Champaign

23 Best & Fun Things To Do In Champaign (IL)

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Champaign is a city in central Illinois, the United States that has so many attraction sites, making it one of the best vacation cities in the United State.

From entertainment, culture, sports, natural parks, aquatic centers, and museums, you’ll be actively engaged during your vacation here with a lot of fun things to do even for your children.

Champaign derived its name from Champaign County, Ohio, this city is southwest of Chicago and borders Urbana as they share the main campus of the University of Illinois.

This guide provides a list of the 23 best and most fun things you can do during your stay in Champaign, Illinois.

Best And Fun Things To Do In Champaign, Illinois

1. Visit Virginia Theatre

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For some movie time or date during your stay at Champaign, Illinois, then you should add a visit to Virginia Theater to your checklist of best things to do in Champaign.

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

You can watch or go on dates to watch shows, performances, exciting movies, and silent films in this theater.

You could also attend the film festival, Ebertfest which attracts directors and actors from all around the world.

You’ll see the life-size bronze sculpture of Roger Ebert in the middle of the theater seats and his thumbs-up gesture displayed just in front of the theater.

You can visit the Virginia theater from Monday to Friday with your family and loved ones during your stay in Champaign.

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2. Explore Champaign Public Library

Champaign Public Library is committed to informing, inspiring, and connecting with the community, so you should explore here during your vacation in Champaign.

You can bring your children here to explore reading, learn and meet new friends from Mondays to Sundays.

While exploring the Champaign Public Library, you’ll find a quiet meeting room where you will enjoy reading and find other exciting selections of books.

You can visit the Friendship Bookstore which has shelves of nicely arranged, exciting, and different varieties of books that you can buy at an affordable price.

You can also participate in events and programs hosted by the library such as skill-building and literacy programs.

3. Visit The University Of Illinois, Champaign 

The University of Illinois is an educational historical landmark and popular tourist attraction in Champaign.

This University offers top-tier programs and degrees with various campuses in Chicago, Springfield, and Champaign.

By exploring this university, you’ll get a lot of youthful energy, entertainment, and cultural attractions.

You can attend traditional sporting events in Champaign such as Saturday football at Memorial Stadium and Saturday basketball at State Farm Center.

You can also visit the Krannert and Spurlock Museums in the university and other iconic architecture and historical landmarks within the campus.

You should visit the UI Arboretum and outdoor classroom which has the most beautiful natural attraction and picture spots on the campus.

Exploring the University of Illinois Champaign is worth it and should be on your checklist of the best things to do in Champaign, IL.

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4. Explore Crystal Lake Park

Crystal Lake Park is the best park in Urbana Park District and should be on your list of fun things to do during your stay in Champaign.  

You can find this park on the northern side of the city with its beautiful forest surroundings and plenty of attractions.

You can go with your children to the Family Aquatic Center in the park which has a hanging rock wall, three water slides, and a zero-depth entry swimming pool.

You can also visit the Anita Purves Nature Center. which offers educational classes and you can see some animals.

You can hike through the nature trail in the park, but you’ll have more fun at the park’s south side which consists of the Crystal Lake and the Lake House large-group rental facility.

You can participate in fun activities like water activities, picnic areas, playgrounds, and a unique brick labyrinth.

Crystal Lake Park is an interesting place to explore and it’s worth adding to your checklist of fun things to do in Champaign.

5. Explore Downtown Champaign

One of the great areas to explore during your stay in Champaign is Downtown Champaign where you’ll find many local shops and restaurants.

There are so many places to explore in Downtown Champaign situated north of Campustown and the University of Illinois.

For food, you can visit Sam’s Cafe for delicious breakfast or Bacaro for delicious special American cuisines and seasonal menus.

You can also visit the Orpheum Children’s Museum downtown and it’s a great place for your children to explore, you can find the museum in the old and renovated vaudeville theatre.

During your exploration, you can visit Jane Addams Bookshop for your favorite books,  Aroma Cafe for the best coffee in town, and Caffe Bennne for the most delicious lunch.

You can attend events, concerts, and shows hosted in Downtown Champaign, including StreetFest for the best street dancing and live music.

If you want more adventures, you should also visit the Champaign Farmers Market which is held downtown. 

6. Watch Football Games At Memorial Stadium

The Memorial Stadium is a spectacular place to watch football games with your friends or family during your stay in Champaign.

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

The Memorial Stadium is a football stadium and a memorial to Illinois men and women who lost their lives for their country during World War I. 

You’ll see the names of these heroes engraved on 200 pillars on the east and west sides of the stadium.

