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15 Best Things to Do in Champaign (IL)

This lively college town shares a sprawling University of Illinois campus with its sister city, Urbana . Champaign and Urbana are contiguous, and together offer a world of history, culture, entertainment and sports action, most of which is connected to the university.

Awaiting you are big-hitting art museums and colossal sports venues, all contrasted by Champaign’s convivial small-town character .Meanwhile Champaign’s young and lively populace means plenty of bars, breweries, on-trend restaurants and coffee shops. In fact this city has won awards for its dining scene, with upwards of 40 locally-owned eateries, many sourcing their ingredients from rural Illinois.

I grew up in Illinois and love exploring the state. I’ve been in Champaign (and Urbana) several times and know exactly what to recommend. Here is my list of the best things to do in Champaign.

1. Downtown Champaign

Downtown Champaign

Cozy and welcoming like a small town, but with sophisticated cultural venues and a bustling events calendar, downtown Champaign is an obvious first port of call in the city. Sidewalk cafes abound here, and in summer there are more than 1,700 al fresco seats on these tree-lined streets.

A cosmopolitan lineup of dining establishments is complemented by independent stores for comic books, antiques, salvaged architectural elements, tea, rare coins, flowers, music and more. This is a pretty place for a stroll, with its profusion of century-old brick buildings, but packs a cultural punch thanks to its five historic theaters and a slew of events and festivals all year. My favorite theater is the Virginia Theatre , be sure to check out their upcoming events before your visit.

2. Krannert Art Museum

Museum

One of the best university museums in the country is also Illinois’ second-largest fine art museum, welcoming some 120,000 visitors each year. The Krannert Art Museum has a rich collection from around the world, but specializes in Asian art, African art and Pre-Columbian art, especially works from the Andes.

Browsing the permanent collection you might come across a late Roman funerary stele, a Chinese tea bowl from the 12th century, a Peruvian burial mantle from 100 BCE or an 18th-century print by Koryūsai. There’s also a strong collection of art from the 20th century, as well as constant temporary exhibitions to check out. What I like most is that admission is free so it’s accessible for everyone, check the opening times on their website .

3. Virginia Theatre

Virginia Theatre

This opulent movie house opened in 1921, with an extravagant Renaissance Revival facade and Spanish Revival decor in its lobby and auditorium.

As it did in its early days, the Virginia Theatre doubles as a movie theater and performing arts venue, hosting a diversity of concerts, talks by important cultural figures, dance performances and film screenings.

Born in Urbana in 1942, the beloved film critic Roger Ebert (1942-2013) was a regular at the Virginia Theatre and later established an annual film festival here. Ebertfest continues to be a landmark on Champaign’s cultural calendar and there’s a statue on the sidewalk paying tribute to Ebert. A detail to check out in the auditorium is the 1921 Wurlitzer theatre organ, restored to its original splendor in 2010.

Read also :  16 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Illinois

4. Spurlock Museum

Spurlock Museum

This extraordinary UoI museum in Urbana is dedicated to ethnography and has an inventory exceeding 50,000 objects. Some of the Spurlock Museum’s most important collections include Amazonian bark cloth, Merovingian bronzes, Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets and casts made from the Parthenon frieze.

You can also find Inuit artefacts gathered in the 1910s, as well as wood carvings from the Japanese Edo and Meiji periods, and the Chinese Qing dynasty. Navigating the galleries you’ll make all sorts of compelling discoveries, from a letter handwritten on papyrus 1,900 years ago to rare Medieval coins from the Ottoman Empire. On my recent visit I was impressed by the sculptures in the Ancient Mediterranean exhibition, so be sure to check that out.

5. Hessel Park

Picnic in the Park

A lovely green haven in the center of Champaign, Hessel Park covers just over 22 acres and has belonged to the city since 1918. There are more than 25 tree varieties growing here, and if you’re interested in identifying them you can download a Tree Walk brochure from the parks district website.

In summer a major destination for families is the accessible splash pad, open from 11 am to 7 pm and built with the help of fundraising efforts by the local Ambucs chapter.

And for a carefree picnic there plenty of grassy space, with abundant shade, picnic tables and grills for cookouts.

6. University of Illinois Arboretum

University of Illinois Arboretum

This spectacular living laboratory has gradually been taking shape at the UoI campus over the last 30 years. One feature that has been here since long before is the Japan House, a set of three authentic tea rooms founded in 1976 and accompanied by a Japanese rock garden.

Since 2008 the Japanese house has been joined to the Sen Cherry Tree Alleé, which produced a sublime canopy of white blossom in spring. Elsewhere you’ll find native Illinois prairie plants in the Hosta Garden, borders, vegetables and more in the Idea Garden and an All American Selections trial ground in the sunken Hartley Garden.

7. Champaign County Historical Museum

Champaign County Historical Museum

At 102 E University Ave you’ll find the oldest documented commercial building and the oldest extant structure in Champaign.

The Cattle Bank, completed in 1858, offered financial services to cattlemen who would drive their livestock to Champaign, which was then the southern terminus for the Illinois Central Railroad.

From here they would ship their cattle to the market in Chicago. Since 2001 this Italianate brick building has housed the Champaign County Historical Museum , which displays excellent short-term exhibits drawn from a massive collection, only 1% of which can be shown at one time.

There are exhibits for Champaign in WWII, the Great Harris Mansion Heist of 1929 and the work of UoI art professor Louise Woodroofe (1892-1996).

Related :  15 Romantic (Weekend) Getaways in Illinois

8. Memorial Stadium

Champaign Memorial Stadium

Built in the wake of World War I as a tribute to the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign students who died, Memorial Stadium is the magnificent home field for the Illinois Fighting Illini. The stadium, renovated a few times over the last century, can hold upwards of 60,000 fans, and was given a giant video board (36 by 96 feet) in 2013.

The names of those who lost their lives in WWI are inscribed on 200 Doric columns along the east and west sides of the stadium. The Fighting Illini are a member of the fabled Big Ten Conference and last claimed a conference championship in 2001. The stadium fills a host of other uses, as the finish line for the Illinois Marathon in April, and the venue for the Illini Marching Band Festival.

9. State Farm Center

State Farm Center

Originally known as the Assembly Hall, the majestic arena for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign looks like a cross between a scallop shell and a flying saucer.

This Modernist complex was ready in 1963, and in 2013 the naming rights were bought by State Farm in a multimillion-dollar agreement.

The arena can hold more than 15,500 fans for men and women’s Fighting Illini games. The men’s team has a long list of NBA first round draft picks among its alumni, and as of 2018 had the 12th best all-time win percentage.

The State Farm Center is also a major events venue, staging broadway shows, but also famous comedians and touring recording artists, from Dave Chappelle to Prince, Kanye West, Ludacris (a Champaign native) and Kenny Chesney.

Going back much further, Elvis Presley (1976), The Rolling Stones (1969) and Johnny Cash (1969) have all graced this stage.

10. Orpheum Children’s Science Museum

Orpheum Children’s Science Museum

Since the 1990s, a historic landmark downtown has been home to this interactive museum introducing children to all sorts of scientific concepts. Originally a vaudeville stage, the Orpheum Theatre dates back to 1914 and was conceived by Chicago architects Rapp & Rapp as a scale replica of the opera house at Versailles. This is one of the top activities I recommend to do with children.

The building is still coming through a long-term renovation, while the museum inside has imaginative exhibits in which kids can dig for dinosaur fossils, captain the SS Ackermann Tugboat, meet all kinds of live critters, look after pets at the vet clinic and put on an astronaut suit to blast into outer space.

11. Centennial Park

Pool

The second-largest park in the Champaign Park District is in the west of the city and completely loaded with amenities.

Maybe the headline is the Sholem Aquatic Center, like a small water park open from Memorial to Labor Day and boasting a resort-style beach entry pool, a 25-yard lap pool, a wading area for little ones, a lazy river and a pair of water slides.

Also at the park are facilities for a wide range of sports, a modern rec center and a replica farm, open all summer and keeping goats, pigs, sheep, horses, chickens and geese.

Also see :  15 Best Small Towns to Visit in Illinois

12. Crystal Lake Park

Crystal Lake Park

This sensational park in Urbana is part of a green corridor that leads you right out to the city’s northeastern outskirts. Crystal Lake Park is on the banks of a serpentine lake with a pier, ready for fishing and boating.

To the north is the Anita Purves Nature Center, offering environmental displays and programs, while the park alson features mature urban forest, a labyrinth, a Lake House, pavilions, a children’s playground and all kinds of summer fun at the Crystal Lake Park Family Aquatic Center.

The latter has an eight-lane pool, a beach-entry recreation pool, three slides, a climbing wall and lots of water play equipment for smaller children.

13. Urbana’s Market at the Square

Urbana’s Market at the Square

May through November you can make the shore trip across the UoI campus to Urbana for this Saturday morning market.

This has been running since the 1970s and promises farm-fresh seasonal produce, grown and raised in Illinois.

On offer is a selection of fruit and vegetables that changes throughout the summer and into fall, as well as pasture-raised meat, cheese, honey, eggs and a wonderful choice of homemade breads, pastries, sauces, condiments, preserves and much more.

Also on hands at Urbana’s Market at the Square are unique arts and crafts, as well as a choice of food trucks catering to all palates.

14. William M. Staerkel Planetarium

William M. Staerkel Planetarium

With a 50-foot dome, the second-largest planetarium in the state is ten minutes from downtown Champaign at Parkland College. This opened in 1987, and with a capacity of 144, stages spectacular fulldome public shows on Friday and Saturday evenings.

The Staerkel Planetarium uses a Zeiss Model M1015 star projector, as well as high-tech film and sound systems for an immersive journey into space. The planetarium can project some 7,600 stars down to magnitude 6, as well as the moon, sun, five planets visible to the naked eye and 25 star clusters and nebulae.

There are also small but worthwhile attractions in the lobby, like the solar window, depicting the path of the sun across the sky from June to December and back again, as well as the Cosmic Blink mural, showing the history of mankind’s efforts to comprehend the universe.

15. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery

Goat

In 2004 this dairy, just outside Champaign to the north, became the state’s first farmstead cheesemaking facility, producing chevres, feta, pelota roja and crottin.

Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery is very much a working farm, but during open hours in summer you can come and meet the goats, pick fruit when in season and watch cheese being made through a viewing window at the dairy.

If you’re just stopping by, there’s a stand selling all of the farm’s products, including cheeses, jams, a menu of delicious gelato flavors and other dairy products.

15 Best Things to Do in Champaign (IL):

  • Downtown Champaign
  • Krannert Art Museum
  • Virginia Theatre
  • Spurlock Museum
  • Hessel Park
  • University of Illinois Arboretum
  • Champaign County Historical Museum
  • Memorial Stadium
  • State Farm Center
  • Orpheum Children’s Science Museum
  • Centennial Park
  • Crystal Lake Park
  • Urbana’s Market at the Square
  • William M. Staerkel Planetarium
  • Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery

PlanetWare.com

12 Top-Rated Things to Do in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

Written by Brad Lane Updated Dec 23, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Author Brad Lane visited Champaign-Urbana on a reporting trip throughout Illinois.

The Champaign-Urbana metropolitan area stands out from its agricultural surroundings in central Illinois. This sprawling community is roughly 130 miles from both Chicago and Indianapolis and is defined much in part by the campus of the University of Illinois , home of the Fighting Illini.

Foellinger Auditorium at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana

Along with the academic pursuits and historic architecture found on campus, the university adds an array of tourist attractions and things to do. A few of the community additions sponsored by the university include art and cultural museums, a stunning arboretum, and spirited sporting events throughout the year.

It's not just the campus that attracts attention to Champaign-Urbana. Tourists often frequent the area for the downtown street festivals and bountiful natural spaces. Urbana's Market at the Square on Saturday mornings is something to mark on the calendar, with several other family-friendly attractions to check out the rest of the week.

Plan your sightseeing with our list of things to do and places to visit in Champaign-Urbana.

1. University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana

2. downtown champaign, 3. urbana's market at the square, 4. krannert art museum, 5. champaign public library, 6. crystal lake park, 7. university of illinois arboretum, 8. meadowbrook park, 9. spurlock museum, 10. william m. staerkel planetarium, 11. japan house, 12. hessel park, where to stay in champaign-urbana for sightseeing, map of things to do in champaign-urbana, illinois.

McFarland Carillon, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana

Founded in 1867, the University of Champaign-Urbana has helped define the city for over 150 years. The institution currently educates more than 40,000 students each semester. The top-tier degrees and programs offered at this Big 10 public university attract a large enrollment, and the sprawling campus and academic spirit make many proud to be Fighting Illini.

Fighting Illini sporting events are a longstanding tradition throughout the state, including Saturday football at Memorial Stadium and basketball at the State Farm Center . For public pursuits of further education, both the Krannert Art Museum and Spurlock Museum offer displays of cultural works on campus with free admission.

Impressive pieces of architecture and historical landmarks dot the entire campus. With plenty of pedestrian pathways supporting foot traffic, simply walking the grounds can make for a fun visit or break between classes. The outdoor classroom and UI Arboretum display the richest natural attractions on campus.

Champaign-Urbana is part of the larger University of Illinois System, including campuses in Springfield and Chicago. The campus in Champaign is well integrated into the city. Alongside cultural attraction and entertainment, youthful energy stems from campus and throughout the streets of the city.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Illinois

Downtown Champaign

Local shops and restaurants line downtown Champaign, just a few miles northwest of Campustown and the university. Breakfast is a popular option at the locally owned Sam's Cafe , and places like Seven Saints feature American cuisine and outdoor seating. During the summer months, Al fresco dining is abundant throughout downtown.

For bibliophiles and casual readers, Jane Addams Bookshop is a locally owned favorite. The local branch of Caffe Bene is one of the most popular coffee shops in town, often bustling with students and community members. Downtown is also bustling at night, with several late-night establishments catering to the younger crowd.

Among the many events and concerts that take place downtown throughout the year, the two separate Fridays of StreetFest in the summer is where you'll find the best lineup of live music and dancing in the street. And the Champaign Farmers Market takes place downtown every Tuesday afternoon.

Read More: Top-Rated Midwest Vacations

Urbana's Market at the Square

Urbana's Market at the Square takes place every Saturday morning from 7:00 am to noon, May through October. This popular farmers' market is an open space selling venue featuring fresh produce, prepared foods, plants, clothing, and a wide variety of locally made goods.

Market at the Square operates rain or shine in downtown Urbana and can attract quite a large crowd throughout the summer. Special programs are also held here, and between chef demonstrations and the child-orientated "Sprouts at the Market," entertainment is found for the whole family.

Made-to-eat hot food items give a rich aroma to the air at Urbana's Market at the Square. Each week also features different local performers and musicians sharing their skills and providing a great soundtrack to this community event.

Address: 401 South Vine Street, Urbana, Illinois

Krannert Art Museum

Krannert Art Museum hosts two floors and several distinct galleries of fine art, just a few blocks from Memorial Stadium on the University of Illinois campus. The art collection spans millennia and from across the globe, including ancient Andean artworks, West African headwear, and American and European paintings from the previous two centuries.

The galleries at Krannert feature permanent and rotating displays. The high ceilings and well-lit space add to the experience of viewing the art. Krannert is free and open to the public, and various events throughout the year, like Summer Yoga at the Museum, provide even more reasons to visit.

Address: 500 East Peabody Drive, Champaign, Illinois

Champaign Public Library

The Champaign Public Library , just south of Springfield Avenue from downtown, is a repository for community learning and events. Art and colorful walls adorn this light-filled library with big glass windows, offering a truly inviting place for those that want to spend some time on a computer or reading at a table.

The library also provides an engaging TeenSpace , a coffee bar, and small bookstore, and other amenities like private meeting rooms and free internet access. Several events comprise every week of the Champaign Public Library calendar, including Toddler Tales, book clubs, and several developmental courses. The library is open seven days a week, until 9pm most evenings.

A new maker space and technology lab, known as The Studio, is coming to the Library in the summer of 2023. This 8,000-square-foot addition will mainly be for teens and include technologies like gaming areas and recording studios.

Address: 200 W Green Street, Champaign, Illinois

Crystal Lake Park

Crystal Lake Park is a crown jewel of the Urbana Park District on the north side of the city. With dense urban forest and scenic surroundings, the park also provides many community attractions.

A Family Aquatic Center on the north end of the park features an overhanging rock wall, a zero-depth entry pool, and three different waterslides. The Anita Purves Nature Center is also on the north side of the park and features educational resources, including classes and animal encounters. The Nature Center also features an interpretive trail through the adjacent Busey Woods natural area.

More fun is found in the south region of Crystal Lake Park. Crystal Lake, itself, is on the south side of the park, including the adjacent Lake House large-group rental facility. All visitors to the park can enjoy the water, and non-motorized boat rentals are available between May and September.

Other popular attractions on the south side of the park include playgrounds, picnic areas, and a unique landscaped brick labyrinth that is a challenge to work your way through. Interpretive information about the surrounding landscapes is scattered throughout the entire park.

Address: 206 West Park Street, Urbana, Illinois

Sen Cherry Tree Allée at the UI Arboretum

The University of Illinois Arboretum is a bountiful collection of gardens, habitats, and special features covering 160 acres of the university's south campus. This sprawling public space is an outdoor classroom for students studying plant sciences or landscape design and is also well used as a place to visit to escape into nature.

Different gardens like the Sen Cherry Tree Allée are fun to visit during the spring bloom, and the Idea Garden is known to provide some inspiration throughout the year. Cultural attractions are also within this tree-lined space, including the university's Japan House complete with a Zen and rock garden.

The arboretum is open throughout the year between sunrise and sunset. Admission is free, though visitors should expect to pay for parking if they want to park nearby.

Address: 2001 South Lincoln Avenue, Urbana, Illinois

Meadowbrook Park

For those that enjoy the outdoors, Meadowbrook Park is a popular place to walk in nature. More than five miles of paved and unpaved trails weave throughout the park. Other popular outlets for enjoyment include a sculpture garden, a historic farmstead, and a 13,000-square-foot playground - the largest in the Urbana Park District.

The numerous gardens and natural spaces of Meadowbrook Park also attract a lot of interest. The park features a unique sensory garden, an 80-acre tallgrass prairie, and an organic community garden where residents can reserve a plot.

Picnic tables and pavilions at the park make this a great place to pack a lunch and enjoy eating outside.

Address: 2808 South Race Street, Urbana, Illinois

Spurlock Museum

The Spurlock Museum of World Cultures contains more than 50,000 artifacts from across the globe on the east side of the U of I campus. Its nine galleries and rotating exhibits highlight human beings throughout history from different regions of the world, connected by a "Central Core of Humanity" exhibit.

Ancient Mesopotamia, East Asia, and North America are represented among many other cultures in the museum. Each gallery contains eye-catching displays and artifacts including marble sculptures, traditional headwear, and ancient tools. With 55,000 square feet and two floors of displays to discover, an entire day can be devoted to this esteemed cultural museum.

Admission to the museum is free for all community members and visitors, though a suggested donation of $3 goes to help with museum services. The museum is open throughout the year and closed on Mondays.

Address: 600 South Gregory Street, Urbana, Illinois

William M. Staerkel Planetarium

On the northwest edge of Champaign, Parkland College provides even more academic interest within the community. While thousands of students take advantage of the various degrees and programs offered by this two-year community college, you don't have to be a student to enjoy the academic offerings.

