Things To Do In Champaign-Urbana IL, the Champaign-Urbana metropolitan area stands out from its agricultural surroundings in central Illinois due to its diverse community and growing population. This sprawling community, roughly 130 miles from both Chicago and Indianapolis, is defined in large part by the campus of the University of Illinois, home of the Fighting Illini.

Things To Do In Champaign-Urbana IL
Things To Do In Champaign-Urbana IL

Along with academic pursuits and historic architecture, the university contributes to the city with a variety of public attractions and things to do. Among the community enhancements sponsored by the university are art and cultural museums, a beautiful arboretum, and spirited sporting events held throughout the year.

Champaign-Urbana is known for more than just its campus. Tourists frequently visit the area because of the downtown street festivals, children’s museums, and abundance of natural spaces. On Saturday mornings, Urbana’s Market at the Square is a must-see, and several attractions at Crystal Lake Park are also popular.

Parkland College, located on the northwest outskirts of Champaign, has more educational attractions, including an open-to-the-public planetarium with out-of-this-world shows. Plan your trip to Champaign-Urbana using our list of things to do and places to visit the Champaign county.

List of 12 Things To Do In Champaign-Urbana IL Today

1. The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana

The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana
The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana

For more than 150 years, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana has helped define the city. Every semester, the university educates over 40,000 students. This Big 10 public university’s top-tier degrees and programs draw a large enrollment, and the sprawling campus and academic spirit make many Fighting Illini alumni proud.

The Champaign-Urbana campus is well integrated into the city and is part of the larger University of Illinois System, which includes campuses in Springfield and Chicago to have a fun thing. Along with cultural attractions and entertainment, youthful energy emanates from campus and throughout Champaign Park District streets. Urbana’s

Fighting Illini sporting events, such as Saturday football at Memorial Stadium and basketball at the State Farm Center, have a long history in the state. Both the Krannert Art Museum and the Spurlock Museum offer free admission to visitors interested in furthering their education.

The entire campus is dotted with impressive architectural and historical landmarks together with the Champaign Public Library. Walking the grounds can be a fun visit or a break between classes, thanks to the abundance of pedestrian pathways that support foot traffic. The UI Arboretum and outdoor classroom are the richest natural attractions on campus.

2. Crystal Lake Park 

Crystal Lake Park 
Crystal Lake Park 

Crystal Lake Park, located on the city’s north side, is the crown jewel of the Urbana Park District. The park, with its dense urban forest and scenic surroundings, also offers many community attractions.

A Family Aquatic Center on the park’s northern edge features an overhanging rock wall, a zero-depth entry pool, and three different waterslides. The Anita Purves Nature Center, located on the park’s north side, offers educational resources such as classes and animal encounters. The Nature Center also has an interpretive trail that leads through the nearby Busey Woods natural area.

More fun can be found in Crystal Lake Park’s south region. Crystal Lake is located on the park’s south side near kaufman lake, as is the adjacent Lake House large-group rental facility. All park visitors can enjoy the water, and non-motorized boat rentals are available from May to September.

Other popular attractions on the park’s south side include playgrounds, picnic areas, and a unique landscaped brick labyrinth that is difficult to navigate. Interpretive signage about the surrounding landscapes can be found throughout the Urbana Park District.

Urbana, Illinois, 206 West Park Street

3. Champaign Downtown

Champaign Downtown
Champaign Downtown

Downtown Champaign is a few miles northwest of Campustown and the university and is lined with local shops and restaurants. Breakfast is a popular option at the locally owned Sam’s Cafe, and restaurants such as Bacaro offer seasonal menus and distinctive American cuisine. During the summer, there is a lot of outdoor dining in downtown at Alto Vineyards.

Younger visitors to the city will find plenty of hands-on fun at the Orpheum Children’s Museum downtown allerton park, which is housed in a historic and renovated vaudeville theater. Jane Addams Bookshop is a locally owned favorite for bibliophiles and casual readers alike. Caffe Benne is a close second to the Aroma Café as one of the best coffee shops in town at Illinois Champaign Urbana.

Among the many events and concerts held downtown throughout the year, the two separate Fridays of StreetFest in the summer have the best lineup of live music and street dancing at Champaign County History Museum.