You’ll enjoy watching a football game in this stadium and other events and competitions hosted such as the NCAA Men’s Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Illinois Marathon, and IHSA football finals.

7. Shop At Market On The Square

For an unforgettable shopping experience during your stay in Champaign, shop at Market on the Square which holds on Saturday mornings from May to October.

Market at the Square is a summer market with special programs and entertainment that holds in downtown Urbana. 

You’ll get fresh produce, delicious food, clothing, and a variety of locally-made goods from this popular farmer’s market.

You’ll get to eat delicious, ready-to-eat hot foods and listen to varieties of local musicians and performers.

Shopping at Market On The Square should be on your list of fun things to do in Champaign.

8. Visit Spurlock Museum

You can find this museum on the east side of the University of Illinois campus and it contains over 50,000 artifacts collected and displayed from all over the world including  East Asia, North America, and Mesopotamia.

This museum is over 55,000 square feet with floors displaying exhibits, so it’s worth spending a day exploring for free.

You can explore the nine galleries and the displayed exhibits of the Spurlock Museum that highlights the contributions of human beings from all regions of history.

You’ll find interesting artifacts and displays, including traditional headwear and marble sculptures.

You can also donate to the museum to help support the services they render and you can visit from Tuesdays to Sundays during your vacation in Champaign.

9. Visit Meadowbrook Park

A visit to Meadowbrook Park with your loved ones and family should be on your checklist of fun things to do especially if you enjoy walking in natural parks.

You’ll find more than five miles of paved and unpaved trails, gardens, and natural areas, that will attract your attention.

You can walk to the sculpture garden,  80-acre tallgrass prairie, the historic farmstead, sensory garden, and the largest playground in Urbana Park District covering about 13,000 square-foot.

You can bring your lunch if you enjoy eating outdoors and eating using the picnic tables and pavilion available at the park.

10. Visit Sholem Aquatic Center

To escape the summer heat during your vacation in Champaign, you can visit the Sholem Aquatic Center with your family and loved ones to have a fun time swimming.

You can engage in programs like learn-to-swim programs, Junior Lifeguard training, and after-hours events hosted at Sholem Aquatic Center.

Visiting this aquatic center during summer, you can relax under the shade, sunbathe, or participate in other fun outdoor recreational activities.

Your children will love this center because there are amazing water games for them such as the water slide, lazy river combo, and water toys.

A visit to Sholem Aquatic Center should be on your checklist of the most fun things to do in Champaign because there is something for everyone to do in the Sholem Aquatic Center.

11. Visit Alto Vineyards And Winery

For a fun experience during your stay in Champaign, you should visit Alto Vineyards and Winery in Champaign, Illinois.

Alto Vineyards and Winery is an outdoor winery with a country setting, where you can get beer, wine, water, and soda.

You can also order cheese, crackers, and meat from this winery and you’ll find the staff to be very friendly and cheerful.

You can enjoy different varieties of sweet and affordable wines while relaxing on a cool evening with your loved ones.

You should add a visit to this winery to your list of fun things to do during your vacation in Champaign.

12. Explore Krannert Art Museum

The Krannert Art Museum is close to the Memorial Stadium on the University of Illinois campus and a visit here is one of the things that should be on your list of things to do in Champaign.

You’ll explore the two floors and galleries of fine art and art collections from different centuries and different parts of the world. 

You’ll see ancient Andean artworks, West African headwear, and American and European paintings.

You can also attend free events held in the museum such as the Summer Yoga at Museum which is open to the public. 

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

13. Visit The University Of Illinois Arboretum

The University of Illinois Arboretum is over 160 acres of south campus and has a diverse collection of plants, habitats, special features, and other natural resources.

You can use this public space to escape into the natural world or as an outdoor classroom for students in landscape design and plant sciences.

During spring, you’ll be able to see different gardens bloom such as the Sen Cherry Tree Allee, and The Idea Garden.

You can visit this arboretum any time of the year for free, however, if you need to park, you’ll have to pay for the parking ticket.

14. Orpheum Children’s Science Museum

The Orpheum Children’s Science Museum is an interactive space that inspires children through science and creativity, so you should bring your children here for a fun time in Champaign.

The museum has so many engaging and interactive exhibits for your children including a Dino Dig, Orpheum Butterfly Garden, and Critter Corner.

Your children can also engage in after-school programs and summer camps hosted by the Orpheum museum.

15. Visit Japan House

Japan House is one of the unique tourist attraction sites in Urbana that you should visit and add to your list of things to do in Champaign.