The William M. Staerkel Planetarium , one of the largest in the state, provides a comfortable seat for anyone interested in catching a show. Popular for field trips and astronomical society meetings, the 50-foot dome screen of the planetarium hosts several public showings.

Most public screenings at the planetarium take place on the weekends and range from Solar Superstorms to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon . Admission is less than a movie matinee and all screenings are family-friendly. Those apt to motion sickness might want to opt out of the Pink Floyd shows, also including Wish You Were Here .

Address: 2400 West Bradley Avenue, Champaign, Illinois

Japan House

This traditional Japanese-style home aims to broaden perspectives and provide a moment of tranquility Within the University of Illinois Arboretum . As part of the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Japan House offers experiential education through various programs and events, as well as aesthetic pleasure with features like the Japanese tea garden outside.

Students and the public are encouraged to check out the house and grounds from dawn to dusk throughout the spring, summer, and fall. The house offers a wide variety of educational opportunities and cultural demonstrations throughout the year. A few of the programs include traditional tea ceremonies, Zen studies, and annual Gallery Days.

Address: 2000 South Lincoln Avenue, Urbana, Illinois

Hessel Park

Hessel Park has a long history as one of the most popular parks in the city, having celebrated its 100th birthday in 2018. Encompassing nearly 30 acres, the park's central location and sprawling layout contribute to its popularity, but it's the abundance of trees and play spaces that draw a consistent crowd.

Alongside an accessible playground, Hessel Park also has a splash pad that is well-used throughout the summer. A half-mile paved pathway circles the entire park, making for a great way to take in all the shaded surroundings of this public space. During the summer, live and local music takes over the park on the first Saturday of each month.

Address: 1400 Grandview Drive, Champaign, Illinois

Mid-Range and Luxury Hotels:

  • One of the finest places to spend the night in Champaign-Urbana is the I Hotel and Illinois Conference Center . This hotel is located near the IU Arboretum on the south side of the city, and with spa-quality personal care items in each room, this affordable, upscale hotel also provides an attached restaurant, chic décor, and staff members who go the extra mile to facilitate a comfortable experience.
  • For an upscale stay in the heart of downtown, Hyatt Place Champaign is one of the top-rated hotels in the city. Its great reputation and popularity for repeat visits comes much in thanks to its downtown location, which is also reasonably close to campus, but the high ratings derive from the spacious rooms, clean facilities, and attentive front-desk staff.
  • Another quality option close to Interstate 74, Comfort Suites Urbana Champaign, University Area also allows quick access to campus, as well as large suites, comfortable beds, and free breakfast every morning.

Budget Hotels:

  • Many of the best budget hotels in Champaign-Urbana can be found north of Champaign near I-74, and places like Red Roof Inn Champaign offer an affordable rate for a comfortable bed and tidy room.
  • Near the Red Roof Inn, WoodSpring Suites Champaign Urbana is a low-cost extended-stay hotel providing extra space, including a two-burner stove, microwave, and refrigerator.
  • Another extended-stay hotel nearby, Extend Stay America provides similar amenities alongside an outdoor tennis court and a complimentary grab-and-go breakfast with each night's stay.

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26 Best & Fun Things to Do in Champaign (IL)

In search of the best & fun things to do in Champaign

Champaign is a city in central Illinois, United States. The town was initially named “West Urbana” but renamed Champaign in 1860 when it acquired a city charter.

Champaign derived its name from Champaign County, Ohio, in 1833. Champaign city lies about 135 miles (220 km) southwest of Chicago, and it adjoins Urbana (east) as it shares the main campus of the University of Illinois.

Here are the best things to do in Champaign, Illinois fo a fun time.

Things to Do in Champaign

1. visit virginia theatre.

The Virginia Theatre

The Virginia Theatre , located in Champaign, Illinois, is a live performance and motion picture theatre that offers cinematic and theatrical entertainment to the Champaign-Urbana community.

This makes what to do in Champaign for some movie time, the Virginia Theatre began showing silent films in 1921.

An Urbana native and a Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic named Roger Ebert began hosting his film festival “Ebertfest” in 1999. The event continued even after his death which attracted unique directors and actors around the globe.

Discover a life-size bronze sculpture of Roger Ebert built in the middle of three theatre seats, which also displays his trademark “thumbs up” gesture installed in front of the theatre.

The Virginia Theatre opens every Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. A theatre is a good place for a date or an outing with your friends and family as it offers a wide variety of shows, performances and exciting movies.

Address: 203 W Park Ave, Champaign, Champaign-Urbana, IL 61820-3928

2. Champaign Public Library

Champaign Public Library

Champaign Public Library opens every Monday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, Saturday from 9:00 to 6:00 pm and on Sunday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Explore the beautiful Champaign Public Library as you will find a quiet meeting room where you will enjoy reading and other exciting selections of books.

Champaign Public Library is committed to me to inform, inspire, and connect with the community.

The library offers exceptional services and contributes to the community by making it a part of the lives of all the residents, increasing the opening hours, collaborating with the community to provide and host skill-building and literacy programs.

The Champaign Public Library is an excellent and perfect place to take your kids to explore reading, learn and meet new friends.

Discover the Friendship Bookstore with shelves of nicely arranged, exciting and different varieties of books for sale.

Address: 200 W Green St, Champaign, Champaign-Urbana, IL 61820-5193

3. University of Illinois Champaign–Urbana

University of Illinois Champaign

The University of Champaign-Urbana was established in 1867 and has been a vital part of the city’s history for more than 150 years. Each semester, the institution educates over 40,000 students.

Many Fighting Illini alumni are proud to have graduated from this Big 10 public university, which offers top-tier programs and degrees.

Champaign-Urbana is part of the University of Illinois System. It has campuses in Chicago and Springfield.

Champaign-Urbana’s campus is a hub of youthful energy. It also hosts entertainment and cultural attractions.

Fighting Illini sporting events have been a tradition in the state. They include Saturday football at Memorial Stadium and Saturday basketball at State Farm Center.

The free admission Krannert and Spurlock Museums offer public pursuits of higher education. The campus is home to many impressive pieces of architecture and historical landmarks.

Walking around the campus can be a relaxing way to take a break from classes or enjoy the many pedestrian paths.

The UI Arboretum and outdoor classroom are two of the most beautiful natural attractions on campus.

A visit to the University of Illinois Champaign–Urbana is definitely worth adding to a checklist of things to do in Champaign, IL.

Address: Champaign, IL, United States

4. Crystal Lake Park

Crystal Lake Park

Crystal Lake Park , located on the northern side of the city, is the crown jewel of Urbana Park District and should be added to your list of fun things to do near Champaign.

The park is a mix of dense urban forest and beautiful surroundings. It also offers many community attractions.

The park’s north side features a Family Aquatic Center with an overhanging rock wall and a zero-depth entry swimming pool.

There are also three water slides. On the park’s north side, you will find the Anita Purves Nature Center. It offers educational resources such as classes and encounters with animals.

A nature trail that runs through the nearby Busey Woods natural region is also featured at the Nature Center.

Crystal Lake Park’s south side offers more fun. Crystal Lake is located on the park’s south side, along with the Lake House large-group rental facility.

The park offers water for all visitors, and Non-motorized boat rentals can be arranged between May and September.

The park’s south side also features picnic areas, playgrounds, and a unique brick labyrinth.

This is an interesting place to explore as the entire park has interpretive information on the surrounding landscapes. Do add this to your list of things to do in Champaign for some fun time.

Address: 206 W Park St, Urbana, IL 61801, United States

5. Downtown Champaign

Downtown Champaign

Downtown Champaign is located just a few minutes north of Campustown and University, and it is home to many local shops and restaurants.

Sam’s Cafe is a favorite place for breakfast, while Bacaro offers unique American cuisine and seasonal menus.

The downtown area of Champaign is a great place to eat al fresco during the summer months.

The Orpheum Children’s Museum downtown is a great place for young explorers. It’s located in an old and renovated vaudeville theatre.

Jane Addams Bookshop, a local favorite for bibliophiles as well as casual readers, is also a popular choice.

Although the Aroma Cafe is considered to be one of the top coffee shops in downtown Champaign, Caffe Benne is also an option.

StreetFest is one of the many concerts and events that take place in Downtown Champaign during the year. The Fridays of StreetFest are the best for street dancing and live music.

Every Tuesday afternoon, the Champaign Farmers Market is held downtown. In search of what to do in Champaign for some adventure? Explore downtown Champaign.

6. Memorial Stadium

Memorial Stadium

Are you in search of a spectacular place to watch football games with your friends or family? The Memorial Stadium is the right place to visit.

The Memorial Stadium has a good and comfortable seat setting, and you will enjoy watching a good football game in the stadium.

Memorial Stadium is a unique stadium located in Champaign, Illinois, in the United States, on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus.

The Memorial Stadium is mainly for football and a memorial to Illinois men and women who lost their lives for their country during World War I. Engraved on 200 pillars that support the east and west sides of Memorial Stadium are the names of the heroes.

The Memorial Stadium was built in 1923 and can hold 60,670 people. The Memorial Stadium is an architectural firm designed by Holabird and Roche, and the English Brothers of Champaign constructed it.

There are other events and competitions hosted in the Memorial Stadium, such as the NCAA Men’s Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 1977 and 1979.

The IHSA football state finals also took place in the Memorial Stadium in 1999, alongside marathons.

The Illinois Marathon, which takes place on the fourth weekend each April, is being hosted in the stadium as the Memorial Stadium has served as its finish line.

7. Urbana’s Market on the Square

Urbana's Market on the Square

For some memorable shopping experience, visit the Urbana’s Market on the Square held every Saturday morning of may through October.

The popular farmers’ market features fresh produce, prepared food, clothing, and a variety of locally-made goods.

Market at the Square is a summer event that takes place in downtown Urbana. It’s open, rain or shine, and attracts a large crowd featuring special programs and entertainment for the whole family.

The Urbana’s Market at Square is filled with delicious, ready-to-eat hot foods. This community event also features a variety of local musicians and performers each week who share their talents and provide a great soundtrack.

Address: 401 S Vine St, Urbana, IL 61801, United States

8. Spurlock Museum

Spurlock Museum

This Museum of World Cultures is located on the east side of the U of I campus and contains over 50,000 artifacts sourced from all over the world.

The nine galleries and rotating exhibits of the Spurlock Museu m are connected by a “Central Core of Humanity,” which highlights the contributions of human beings from all regions of history.

The museum also includes artifacts from East Asia, North America, and Mesopotamia.

Every gallery features eye-catching artifacts and displays, including traditional headwear and marble sculptures.

This museum covers 55,000 square feet with two floors of exhibits. It is worth spending an entire day exploring. All community members and visitors are welcome to visit the museum for free.

However, a suggested donation of $3 will help support museum services. The museum is open all year, except Mondays.

Address: 600 S Gregory St, Urbana, IL 61801, United States

Planning a road trip in Illinois? explore this list of things to do in Bloomington and things to do in Rockford for a memorable Illinois road trip

9. Sholem Aquatic Center

Sholem Aquatic Center

Sholem Aquatic Center is a great place to beat the summer heat. Visit the Sholem Aquatic Center to enjoy a wonderful swimming time with your friends and family.

The Sholem Aquatic Center offers learn-to-swim programs for kids and adults, Junior Lifeguard training, after-hours rentals to other events, including birthday parties, and many others.

If you need to relax under the shade, soak up some rays or enjoy other outdoor recreation, it would be best if you visit the Sholem Aquatic Center as it is the place to be, especially in the summertime.

Your kids are sure to love this amazing place as there are water games they can explore, including the water slide/lazy river combo, toys and other outdoor activities. There is something for everyone in Sholem Aquatic Center.

Address: 2205 Sangamon Dr, Champaign, Champaign-Urbana, IL 61821-4981

10. Alto Vineyards and Winery

Alto Vineyards and Winery

The Alto Vineyards and Winery in Champaign, IL, is an on-site, outdoor winery that serves beer, wine, water and soda.

You will love the Alto Vineyards and Winery as it displays a country setting with enough outdoor space.

The staff in the Alto Vineyards and Winery is friendly and helpful. You will find a small selection of cheese, crackers, and meat.

Enjoy wine tasting in the great winery; the winery serves different varieties of sweet and affordable wines.

Visit the winery with your loved ones to enjoy a relaxing evening with a glass of good wine. You are sure to leave with glass gifts.

Address: 4210 N Duncan Rd, Champaign, Champaign-Urbana, IL 61822-8934

11. Meadowbrook Park

Meadowbrook Park

Meadowbrook Park is a favorite spot for those who enjoy walking in the natural world, and a visit here is worthwhile.

The park has more than five miles worth of trails, both paved and unpaved, as well as many gardens and natural areas, which attract lots of attention.

Another popular spot for enjoyment is a sculpture garden, a historic farmstead, as well as a 13,000 square-foot playground, which is the largest in Urbana Park District.

A unique sensory garden, an 80-acre tallgrass prairie, and an organic community gardening space are some of the highlights of Meadowbrook Park. Residents can also reserve a plot.

The park has picnic tables and pavilions that allow you to bring a lunch or enjoy eating outdoors.

A visit to Meadowbrook Park is one of the best fun things to do in Champaign with the entire family.

Address: 2808 S Race St, Urbana, IL 61802, United States

12. Krannert Art Museum

Krannert Art Museum

The Krannert Art Museum is located just a few blocks from Memorial Stadium, University of Illinois campus.

It has two floors and many galleries of fine art. The Krannert art collection spans millennia, and it features art from all over the world.

The arts include ancient Andean artworks and West African headwear, as well as American and European paintings of the past two centuries.

Permanent and rotating exhibits are featured in Krannert’s galleries. You will enjoy the art in the galleries thanks to their high ceilings and well-lit spaces.

Krannert is open to all and free to the public. There are also many events throughout the year like Summer Yoga at Museum.

Add a visit to the Krannert Art Museum to your list of fun things to do if you are an art lover.

Address: 500 E Peabody Dr, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

13. University of Illinois Arboretum

University of Illinois Arboretum

The UI Arboretum covers 160 acres of the university’s south campus. It is a rich collection of plants, habitats, special features, and other natural resources.

This sprawling public space can be used to provide an escape into the natural world as well as an outdoor classroom for students in landscape design and plant sciences.

Different gardens, such as the Sen Cherry Tree Allee, are great to see during the spring bloom.

The Idea Garden can also be visited throughout the year for inspiration. This tree-lined area also contains cultural attractions, such as the university’s Japan House with Zen and rock gardens.

Open all year; the arboretum is accessible between sunrise and sunset. Visitors are welcome to visit the arboretum for free.

However, they should be prepared to pay parking fees if they wish to park near it.

Address: 2001 S Lincoln Ave, Urbana, IL 61802, United States

14. Orpheum Children’s Science Museum

Orpheum Children's Science Museum Champaign

The Orpheum Children’s Science Museum, located in Champaign, is an interactive space that inspires children through science and creativity.

The museum is housed in an old vaudeville movie theatre that was rehabilitated and had a number of interactive exhibits, including a Dino Dig and Critter Corner.

The Orpheum Butterfly Garden, located on the grounds, is a great place to visit in spring and summer.

The museum has many permanent exhibits. However, the Orpheum offers a variety of after-school programs and summer camps for children from kindergarten to fifth grade.

Orpheum Children’s Science Museum is closed every Monday of the week.

Address: 346 N Neil St, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

15. Japan House

Japan House

A rare but unique attraction in Urbana, Japan House is an amazing attraction worth adding to your list of things to do while in the city.

This traditional Japanese-style home is located within the University of Illinois Arboretum.

It aims to expand perspectives and offer a moment of calm in the day. The Japan House is part of the College of Fine and Applied Arts and offers both experiential education and aesthetic pleasure through features such as the Japanese tea garden.

The house and grounds are open to the public and students throughout spring, summer, and fall.

There are many educational opportunities available and cultural demonstrations throughout each year at the house.

Some of the programs include Zen studies, traditional tea ceremonies, and Gallery Days.

Address: 2000 S Lincoln Ave, Urbana, IL 61802, United States

Oklahoma holds some of the best spots to visit in the United State, do not fail to explore our list of things to do in Oklahoma City and fun things to do in Ardmore for a memorable Oklahoma vacation.

16. Hessel Park

Hessel Park

Hessel Park celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2018. It has a long history of being one of the most beloved parks in the city.

The park covers nearly 30 acres. Its central location and expansive layout are key factors in its popularity. But it is the abundant trees and play areas that attract a steady crowd.

Hessel Park has an accessible playground and a splash pad, which is used all summer.

The park is surrounded by a half-mile of paved pathways that allow you to enjoy the beautiful shaded environment.

On the first Saturday of each month, live music and local artists take over the park during the summer.

Hessel Park is another interesting attraction worth adding to your list of fun things to do in Champaign, IL.

Address: 1400 Grandview Dr, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

17. William M. Staerkel Planetarium

William M. Staerkel Planetarium

Another attraction worth adding to your list of fun things to do in Champaign, the William M. Staerkel Planetarium, which takes its spot in Parkland College.

Parkland College is located in the northwest corner of Champaign. It offers more academic opportunities for the community.

Although thousands of students have taken advantage of the many degrees and programs offered at this two-year college, it is still open to all.

Anyone interested in seeing a show can enjoy the William M. Staerkel Planetarium. It is one of the most impressive in the state.

The dome screen, measuring 50 feet in height, is popular for field trips and meetings of astronomical societies.

The planetarium hosts most public screenings on weekends. They show everything from Solar Superstorms to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

Address: 2400 W Bradley Ave, Champaign, IL 61821, United

18. Blue Waters Supercomputer

BLUE WATERS

The Blue Waters Supercomputer, located at the University of Illinois’ National Petascale Computer Facility, is one of the most powerful computers on the planet.

It is available for public viewing and enjoyment. Blue Waters, a petascale Cray supercomputer that can perform more than 13 quadrillion calculations per second, was completed in 2013.

Engineers and scientists use the computer to solve a variety of difficult problems. They simulate the evolution of the universe, as well as predicting the behavior of complex biological systems.

19. Larry Kanfer Photography

Larry Kanfer Photography

The Larry Kanfer Photography was established in 1979 and owned by a photographic artist Larry Kanfer known for his Prairiescapes.

The gallery features exclusive photographs of the great artist and Midwest landscape photographs celebrating the rural lifestyle of the American heartland.

Larry Kanfer features extensive collections of the University of Illinois, Woodlands, Cityscapes, International, Tropical, Abstract fine art, and Close-up photographs.

Larry Kanfer Photography specializes in the original wall and framed artwork, home decor, scenic photography, architectural, office art, conceptual painting, artwork installation packages, landscape and a lot more.

Larry Kanfer artworks and photographs are perfect for healthcare, custom installations, corporate, residential paintings, and gifts for your loved ones.

You will love to explore Larry Kanfer Photography as his works take the ordinary and present nature’s unique and extraordinary beauty. His stunning works are a hidden gem and gift mostly to Midwesterners.

The gallery is open to the public, and there are spaces made available for hosting events like book launch parties, tours, personal occasions, presentations for community organizations and others.

Larry Kanfer ensures that its visitors enjoy exploring the art and want a personal fun experience as they reveal the beauty surrounding the community and world.