Every Tuesday afternoon, the Champaign Farmers Market is held downtown.

4. Urbana’s Market at the Square

Urbana's Market at the Square
Urbana’s Market at the Square

From May to October, Urbana’s Market at the Square is held every Saturday morning. This well-known farmers’ market is an open-air selling venue that offers fresh produce, prepared foods, plants, clothing, and a wide range of locally made goods.

Market at the Square in downtown Urbana is open rain or shine and can draw a sizable crowd throughout the summer. Special programs are also held here, and between chef demonstrations and the kid-friendly “Sprouts at the Market,” there is something for everyone.

The aroma of ready-to-eat hot food fills the air at Urbana’s Market at the Square. Every week, different local performers and musicians share their talents, providing a great soundtrack to this community event at Virginia theatre.

Urbana, Illinois, 401 South Vine Street

5.  The Spurlock Museum

The Spurlock Museum
The Spurlock Museum

This Museum of World Cultures, located on the east side of the University of Iowa campus, houses over 50,000 artifacts from around the world. The Spurlock Museum’s nine galleries and rotating exhibits, linked by a “Central Core of Humanity,” highlight people from all over the world throughout history.

Among many other cultures represented in the museum are ancient Mesopotamia, East Asia, and North America. Each gallery features striking displays and artifacts such as marble sculptures, traditional headwear, and ancient tools. An entire day can be spent exploring this prestigious cultural museum’s 55,000 square feet and two floors of exhibits.

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

Urbana, Illinois 600 South Gregory Street

6. Meadowbrook Park

Meadowbrook Park
Meadowbrook Park

Meadowbrook Park is a popular place to walk in nature for those who enjoy the outdoors. Over five miles of paved and unpaved trails wind their way through the park. A sculpture garden, a historic farmstead, and a 13,000-square-foot playground – the largest in the Urbana Park District – are also popular places to visit at this historic places.

Meadowbrook Park’s numerous gardens and natural spaces also draw a lot of attention. The park includes a one-of-a-kind sensory garden, an 80-acre tallgrass prairie, and an organic community garden in which residents can reserve a plot.

The park’s picnic tables and pavilions make it a great place to pack a lunch and eat outside.

Urbana, Illinois, 2808 South Race Street

7. Arboretum at the University of Illinois

Arboretum at the University of Illinois
Arboretum at the University of Illinois

The UI Arboretum, which spans 160 acres of the university’s south campus, is a veritable treasure trove of gardens, habitats, and special features. This sprawling public space is well used as an outdoor classroom for students studying plant sciences or landscape design, as well as an easy escape into nature.

Different gardens, such as the Sen Cherry Tree Allée, are enjoyable to visit during the spring bloom, and the Idea Garden is known to provide inspiration all year. This tree-lined space also contains cultural attractions, such as the university’s Japan House, which includes a Zen and rock garden.

The arboretum is open from sunrise to sunset every day of the year. Visitors should expect to pay for parking if they want to park nearby. Admission is free at west side park.

Urbana, Illinois, 2001 South Lincoln Avenue

8. Krannert Art Museum

Krannert Art Museum
Krannert Art Museum

Krannert Art Museum, located on the University of Illinois campus, has two floors and several distinct galleries of fine art. The Krannert art collection spans millennia and comes from all over the world, with ancient Andean artworks, West African headwear, and American and European paintings from the previous two centuries.

Krannert’s galleries feature both permanent and rotating exhibits. The high ceilings and well-lit space enhance the viewing experience. Krannert is free and open to the public, and various events throughout the year, such as Summer Yoga at the Museum, give visitors even more reasons to come.

Champaign, Illinois 500 East Peabody Drive

9. Orpheum Children’s Science Museum

Orpheum Children's Science Museum
Orpheum Children’s Science Museum

The Orpheum Children’s Science Museum, located in downtown Champaign, is an interactive space aimed at inspiring children through science and creativity. The children’s museum, housed in a historic and repurposed vaudeville movie theater, features a Dino Dig, Critter Corner, and an interactive Water Flume.

In the spring and summer, the Orpheum Butterfly Garden on the grounds is a fun place to visit. In addition to the museum’s many permanent exhibits, the Orpheum offers a variety of summer camps and after-school programs for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. On Mondays, the Children’s Museum is closed.

