great sweet shops than what is listed in this article. I just wanted to note the ones that I go to so that I can give you a great recommendation based on my own experience.

Please comment below if you know of any other great sweet shops in Southern Illinois.

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Until next time, I’ll see you on the trail!

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Shawn Gossman

Shawn Gossman

Founder, Hiking with Shawn

Howdy folks! My name is Shawn Gossman and I founded Hiking with Shawn. I’m an avid hiker, cyclist and outdoorsman here in the Shawnee National Forest. I was born and raised in Southern Illinois and never want to leave. Click here to learn more about Shawn Gossman

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