About 135 miles south of Chicago, in central Illinois, is the thriving and diverse city of Champaign. The University of Illinois, located in Champaign, is consistently ranked as one of the best public universities in the country, and the city itself is a unique blend of academic excellence, natural beauty, and small-town charm. Champaign’s downtown area is a major draw, with many different types of businesses, dining options, and cultural venues. Champaign-Urbana hosts a wide variety of annual festivals and events open to tourists, such as the Taste of Champaign-Urbana and the Roger Ebert Film Festival. Stunning parks and natural areas can also be found in and around Champaign.
Crystal Lake Park and Hessel Park are just two of the many large parks in the city that are perfect for picnicking, biking, and jogging. Beautiful gardens, hiking trails, and an old mansion can all be found at the nearby Allerton Park and Retreat Center, making it a popular tourist spot in its own right. Champaign is known for its scenic parks and cultural institutions, but it also boasts a number of historical sites and museums, such as the Krannert Art Museum and the Champaign County Historical Museum. Tourists can learn about the local history and way of life at these sites!
15. Krannert Art Museum
The Krannert Art Museum is an art museum located on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It is one of the oldest and largest university art museums in the United States.
The museum houses a collection of over 17,000 works of art from around the world, spanning from ancient to contemporary times. The museum also hosts a variety of exhibitions, lectures, and educational programs. The Krannert Art Museum is a great place to explore the world of art and culture.
14. Spurlock Museum
The Spurlock Museum is a museum located in Champaign, Illinois. It is a museum of world cultures, featuring exhibits on the art, archaeology, and ethnography of cultures from around the world.
The museum was founded in 1962 and is part of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The museum houses over 20,000 artifacts from around the world, including ancient Egyptian artifacts, African masks, and Native American pottery. The museum also offers educational programs, lectures, and workshops.
13. The Japan House
The Japan House Champaign is a cultural center located in Champaign, Illinois. It is a place to explore and experience the culture of Japan through its art, architecture, and activities.
The Japan House offers a variety of programs and events, including lectures, workshops, and performances. Visitors can also explore the Japanese garden, participate in tea ceremonies, and learn about traditional Japanese arts and crafts. The Japan House also has a gift shop, where visitors can purchase items related to Japanese culture.
12. Orpheum Children’s Science Museum
The Orpheum Children’s Science Museum in Champaign, Illinois is a hands-on science museum that offers interactive exhibits and activities for children of all ages. The museum features a variety of exhibits and activities that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Visitors can explore the museum’s interactive exhibits, which include a planetarium, a robotics lab, a chemistry lab, and a 3D printing lab. The museum also offers a variety of educational programs and workshops for children and families. The museum is open to the public and admission is free.
11. Virginia Theatre
The Virginia Theatre is a historic theater located in Champaign, Illinois. It was built in 1921 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The theater is a popular venue for live performances, films, and other events.
It has a seating capacity of 1,500 and features a large stage, a balcony, and a grand lobby. The theater is owned and operated by the Champaign Park District and is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.
10. Champaign County Historical Museum
The Champaign County Historical Museum is a museum located in Champaign, Illinois. It is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of Champaign County and the surrounding area.
The museum features a variety of exhibits, including a permanent exhibit on the history of the county, a rotating exhibit on local history, and a variety of temporary exhibits. The museum also offers educational programs, lectures, and special events. The museum is open to the public and admission is free.
9. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a public research university located in Champaign, Illinois. It is the flagship institution of the University of Illinois system and is the second-oldest public university in the state. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus is home to over 47,000 students and offers over 150 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
The campus is known for its strong academic programs, research opportunities, and vibrant student life. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is also home to a number of notable alumni, including Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, and MacArthur Fellows.
8. The Arboretum
The Arboretum Champaign, Illinois is a public garden located in Champaign, Illinois. It is a part of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is home to over 1,000 species of plants. The Arboretum is a popular destination for visitors, offering a variety of activities such as walking trails, bird watching, and educational programs.
The Arboretum also hosts various events throughout the year, including concerts, art shows, and festivals. The Arboretum is a great place to explore and learn about the natural world.
7. The State Farm Center
The State Farm Center is a multi-purpose arena located in Champaign, Illinois. It is home to the University of Illinois Fighting Illini men’s and women’s basketball teams. The arena has a capacity of 16,618 for basketball games and up to 17,500 for concerts. It also hosts various other events, including concerts, family shows, and conventions.
The arena features a variety of amenities, including a full-service restaurant, a concession stand, and a variety of luxury suites. The State Farm Center is a popular destination for fans of the Fighting Illini and is a great place to experience the excitement of college basketball.
6. Boneyard Creek Trail
The Boneyard Creek Trail is a 4.5-mile-long paved trail located in Champaign, Illinois. The trail follows the Boneyard Creek, a tributary of the Sangamon River, and connects the University of Illinois campus to downtown Champaign. Along the way, the trail passes through parks, neighborhoods, and commercial areas.
The trail is popular with walkers, joggers, cyclists, and rollerbladers. It is also a great spot for bird watching, as the creek is home to a variety of waterfowl. The trail is well-maintained and is a great way to explore the city of Champaign.
5. Concert at the Canopy Club
The Canopy Club is a popular music venue located in Champaign, Illinois. It has been hosting concerts since the early 1990s and has become a staple of the local music scene. The venue is known for its eclectic mix of music, ranging from indie rock to hip-hop, and its intimate atmosphere.
The Canopy Club also hosts a variety of other events, such as comedy shows, art exhibitions, and film screenings. The venue is also home to a full-service bar and restaurant, making it a great place to grab a bite to eat before or after a show.
4. Market Place Shopping Center
Market Place Shopping Center is a shopping center located in Champaign, Illinois. It is anchored by Target, Kohl’s, and Bed Bath & Beyond. The center also features a variety of other stores, including Old Navy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, PetSmart, and Ulta Beauty.
The center also has a food court with various restaurants, including Panda Express, Subway, and Chick-fil-A. Market Place Shopping Center is conveniently located near the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a popular destination for students and locals alike.
3. Lincoln Square Mall
Lincoln Square Mall is a shopping mall located in Champaign, Illinois. It is the city’s largest shopping mall and home to over 100 stores and restaurants. The mall features a variety of stores, including department stores, clothing stores, specialty stores, and restaurants.
It also features a movie theater, a food court, and a children’s play area. The mall is located near the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a popular destination for students and locals alike.
2. Meadowbrook Park
Meadowbrook Park in Champaign, Illinois is a beautiful park that offers a scenic walk through its lush green meadows and wooded areas. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, foxes, and birds. The park also features a pond, a playground, and a picnic area.
The park is a great place to take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the beauty of nature. The park is also a popular spot for joggers, cyclists, and hikers. The park is open year-round and is a great place to spend a day outdoors.
1. University of Illinois Ice Arena
The University of Illinois Ice Arena is a multi-purpose ice arena located on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The arena is home to the University of Illinois Fighting Illini men’s and women’s ice hockey teams and the University of Illinois Figure Skating Club.
The arena also hosts other events, including public skating, youth hockey, and figure skating competitions. The arena features two NHL-sized ice rinks, a pro shop, and a concession stand. The arena is also home to the University of Illinois Ice Hockey Hall of Fame.
As you can see, Champaign has a lot to offer everyone. If you are looking to do more in the surrounding area, check out other weekend trips from nearby Champaign, Illinois.
These areas are perfect for a quick day trip or a long weekend getaway. Explore our favorite things to do or peruse some pre-built itineraries.