Relaxing to live music at the Sipyard beer garden, which operates out of a shipping container in downtown Urbana
A full arena to cheer on the Fighting Illini basketball team at the University of Illinois
The manicured gardens at Allerton Park & Retreat Center
A horse and buggy traveling through the fields of Illinois Amish Country
Strolling the Great Pumpkin Patch grounds and seeing more than 300 varieties of pumpkins, squash and gourds
A farm-to-table dinner held at Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery
A concert during Pygmalion, an annual festival celebrating music, literature, technology, food and local makers
Traditional tea ceremony at the Japan House and Gardens
Opening night at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
Parading through the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus
Smart college town with Midwestern hospitality
Food and Fun
Spend time on local farms, which offer samples of their harvests and a variety of experiences. Tour Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery to learn about their herd of Nubian goats, and taste award-winning cheeses and gelato made with goat milk and the dairy-free sorbetto (that also uses local fruits). Stroll the grounds of the 81-hectare Great Pumpkin Patch, and see more than 300 varieties of pumpkins, squash and gourds from more than 30 countries. Explore mazes, wander the gardens and see animals, such as goats, rabbits and chickens. At Curtis Orchard & Pumpkin Patch, pick your own apples, drink fresh cider and taste honey harvested on site. Find your way through a four-hectare corn maze, then meet a herd of friendly Alaskan reindeer – they like getting kisses – at Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch, which is especially active during the holiday season with 5,000 Christmas trees.
Back in town, you’ll also find a tasty food scene. In fact, Champaign was named Greatest Midwest Food Town by Midwest Living in 2017. Choose your pick from more than 40 locally owned restaurants – many featuring local ingredient – set among lively bars, breweries, theaters and public art pieces.
Arts and Local Culture
Top arts venues include the second largest fine arts museum in the state of Illinois, Krannert Art Museum, and the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, featuring more than 300 performances annually, both on the university campus. Catch live music, a stage production or a movie at The Virginia Theatre, tour the European-inspired Allerton Park & Retreat Center estate and gardens, and ride a train and see more than 100 pieces of historic railcars at the Monticello Railway Museum. Don’t miss an opportunity to visit Illinois Amish Country just south of Champaign, where the locals get around by horse and buggy, and create fine crafts without the use of electricity.
Technology geeks will feel like they hit the jackpot in Champaign. Visit the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and see the Blue Waters Supercomputer, the fastest supercomputer on a university campus and one of the most powerful in the world. The Champaign-Urbana Fab Lab is another fun destination to see 3D printing and get hands-on with the latest technological gadgets.
Famed film critic Roger Ebert, who made the “thumbs up” sign universal in film review is from Champaign-Urbana. During the annual Ebertfest film festival, festival-goers uphold the unofficial tradition of taking a “thumbs up” photo with his statue.
Siri on your iPhone gets some of her data from Champaign. Wolfram Alpha developed at Wolfram Research in Champaign provides a computational search engine to answer phone users’ analytical questions.
The undergraduate library at the University of Illinois was built underground so it wouldn’t cast a shadow on the Morrow Plots, the longest running experimental cornfield in the Western Hemisphere.