Address: 2103 N Dunlap Ave, Champaign, Champaign-Urbana, IL 61820-776

20. The Champaign County History Museum

Champaign County History Museum

The museum is housed in a beautifully restored building that dates back to 1857.

It features three rotating galleries and exhibits that highlight Champaign’s pioneer past, student life at the University of Illinois, and the war years.

The Champaign County History Museum also features a charming bookstore.

The collection includes the rifle of Henry Sadorus, who was the first European settler to the county, Vriner’s cashier box, and Olympian Bonnie Blair’s speed skating from Albertville.

The museum also features a variety of World War II memorabilia, including medals and uniforms of the Tuskegee Airmen of Chanute Air Base, Rantoul.

A visit to this museum is definitely worthwhile and should be added to your list of things to do in Champaign, IL.

Address: 102 E University Ave, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

21. Kaufman Lake

Kaufman Lake

Are you in search of a good spot for fishing? Explore Kaufman Lake as it is an excellent place for fishing with your friends and family.

The Kaufman Lake is a 29.1-acre land established and donated by Stanley, and Josephine Kaufman (parkland) and Joan Swartz contributed to the lake.

Kaufman Lake provides a grill and a small boathouse and other Kaufman Lake amenities that are available for rent for fun events like parties, group gatherings and others.

The lake is a fantastic place to enjoy a lunchtime picnic and a nice walk with your family or friends.

You will find picnic tables around the lake. Kaufman Lake welcomes remote-controlled boats, radio controlled boats, personal kayaks and canoes, and paddleboards.

Kaufman Lake also offers outdoor fun and engaging activities for individuals and families. Kaufman Lake Boat, as well as other Kaufman Lake amenities, are available for rent for your parties and group gatherings.

This makes one of the best things to do in Champaign, IL, do add to your bucket list of places to visit in Champaign.

Address: 2702 W Springfield Ave, Champaign, Champaign-Urbana, IL 61821-2806

22. University Avenue Tree Walk

Do you need to escape from the bustling streets? Are you in search of a lovely place to take a walk?

Enjoy a scenic walking area located in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, with your friends and family.

The University Avenue Tree Walk offers a walking guide through Champaign’s urban forest, featuring more than 20,000 street trees and approximately 100,000 private trees.

The trees provide shade, good air, increase property value, offer a sense of wellbeing and give beauty to the community.

The University Avenue Tree Walk provides its guests with the opportunity to explore over 40 different tree species. The knowledgeable guide identifies each tree by address and briefly describes the stem, leaf, and fruit illustrations.

Address: University Avenue, Champaign, Champaign-Urbana, IL 61820

23. The Sousa Archives Center for American Music

Sousa Archives Center for American Music

The Sousa Archives & Center for American Music document the history of American music by preserving it through a remarkable collection of historical artifacts, archival records, and other formats.

The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music are located in the Harding Bank Building.

They host annual rotating exhibits that cover a range of topics such as women and music and baseball and music.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s library network and the University of Illinois School of Music are part of the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music.

It houses significant collections, including the archives of Herbert L. Clarke, John Philip Sousa, and Albert Austin Harding.

The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music house Sal-Mar Construction, an electronic musical system that Salvatore Martirano created, as well as the Claude Gordon Personal Papers and Music Instrument Collection.

For some music history time, do add to your checklist of things to do in Champaign, IL.

Address: Harding Band Building, 1103 S 6th St, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

24. West Side Park

West Side Park

This scenic Park was recognized as the first Park in the city in 1859 due to its diverse open art collection and friendly setting, It has now become popular amongst residents and visitors.

West Side Park is the perfect escape from mundane activities due to its natural endearing beauty and comfortable atmosphere that relaxes the mind and soul.

You can stroll around the Park to capture lovely views of the Park and its fountains. Community events and activities are held in the Park from time to time, which you are free to attend.

West Side Park has different sculptures, a bandstand, a playground, and a memorial dedicated to firefighters and police officers who died while on duty to the nation.

Address: 400 W University Ave, Champaign, IL 61820, USA

25. Boneyard Creek

Boneyard Creek

Boneyard Creek contains a 3.3-mile-long waterway that travels across the cities of Champaign and Urbana and even the University of Illinois campus. The Creek subsequently drains into the Saline Branch drainage ditch located north of the downtown area of Urbana. 

The Creek was used as a stormwater drain; however,  the development close to its shorelines created problems resulting in pollution, flooding, and erosion.

Champaign, Urbana, non-profit associations, and the University of Illinois have been putting in many efforts to properly refine the hydrological function, natural beauty, and water quality of the Creek since the 1970s.

You can walk around to feed your eyes with the views surrounding the area. There are picnic tables as well.

Address: Champaign, IL 61820, USA

26. Pour Bros. Taproom

Pour Bros. Taproom

If you love good beer,  one of the best things to do when you visit Champaign, IL, is to check out the Pour Bros. Taproom . You can come with your friends; beer is most enjoyed in groups.

Pout Bros Taproom is family-owned and operated. Here, guests are allowed to sample craft beers. In addition, there is a full-service bar with numerous delectable options for people not really into craft beers.

They have a great selection of craft beer in small batches, handmade cocktails,  meads, and ciders. While you sip on your beer, you can enjoy the fine music in the background, all to make your experience worthwhile. The poured wall also features a fine selection of the best wines.

Address: 40 E University Ave, Champaign, IL 61820,

Check out other cities in Illinois, here is  a list of things to do in Schaumburg , things to do in Naperville and fun things to do Peoria in for a fun time

Plan a Trip to Champaign

Champaign, Illinois, is a hidden gem you will love to explore. There are exciting and unique places to visit, engaging and fun activities, and lovely restaurants to see.

There is something for everyone in Champaign, Illinois, including historical museums and monuments to explore, antiques, collectibles, vintage items, parks, furniture, outdoor games, galleries, and others to discover.

It would be best to visit this place for bike lovers as there are many areas for riding, hiking, etc. Arts and crafts enthusiasts will discover lots of arts and meet local artists.

The places to visit listed above are some of the fantastic places to visit. So start now to plan your trip to Champaign, Illinois.

Travel Around Places

18 UNIQUE & FUN Things to Do in Champaign (Illinois)

By: Author Travel Around

Posted on Last updated: April 11, 2023

With so many world-famous attractions and sites, deciding on the best things to do in Champaign may appear bewildering.

Most especially, if it’s your first trip here, you may find it so tiring to narrow down your itinerary.

In order to ensure a perfect travel list for you, we’ve come up with a comprehensive list of the best and most fun sites that you can check out upon your arrival.

Whether you want family-friendly attractions or refined sites that are suitable for all-year-round vacations, you will never be short of options to choose from in Champaign!

So, carefully take your time to check through our 18 picks for the best and most interesting sites in Champaign, Illinois.

Things To Do In Champaign

1. hessel park.

Hessel Park, Champaign

Rklawton / Wikimedia Commons

With its grassy fields and playground, Hessel Park is an ideal destination to spend a sunny afternoon together as a family.

This area has played a key role in drawing travelers to Illinois since its establishment in 1918.

Today, besides its beautiful grassy spot, it boasts fine tennis courts, beautiful gardens, volleyball courts, and many colorful floral displays.

To enjoy the best out of this entertaining site, bring your camera and a picnic basket, and it’s sure you’ll have a fantastic time vacationing here in Champaign.

In fact, for the little ones, the frolic in the aquatic center, which spurts from the ground, is enough to keep them entertained and engaged for the whole day.

If perhaps your kids prefer something more refined, that’s never anything to ponder about!

There are various jet styles, a large playground,s and lots of wildlife animals that no kids would be able to resist its awesomeness.

Obviously, there’s a bit of something fun for everyone in this attraction!

Even at that, if you care for a meal while on site, the outdoor grill and the pavilions offer a variety of food and options at low prices.

If you’re with your sportswear while on visitation here, you can join some of the seasonal events that are always held, including fitness runs, snow runs, and many more.

Address: 1400 Grandview Dr, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

2. The Virginia Theatre

The Virginia Theatre

Simone Williams – 3D Tour Gallery Photography / Wikimedia Commons

Since 1921 when it was commissioned, the Virginia Theatre has been a notable landmark and entertainment venue in the east-central of Illinois and downtown Champaign.

If you’re planning a trip to Champaign with the aim of having enough memorable time to flashback at, don’t be hesitant to check out this awesome cool place.

Go beyond the ordinary! From its various acting troupes to concerts and ebertfest to various historic displays, the Virginia Theatre is a place with many things to remember!

To underscore its awesomeness, this building which has a capacity of 1,463 and a renaissance architectural style, was recognized as one of the most historic and fun places in the United States in the year 2003.

Since you’re traveling to Champaign, why don’t you decide to have stopped here instead of dwelling on the beautiful descriptions of this place that are contained in pages of magazines and newspapers?

The seats are spacious and comfortable, and the admission fee is inexpensive.

Besides, the food and drinks in the display store here are also cheap!

Address: 203 W Park Ave, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

3. Sholem Aquatic Cente

Sholem Aquatic Center, Champaign

Bobpalez / Wikimedia Commons

Nestled along the Sangamon area in Champaign, the Sholem Aquatic Center is another tourist attraction in Illinois.

It’s a family waterpark that was established in 2006. Since its establishment, this area has recorded over 250,000 visitors coming from various cities in the United States.

Essentially, this awesome destination is home to two twisting body slides, a lap lane area, a winding tube slide, a children’s pool, and several other plenties of play features that are suitable for visitors of all ages.

The entire pool area is always clean, and no lines for the slides.

While reflecting on that, it’s essential also to note that the lifeguards are attentive & always friendly, most especially to little ones on site.

Despite these great amenities and attributes of this lovely spot, the admission fee is just $6, which is quite flexible enough.

Whenever you’re traveling around Illinois, this is a nice place to spend some time away.

Note there are considerably high numbers of food ventures on-site. So, you’ll have enough choices about what to eat during your trip here.

Address: 2205 Sangamon Dr, Champaign, IL 61821, United States

4. Champaign Public Library

Champaign Public Library

Dori / Wikimedia Commons

The myopic belief that there’s nothing exciting and fun about a library has made several visitors miss out on some of the hidden treasures of Champaign.

Certainly, museums are great places to enjoy a vacation, and so also is lakes and parks.

For Champaign in Illinois, there are whole lots of delightful things you’ll enjoy in Champaign Public Library , which is its most popular library.

Aside from its huge book collections, Champaign Public Library is home to several historical exhibits, artifacts, and lots of beautiful video documentation on major historical occurrences in the United States.

Serving as a vital landmark in Illinois, this library has continued to receive lots of recognition both locally and internationally. For instance, it was recently ranked among the top 5% of public libraries in the whole of the United States.

Not just that, to the United States Library Journal, this resourceful center has earned a star rating for ten consecutive years.

Despite being in existence for over 145 years, it has continually proven itself to be an ever-green attraction!

No doubt, Champaign Public Library always gives every visitor a renewed vacation experience anytime, any season!

There are also larger selections of books for the kids, and the coffee store here is a good way for you if you need something to cool yourself while on a trip to this spot.

Even at that, there are equally large parking lots, and with the exception of Sundays, its operating hours are between 9 am through 9 pm!

Undoubtedly, anyone who stops vacationing and learning new things is old, whether in their twenties or nineties!

If you’re on a voyage to Champaign, there’s a whole lot you’ll learn and appreciate at Champaign Public Library!

Address: 200 W Green St, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

5. Alto Vineyards And Winery

Alto Vineyards and Winery

Alto Vineyards and Winery

Nestled along the Shawnee Hills in Illinois sits Alto Vineyards , Champaign’s oldest and most award-winning winery.

In illustrating his love for wine, this winery center was founded by Guy Renzaglia in 1988.

Today, this beautiful place is remarkable for its grape-growing productions, tasty beers, and several wine varieties.

Alto Vineyards and Winery is a truly breathtaking spot that exemplifies the beauty of Illinois wine country.

The wine varieties that you’ll find here will surely surpass your expectations!

Serving its finely-crafted wines with an impressive artful event, this at-tasting destination is obviously top-notch!

Little wonder this pleasurable region has amassed over 1000 National, State, and International awards.

The best part of this place is that, aside from its wines, Alto Vineyards and Winery is also an amazing choice for an afternoon launch and better dinner bites.

Impressively, each of its offerings is cheap and affordable, and the waitress is friendly.

If you’d have a stop here, ensure your visitation period is before 6 pm because, in most cases, the closing period here is 7 pm.

Address: 4210 N Duncan Rd, Champaign, IL 61822, United States.

6. Krannert Art Museum

Krannert Art Museum, Champaign

Krannert Art Museum

The Krannert Art Museum is an art museum that was established in 1961.

It’s situated at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois, with 48,000 square feet of space dedicated to various works of art ranging from ancient sculptures to the contemporary period.

In addition to its diverse collections, this museum features a series of exhibitions aimed at educating, entertaining, and inspiring travelers of various interests.

Being a major unit at the University of Illinois, with the exception of Sunday and Monday, this lovely spot is open to travelers between 10 am –4 pm.

If you’ll be in Champaign, Krannert Art Museum is a great place to walk around!

Although it is visually stimulating enough to make one tired, nevertheless, you’ll not feel disappointed. The pleasurable things here are enough to make your visit a fun-filled one!

In fact, the beautiful gardens outside make the Krannert Art Museum more inviting to all!

Address: 500 E Peabody Dr, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

7. West Side Park At Champaign

West Side Park

The West Side Park

West Side Park is a grassy outdoor activity area with picnic tables, a pavilion plus walking paths & a water fountain.

Opening 5 am through 9 pm daily, West Side Park is a must-visit for every outdoor enthusiast planning a trip to Champaign.

Originally known as White Park when it was established in 1854, this park has a lot of recreational activities that are suitable for travelers of all interests.

With a playground, statues, fountain, gazebo, and lots of sidewalks & grass, there’s no dull moment in this park!

The ambiance is pleasing, and there are photographers on site who are ready to give you the best shot of your travel highlights.

Other than that, this park which was designed by Edward Kemeys hosts several interesting community events and cultural activities.

Events like “Taste of Champaign” and everyday evening concerts during the summer months will make here a perfect stop for your summer vacation.

Suitable for after-brunch weekdays or solo weekends, West Side Park in Champaign is just too fun to be excluded from your bucket list!

Although swimming isn’t allowed in its fountain, the park closes at dusk, which allows visitors to leverage enjoyment without having to worry about its early closure.

Upon your arrival in Champaign, this park will give you a glimpse as to why visitors kept making Illinois their favorite state of vacation!

Address: 400 W University Ave, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

8. William M. Staerkel Planetarium

William M. Staerkel Planetarium

The William M. Staerkel Planetarium

William M. Staerkel Planetarium is another top place you should consider checking out if you’ll be in Champaign.

After Adler Planetarium in Chicago, this planetarium is the second largest planetarium in Illinois.

As distinct from other fun places highlighted above, this particular tourist center provides a series of educational programs and entertaining activities for all categories of visitors and local inhabitants.

For as many as 40,000 travelers making here their vacation destination annually, there hasn’t been any traveler who has found a reason to regret stopping here. The reason isn’t difficult; this is because of its uniqueness and modern amenities!

This fun house uses the Zeiss M1015 Model projector, the first of its kind to be made available anywhere in the world!

Opening on Monday through Friday between 8 am to 9 pm, except if you want to be restrictive while in Champaign, this is a must-visit for you!

Just as a reminder, life is too short; every moment is meant to be enjoyed and cherished!

Once you are in this downtown city of Illinois, take out some time to come and enjoy yourself here!

It’s going to be well worth the stop!

Address: 2400 W Bradley Ave, Champaign, IL 61821, United States

Planning a vacation to other beautiful cities in Illinois? If you do, you can check out our list of the best and most fun sites in Schaumburg , Chinatown , and Springfield ! 

9. Champaign County History Museum

Champaign County History Museum

Beyond My Ken / Wikimedia Commons

Champaign County History Museum presents several historical exhibits that don’t only reflect the historical antecedents of Champaign but equally its cultural heritage.

Situated at University Avenue, Champaign County History Museum is a nonprofit museum in a restored 1857 building with rotating exhibits dating back to the 17th century.

This spot collects, preserves, and educates the public on major historic occurrences not only of Champaign but of the state of Illinois and the entire United States at large.

Adventure seems so interesting here because you can talk directly to the curators, who aren’t only friendly but quite courteous.

If you’re uncertain of how to use your time well while on a voyage to Champaign, this museum is a better way to use an hour or two!

Amazingly, entry is free, with no admission fee!

It’s, however, necessary to note that this attraction is open on Wednesday through Friday between 1 pm to 5 pm.

Although it’s usually not in operation on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays, nevertheless, its hours of operating period on Saturday is between 10 am to 5 pm.

Address: 102 E University Ave, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

10. Champaign Kaufman Lake

Kaufman Lake

The Kaufman Lake

Offering outdoor fun for families and individuals, Kaufman Lake is another interesting destination in Champaign.

Known for its nice, smooth, and easy road that wraps around the lake, there’s no other fishing site you’ll enjoy as much as you will in Kaufman Lake!

When fishing here, you’ll have the privilege of catching a variety of fish, including Channel Catfish, Bluegill, Muskie Largemouth Bass, Yellow Bullhead, and White Crappie.

Although to ensure the safety of travelers, ice skating and swimming are not allowed on Kaufman Lake. Meanwhile, other series of fun activities aside from fishing in this 5 acres attraction are enough to keep you entertained for longer periods.

The tour guides act almost like old friends, and their eagerness to answer questions that come from visitors is second to none one!

Whether you’re coming for a short-term trip or a holiday vacation, Kaufman Lake is sure to make your sightseeing tour to Champaign so memorable and fun.

Note: pets are allowed & even on weekends; this park opens till dusk, so there’s no drawback to avoiding a vacation here!

While coming, do come with a nice camera so as to capture every one of your activities here.

The best part, there’s no entrance fee to explore this awesome site!

Address: 2702 W Springfield Ave, Champaign, IL 61822, United States

11. The Sousa Archives Center For American Music, Champaign

Sousa Archives

Sousa Archives Center for American Music

The Sousa Archives and Center for America showcase the history of music in America through its archival records & artifacts in multiple formats.

Established on the 26th of September 2002, the Sousa Archives Center for American Music boasts of incredible collections, including musical instruments of Claude Gordon, Herbert Clarke trumpet, and other series of educational materials.

If you’ve always desired to do something differently, this spot will present a better to do that.

No controversy, the only way you can instill fresh energy in your mindset is to think differently, act differently and do things uniquely!

If you’re traveling to Champaign, leaving out an hour or more to glance at these significant archival records and the history of music in the United States wouldn’t be a bad idea.

In fact, aside from its rich musical history, this site is also remarkable for its various social activities, which are just a plus to what you’ll enjoy here.

So, what’s delaying your vacation to Champaign in Illinois? If you’re in for the real deal, there should be nothing!

Address: Harding Band Building, 1103 S 6th St, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

12. The Boneyard Creek Trail

Boneyard Creek Trail

The Boneyard Creek Trail

Boneyard Creek is a waterway that flows through the north side of the University of Illinois in Champaign.

With a length of 3.3m miles and 728 ft elevation, this region in Champaign is a win-win adventure for every lover of hiking, trailing, or bicycling!

If perhaps you’re not a lover of hiking or bicycling, its pretty decent birding zone is a perfect alternative for you.