Champaign, Illinois 346 North Neil Street

10. Planetarium William M. Staerkel

Planetarium William M. Staerkel
Planetarium William M. Staerkel

Parkland College, located on the northwest outskirts of Champaign, adds to the community’s academic interest. While thousands of students attend this two-year community college to take advantage of the various degrees and programs available, you don’t have to be a student to enjoy the academic offerings.

The William M. Staerkel Planetarium, one of the state’s largest, offers a comfortable seat for anyone interested in seeing a show. The planetarium’s 50-foot dome screen is popular for field trips and astronomical society meetings, and it hosts several public showings. The planetarium’s public screenings are mostly on weekends and range from Solar Superstorms to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

Champaign, Illinois 2400 West Bradley Avenue

11. Japan House

Japan House
Japan House

This traditional Japanese-style home within the University of Illinois Arboretum aims to broaden perspectives and provide a moment of tranquillity during the day. The Japan House, which is part of the College of Fine and Applied Arts, provides experiential education through various programs and events, as well as aesthetic pleasure through features such as the Japanese tea garden outside.

Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, students and the general public are welcome to visit the house and grounds from dawn to dusk. Throughout the year, the house provides a wide range of educational opportunities and cultural demonstrations. Traditional tea ceremonies, Zen studies, and annual Gallery Days are among the programs offered.

Urbana, Illinois 2000 South Lincoln Avenue

12. Hessel Park 

Hessel Park 
Hessel Park 

Hessel Park, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2018, has a long history as one of the city’s most popular parks. The park’s central location and sprawling layout contribute to its popularity, but it’s the abundance of trees and play spaces that keep visitors coming back.

In addition to an accessible playground, Hessel Park has a splash pad that is popular throughout the summer. A half-mile paved pathway circles the entire park, providing an excellent way to enjoy the park’s shaded surroundings. On the first Saturday of each month during the summer, live and local music takes over the park.

Champaign, Illinois, 1400 Grandview Drive


  • Mid-Range and Luxury Hotels: The I Hotel and Conference Center is one of the best places to stay in Champaign-Urbana. This hotel is located near the IU Arboretum on the city’s south side, and it includes spa-quality personal care items in each room. It also has an attached restaurant, chic décor, and staff members who go above and beyond to ensure a comfortable stay. The Hyatt Place Champaign is one of the city’s top-rated hotels for an upscale stay in the heart of downtown. Its excellent reputation and popularity for repeat visits are largely due to its downtown location, which is also reasonably close to campus; however, the high ratings are due to the spacious rooms, clean facilities, and attentive front-desk staff.
  • Budget Hotels: Many of Champaign-best Urbana’s budget hotels 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 clean room. WoodSpring Suites Champaign Urbana, located near the Red Roof Inn, is a low-cost extended-stay hotel with extra space, including a two-burner stove, microwave, and refrigerator. Extend Stay America, a nearby extended-stay hotel, offers similar amenities as well as an outdoor tennis court and a complimentary grab-and-go breakfast with each night’s stay.

FAQs about Things To Do In Champaign-Urbana IL

What makes Champaign, Illinois unique?

Champaign, Illinois, offers a diverse range of activities. To begin, there’s the diverse University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, which is home to museums, an arboretum, and a world-renowned supercomputer. Champaign has some of the best city parks in the country. Crystal Lake Park, in particular, will take your breath away.

Is Urbana Champaign pleasant?

Champaign was ranked No. 27 on Livability’s 2020 Top 100 Best Places to Live List, up 21 spots from the same organization’s rankings last year. It is the most elevated Illinois community on the list (again, limited to small- and mid-sized cities).

In Champaign, Illinois, what is the legal drinking age?

Drinking. In Champaign, the legal drinking age is 19; in Urbana, the legal drinking age is 18. However, the legal drinking age in Illinois is 21, which means that while you may be able to enter a bar, you cannot purchase alcohol. Purchasing and consuming alcohol while underage can result in a $350 fine.

Champaign or Urbana, which is better?

Champaign is better suited to people who are extroverted, dynamic, and sociable. Most people describe Urbana as a vibe. Many students end up in Urbana their first year, living in Allen Hall, ISR, FAR, or PAR, which is further away from most recreational areas and popular dining spots.

Similar Posts