For outdoors enthusiasts Williamson County offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities. Located in the heart of an outdoor paradise, ample streams provide multiple streams and lakes for fishing. Four large lakes can be found in the southwest quadrant of the county, three located in the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge and one that serves as a cooling source for the Southern Illinois Power Cooperatives electric generating facility south of Marion. There are also several smaller lakes and municipal water impoundments located throughout the county.Much of the acreage of the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge is included within the county and the areas adjacent to the refuge offer exceptional waterfowl hunting areas and attract hunters from several states. Nearby counties to the south include much of the acreage in the Shawnee National Forest and also provide numerous and varied hunting opportunities within an hour's drive. Several state parks in southern Illinois provide camping sites, as do areas within the national forest boundaries. Click on either Williamson County Tourism Bureau or the Southern Illinois Tourism Development Office for more information about hunting, fishing and camping facilities. High school athletic programs include almost every major sport in all but the smallest schools. Regional rivalries are intense and the student athletes treat the many spectators at these competitions to outstanding efforts on a consistent basis. Community colleges continue this tradition of excellent athletic competition and attract a considerable following. Big time intercollegiate athletics are provided by Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where both men's and women's teams compete in more than a dozen NCAA Division I sports. The SIUC football team competes at the NCAA Division I-AA level and has been nationally ranked for two consecutive seasons and has enjoyed recent national rankings. Each May the Southern Illinois Miners, a Frontier League baseball team organized in 2007 begins a full schedule of games at Rent One Park in Marion. The quality of the facility rivals that of stadiums in much larger communities."
Other sports venues include:
- Numerous gyms, running tracks and personal fitness facilities are located throughout Williamson County and southern Illinois.
Several area towns have community swimming pools, SIUC has an indoor recreation center and there are private swimming facilities available throughout the area.
More than a score of golf courses dot the area, providing challenging opportunities for everyone from the occasional weekend golfer to the low-handicap aficionado. There are five courses in Williamson County, one of which, Kokopelli Golf Club in Marion, has been recognized by Sports Illustrated Travel and Leisure and Golf Week magazines as an exceptional value golf course.