In addition to that, another outstanding feature of this site is that it’s totally safe to be here.

While kids enjoy every moment spent under the strict supervision of the tour guides, adults are quite sure of their safety too.

In fact, in this small but intimate region, there are varieties of vendors offering snacks and goodies with the best price tag!

You could be here from morning to dawn; nothing to worry about!

Talk of security, food, or adventure, Boneyard Creek Trail doesn’t disappoint!

Although not a typical free attraction, nevertheless, the admission fee isn’t expensive, it’s so affordable!

Address: 302 S 2nd St, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

Planning a vacation to other beautiful cities in Illinois? If you do, you can check out our list of the best and most fun sites in Galena , Quincy , and Naperville ! 

13. Antiques & More Staley Road

Antiques & More Staley Road, Champaign

Alice / Antiques & More Staley Road

With over 90 booths and 45 plus vendors, Antiques & More Staley Road offers everything an antique lover can imagine!

Antiques & More Staley Road allows visitors to connect with history and purchase amazing varieties of antiques of high value at affordable prices.

Whether you’re seeking an awesome gift or want to take home some beautiful hand-crafted furniture, antiquities, or Bridport, Antiques & More, Staley Road has all you’ll ever need!

This store in Champaign isn’t only filled with varieties of antiques, but its retro finds, and all sorts of collectible items are also mind-blowing!

There’s apparently something special for visitors of diverse interests at Antiques & More Staley Road!

In fact, prices are what you’ll expect, and the conduct of each vendor on sight is always satisfactory.

Since Antiques & More Staley Road is a little store, parking most time always seems uneasy.

So, I suggest that you come early so as to avoid this shortfall.

Address: 606 S Staley Rd, Champaign, IL 61822, United States

14. Centennial Park Champaign

Centennial Park Champaign

Centennial Park Champaign

Situated in the western part of Champaign, Centennial Park is a friendly family destination suitable for summer vacation.

This park was established in 1959, and it’s the second-largest park that’s operated by the Champaign Park District.

Precisely, Centennial Park Champaign features a lighted baseball field, eight lighted tennis courts, and one soccer field.

This park also contains a large playground for kids and several picnic areas.

Interestingly, this awesome park equally has a little farm known as “Prairie Farm,” which features a farmhouse, barns, pond, flower garden, and pasture.

No matter your interests, no matter your expectations, you wouldn’t have any bad moments in this park because there’s something fun, entertaining, and engaging for everyone!

Perhaps if you’ll love to have a couple of minutes swimming, this engaging site also has an indoor pool that’s suitable for swimmers or various skill levels!

What more would you have wanted from a park other than these?

Obviously, the fact speaks for itself; Centennial Park Champaign has it all!

A quick note, this recreational spot is open to visitors on all days of the week between 6 am to 11 pm, and the admission fee is just $6.

Address: 2200 W Kirby Ave, Champaign, IL 61821, United States

15. Slowride Pedal Tours, Inc. In Champaign

Slowride Pedal Tours, Inc

The Slowride Pedal Tours

Slowride Pedal Tours, Inc . is a premier 15-passenger tour agency in Champaign that has been providing smooth and best vacation experiences for visitors and travelers alike.

If you’ll love to enjoy a leisurely ride while sipping your favorite beverage or exploring the best historical sites in this downtown, this tour agency is all you need!

Although this adventure is just about 2 hours, nonetheless, the cruising experience will last a lifestyle.

The tour guides are knowledgeable and friendly and wouldn’t hesitate to customize the exploration based on each visitor’s interests and peculiarities.

If you’ll be traveling through Champaign, this is a perfect spot to begin your exploration!

The most exciting part of Slowride Pedal Tours, Inc. is the fact that touring through them is quite affordable!

Address: 408 S Chestnut St, Champaign, IL 61821, United States

16. Dotty’s At Champaign

Dotty's Champaign

Dotty’s

Do you love playing casino games?

Dotty’s is an award-winning casino center that offers an enabling and friendly atmosphere for all admirers of the casino.

Aside from the casino that’s available here, inside its kitchen area, you’ll find a long menu with affordable price tags.

Its herbal teas, gourmet coffee, and a large selection of beer and wine will also make your quick break fun packed!

As different from sham in other places, there are zero forms of manipulations at Dotty’s games which is quite assuring.

Even at that, Dotty’s long period of operation is so pleasing. From 7 am to 2 am, you’re good to go!

Whether it’s winter period or summertime, this isn’t an attraction worth missing out on your travel list!

It’s important to note that this attraction isn’t kids friendly.

So, endeavor to make adequate provisions for your kids before coming.

Address: 914 W Town Center Blvd, Champaign, IL 61822, United States

17. Zahnd Park

Zahnd Park

Life can be complex, tricky, and challenging. It can also be brimming with love, beauty, and experiences.

One of the best gifts to humanity is the presence of nature and its awesomeness.

If you’re traveling around Champaign and have yet to include a nature-rich site, it shows you’re not prepared for an all-inclusive adventure.

In Champaign, Zahnd Park is one of the beautiful sites that’s not only nature-inclined but also a beautiful spot with lots of fun activities.

This 20-acre attraction, established in 1994, equally features a nice trailing area, hiking facilities, and a baseball and football field.

Other than that, Zahnd Park has a small pavilion area and lots of picnic tables.

This amazing park has just everything you would want for a perfect vacation experience!

Adults’ entrance fee is about $7.57, while kids pay lesser, and there are on-site photographers who are ready to capture every one of your adventurous activities at inexpensive rates.

Address: 2502 S Staley Rd, Champaign, IL 61822, United States

18. Brainstorm Escapes

Brainstorm Escapes, Champaign

Brainstorm Escapes

If you’re after an immersive, thrilling, and effective form of entertainment when you visit Champaign, plan a trip to Brainstorm Escapes !

Brainstorm Escapes is an escape room house that offers lots of live action for travelers of all ages.

Whether you’re here as a single player or coming with your friends, you’ll have 60 minutes to solve & identify puzzles, find clues, or solve riddles.

The aim of doing these is to escape from the scary but immersive room, which is always entertaining.

Do you think you have what it takes to escape?

Until your next visit to Illinois, don’t be too sure!

Visit Brainstorm Escapes and evaluate yourself!

Interestingly, there are various themed rooms here ranging from defuse room to break out of prison to outwitting a professor and lots more.

With much certainty, you’ll have an immersive fun moment here like never before!

Address: 61 E University Ave, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

Final Remarks

As evident above, Champaign has lots of beautiful sites.

It’s certain that your vacation experience here will be so delightful like never before.

So, ensure you carefully narrow down your itinerary using the above recommendations.

We wish you all the best and a safe trip!

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12 Best Things to Do in Champaign-Urbana, IL

By Alex Schultz · Last updated on May 4, 2024

Surrounded by vast swathes of fertile fields and farmland, the Champaign-Urbana metropolitan area can be found in east-central Illinois. While much of life in the town is dominated by the University of Illinois’ sizeable campus and student body, both cities have delightful downtowns to explore.

What started out in the early-to-mid eighteenth century as two small farming communities has since merged into an ethnically diverse and ever-expanding metropolitan area. Despite its sprawling size, there is still a welcoming small town feel about the place with street festivals, farmers markets and music concerts all packing out its calendar.

While there are plenty of things to do in Champaign and Urbana most of the main attractions are located on the expansive university campus that lies between them. These include not just historic sites and handsome old buildings but top-class art museums, sports venues and more. With lots of picturesque outdoor spaces and parks to explore, the oft-overlooked cities of Champaign and Urbana are certainly worth a stop when driving through the Midwest state’s endless cornfields.

12. Japan House

Japan House

Nestled on the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana campus is a tranquil teaching facility like no other: the gorgeous Japan House . Surrounded by calm and quiet gardens, it is a great spot to stroll around with Japanese tea ceremonies, ikebana classes and calligraphy workshops all taking place regularly.

The origins of the traditional teahouse date back to 1964 when artist-in-residence Shozo Sato started teaching a series of courses on the art and culture of Japan. Due to their huge popularity, the current structure with its three tearooms was built in 1998 to bring people closer to the country’s culture.

The gardens followed just a couple of years later with pretty ponds and plants placed about amid classic rock and water features. Both educational and aesthetically pleasing, Japan House makes for a very pleasant stop on your tour around town.

11. Spurlock Museum

Spurlock Museum

Also part of the campus is the outstanding Spurlock Museum which houses an extensive collection of ancient artifacts from all around the world. Its 50,000 or so objects and artworks remarkably span six continents and cover over a million years of human cultural history.

While its foundations can be traced to 1911, the museum only moved to its current modern building in 2002 after a mammoth move and years spent packing up all its precious items. Its works truly are a marvel to behold as hundreds of intricate Japanese and Chinese wood carvings are displayed next to old bronzes, jewellery and magnificent marble sculptures.

These represent almost every corner of the globe with its Amazonian bark cloth and Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets being particularly special.

10. Champaign Public Library

Champaign Public Library

Right in the center of the city is another of its most important cultural institutes: the light and airy Champaign Public Library . A valuable resource to the community, it provides locals with access to not just the internet and meeting spaces but a gigantic collection of some 420,000 volumes.

What started life in 1868 as a small, members only book club has since morphed into a huge award-winning library used by untold thousands each year. Only dating to 2008, its state-of-the-art site features large open spaces, quiet meeting rooms and a fun TeenSpace and cafe where guests can chill, study or grab a coffee.

On top of this, the museum puts on countless classes, talks and workshops for the community over the course of the year.

9. Crystal Lake Park

Crystal Lake Park

A very peaceful and picturesque spot to spend some time, Crystal Lake Park lies on the Urbana side of town, with mature urban woodland coating most of it. In addition to offering up lots of exciting outdoor activities, it has all kinds of attractions and amenities to check out.

Often described as the crown jewel of the Urbana Park District, it was created in 1907 with picnic areas, playgrounds and fishing piers now all surrounding Crystal Lake. Plenty of playing fields and hiking and biking trails are also dotted about as are an outdoor swimming pool and sand volleyball area among other amenities.

Besides exploring the beautiful Busey Woods and the excellent Anita Purves Nature Center, you can also swim and splash about at its fun and family-friendly aquatic centre.

8. Memorial Stadium

Memorial Stadium

An amazing place to catch a game, the massive Memorial Stadium is home to the college’s Fighting Illini football team. Set towards the southwest of the campus, it exhibits an attractive mix of old and modern design elements with tailgating of course taking place outside.

Completed in 1923, the vast arena and its humongous horseshoe-shaped stands is now dedicated to the university’s students who lost their lives in both World War I and II. Their names are touchingly engraved on the almost 200 pillars lining its facade with several statues and dedication plaques also displayed here and there.

All its seats and suites offer perfect sightlines of the pristine pitch with dozens of concession stands dotting its sprawling site. Thanks to the intoxicating atmosphere and impressive arena, watching the Fighting Illini play here truly is a memorable experience.

7. Market at the Square

Market at the Square

Loads of fun to peruse, the Market at the Square takes place every Saturday morning, rain or shine, from May through October. Outside Lincoln Square Mall in downtown Urbana, you’ll find hundreds of farmers and vendors selling almost everything under the sun.

Ever since 1979, locals have flocked to the bustling market to shop at its colorful stands piled with fresh fruit and veg, meats, cheeses and pies. Now numbering almost 200 stalls in total, it makes for a lively yet laidback start to your Saturday with fantastic live music, food trucks and pop-up cafes only adding to the ambience.

While it mainly focuses on local produce, there are also numerous artisan stalls to explore selling handmade art, clothes, jewellery and more.

6. State Farm Center

State Farm Center

Right next to Memorial Stadium is another of the metropolitan area’s main sports and entertainment venues: the State Farm Center . At the cavernous indoor arena, you can watch both the Fighting Illini men’s and women’s basketball teams and any of the big-name acts that pass through town.

Immediately recognizable from its distinctive dome, the futuristic-looking stadium is majestically lit up at night which makes it look more like a flying saucer. Formerly known as Assembly Hall, it was built in 1963 with university alumnus Max Abramovitz actually having designed it.

Its enormous dome creates an intimate yet electrifying atmosphere with the university’s basketball games being fast-paced, frenetic affairs. Aside from cheering on the Fighting Illini and watching its famous ‘Orange Krush’ student cheering section, you can catch some incredible concerts: Elvis Presley, U2 and The Rolling Stones have performed here over the years.

5. Downtown Champaign

Downtown Champaign

The heart and soul of life in town, Downtown Champaign contains a myriad of attractions, eateries and entertainment options. While it still has a lovely small-town feel and is quite walkable, the area is packed with fun and interesting things for you to see and do.

Lining its leafy streets are loads of al fresco dining options in summer as cafes and restaurants spill out onto the sidewalk. Alongside them are everything from comic book stores and antique shops to a brewery, fashion boutiques and local bookshops. It also has a happening nightlife scene to explore with other bubbles being found around campustown and Downtown Urbana.

Thanks to all the beautiful old brick buildings, it is a very pleasant place to stroll about with historic theatres and a handful of museums also lining its blocks. As it hosts countless concerts, community events and cultural festivals, there is always something going on downtown.

4. Krannert Art Museum

Krannert Art Museum

As it covers everything from ancient Egypt right up to contemporary photography, the Krannert Art Museum really is fascinating to explore. Widely regarded as one of the best university museums in the US, it lies just a couple of blocks from Memorial Stadium on the Champaign-Urbana campus.

Since opening to the public in 1961, its collection has grown and grown with more than 11,000 paintings, photos, sculptures and prints now on display in its galleries. This makes the Krannert the second-largest fine arts museum in Illinois with it particularly specializing in pre-Columbian, Asian and twentieth-century artworks.

Alongside classical Greek and Roman works, visitors will therefore see not just Andean textiles and African headwear but abstract American paintings and ancient archaeological findings.

3. Virginia Theater

Virginia Theater

Long one of the Champaign’s most popular performing arts venues, the Virginia Theater puts on amazing films, phenomenal plays and much, much more besides. Thanks to its opulent Spanish Revival-style interior, the historic movie palace makes for a very memorable place to catch a concert or show.

Set right in the heart of town, the vintage venue certainly stands out from the crowd with its striking Renaissance Revival facade. Built in 1921 but renovated and remodeled more recently, its lavish lobby leads on to an extravagant auditorium which houses an original Wurlitzer Theater Pipe Organ.

Due to its delightful decor, it is well worth checking out their packed schedule of films, plays, dance shows and concerts to see if there’s something that takes your fancy. A main highlight of the year is Ebertfest which sees about a dozen films screened and discussions and post-show panels take place.

2. University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana

University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana

Other than their two downtowns, much of life in the area revolves around the enormous University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana campus. While it hums with energy as excited students head to their classes and socialise, it also contains many of the metropolitan area’s main sights.

One of the great public universities of the United States, the campus was founded back in 1867 with its sixteen schools and colleges now encompassing roughly 650 buildings, a research park and even an arboretum. Very green for the most part, its quads and pedestrian pathways are bordered by lots of impressive old buildings and historical landmarks.

While many simply house classrooms, labs or student accommodation, others contain museums and cultural institutes. With both the Memorial Stadium and State Farm Center set on campus, there are always special events and sporting spectacles going on which only add to the youthful and dynamic feel about the place.

1. Meadowbrook Park

Meadowbrook Park

Sure to delight nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike, the massive Meadowbrook Park sprawls across a large part of south Urbana. As well as verdant woods and wetlands, it has plenty of paths, a huge playground and sculpture garden for visitors to amble around.

Lying almost at the southern limits of the city, the expansive park protects vast swathes of restored prairieland with paved paths weaving their way here and there amidst the tall grass. Lining the route are around twenty large sculptures by local artists with their strange shapes and silhouettes making for some fabulous photos.

Aside from wandering along its scenic trails, you can explore its unique sensory garden and historic old farmstead or just sit and enjoy a picnic while taking in the bucolic scenery.

Map of Things to Do in Champaign-Urbana, IL

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25 Best Things to do in Champaign IL, United States

Things to do in Champaign IL

Looking for the best things to do in Champaign IL?? Champaign is a small city with a diverse community in Central Illinois. And it offers plenty of tourists attraction for any kind of traveler. Especially, the University of Illinois, Crystal Lake Park, Krannert Art Museum, Staerkel Planetarium, attractive Arboretums, world-class wineries, breweries, coffee shops, and excellent restaurants attract many tourists to the city every season.

So, let’s discover the best things to do in Champaign IL.

Things to do in Champaign IL

1. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Founded in 1867, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is one of the major research universities in the United States. Being part of the larger University of Illinois System offers space for over 40,000 students to study and research each semester.

On the other hand, it plays a major role in the tourism industry of twin cities Urbana and Champaign.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

It contains impressive gardens, cultural attractions, agricultural lands, technological wonders, sports stadiums, world-class museums, and more. 

Some of the most popular attractions are the University of Illinois Arboretum, Japan House, Krannert Art Museum, Spurlock Museum, State Farm Center, and Memorial Stadium. 

Whether you are looking for cultural, educational, entertaining, or whatever things to do, the University of Illinois has everything. So, start your journey from there. (things to do in Champaign IL)

Address: Champaign, IL, United States 

2. Things to do in Champaign IL: Blue Waters Super Computer

Made in 2013, Blue Waters Supercomputer is one of the most powerful computers in the world. So, when you visit the University of Urbana at Champaign, do not miss Blue Waters Supercomputer at the National Petascale Computing Facility.

Yes, it is open to the public.

Blue Waters Super Computer Champaign IL

Blue Waters is a petascale Cray Super Computer with the capability to do over 13 quadrillions per second. Actually, who uses this?

Blue Waters helps to solve very complex problems in engineering, biology, and other fields. (Ex: forecasting the behavior of biological systems, understanding the evolution of the cosmos, etc.). So, it attracts engineers, scientists, and doctors from all over the world.

Take your techie kid with you, he/she will impress. 

Address: The University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana at 1205 W, Clark St, Urbana, Illinois, United States.    

3. Krannert Art Museum

Another top tourist attraction in the University of Illinois at the Urbana-Champaign. 

Krannert Art Museum is an impressive fine art museum that contains all periods of Art. That means it has exhibits from ancient Egypt to modern contemporary art.   

Krannert Art Museum was opened in 1961, and it is the second-largest fine arts museum in the state (Illinois). So, obviously, it contains many impressive artworks representing the whole globe.

Krannert Art Museum Champaign IL

Ex: its permanent art collection features over 10,000 works representing various eras and genres. They are artworks from 4 BC, Andean textiles, American ancient artworks, contemporary American sculptures and paintings, Native American artworks, East Asian arts, Classical Greek and Roman artworks.      

If you are a real art lover, you can take a guided tour that provides in-depth explanations about each artwork. (things to do in Champaign IL)  

However, whether you are an art lover or not, Krannert Art Museum definitely should be on your Champaign IL bucket list.  

Address: 500 E Peabody Dr, Champaign, IL 61820, United States    

4. Things to do in Champaign IL: Crystal Lake Park

Looking for doing water activities with your kids? Crystal Lake Park is ideal for that.

Being the jewel of the Urbana Park District, Crystal Lake Park is located on Champaign’s north side. It is a lush, dense, and scenic waterside forest area that offers plenty of outdoor activities for the visitors.

There are several highlighted areas of Crystal Lake Park. One of them is Anita Purves Nature Center on the north side. It is an outdoor educational learning center for kids (explained below). 

