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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 

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 Super Computer

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

Krannert Art Museum

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

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

Anita Purves Nature Park

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

Downtown Champaign

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

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

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

University of Illinois Arboretum

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

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

Spurlock Museum

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

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

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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

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

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

Staerkel Planetarium

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

Alto Vineyards and Winery

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

University of Illinois Morrow Plots

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

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

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

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

Sholem Aquatic Center

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

Busey Woods

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 

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

Put Zone Fun Center

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 

Things to do in Champaign IL

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