You can find this traditional Japanese-style home located within the University of Illinois Arboretum.

The Japan House is part of the College of Fine and Applied Arts and you can get both experiential education and aesthetic pleasure through its features like the Japanese tea garden.

You could attend educational and cultural programs like Zen studies, traditional tea ceremonies, and Gallery Days hosted in this house throughout the year.

16. Visit Hessel Park

Hessel Park is one of the historic and beloved parks in Champaign with over 30 acres of land area.

This park has abundant trees for shades, an accessible playground, and a splash pad which you can enjoy during your vacation.

You can attend events hosted in the park on the first Saturdays and watch performances, live music, and local artists.

Hessel Park is an interesting attraction worth adding to your list of fun things you can do in Champaign.

17. Watch A Show At William M. Staerkel Planetarium

A visit to the William M. Staerkel Planetarium which is in Parkland College is worth adding to your list of attractions to visit in Champaign.

Parkland College is situated in the northwest corner of Champaign and offers academic opportunities for the community.

You’ll enjoy watching a show at the William M. Staerkel Planetarium because it has a dome screen of 50m in height.

You can enjoy watching public screenings on weekends of various types of shows from the Solar Superstorms to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

18. Visit Blue Waters Supercomputer

The Blue Waters Supercomputer is one of the most powerful supercomputers and is located at the University of Illinois’ National Petascale Computer Facility.

You can view and enjoy Blue Waters, a supercomputer that can perform more than 13 quadrillion calculations per second.

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

19. Visit Larry Kanfer Photography

If you love photography and artworks, you should visit The Larry Kanfer Photography which is owned by a photographic artist Larry Kanfer during your stay in Champaign.

You’ll see exclusive photographs of the great artist, Midwest landscape photographs celebrating the rural lifestyle of the American heartland, Woodlands, Cityscapes, International, Tropical, Abstract fine art, and Close-up photographs.

You’ll also see a special section for original wall and framed artwork, home decor, scenic photography, architectural, office art, conceptual painting, artwork installation packages, landscape, and a lot more.

You can get these artworks as a gift for your loved ones, but when you visit here you’ll truly have a fun time exploring these artworks in Champaign.

20. Visit The Champaign County History Museum

The Champaign County History Museum contains an impressive collection of Champaign’s history and is located at the Historic Cattle Bank. 

You’ll see three galleries and various exhibits highlighting Champaign’s pioneer past, student life, and the war years.

You’ll see collections such as the rifle of Henry Sadorus, World War II memorabilia, Vriner’s cashier box, uniforms of the Tuskegee Airmen, and Olympian Bonnie Blair’s speed skate.

A visit to this museum should be on your list for a fulfilling time in Champaign.

21. Have Fun At Kaufman Lake

Kaufman Lake is an excellent place for fishing with your friends and family during your stay in Champaign.

You can participate in fun activities like a lunch picnic, nice walks, kayaking, canoeing, boating, and paddling.

Kaufman Lake also has a grill and a small boathouse that you can rent for fun events like parties, group gatherings, and others.

Having fun at Kaufman Lake is one of the best things to do during your visit to Champaign.

22. Walk At University Avenue Tree Walk

You can enjoy walking through a scenic walking area, University Avenue Tree Walk located in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.

You can use a walking guide through the University Avenue Tree Walk with more than 20,000 street trees and 100,000 private trees.

These trees provide shade and good air for you while walking, increase property value, and give beauty to the community.

You’ll have the opportunity to explore over 40 different tree species and your guide will give you information while identifying each tree and briefly describing the stem, leaf, and fruit illustrations.

23. Visit The Sousa Archives & Center for American Music

The Sousa Archives & Center for American Music displays the history of American music through remarkable collections of historical artifacts, archival records, and other formats.

You can view exhibits covering various topics like women, music, baseball, and significant collections including the archives of Herbert L. Clarke, John Philip Sousa, and Albert Austin Harding.

For some music history time during your vacation in Champaign, you should add a visit to the Sousa Archives & Center for American Music to your checklist of things to do in Champaign.

Planning A Trip to Champaign, Illinois

Champaign, Illinois, is a hidden vacation city you’ll love to explore and you’ll get exciting places to visit, engaging and fun activities to participate in, and lovely restaurants to see.

You will be actively engaged in historical museums, monuments, antiques, collectibles, vintage items, parks, furniture, outdoor games, and galleries during your vacation in Champaign.

Start planning your trip to Champaign as soon as possible, and you can consult this guide for the best and most fun things to do in Champaign, Illinois.

Have a great day.

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