Things to do in Champaign IL Crystal Lake Park

Also, Family Aquatic Center is located on the north end of the park. It features exciting water slides, a zero-depth entry pool, and an overhanging rock wall. 

On the other hand, Crystal Lake is located on the south side of the park, and it offers many water activities. Like boating and kayaking. There are non-motorized boat rental facilities at the Lake House (near Crystal Lake). 

Apart from that, Crystal Lake Park features amazing picnic areas, playgrounds, and a challenging brick labyrinth. 

Actually, Crystal Lake Park is one of the top tourist attractions in Champaign IL, for nature lovers and adventure seekers. (things to do in Champaign IL)  

Address: 206 W Park St, Urbana, IL 61801, United States 

5. Anita Purves Nature Park

Visiting Anita Purves Nature Park is one of the best things to do in Champaign IL, with kids because it offers exciting hands-on learning programs for kids. Also, there’s a nature-themed play area with all the facilities.

Ex: an Educator resource room, an observation room, a field station exhibit, and Audubon Nature Shop (sells nature-related gifts and souvenirs).

Located on the north end of Crystal Lake Park, Anita Purves Nature Park always hosts environmental exhibits and programs for all ages. But, there are special programs for kids.  

Anita Purves Nature Park Champaign IL

Actually, it is essential to teach your kids about nature and the practical world. Anita Purves Nature Park is such an ideal place for that, and kids also will love to experience different things aside from the monotony world. (things to do in Champaign IL)

This nature-themed outdoor activity center was established in 1979, aiming to encourage visitors to try outdoor activities and learn more about nature. Still, it offers valuable educational and nature programs. Also, you can rent the park for private and public events.

Address: 1505 N Broadway Ave, Urbana, IL 61801, United States.        

6. Things to do in Champaign IL: Downtown Champaign

Downtown Champaign is the most entertaining neighborhood in Champaign IL.

Located on the northwest of the University of Illinois, Downtown Champaign is filled with fascinating shops and restaurants. Here are some popular and highlighted places to visit.

First of all, Downtown Champaign is very famous for delicious breakfast choices among locals and tourists. Especially, Sam’s Cafe attracts many visitors for breakfast. And also, Bacaro and Al Fresco are famous restaurants that offer unique seasonal menus in the summer months.

Things to do in Downtown Champaign IL

And also, if you are looking for the best morning coffee, just visit the Aroma Cafe downtown.

After having breakfast, you can visit entertaining places like Vaudeville Theater/Orpheum Theater, Orpheum Children’s Museum, and Jane Addams Bookshop.

And also, Downtown Champaign does not lack with concerts and festivals throughout the year. Ex: StreetFest on Fridays in the summer features entertaining live music and dancing events on the street. (things to do in Champaign IL)

If you like to observe Champaign’s local lifestyle, just visit The Champaign Farmers Market in the Downtown that happens every Tuesday afternoon.

7. Champaign Country History Museum at the Historic Cattle Bank 

Do you like to know more about Champaign’s history? Just visit Champaign Country History Museum at the Historic Cattle Bank. Located in a restored 1857 building, this is one of the top tourist attractions in Champaign IL.

It contains impressive exhibits like three rotating galleries, the first European settler in the Champaign, Henry Sadorus’s rifle, Vriner’s Confectionary’s cashier box, American speed skater Bonnie Blair’s skates, and more.

Champaign Country History Museum at the Historic Cattle Bank

Especially, the WW II memories with medals, uniforms, videos, and photos are very heart-touching. (things to do in Champaign IL)

On the other hand, Champaign Country History Museum has an exciting book store as well.

Address: 102 E University Ave, Champaign, IL 61820, United States.   

8. Urbana’s Market at the Square

If you visit Urbana’s Market at the Square on Saturdays (from May to October), you can experience Champaign IL’s authentic lifestyle. 

Urbana’s Market features locally made goods like fresh foods, clothes, plants, and many other fresh foods. So, you can see many talented local farmers as vendors. And all their produces are fresh, unique, and attractive.

Urbana's Market at the Square

When you feel the aroma of hot handmade food items, you’ll automatically attract downtown Urbana’s Market.

On the other hand, Urbana’s Market hosts some special entertaining events as well. Ex: Sprouts at the Market, Chef demonstrations, Art demonstrations, Read at the Market, and live musicals performed by talented local artists. (things to do in Champaign IL)   

Actually, the Urbana’s Market is a summer jewel to the city, and it attracts hundreds of visitors throughout the summer. So, surely add it to your list.

Address: 401 S Vine St, Urbana, IL 61801, United States 

9. University of Illinois Arboretum

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign plays the leading role in the city’s educational and tourism industries.

The University of Illinois Arboretum is also such a top tourist attraction. It is completely a new arboretum spreading over 160 acres. And it has various gardens under various themes. 

At the entrance, there’s an impressive welcome garden and a meeting place. Once you enter, you can see a sunken garden (named Hartley Garden) spreading for 3 acres. It contains annual and perennial beddings.

University of Illinois Arboretum Champaign IL

On the other hand, there’s a Zen Garden and a Japanese Tea Garden. The Sen Cherry Tree Alleé (the added cherry trees) is especially more highlighted in the Japanese Garden. 

Another highlighted garden in this arboretum is the Idea Garden that contains diverse gardens. For example, the Idea Garden has attractive vegetable gardens, perennial borders, interesting children’s gardens, ornamental areas, and some ongoing projects. (things to do in Champaign IL)   

Also, there’s a calm and lush walkway called Frank W. Kari. It has a relaxing surrounding with tranquil ponds.

If you are looking for a relaxing, green, impressive garden in Champaign IL, The University of Illinois Arboretum offers you plenty. So, do not miss it.

Address: 2001 S Lincoln Ave, Urbana, IL 61802, United States 

10. Things to do in Champaign IL: Japan House

Japan House is a cultural center located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It is open to both university students and the public.

Being a part of the University’s College of Applied Arts, the Japan House plays as a unique teaching platform for the visitors. What does it teach?

Things to do in Champaign IL Japan House

Japan House helps to create and spread cultural understanding in the community. So, it teaches you about diverse cultures, values, and how to respect them. Especially, it highlights the Japanese culture through Japanese cultural arts, aesthetics, and the Way of Tea or the Japanese Tea Ceremony. (things to do in Champaign IL)  

Many visitors come to the Japan House for interesting tea ceremonies on Thursdays. Are you interested?

Address: 2000 S Lincoln Ave, Urbana, IL 61802, United States  

11. Spurlock Museum

Spurlock Museum or The William R. and Clarice V. Spurlock Museum is one of Illinois’s best ethnographic museums. Located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, this museum was opened in 2002.

It has a great collection of preserves, documents, exhibits, objects, and studies related to cultural heritage. 

Spurlock Museum Champaign IL

There is impressive historical clothing of the Bevier collection donated from the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and other institutions. 

On the other hand, it has over 51,000 permanent cultural exhibits taken from various places like the Department of Anthropology and Museum of Natural History.   

Also, the artworks of ancient Egypt, East Asia, the Mediterranean, Europe, Mesopotamia, America, and modern Africa feature in the museum’s main gallery. 

Are you going to miss the amazing Spurlock Museum? 

Address: 600 S Gregory St, Urbana, IL 61801, United States 

12. Orpheum Children’s Science Museum

Located in a former vaudeville theater, Orpheum Children’s Science Museum contains exciting interactive educational exhibits. 

Opened in 1994, it is really a kids’ favorite place as it offers an inspiring environment for all ages, especially for the kids who love to learn art and science. 

Orpheum Children's Science Museum

Ex: Castle workshop, Orpheum Theater, Dino Dig, Critter Corner, Vet Clinic, a Lego Wall, Water Flume, Archaeology Filed Station and Excavation Unit, and Orpheum Butterfly Garden are the most highlighted interactive exhibits. 

On the other hand, the museum hosts some fun events as well. Ex: Spring and Summer camps, field trips, special workshops, classes, and other educational programs.  

Orpheum Children’s Science Museum is definitely one of the best things to do in Champaign IL, with kids.           

Address: 346 N Neil St, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

Where to stay in Champaign IL

13. things to do in champaign il: meadowbrook park.

Another jewel of Urbana Park District. 

Meadowbrook Park is a nice, relaxing park located in Urbana. If you are looking for a park to do outdoor activities with kids, Meadowbrook Park is one of the best. 

It contains a farm, a large prairie, a play structure, scenic trails, and several gardens. There are paved and non-paved trails spreading over 5 miles throughout the park. So, you can walk along those trails and observe the diverse nature of North America. 

Meadowbrook Park Champaign IL

Meadowbrook Park’s 13,000 square feet playground has entertaining and exciting things to do for kids. 

And also, the sculpture garden, the organic community garden, and the unique sensory garden are also famous among locals and tourists. (things to do in Champaign IL)

Meadowbrook Park is really a nice weekend outdoor destination in Champaign IL. As there are picnic tables, pavilions, and other facilities, you can have a great weekend picnic time with your family. 

Address: 2808 S Race St, Urbana, IL 61802, United States  

14. Things to do in Champaign IL: Hessel Park

Hessel Park is also another impressive park located in Champaign IL. 

This is a very old park that has more than 100 years of history. Having around 30 acres of land, Hessel Park is filled with 50 tree species, wonderful playgrounds, a splash pad, grills, picnic areas, and more. Therefore, it attracts many visitors especially, in the summer.    

Things to do in Champaign IL Hessel Park

On every first Saturday in the summer months, the Hessel Park hosts entertaining events and live music. So, if you are looking for a cool place to visit in the summer, Hessel Park in Champaign IL is ideal. 

Shade trees, fresh air, play space for kids, scenic paths, and picnic areas make Hessel Park a perfect summer destination. 

Address: 1400 Grandview Dr, Champaign, IL 61820, United States   

15. Staerkel Planetarium 

Opened in 1987, the William M. Staerkel Planetarium is the second largest planetarium in Illinois after the Adler Planetarium in Chicago .

It presents exciting science programs and colorful light show entertainment for the visitors. Especially, the planetarium’s 50 feet dome has all the latest technology for their shows.

Staerkel Planetarium Champaign IL

Having a capacity to seat 144 visitors with comfortable theater-style seats, Staerkel Planetarium is another kids’ favorite place in Champaign IL.

Here’s the reason for that.

It has all the high technology equipment to give impressive shows. Ex: a Digistar 4 digital projection system, 64 panels of LED dome lighting, a Zeiss M-1015 machine, and a wonderful sound system. (things to do in Champaign IL)

And also, Staerkel Planetarium organizes interactive and narrated programs for school students, scouts, and other groups of all ages.

Address: 2400 W Bradley Ave, Champaign, IL 61821, United States.   

16. Things to do in Champaign IL: Alto Vineyards and Winery

Are you to sip fantastic wine?

Southern Illinois’s Shawnee Hills Wine Trail is very famous among wine lovers. Alto Vineyards and Winery is also a great winery located on this scenic Shawnee Hills Wine Trail.

The owner of this winery is the Renzaglia family. And they produce unbeatable, award-winning wines for you. Additionally, Alto Vineyards and Winery offer you scenic views of the Shawnee National Forest and rolling vineyards. 

Alto Vineyards and Winery Champaign IL

Just visit the tasting room to select your favorite flavor and drink it while watching the stunning environment. Alto Vineyards and Winery contain an indoor tasting room with comfortable chairs, a rooftop wine deck with breathtaking views, and a pavilion with a back deck.

If you like to rent this scenic place for an event, they offer the space, especially for weddings.

Remember, you are going to taste some of the best wine flavors in the world. So, add it to the top of your list.

Address: 4210 N Duncan Rd, Champaign, IL 61822, United States    

17. The Sousa Archives Center for American Music

The Sousa Archives Center for American Music is an archive with a great collection of historical American music. So, you can see musical artifacts, archival records, photographs, and more.

Ex: archives of American composer John Philip Sousa, University’s first Director of Bands Albert Austin Harding, and American soloist Herbert L. Clarke.

Handling under the University of Illinois’s School of Music and the library system, The Sousa Archives Center for American Music is one of the top tourist attractions among music lovers.

Also, it usually rotates exhibits under various themes like “Baseball and Music,” “Women and Music,” and “Technology and Music.” (things to do in Champaign IL)

Another highlighted thing in this archive is the famous American composer Salvatore Martirano’s electronic music system. That’s really impressive.

Also, there’s a nice music instrument collection and some personal papers of famous music legends. Ex: the famous trumpet player Claude Gordon.

If you are a music lover, you should add this to your Champaign IL list.

Address: Harding Band Building, 1103 S 6th St, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

18. University of Illinois Morrow Plots

Do you like to visit an experimental agricultural field?

University of Illinois Morrow Plots is the oldest experimental agricultural field in the United States and the second oldest one in the world. 

Named after a former professor in the University George E Morrow, this agricultural land has been continuously cultivated with corn for 142 years. Isn’t it amazing?

University of Illinois Morrow Plots Champaign IL

Containing six small fields, each one is specialized for a different agricultural crop. They are corn, soybeans, oats, alfalfa, clover, and another seasonal crop. All of them are cultivated according to the rotation style to get the maximum yield. 

Actually, the University of Illinois Morrow Plots has helped get accurate agricultural data for over 100 years. So, it is actually a valuable resource to the country.

Address: 1102 S Goodwin Ave, Urbana, IL 61801, United States  

19. Things to do in Champaign IL: The Blind Pig Brewery

Let’s try authentic craft beer and artisan brews. 

The Blind Pig Brewery offers you the best craft beers and artisan brews. Located on Neil Street, it is a wood-paneled rustic bar with over 27 brews or taps. Most of them are rotating and seasonal beers. 

On the other hand, there are famous guest drafts as well. Ex: Revolution A Little Crazy, Big Thorn Farm Pale-Nelson Sauvin, Half Acre Lead Feather, 4 Hands Absence of Life, Delirium Tremens, and Bells Porter.   

Things to do in Champaign IL The Blind Pig Brewery

Actually, there are four branches of The Blind Pig Brewery in downtown Champaign IL. And Neil Street’s one is the central brewpub, and it is famous for experimental beers.

The others are on the Walnut Street, Market Street, and Taylor Street. So, you can easily find one of them. Especially, the one on Taylor Street has an interesting beer garden. (things to do in Champaign IL)

So, are you ready to try them?

Address: 120 N Neil St, Champaign, IL 61820, United States 

20. Things to do in Champaign IL: BrewLab Coffee

Looking for a coffee shop in Champaign IL?

BrewLab Coffee is one of the best coffee shops in the city. And it offers you freshly roasted coffee, handmade snacks, and a nice gathering place.

Apart from coffee, BrewLab Coffee shop has a wide range of tasty beverages on the menu. Ex: mocha, cold drinks, espresso, ice coffee, and more. 

Things to do in Champaign IL BrewLab Coffee

The cool, young crowd attracts this place as there are super-speed Wifi, delicious drinks, and healthy snacks.

So, BrewLab Coffee is a great resting spot after touring around the city. 

Address:  630 S 5th St, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

21. Centennial Park Champaign

Centennial Park is the second-largest park handled under the Champaign Park District. 

It features one lighted baseball field and 5 unlit baseball fields, 8 lighted tennis courts, 1 soccer field, a large playground, and a basketball court. So, if you are looking for a sporty place in Champaign, Centennial Park is a good choice. 

Centennial Park Champaign

Actually, the park’s Rec Center has all the new technological items and facilities for the players. Ex: locker room, gymnasium, air-conditioned activity space, and more. And there are some ongoing development projects in the park as well. (things to do in Champaign IL)

Also, the park has Centennial Hill, which is famous for sledding in the winter months. If you are in Champaign IL in the winter, surely visit the Centennial Park with a sledding board. Kids will love it. 

Address: 2200 W Kirby Ave, Champaign, IL 61821, United States  

22. Things to do in Champaign IL: Sholem Aquatic Center

Another kid-friendly, fun destination in Champaign IL.

Opened in 2006, Sholem Aquatic Center is a family waterpark handled under the Champaign Park District. It contains two twisting body slides, a lap lane area, sprays, a winding tube slide that ends into a lazy river, an attractive children’s pool, plenty of other play features, grassy lawns, and shade areas. 

Sholem Aquatic Center Champaign IL

After playing in the water, kids will ask for food next. Don’t worry; there’s a high-quality food stand as well.

And also, Sholem Aquatic Center has a full-service concession area with an amazing staff. So, no need to worry about the kids’ safety.

Address:  2205 Sangamon Dr #4981, Champaign, IL 61821, United States  

23. Busey Woods

As mentioned earlier, Busey Woods is a scenic, lush, and fresh nature trail located in Crystal Lake Park, Champaign IL. Spreading over 59 acres of woodland and a raised boardwalk, the Busey Woods trail contains thousands of native fauna and flora species.       

Busey Woods Champaign IL

Since there’s a raised boardwalk, you can easily see the wildflowers, birds, and other fauna. 

So, do not miss this trail when you visit Crystal Lake Park.  

Address: 1505 N Broadway Ave, Urbana, IL 61801, United States

24. Things to do in Champaign IL: Kaufman Lake 

Kaufman is a stunning park located near a scenic Kaufman Lake in Champaign IL. Spreading for around 30 acres of land, Kaufman Lake offers fun activities for your whole family. 

Things to do in Champaign IL Kaufman Lake 

You can bring your canoe, kayak, or paddleboard to have fun on the lake. But, motorized boats, swimming, ice fishing, and ice skating are prohibited due to safety reasons. (radio-controlled, less-noisy boats are allowed)

However, Kaufman Lake is one of the best outdoor activity paradises in Champaign IL. 

Address: 2702 W Springfield Ave, Champaign, IL 61822, United States   

25. Things to do in Champaign IL: Put Zone Fun Center

Put Zone Fun Center is a fun miniature golf course in Champaign IL.

Having 18 holes mini-golf courses, two trampoline basketball units, five batting cages with pitching machines, and a robot boxing attraction Put Zone Fun Center is one of the most fun things to do in Champaign IL.

Put Zone Fun Center Champaign IL

Also, there’s a covered pavilion area with a capacity to seat 100 people at once. So, mostly it hosts fun events for the visitors.

Click the above link to know about the charges.  

Address: 815 Dennison Dr, Champaign, IL 61820, United States 

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Family Destinations Guide

17 Best Things to Do in Champaign, IL — Top Activities & Places to Go!

By: Author Tyler Bennett

Posted on Published: June 20, 2021  - Last updated: June 24, 2023

Champaign, despite its small size, has a tantalizing buffet of activities and attractions.

Known for its technological geniuses and prestigious university, this college town is a hidden gem in Illinois.

And, guess what?

We’re helping you experience a smashing vacation here by highlighting the best things to do in Champaign, Illinois.

1. Champaign Public Library

champaign public library

200 W Green St Champaign, IL 61820 (217) 403-2000

Established originally in 1876, this library in downtown Champaign is teeming with amenities.

Why You Should Go

If you’re on the hunt for fun stuff to do indoors, look no further than this public library.

Not only does it feature a terrific book selection, but it also has free internet access and DVDs.

And, did we mention that it has an eye-catching architecture and exceptional service?

Traveling with kids?

The library has monthly activities suited for families, including children’s story times.

You can admire the Peter Sis murals and do some reading here as well.

2. State Farm Center

state farm center

1800 S 1st St Champaign, IL 61820 (217) 333-2923

Owned by the University of Illinois, this 15,544-seat arena is famous for its exciting basketball teams.

The State Farm Center is electric and fantastic.

For years, this area has been electrifying crowds with its exhilarating basketball games.

What’s more, it hosts a variety of cultural events and concerts.

In fact, legends like the Rolling Stones and Elvis have graced this arena.

And, best of all, the arena’s acoustics are second to none.

The best way to experience this arena is to watch its college basketball games.

If there are no games available on your visit, see a live cultural performance or a fun event, like a car show.

3. The Virginia Theatre

the virginia theatre

203 W Park Ave Champaign, IL 61820 (217) 356-9063

Since 1921, this downtown theater has been providing cinematic and theatrical entertainment to locals and travelers.

Searching for entertaining things to do in Champaign tonight?

Then, don’t forget to put this theater to your list of places to visit in Champaign.

With vintage movies and a menu of upscale shows, this theater is perfect for a fun and relaxing night out in Champaign.

As a bonus, it has an eye-catching architectural design, first-rate lighting and gorgeous velvet curtains.

Admire the magnificent architecture, which will remind you of Europe.

Afterward, head inside, and catch a live event, movie or cultural show.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: I Hotel and Conference Center – Champaign

4. Orpheum Children’s Science Museum

orpheum children's science museum

346 N Neil St Champaign, IL 61820 217-352-5895

Set inside a historic 1914 vaudeville theater, this multifaceted museum educates and inspires kiddos through exploration.

A pit stop to this museum is, no doubt, one of the top things to do in Champaign with kids.

Suitable for kids of all ages, this museum is filled with interactive exhibits that will unleash your children’s creativity.

Moreover, the museum offers workshops and educational programs.

Let your children run wild, and explore superb exhibits, like the Critter Corner, Vet Clinic and Lego Wall.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Best Western Plus Champaign/Urbana Inn

5. Sholem Aquatic Center

sholem aquatic center

2205 Sangamon Dr #4981 Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 398-2581

Situated in Centennial Park, this seasonal water park amazes visitors with its slides, falls and sprays.

Sholem is a terrific choice for anyone looking for fun things to do in Champaign, Illinois.

From its lazy river to its exciting tube slides, this water park has a variety of features to entertain visitors.

There’s even a baby pool suitable for the youngest member of your family.

Spend a warm summer day in this park relaxing in the pool or doing a few laps.

After hours of non-stop splashy fun, stop by the snack bar, and indulge in their tasty culinary goodies.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hilton Garden Inn Champaign/ Urbana

6. William M. Staerkel Planetarium

william m. staerkel planetarium

2400 W Bradley Ave Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 351-2568

Sitting at the Parkland College, the state’s 2nd largest planetarium is by far one of the top educational attractions in Champaign.

The Staerkel Planetarium is the perfect educational activity when it’s raining or cold in Champaign.

At this planetarium, you’ll find a 50-foot dome fitted with the latest sound and projection technology, including innovative sound systems.

Of course, it also provides educational programs for visitors of all ages.

Relax on a cozy seat and catch a spectacular show inside the planetarium.

You can also join any of their narrated and interactive programs.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Champaign North, IL

7. Champaign County History Museum

champaign county history museum

102 E University Ave Champaign, IL 61820 (217) 356-1010

Established in 1974, this non-profit museum aims to collect and preserve items relating to Champaign County’s history.

History buffs will absolutely find their bliss at this museum.

Although a bit small, this museum has plenty of artifacts and displays that will give you an overview of the region’s history.

As a bonus, it has enthusiastic guides who share interesting tidbits about Champaign County.

Tour the museum, and learn more about the area’s past by viewing its exhibits this weekend.

Some of the must-see displays at this museum include the Art of Louise Woodroofe, A Second Home and When We Went to War.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Eastland Suites Extended Stay Hotel & Conference Center Urbana

8. The Blind Pig Brewery

the blind pig brewery

120 N Neil St Champaign, IL 61820 (217) 398-5133

Founded originally in 2004, this downtown brewery delights visitors with its experimental beers.

The Blind Pig has 4 downtown locations, each offering more than 25 brews on tap.

With an inviting wood-paneled bar, this brewery is a prime spot to relax after a day of sightseeing in Champaign.

Make your way to their central brewpub on Neil Street, and sample their experimental beers.

Alternatively, you may visit the Taylor Street location, which has an exceptional beer garden.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Comfort Suites Urbana Champaign, University Area

9. Downtown Champaign

downtown champaign

Champaign, IL 61820

Spanning 19.4 acres, this historic district is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places.

Lined perfectly with restaurants and local shops, downtown Champaign is a treat for shopaholics and foodies.

Throughout the year, the district also hosts a variety of concerts and events, including StreetFest.

There’s also a farmers market taking place in downtown Champaign on Tuesday afternoons.

Start your day on a high note by savoring a hearty breakfast at Sam’s Cafe.

In summer, you can also enjoy al fresco dining at a first-rate restaurant in downtown Champaign.

Meanwhile, casual readers and bibliophiles will adore the well-known Jane Addams Bookshop.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hampton Inn Champaign/Urbana

Also See: Top Chicago Activities Things to Do in Rockford, IL Mt Vernon, IL Things to Do

10. West Side Park

west side park

400 W University Ave Champaign, IL 61820 (217) 805-4100

Encompassing 12.7 acres, this public square offers a ton of cheap fun and recreation for locals and visitors.

West Side officially became the city’s first park in 1859.

Today, the park is one of the top things to see in Champaign, known for its public art and family-friendly charm.

Sophisticated yet simple, this park is also peaceful and a stress-buster.

Wander around the park, and appreciate its wondrous features, like its fountain and fountains.

You may also check out any of the park’s hosted community events and festivities.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hyatt Place Champaign/Urbana

11. Crystal Lake Park

crystal lake park

206 W Park St Urbana, IL 61801 (217) 367-1544

You’ll find this fascinating, family-friendly 160-acre urban park near the north end of Champaign.

With picturesque surroundings and a verdant urban forest, this park is a refreshing respite from your frenzied city life.

And, like most urban parks, this oasis provides a bevy of options for recreation.

Stop by the Family Aquatic Center, and check out its waterslides, pool and rock wall.

Then, drop by the other park attractions, such as the brick labyrinth, picnic areas and playgrounds.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Drury Inn & Suites Champaign

12. University of Illinois Arboretum

university of illinois arboretum

2001 S Lincoln Ave Urbana, IL 61802 (217) 333-7579

Open to the public for free, this 160-acre arboretum dazzles with its Instagram-worthy gardens.

The University of Illinois Arboretum is a haven of irresistible floral beauty.

Praised for its verdant scenery and manicured gardens, this arboretum will fill your camera with exquisite and eye-catching snaps.

And, the gardens are pretty relaxing and peaceful too.

See the arboretum’s highlights and best attractions, like the Idea Garden and Japan House.

Also, make sure to join the incredible events hosted in this facility.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Urbana-Champaign-U of I Area, an IHG Hotel

Related: Best Restaurants in Champaign

13. Alto Vineyards and Winery

alto vineyards and winery

4210 N Duncan Rd Champaign, IL 61822 (217) 356-4784

Located at Duncan Road, this tasting room is the newest branch of the oldest and most beloved winery in Southern Illinois.

Alto Vineyards is, to me, one of the most romantic things to do in Champaign for couples.

With a serene atmosphere and a selection of fine wines, this tasting room makes a fun and romantic date.

There’s also an outdoor space with a pleasant country setting here.

Treat yourself to a glass of wine, and take in its soothing ambiance.

While enjoying their vinos, sample some of their crackers, cheese and meat.

Likewise, you may catch a live weekend music performance hosted in this winery.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Home2 Suites by Hilton Champaign/Urbana

Also See: What to Do in Marion Top Morris Activities Fun Things to Do in Pontiac, Illinois

14. Spurlock Museum

spurlock museum

600 S Gregory St Urbana, IL 61801 (217) 333-2360

Located at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, this ethnographic museum wows visitors with its cultural artifacts.

Spurlock Museum houses 40,000 artifacts that highlight the different cultures across the world.

From the Ancient Mediterrnanean to the Americas, this museum will also take you on a journey across various eras.

Explore the 9 galleries, and be enthralled by beguiling exhibits, like ancient tools, traditional headwear and marble sculptures.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: TownePlace Suites by Marriott Champaign

Related: Places to Visit in Illinois

15. Anita Purves Nature Center

anita purves nature center

1505 N Broadway Ave Urbana, IL 61801 (217) 384-4062

Open since 1979, this center was built to inspire as well as encourage the public to learn more about nature.

For a kid-friendly educational experience, pay a visit to the Anita Purves Nature Center.

Here, you’ll uncover a series of environmental displays and hands-on programs.

Even better, there’s a nature-based play area for the little ones at this facility.

Join the educational programs, and see its informative displays, including the field station exhibition.

Once your tour is over, visit the Audubon Nature Shop and grab some unique nature-themed gifts.

16. Hessel Park

hessel park

1400 Grandview Dr Champaign, IL 61820 (217) 398-2550

Opened in 2018, this urban park offers 20 acres of scenic paths, grills and sports courts.

Hessel Park is one of the top free things to do in Champaign.

With its green spaces, playground and half-mile pathway, it’s a nice place for an afternoon of family fun and recreation.

Additionally, the park hosts a variety of events and concerts throughout the year.

Enjoy a picnic, hit the playground and take a leisurely stroll around the park.

In summer, visitors may frolic in its splash pad and experience its concerts.

Also See: Arcola, Illinois Things to Do Things to Do in Effingham, IL Things to Do in O’Fallon

17. Krannert Art Museum

krannert art museum

500 E Peabody Dr Champaign, IL 61820 (217) 333-1861

Nestled at the University of Illinois, this 48,000-square-foot museum houses over 10,000 works of art.

No list of the best things to do in Champaign, Illinois is complete without this museum.

With its well-lit space and high ceilings, this museum showcases a vast collection of permanent displays.

Our favorites include the European paintings and Andean artworks.

Browse through the museum, and appreciate a range of enticing pieces of art.

You can also partake in any of its public events, including Summer Yoga.

Map of Things to Do in Champaign, IL

Champaign Things to Do: The 17 Best Activities for [currentyear]

best things to do in champaign

  • Champaign Public Library
  • State Farm Center
  • The Virginia Theatre
  • Orpheum Children’s Science Museum
  • Sholem Aquatic Center
  • William M. Staerkel Planetarium
  • Champaign County History Museum
  • The Blind Pig Brewery
  • Downtown Champaign
  • West Side Park
  • Crystal Lake Park
  • University of Illinois Arboretum
  • Alto Vineyards and Winery
  • Spurlock Museum
  • Anita Purves Nature Center
  • Hessel Park
  • Krannert Art Museum

Travel With Me 24 X 7

Travel itinerary, Travel guide and Destination reviews

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana Illinois

Let’s read about the 24 best things to do in Champaign Urbana Illinois.

University of Illinois Urbana Champaign Virtual Tour - UIUC Campus Photos

Champaign Urbana or Urbana Champaign, which are sister counties or twin cities surrounded by beautiful Prairies in the Mid-west of the United States of America, will surprise you with its urban style of the diverse population. Located 130 miles away from Chicago, Illinois.  Urbana – Champaign is known for its world-class prestigious University, vibrant artistic County lifestyle, arts–cultural festivals, farmer’s markets, specialized family events, sports arenas, farmlands, forest preserves, and nature trails.

Best things to do in Urbana ChampaignUniversity of Illinois Urbana Champaign Virtual Tour - UIUC Campus Photos

Not only does the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign attracts tourists from all over the world but its events, festivals, and street markets are also attracting many visitors throughout the year. Champaign – Urbana is also a foodies heaven as you will find diverse cuisine from worldwide. This region is known for cornfields but who knows that the Supercomputers and Nobel prize-winning theory of Superconductivity too got birth here amidst cornfields.  So enjoy Champaign Urbana with innumerable events, festivals, museums, nature parks/forests, and educational and cultural attractions for all interests in this article. 

College of Engineering at University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

Note:  I was hosted by Visit Champaign County to feel Champaign county, but views and opinions are my own, not influenced by anyone.

University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

This prestigious University was founded in 1867 and is one of the top public universities of the USA. Some of its faculties like School of Information Science and College of Engineering are ranking among the top 10 in the world University Rankings. Also it houses USA’s second largest University Library which is built in 4 acres. University Library is also a worth visiting place in campus. 

Library of University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign

This University proudly boasts of 24 Nobel Prize winners and 18 Pulitzer Prize winners in their Alumni or Faculty .

Nobel prize winners from UIU

Not only this University is academically significant but it also attractive to tourists due to many beautiful fields, architectural beauties, sculptural works, wide gardens, events, and sports arenas and second-biggest library of the USA. 

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Activity Type (Suitable for) – Educational & Architecture lovers

Memorial Stadium – Fighting Illini

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

The famous football stadium of Mid-west USA which is located on the campus of the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Founded in 1923, this stadium was built in memory of people who laid their lives in World War I and that’s why it is named as Memorial Stadium. The seating capacity of this stadium is 60,000 and an official stand for Chicago Bears and Illinois Fighting Illini.

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Activity Type (Suitable for) – Sports Lovers

StateFarm Center

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

StateFarm Center is an indoor events area with huge dome-shaped is located in the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign. The university owns and operates this arena. This arena has around 15,000 to 16,000 seating capacity. It is a multipurpose event area where many times basketball games are hosted here – Illinois Fighting Illini’s Basketball Games. Also, some famous Broadways series, concerts and many more entertaining events are also held here. Great musician Elvis Presly performed here in October 1976. It is third largest even venue in Midwest. 

Activity Type (Suitable for) – Sports Lovers or Event Lovers

Meadowbrook Park & Wandell Sculpture Garden

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

130 acres of Green and beautiful park located in Urbana is developed to restore the original Prairie landscape. You can find many species of plants, huge trees, farms, fields, birds, insects and many natural attractions. Here you can spot a wide range of flora and fauna like Shooting stars, hyacinths, spiderworts, milkweeds, white indigos, cup plants and many more. Prairies flowers can also be seen here which blooms in different colors in different seasons.

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Not only this park is a paradise for nature lovers but there is a huge collection of sculptural work from local artists within the park. You can spot them while you go for a walk in the park. The name of artists and materials used in the work is also written with the work. 

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Entrance – Free to Enter

Activities – Family Trails, Hikes, Dog Walking, Birds Watching, Running/Jogging, Roller Bladders, Nature Photography, and Nature fun activities

I loved listening to beautiful chirping sounds of birds and humming sounds of bees throughout the park. It looks like nature is playing a musical concert for us, as you can see nature in full bloom in this park.

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Amenities – Restrooms, Playground, Community Gardens, Benches, Fields, Nature Parks, Paved paths, Prairies fields, Sculpture garden, drinking fountains, and water bodies.

As this is surrounded by nature and fields you cannot spot restaurants or eat-outs nearby, so go well prepared.

Activity Type (Suitable for) – Nature Lovers, Artists, Fitness Freaks

Hessel Park

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

22 acres of a lush green vibrant park located just a few minutes away from the University will surely interest the nature lovers. You can see large green grassy grounds with more than 25 species of trees and through which a scenic paved path passes to take long walks. This park is famous amongst the children as it has beautiful children’s playground and splash pad. Therefore you can spot many families on weekends and holidays with their children for some nature outings. Even there are picnic benches so that you can spread out your food and have a nice family picnic. Other than this it also has tennis courts, basketball courts, and Grills. 

playground Hessel park

Activity Type (Suitable for) – Nature Lovers, Families with children & Fitness Freaks

Museum of the Grand Prairie

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Located in the Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve, this museum depicts the 19 th century and early 20 th -century Mid-west’s Prairies lifestyle. This museum is divided into three sections –

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Grand Prairies Stories – Lifestyle of people living in Prairies which shows farms & fields and how people lived here in ancient times.

BlackSmithing on the Prairie – Blacksmith’s life and his shop

Champaign County’s Lincoln – Depicting Abraham Lincoln’s early years till his political beginning because Lincoln has spent his early life in Prairies. Abraham Lincoln is from Illinois state and was a farmer too and therefore you can see a strong connection between his early life living in this museum.

Activity Type (Suitable for) – History Lovers

Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

This 900 acres stunning forest preserve across Sangamom River has fishing, boating, hiking, cross country skiing(in snow time), Golf course, Botanical gardens, wooden bridge, and many more beautiful natural attractions.

Lake – You can rent pedal boats, Kayaks, and rowboats from the boat peninsula at 101 N Lake at Woods Road.

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Activity Type (Suitable for) – Nature lovers & Nature Photographers

Lake of the Woods Golf Course

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Award-winning 18 hole Golf course and also you can find 9 hole par 3 course with a practice golf course range too.

Lake of the Woods Covered Bridge 

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

A deep red colored wooden covered bridge connecting two sides of the lake of the woods is a very quirky stopover in the lush green forest preserve. As this area is very peaceful, and relaxing you can enjoy nature by spending a few hours here.

Activity Type (Suitable for) – Nature Lovers & Relaxing Travelers

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

8 acres lush green garden in Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve has many trees, lakes and diverse flora & fauna. Just off from state highway Route 77 it is a beautiful spot for complete nature relaxation. Many couples have exchanged wedding vows here. 

Activity Type – Nature Lovers, Fitness freaks and Nature Photographers.

Curtis Orchard & Pumpkin Patch

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

This historic family-run orchard farm in southwest Champaign is a perfect weekend activity to spend some time in original farms. You can wander around apple trees, pluck your favorite ones, and buy them while returning from here. This family-run orchard features pumpkins, apples, and farm animals. Kids love to play around with cute farm animals and can learn about farming and field activities. Explore the farm lifestyle with fresh produce growing, farm animals moving around and having some food at the quirky farm style of restaurant which sources raw products from the farm.

Activity Type (Suitable for) – Families with children & Farm Lovers

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Alto Vineyards Champaign

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Taste the amazing flavors of Southern Illinois’s finest wines at this family-owned vineyard and winery. It is located in the scenic location of Shawnee Hills Wine Trail. They produce the highest quality of wine from their own vineyard, and in their tasting room, you get the opportunity to taste some of their award-winning wines.

France Itinerary 8 days - 8 days in France

Activity Type (Suitable for) – Gourmet Lovers

Krannert Center of the Performing Arts

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

A huge concert Hall on the University campus has 4000 seating capacity in all four venues, hosted many famous and notable performances. Many notable performers like Zakir Hussain, Joshua Bell, Clark Terry, Sonny Pollins, and Savion Glover have performed here. Many world-famous Orchestras or Ensembles have also played here.

Activity Type (Suitable for) – Artists and Event Lovers

Spurlock Museum, U of I

Ethnography historical museum at UIUC which includes around 50,000 collections of cultural heritage from around the globe.

South Quad Bell Tower

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Located at the South end of the campus of UIUC, this famous bell tower is also known as McFarland Carillon. This 185 ft tall tower has 49 bells pre-programmed through a computer and can play 500 songs. You can also control it through the keyboard and create your own musical sounds. This bell tower signifies the beauty of modern-day towers and how technology can make bell towers more melodic and exciting. Also, it is located in the beautiful green ground of the University campus area, which also makes a great place to spend time and listen to outstanding musical notes at the campus.

Activity Type (Suitable for) – Music and nature lovers

NCSA Blue Water Super Computer

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Blue Water is one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world and one of the fastest in the University campus. This petascale supercomputer at NCSA in the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) runs the science and engineering codes at the speed of one petaFLOPS. This supercomputer system controls the University’s power and cooling system to reduce energy consumption. 

For free guided tours to learn more about this supercomputer, you have to register yourself on their official site. For viewing, you need to reserve your time slot.

Activity Type (Suitable for) – Technology lovers and Educational

Crystal Lake Park

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

60 acre green park located on the intersection of Main Street & Smith Road boasts of native flowers, grasses, boardwalks, and birdwatching.  

Activity Type (Suitable for) – Nature lovers, Fitness freaks, Nature photography

Prairies Farms or Domed Barns

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Enjoy the wildflowers land in Midwest of USA.  Also as you are surrounded by many cornfields as this region is famous for cultivating corns, then take an opportunity to have photos in farms or cornfields.

Also, you can see specially domed shaped designed barns, which are quite common in midwest farming areas. So enjoy the Great Plains in Northern America. 

These farms can be spotted on University grounds, too as this University has significant Agricultural studies too. Also, while coming to Champaign or exiting this county, you will see numerous barns and farm fields.

Activity Type (Suitable for) – Nature & Farm Lovers

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Sunset at Farms

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Get a glimpse of a colorful sunset over the cornfields or farms. A beautiful sight that is not crowded with tourists and can be enjoyed from everywhere. Just head towards farms in the direction where the sun is about the set. You can see so many shades of sun playing drama in the sky.

Activity Type (Suitable for) – Nature Lovers

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Catch a show at The Art Theater on West Church Street. The vintage style of theater from 1913 is preserved as it is. So have the movie fun, not like modern multiplex but in the vintage style of theater. This theater shows many genre movies with food and beverages.

Activity Type (Suitable for) – Entertainment lovers

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Though this city is small you will find plenty of murals or street art behind the streets or on the college campus. Many sculptural installations also show the county’s love for art and paintings.

Activity Type (Suitable for) – Artists and Art Lovers

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Market Square

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Enjoy the most vibrant part of this county by participating in many street festivals and events. You can find many market days held here where performers or musicians come here to perform with many seasonal events. You can also eat in restaurants located here as they are very famous and also opt to seat out. Also known as Downtown Champaign and evenings of this place are very charming and vibrant.

Activity Type (Suitable for) – All

Hindu Temple

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

If you love to visit the temple there is one temple amidst cornfields that celebrate all Indian festivals and all are allowed to enter and participate in these festivals. Prasadams daily and feasts on festival days are also organized here.

Activity Type (Suitable for) – Spiritual

After this virtual tour of Champaign Urbana, you can now feel that there are many places for all interests and all age groups.

Where to eat in Urbana Champaign – Ideal for Vegetarians too – 24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana Illinois

  • Panera Bread – Sandwiches and Soups
  • Maze – for Mexican food
  • Ambar Restaurant – For Indian cuisine
  • Kohinoor Restaurant – For Indian cuisine
  • Old Chicago – for Italian and American style pizza
  • Himalayan Chimney – Indian cuisine 

Apart from all these which I tried out, there are many other restaurants in these twin cities which offers diverse cuisines from all around the world.

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

How to commute in Champaign Urbana? – Places to visit near Urbana Champaign Illinois

  • Taxis like Uber, Zipcar & Lyft
  • Self-drive and
  • MTD public buses 

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

You can take MTD bus ride in 1 USD for one time which can be paid through TokenTransit App or by coins. You can also purchase annual Bus pass too in 84 USD.  University students and staff travel for free in these MTD buses by showing their i-Cards.

MTD bus in Champaign

You can download MTD connect app for free to check bus routes and bus timings. Click here for Champaign-Urbana Mass transit Public transport official site .

If you are self-driving then for parking you need to put quarters in the meters at parking slot and for around 2USD you can park up to 30 minutes in premium places and somewhere in 1USD for 90 minutes. Parking you can pay by quarter dollar coins or through Mobile App named MobileMeter. Sticker code on parking meter tells you the type of parking. Red is the most expensive and Green is the least expensive parking slot.

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

How to reach Champaign Urbana?

  • Chicago is the nearest International and Domestic airport.
  • From Chicago Airport, you can either rent a car near the terminal, or you can book your seats in privately owned Peoria Charter bus services.
  • Peoria charter takes around 3 to 4 hours to reach Champaign Urbana from Chicago O’Hare Airport. It costs approximately 30 USD per person to get here by this bus service. Click here to book your bus tickets . 
  • Champaign also has a small domestic airport named Willard Airport which is operated by University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign. You can also book low-cost flights if you are traveling within USA from here. Not all flights land here so check the schedule of your airlines and which flights arrive here. Also during heavy snow this airport sometimes gets closed.

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Where to stay in Champaign Urbana?

As this twin cities houses world’s one of the most prestigious University, there are many hotels of all brands, categories, and price range. They are located everywhere in the city and mostly they are full when there is some even in the University like Dad’s Weekend, Mom’s Weekend, Graduation Day, Illini International students welcome day and Graduation Day. So the prices of hotels are very high during these days as the whole city is full of parents and siblings of students studying here.

I stayed at two places

  • Home2Suites By Hilton.

Click to check availability at Home2Suites Hilton

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  •  Country Inn Suites by Radisson and I found both are very good to have a stay here.

Click to check availability at Country Inn Suites by Radisson

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Where to shop in Champaign Urbana?

Market Place, Boutique shops at Church street, big hypermarkets like Target, Walmart, Best Buy and Dress for Less. In Market Place, you will find mostly all the brands like Kohl’s, Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, food courts and many interesting shops. There is no problem with shopping as you will find many branded and boutique shops all over these twin cities.  Or you can also check some premium outlet mall for premium shopping at Auroras shopping Plaza in between while coming from Chicago International Airport.

University of Urbana Champaign

Festivals & events in Champaign County – 24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana Illinois

  • Taste of Champaign Urbana
  • Urbana Sweetcorn Festival
  • Mahomet Music Festival
  • Japan House Matsuri
  • CU Oktoberfest
  • Parade of Lights
  • Engineering Open House
  • Boneyard Arts Festival
  • Street Fest
  • Freedom Celebrations
  • Historic Farm Days.

Enjoy Fall of Champaign Urbana as it is the most splendid time to visit this quirky county with nature blooming in many Fall colors.

Champaign in Fall

I hope you would love the Mid-western hospitality and vibrant cultural vibes of Champaign Urbana. Feel the #outofordinary  experience at #chambana which is one of the most unique in Mid-West.  Check this 24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana Illinois guide before you plan your Urbana Champaign Illinois tour. 

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois

RELATED READS –

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Champaign guide for first timers

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83 Comments

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We will have to remember Champaign Urbana the next time we head to Illinois. We are always drawn to the big US football stadiums. So much more impressive that we find in Canada. We would definitely head to the Wandell Sculpture Garden. We have visited outdoor statue gardens around the world and love to see the art in nature. Love that there are so many outdoor activities. And worth staying for those colourful sunsets.

Champaign is really wonderful with beautiful fall and winter too.

I love University towns! There seems to be a lot of parks too and it is interesting to have a creative side to it with sculptures. I am quite pleasantly surprised at the spread of vegetarian options in this place! I have never visited this part of the world, and it is high time I plan a trip here! 🙂

You would love this place as it is very quiet and beautiful.

Hi Yukti, These places are really amazing. Thanks for sharing with us

Thanks for loving it.

You are welcome

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To be completely frank I have never been to Illinois nor do I know what there is to do there. It just never struck me as a place to travel to, but your blog post made me think otherwise. I love the photos to go with the text, as you get a whole other feel for a destination with visuals. I love beautiful green gardens so this would probably be my favorite spot and on top of my list to visit!

Thanks Ann, even before visiting Illinois I never thought it would be so much wonderful with lots of greenery and away from city pollution.

I’ve only heard about Urbana-Champaign with regard to the University of Illinois, but college towns are a lot of fun to explore. There’s clearly so much more than the university campus here though! The town just looks so green with so many outdoor activity options. I’d love to test out my camera on the Lake of the Woods Covered Bridge when the weather is good.

Yes Kevin, I visited first time to some college town in USA and I am really impressed that how well managed it is. Even the green spaces here in Champaign are lot many for nature lovers.

It’s always considered Champaign Urbana to be a typical college town, but your post has opened my eyes. I am astonished at all the green places there are in the area! I would love to visit the sculpture garden and also tour the local orchard. I’ve also need to visit the iconic covered bridge, which has been a must-see on my bucket list.

There are many green spaces here and quirky museums of art & sculpture. You would love this town.

We did a big 7 week trip to the USA however we really only stuck to the tourist trial, I would have loved to have some extra time to visit some less tourist places like Illinois and see what the really USA is like away from what we are so familiar with from television.

Yes Sally, USA’s touristic cities are very different from the other places where USA locals live. And to see how they live their life is always so interesting thing to do in the USA.

What a charming little place to visit! First, I love going to see games in college stadiums around the country. Having grown up in the south, college football is a big part of my life. The parks and gardens all look great, but my must see would be the covered bridge!

Yes many stadiums and many parks are the features of this place.

What a quaint, beautiful town! I’d never heard of it, which seems weird since UL is there. I had no idea they had the 2nd largest university library! I love all of the parks that you can visit.

Yes many people don’t know this but it is really beautiful town with a great University campus.

What a comprehensive list of things to do and see in a charming Midwestern college town! I think I’d enjoy the Meadowbrook Park & Wandell Sculpture Garden the most!

You would surely enjoy this garden.

wow, there is a lot to do in this part of the world! I would love to visit just for the architecture alone. All those grand buildings and the covered bridges. Stunning! And exactly how I imagine this part of the US to be. Storybook USA really.

Yes Sandra, storybook USA, you named it correctly.

Wow, I have never heard of this town, or these sights but it looks like there is so many interesting things to see. Or do. This just goes to show that there is so many places in the U.S. that I don’t even know about but what I should still. My worry would be how to get my kids out of that park.. ha ha.

Yes Paula, to get kids out of that park is really a task. LOL

I love this trend of university cities catering to a wider audience. I like Urbana’s appeal to nature lovers and active citizens. And that’s a lot of festivals for one town!

Yes Annick, I too find this University City very interesting.

It’s so funny that I’m from Chicago and have never made it to Urbana Champaign but am reading about it on a blog now! There is so much greenery down there in such a variety of shapes and sizes (botanical gardens, parks, etc.) which is amazing. I think I’d be most drawn to Urbana Champaign for all the nature.

Good to know you live in Chicago and now you plan soon for this beautiful natural place.

Wow! This is the most detailed post I have read about Urbana, IL. Thank you so much for sharing it.

We would love to visit the Alto Vineyards. We enjoy wine-tasting and it such a “challenge” to find the best and the greatest wines in the world.

Yes Clarice, it is fun here.

Thanks for sharing this detailed list! All things looks super fun! Will save this for later if i ever get the change to go to Illinois!

I haven’t even heard of Champaign Urbana and here you’ve listed so many amazing things to do there! I would particularly enjoy taking a stroll in the Wandell Sculpture Garden or visiting the Alto Vineyards, given my love for wine. Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve also looks pretty cool, it would be amazing to rent a kayak there!

Yes you would love this hidden gem.

What a beautiful city! That’s how I imagine a typical American city. Thank you for presenting it to me, you like it.

Yes many American towns are like this and really love to see them

I’ve never head of this area of Illinois, but wow – there certainly is plenty to do! I am a big fan of botanical gardens, so that would make my list. The preserve and park also seem fun. There is a lot of history there, too!

Yes there is many things to do here and you are right not many people know about it.

It seems the place has plenty to offer. Your photography is stunning!!! Indian restaurants look very popular there. Thanks for sharing all details.

What a beautiful city! I’ll admit that I wasn’t familiar with it before coming across your post, but now I’m convinced that it’s a beautiful place to visit! There are so many pretty parks. And the lake! We love kayaking, so that is perfect for us. Thanks for the info about the parking meters. I’ll admit that we are terrible about carrying coins, so it’s always good to have the reminder!

Yes Leah, even I too don’t carry coins but every morning I used to exchange from my hotel reception.

Do you find it ironic to go to Champaign for wine? Seriously though, that’s a great school and college town. There’s something idyllic and wonderful about the community there.

Wow, it seems like there’s a lot of green space in Champaign! I also love that many of the places on your list are free to visit!

Yes many are free to visit.

I never heard of Champaign Urbana but now I want to check it out. Seems to be a mixture of modern life and the outdoor life (which really suits me). Going to put this on my list of places to visit in Illinois when I go there for the first time.

So many parks to enjoy in Champaign Urbana. I especially enjoyed seeing the sculptures. At first I thought the architecture looked quite French in your first photo and then quite English looking. It certainly has many interesting styles. The Bell Tower is impressive as well.

This is quite a hidden gem. Love the variety it offers. The Vineyards look so refreshing and definitely something I want to do. I am quite amused by the bell tower. They sure have given it a different musical spin with all those computer programs. Quite interesting!

Yes, they given many musical twists through computer programming and also can be done manually. As this bell tower is located in world’s best computer institutions it is all programmed here.

Camping and Illinois sounds just perfect. As a camping lover myself I would just love to camp the next time, though I haven’t been camping a lot of places in the states. I really like the view of Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve it looks incredibly pristine. I had no idea that Illinois had a Hindu temple within it I would just love to try the Indian food there.

Yes camping at Lake of the woods is a very pristine experience. Yes you get yummy Indian food in Hindu Temple, but check the schedules of opening timings before you go there.

so many cool things to! I´m honest, I haven´t heard about Champaign Urbana yet! I would love to explore all the nature things, like the sculpture garden or the lake! And wathcing a football game 😀 Thanks for sharing all that!

You would love all Pia as it is really wonderful here. I too agree that many people don’t know about Champaign but it is hidden gem.

This is interesting, esp., since it shares its name with the French city of my favourite wine, Champagne. Hahaha…. Quite interesting that Champaign also has vineyards in it! The university has 24 Nobel winners and 18 Pulitzer winners? OMG! That’s crazy. To even study in this environment would be very educating, putting aside the knowledge imparted by the teachers! Wandell Sculpture garden would be my top place to visit. The Hassel Park would be perfect for me too, with my little gal. She would have a blast. As usual I wouldn’t miss the murals.

Yes this University is very prestigious and ranks even in top 10 for some of its programs. Also the nature attractions here are worth. You would truly enjoy this place.

I would love to visit the Champaign-Urbana area. The University of Illinois campus looks impressive. I’m a nature-lover, and I would definitely enjoy going on a short trip there. You look very happy and relaxed, Yukti. And your outfit is lovely!

Thanks for lovely compliment and yes this place is very beautiful.

Early next year we will be getting direct flights from my home town of Brisbane in Australia to Chicago so we really want to head over and do a road trip. Thanks for the tips for Champain Urbane. It definitely will be on the list of places to visit.

You would love it though it is offbeat destination. But it is very peaceful and beautiful.

I must admit I would have never planned this beautiful destination even if I was to visit Chicago and thanks to your post it has come to my knowledge. It is great to see that it has some good educational institutions so most likely would have lively feel with the students. Some great natural beauty and would be great to enjoy the outdoors in the summer in Champain Urbane. Similar to some of the places I have viisted in the States there seems to be good options to eat as well. Lastly I must admit as always the Hilton property never fails to charm with its great accommodation. I would try and visit it on my next trip to the USA.

Champaign Urbana is a lovely town with impressive culture.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Illinois but have never heard of Champain Urbane. However, from reading your post, there are clearly some interesting things to do here. I like the look of the vineyards as I’m a wine drinker and the parks too. I love Mexican food so Maze would be my first stop!

You would love vineyards here and also this city Champaign is worth visiting though not many people know it.

I’ve not heard of this area before, so thanks for sharing! I love that there is so much green space and parks. One to add to the list the next time I’m visiting Chicago and want to see outside the city.

Yes Katie, you would love this area when you visit it. Whenever you plan for Chicago take some time to cover this part too

What stunning green spaces! Those parks look lovely. I’ve never had the privilege of visiting Illinois, you’ve opened my eyes to some of the other things the state has to offer other than Chicago…it’s going on my bucket list!

Yes lots of farms, green spaces, blue sky and natural wonders in Illinois. Fall is the best time to go there.

I have never been to US but this looks like a cool, underrated place. Would love to explore

Not many people know about this place but yes you would love it.

Even though Champaign isn’t too far away from where I grew up I have never been there. I had no idea there were so many things to do in Champaign. The Curtis Orchard & Pumpkin Patch looks fun, it’s always nice to visit Midwest orchards and farms during the fall. I bet the Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens are beautiful.

I second you that the Mid-west area becomes stunning in Fall and all orchards and farms here are very beautiful. Good to know you lived here close by.

We always think of Chicago first but Champaign Urbana will be a place I consider for a future visit. You had me at foodie destination. Every one of the restaurants you mentioned seems amazing. I am a big fan of Indian Cuisine so was happy to see you included 3 suggestions in that category. Also a huge fan of the murals and art work displayed throughout the city. it so fun to walk or perhaps rent one of the bikes and try and discover as many of the murals as possible.

Biking in Champaign is fun along the huge trees and lush green grounds. You would love the peace and vibrant atmosphere of this place.

I always thought only of Chicago in Illinois. Never knew Champaign Urbana would be so interesting. The place seems to be green with the number of parks and lakes around. Loved the idea of eco-friendly way of exploring the parks. Thanks for recommending the veg places to eat and that too 3 out of them are Indian. However the first thing on my list would be the guided tour to the Blue Water Supercomputer.

You would love this city of Champaign

I just received my ten year USA visa today. My happiness level is so high, furthermore after reading your post on things to do in Champaign Urbana. Nature is totally my thing, enjoyed yr post while reading all the activities and fun thibgs you can do in Meadowbrook Park & Wandell Sculpture Garden.

Good to know that you received your USA visa and now you can enjoy all attractions of USA

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17 Best Things to Do in Champaign, Illinois

Last Updated By VI in Illinois on June 7, 2024

Things to Do in Champaign

Anita Purves Nature Center

Blue waters supercomputer, champaign county history museum at the historic cattle bank, urbana park district park system.

  • Complete List & Map

Anita Purves Nature Center

1505 N Broadway Ave, Urbana, Illinois 61801, Phone: 217-384-4062

Blue Waters Supercomputer

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at 1205 W. Clark St., Urbana, Illinois. Phone: 217-244-6689

Champaign County History Museum at the Historic Cattle Bank

102 E University Ave, Champaign, IL 61820, Phone: 217-356-1010

Urbana Park District Park System

The Urbana Park District's park system includes several pristine natural areas and green spaces that have been beautifully restored to showcase the very best of Illinois' most diverse habitats. Parks in the system include Busey Woods, Weaver Park, Meadowbrook Park, and Perkins Road Site. Busey Woods is a 59-acre oak-hickory forest located at the north end of Crystal Lake Park and is well known for its spectacular spring wildflower display, elevated boardwalk, and excellent birdwatching. Weaver Park is a 60-acre park to the south of the intersection of Main Street and Smith Road, which boasts prairie and native grasses, savannahs, and woodlands. Meadowbrook Park is an 80-acre Illinois native landscape in south Urbana, along Windsor Road and Race Street, and the Perkins Road Site is an on-going project that will include a range of prairie and wetland environments for wildlife observation, environmental education programs, and recreation.

Japan House, Champaign, IL

Japan House, Champaign, IL

2000 S Lincoln Ave, Urbana, IL 61802, Phone: 217-244-9934

Krannert Art Museum

Krannert Art Museum

Next read: Getaways in Illinois

Spurlock Museum

Spurlock Museum

600 S Gregory St, Urbana, IL 61801, Phone: 217-333-2360

Staerkel Planetarium

Staerkel Planetarium

2400 West Bradley Avenue, Champaign, IL 61821, Phone: 217-351-2568

The Sousa Archives Center for American Music

The Sousa Archives Center for American Music

Harding Band Bldg, 1103 S 6th St, Champaign, IL 61820, Phone: 217-244-9309

University of Illinois Arboretum

University of Illinois Arboretum

2001 S Lincoln Ave, Urbana, IL 61802, Phone: 217-333-7579

University of Illinois Morrow Plots

University of Illinois Morrow Plots

1102 S Goodwin Ave, Urbana, IL 61801, Phone: 217-333-3420

Alto Vineyards and Winery

Alto Vineyards and Winery

Champaign: 4210 N Duncan Road, Champaign, IL 61822, Phone: 217-356-4784

BrewLab Coffee

BrewLab Coffee

630 S 5th St, Champaign, IL

The Blind Pig Brewery

The Blind Pig Brewery

120 N Neil St, Champaign, IL 61820, Phone: 217-398-5133

University of Illinois Ice Arena

University of Illinois Ice Arena

Located on the campus of the University of Illinois, the Ice Arena is a treasured asset for both students and the public. At the heart of the arena is the huge 192 X 115-foot sheet of ice which is perfect for all ice-related activities including hockey, figure skating and free-style skating. The arena is open to the public for various skating activities several times a week and there are a number of clubs which offer lessons and fun team activities for anyone who would like to take their skating hobby to the next level. Before or after your ice activity you can visit the Ice Café for a snack and a warming mug of hot chocolate. 201 E. Peabody Drive, Champaign, IL 61820, 217 333 2212

The Virginia Theatre

The Virginia Theatre

For more than 100 years the Virginia Theatre has been a treasured landmark in the heart of downtown Champaign. It started life in 1921 as a Vaudeville theatre before becoming a live performance venue and a movie house. After a large-scale restoration, the Virginia Theatre is once again bringing the pure joy of live entertainment and classic movies to the Champaign community. Today you can visit the historic theatre to enjoy a wide range of entertainment including comedy nights, children’s theatre, concerts, stage plays and dance performances. Please visit their website to see what’s on during your visit and to book your tickets online. 203 W. Park Ave, Champaign, IL 61820, 217 356 9063

State Farm Center

State Farm Center

The amazing State Farm Center is an entertainment venue which opened back in 1963, but still manages to attract huge audiences today. When it opened, the venue was pretty unique, boasting an enormous domed roof which is only supported on two edges. Its amazing architectural design has endured and it still pulls in crowds of up to 16,000 spectators. The venue hosts men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, huge big-name musical concerts, Broadway extravaganzas and many other forms of entertainment. You can see what’s on and book your tickets on their website. 1800 S. 1st Street, Champaign, IL 61820, 217 333 2923

  • 1. Anita Purves Nature Center
  • 2. Blue Waters Supercomputer
  • 3. Champaign County History Museum at the Historic Cattle Bank
  • 4. Urbana Park District Park System
  • 5. Japan House, Champaign, IL
  • 6. Krannert Art Museum
  • 7. Spurlock Museum
  • 8. Staerkel Planetarium
  • 9. The Sousa Archives Center for American Music
  • 10. University of Illinois Arboretum
  • 11. University of Illinois Morrow Plots
  • 12. Alto Vineyards and Winery
  • 13. BrewLab Coffee
  • 14. The Blind Pig Brewery
  • 15. University of Illinois Ice Arena
  • 16. The Virginia Theatre
  • 17. State Farm Center

More Getaways in Illinois:

Resources: Enjoy Illinois , Illinois.gov , State Parks , Chicago

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Things to do near Champaign-Urbana

Eclectic restaurants and wine bars cater to your most refined tastes, with several making their homes in stunning art and science museums. Check out the booming farm-to-table scene or enjoy handcrafted brews in local pubs near the University of Illinois. Pay a visit to the ornate 1,517-acre Robert Allerton Park , listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and one of the American Institute of Architects' 150 Great Places in Illinois.

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Olio in Iowa

6 Outside of Ordinary Things to Do in Champaign-Urbana

Mural that says "Outside of Ordinary" in downtown Champaign, Illinois

For many Midwesterners, the central part of Illinois is most-often known as the home of the University of Illinois. But there are lots of other things to do in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.

With ample outdoor spaces, delicious dining and creative cultural attractions, this metro area is full of potential adventures, no matter the season. Get your steps in, appreciate some museum-worthy art and maybe even be inspired to create something of your own.

Whatever you decide on, you’re sure to leave feeling recharged and with a new sense of inspiration. So, the next time you’re in the area, discover six outside-of-ordinary things to do in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.

Disclosure : My visit to Champaign-Urbana was hosted by Experience Champaign-Urbana . However, all opinions are my own.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. 

Table of Contents

Best Places to Stay in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

Best Game Day Option : I Hotel and Illinois Conference Center – Champaign   is located next to the State Farm Center and Memorial Stadium on the University of Illinois campus. If you’re here to cheer on the Fighting Illini, this is the place to stay.

Best Location : Hyatt Place Champaign/Urbana is located in the heart of downtown Champaign, making it walking distance from many of my favorite things to do in Champaign-Urbana.

On-Campus Accommodation :  TownePlace Suites by Marriott Champaign   has all the right amenities for visitors looking to stay within walking distance to the University of Illinois campus.

Things to Do in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

Get your steps in at meadowbrook park & the wandell sculpture garden.

Wildflowers in front of barn at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana, Illinois

Get your steps in and explore the outdoors with a visit to Meadowbrook Park and the Wandell Sculpture Garden . This 130-acre Urbana park includes amble walking trails, a vibrant tall grass prairie, a working farmstead, playground and more.

Wander the paved trail system and discover a variety of sculptures along the way. The Wandell Sculpture Garden was established in 1999 and has continued to grow along the park’s trails and green spaces.

Meadowbrook Park & Wandell Sculpture Garden, 2808 S. Race Street in Urbana, Illinois

Sculpture in front of barn at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana, Illinois

Find Inspiration at the Krannert Art Museum

Exterior of Krannert Art Museum in Urbana, Illinois

Head to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus for a visit to the Krannert Art Museum . This museum has an impressive collection of more than 11,000 works of art from the 4th century B.C. to the present.

The Krannert the second largest fine art museum in Illinois. Here you’ll find floors of classic oil paintings and varied works by contemporary artists. With a number of temporary exhibitions and galleries displaying the museum’s collection, there’s something to see for every type of art lover.

The best part? The Krannert Art Museum has free admission, making it the perfect stop for a quick bit of culture as you explore Champaign-Urbana.

Krannert Art Museum, 500 E. Peabody Drive in Champaign, Illinois

Art at Krannert Art Museum in Urbana, Illinois

Get Creative at Art Coop

Exterior of Art Co-op in Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana, Illinois

If there’s one thing that I love, it’s an art supply store and Art Coop is an absolute gem. Located in Lincoln Square Mall, Art Coop serves as a full-service supply shop for the area’s students. But it’s an equally fun stop if you’re a just recreational creative (or someone who loves a good pen).

From a wide variety of pens and pencils to endless stickers and notebook options, I promise it’ll be challenging to leave without finding  something you just have to have.

Art Coop, Lincoln Square Mall, 150 Lincoln Square Village in Urbana, Illinois

Display of pens at Art Co-op in Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana, Illinois

Explore Allerton Park & Retreat Center

Sculptures in front of sunken garden at Allerton in Monticello, Illinois

Step back in time with a short drive to Allerton . Artist and philanthropist Robert Allerton originally built this modern day park and retreat center in Monticello as his private residence.

In the 1900s, this sprawling estate was referred to as “The Farms.” For much of his life, Allerton called this haven home. In 1946, it formally gifted the home, grounds and surrounding farmland to the University of Illinois. At the time, he stipulated that he wanted the land to “be used by the University as an education and research center, as a forest and wild-life and plant-life reserve, as an example of landscape gardening, and as a public park.”

Sculpture in formal garden at Allerton in Monticello, Illinois

Today, Allerton’s dreams have been realized and the estate is open for the public to enjoy through its 1,500 acres of woodlands, prairies and formal gardens.

While the mansion was closed for a private event during our visit, we loved exploring the park’s formal gardens. The plantings in these gardens were blooming beautifully, but the real stars of the show are the gardens’ sculptures. You’ll find these wonderful pieces of outdoor art around every turn and they’re the perfect connection to the property’s history.

Finally, we grabbed a light bite at the Greenhouse Café , which is the perfect causal spot to refuel.

Allerton, 515 Old Timber Road in Monticello, Illinois

Formal garden at Allerton in Monticello, Illinois

Dine at Delicious Restaurants

Graphic for blog post about restaurants in Champaign, Illinois including images of gelato at Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, bibimbap at Ko Fusion and veggie ricotta toast at the Greenhouse Café at Allerton.

A Midwestern college town might not immediately seem like a culinary mecca. But on a recent visit to central Illinois, we were blown away by the number of incredible restaurants in Champaign-Urbana .

Whether you’re in the mood for something sweet or need a hearty meal, this Illinois community is full of eateries that deliver delicious flavors and varied menu options. From innovative Asian cuisine to traditional Italian fare, you’re sure to find something to tickle your taste buds in this college town.

Tour the Japan House & Wander the Arboretum

Garden at the University of Illinois Arboretum in Urbana, Illinois

Continue soaking in Urbana’s ample green space with a visit to the University of Illinois Arboretum . This beautifully maintained outdoor space includes 57 acres of display gardens, specialty tree groves and more.

The arboretum serves as a living laboratory for the university and surrounding community, offering all sorts of educational opportunities and example plantings. One of my favorite parts of the arboretum was the Idea Garden , which the Master Gardeners of the Champaign County Extension Unit maintain. The vibrant space includes all sorts of ornamental, vegetable and border plantings as well as a whimsical children’s garden.

Children's garden in Idea Garden at the University of Illinois Arboretum in Urbana, Illinois

At one end of the arboretum, you’ll find the Japan House . Then, a serene tea garden, dry rock garden and blossoming cherry trees surround this traditional structure. The Japan House is also an extension of the university and offers cultural courses, community outreach programs and international visiting artists as a way to bridge gaps between cultures.

As you explore, keep an eye out for a wooden gazebo designed and crafted by actor (and University of Illinois and Japan House alum) Nick Offerman.

University of Illinois Arboretum, 2001 S. Lincoln Avenue in Urbana, Illinois

Japan house, 2000 s. lincoln avenue in urbana, illinois.

Japanese garden outside of Japan House at the University of Illinois Arboretum in Urbana, Illinois

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Want even more offbeat adventures, roadside attractions and world's largest things? Follow Olio in Iowa on your favorite social media platforms, and tag #OlioOnTheRoad when you have quirky adventures of your own.

Share Your Thoughts

I would love to hear from you! What are your favorite things to do near Champaign, Illinois?

For many Midwesterners, the central part of Illinois is most-often known as the home of the University of Illinois. But there are lots of other things to do in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. With ample outdoor spaces, delicious dining and creative cultural attractions, this metro area is full of potential adventures, no matter the season. Get your steps in, appreciate some museum-worthy art and maybe even be inspired to create something of your own.

Related Posts

Bibimbap at Ko Fusion in Champaign, Illinois

A Midwestern college town might not immediately seem like a culinary mecca. But on a recent visit to central Illinois, we were blown away by the number of incredible restaurants in Champaign-Urbana.

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  4. 25 Best Things to do in Champaign IL, United States

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COMMENTS

  1. THE 10 BEST Things to Do in Champaign (2024)

    By Z1546ZUterrim. I really like their seats in the theater. 5. Champaign Public Library. 132. Libraries. Step into our light-filled, open spaces and see our wonderful Peter Sis murals, colorful TeenSpace, quiet meeting rooms, Library Café and Friendshop Bookstore. The library at 200 W. Green St., is …. 6.

  2. 15 Best Things to Do in Champaign (IL)

    Here is my list of the best things to do in Champaign. 1. Downtown Champaign. Source: GrungeElfz / shutterstock. Downtown Champaign. Cozy and welcoming like a small town, but with sophisticated cultural venues and a bustling events calendar, downtown Champaign is an obvious first port of call in the city.

  3. Things to Do in Champaign-Urbana

    Things to Do in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois: See Tripadvisor's 26,177 traveler reviews and photos of Champaign-Urbana tourist attractions. Find what to do today, this weekend, or in July. We have reviews of the best places to see in Champaign-Urbana. Visit top-rated & must-see attractions.

  4. 12 Top-Rated Things to Do in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

    Foellinger Auditorium at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Along with the academic pursuits and historic architecture found on campus, the university adds an array of tourist attractions and things to do. A few of the community additions sponsored by the university include art and cultural museums, a stunning arboretum, and spirited ...

  5. 26 Best & Fun Things to Do in Champaign (IL)

    Address: 200 W Green St, Champaign, Champaign-Urbana, IL 61820-5193. 3. University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Credits: tzm23 / Shutterstock. University of Illinois Champaign. The University of Champaign-Urbana was established in 1867 and has been a vital part of the city's history for more than 150 years.

  6. THE 30 BEST Places to Visit in Champaign (UPDATED 2024)

    1. Champaign Public Library. 132. Libraries. Step into our light-filled, open spaces and see our wonderful Peter Sis murals, colorful TeenSpace, quiet meeting rooms, Library Café and Friendshop Bookstore. The library at 200 W. Green St., is …. 2. Memorial Stadium. 128.

  7. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Champaign-Urbana

    Top Things to Do in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois: See Tripadvisor's 26,147 traveller reviews and photos of Champaign-Urbana tourist attractions. Find what to do today, this weekend, or in June. We have reviews of the best places to see in Champaign-Urbana. Visit top-rated & must-see attractions.

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    With so many world-famous attractions and sites, deciding on the best things to do in Champaign may appear bewildering. ... Nestled along the Sangamon area in Champaign, the Sholem Aquatic Center is another tourist attraction in Illinois. ... Address: 200 W Green St, Champaign, IL 61820, United States. 5. Alto Vineyards And Winery.

  9. 12 Best Things to Do in Champaign-Urbana, IL (+Map)

    9. Crystal Lake Park. A very peaceful and picturesque spot to spend some time, Crystal Lake Park lies on the Urbana side of town, with mature urban woodland coating most of it. In addition to offering up lots of exciting outdoor activities, it has all kinds of attractions and amenities to check out.

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    When it comes to showing off the Champaign-Urbana area, we just can't help but notice its brilliance. Unexpected outdoor activities in the heart of the Midwest, perfect for exploration, await you. Discovering a flavor from a cuisine you've never tried, one of the many reasons we claim the title of Midwest Living's Greatest Midwest Food ...

  11. 25 Best Things to do in Champaign IL, United States

    Actually, Crystal Lake Park is one of the top tourist attractions in Champaign IL, for nature lovers and adventure seekers. (things to do in Champaign IL) Address: 206 W Park St, Urbana, IL 61801, United States. 5. Anita Purves Nature Park.

  12. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Champaign (Updated 2024)

    These rankings are informed by traveller reviews—we consider the quality, quantity, recency, consistency of reviews, and the number of page views over time. 1. Champaign County History Museum. 19. History Museums. By catherinelD46LR. I was pleasantly surprised at the museum exhibits. 2. Memorial Stadium.

  13. 20 Best Things to Do in Champaign, IL

    Take Your Little Ones to Meadowbrook Park. Meadowbrook Park is one of Champaign's elite parks. This is one of the top attractions for children in the city. Kids of all ages love the place for there are many things to do here. The 13,000-square-foot playground happens to be the biggest attraction inside the park.

  14. 17 Best Things to Do in Champaign, IL

    The best way to experience this arena is to watch its college basketball games. If there are no games available on your visit, see a live cultural performance or a fun event, like a car show. 3. The Virginia Theatre. 203 W Park Ave. Champaign, IL 61820. (217) 356-9063.

  15. Best & Fun Things To Do + Places To Visit In Champaign, Illinois

    Champaign is a vibrant city with plenty of exciting activities and attractions to explore. Whether you're a foodie, a history buff, or an outdoor enthusiast, Champaign has something for everyone. One of the highlights of Champaign is the University of Illinois, which offers a unique college town experience.

  16. 24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana Illinois

    Where to eat in Urbana Champaign - Ideal for Vegetarians too - 24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana Illinois. Panera Bread - Sandwiches and Soups. Maze - for Mexican food. Ambar Restaurant - For Indian cuisine. Kohinoor Restaurant - For Indian cuisine. Old Chicago - for Italian and American style pizza.

  17. 17 Best Things to Do in Champaign, Illinois

    The venue hosts men's and women's basketball tournaments, huge big-name musical concerts, Broadway extravaganzas and many other forms of entertainment. You can see what's on and book your tickets on their website. 1800 S. 1st Street, Champaign, IL 61820, 217 333 2923. 17 Best Things to Do in Champaign, Illinois: 1.

  18. THE 10 BEST Things to Do Near Illinois Champaign, IL

    Spurlock Museum. #4 of 42 things to do in Urbana. 45 reviews. 600 S Gregory St at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Champaign-Urbana, IL 61801-3759. 0.5 miles from Illinois Champaign, IL.

  19. Things To Do In Champaign-Urbana

    Things to do near Champaign-Urbana. Eclectic restaurants and wine bars cater to your most refined tastes, with several making their homes in stunning art and science museums. Check out the booming farm-to-table scene or enjoy handcrafted brews in local pubs near the University of Illinois. Pay a visit to the ornate 1,517-acre Robert Allerton ...

  20. The 10 Best Things to Do in Champaign

    Champaign Public Library. 132. Libraries. Step into our light-filled, open spaces and see our wonderful Peter Sis murals, colorful TeenSpace, quiet meeting rooms, Library Café and Friendshop Bookstore. The library at 200 W. Green St., is …. 6. The Virginia Theatre.

  21. THE BEST Champaign Points of Interest & Landmarks

    2. Sinai Temple. Her opinion is simple: "The best and friendliest synagogue I've ever attended." Rabbi Cook is an articulate and... Top Champaign Points of Interest & Landmarks: See reviews and photos of Points of Interest & Landmarks in Champaign, Illinois on Tripadvisor.

  22. 6 Outside of Ordinary Things to Do in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

    For many Midwesterners, the central part of Illinois is most-often known as the home of the University of Illinois. But there are lots of other things to do in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. With ample outdoor spaces, delicious dining and creative cultural attractions, this metro area is full of potential adventures, no matter the season. Get your steps in, appreciate some museum-worthy art and ...

  23. THE 10 BEST Things to Do in Champaign

    These rankings are informed by traveller reviews—we consider the quality, quantity, recency, consistency of reviews, and the number of page views over time. 1. Champaign County History Museum. 19. History Museums. By catherinelD46LR. I was pleasantly surprised at the museum exhibits. 2.