23 Best & Fun Things to Do in Champaign (IL)

In search of the best & fun things to do in Champaign

Champaign is a city in central Illinois, United States. The town was initially named “West Urbana” but renamed Champaign in 1860 when it acquired a city charter.

Champaign derived its name from Champaign County, Ohio, in 1833. Champaign city lies about 135 miles (220 km) southwest of Chicago, and it adjoins Urbana (east) as it shares the main campus of the University of Illinois.

Here are the best things to do in Champaign, Illinois fo a fun time.

Things to Do in Champaign

1. Visit Virginia Theatre

The Virginia Theatre
Credits: Shayan (USA) / Flickr
The Virginia Theatre

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

This makes what to do in Champaign for some movie time, the Virginia Theatre began showing silent films in 1921.

An Urbana native and a Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic named Roger Ebert began hosting his film festival “Ebertfest” in 1999. The event continued even after his death which attracted unique directors and actors around the globe.

Discover a life-size bronze sculpture of Roger Ebert built in the middle of three theatre seats, which also displays his trademark “thumbs up” gesture installed in front of the theatre.

The Virginia Theatre opens every Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. A theatre is a good place for a date or an outing with your friends and family as it offers a wide variety of shows, performances and exciting movies.

Address: 203 W Park Ave, Champaign, Champaign-Urbana, IL 61820-3928

2. Champaign Public Library

Champaign Public Library
Credits: Syrota Vadym / Shutterstock

Champaign Public Library opens every Monday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, Saturday from 9:00 to 6:00 pm and on Sunday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Explore the beautiful Champaign Public Library as you will find a quiet meeting room where you will enjoy reading and other exciting selections of books.

Champaign Public Library is committed to me to inform, inspire, and connect with the community.

The library offers exceptional services and contributes to the community by making it a part of the lives of all the residents, increasing the opening hours, collaborating with the community to provide and host skill-building and literacy programs.

The Champaign Public Library is an excellent and perfect place to take your kids to explore reading, learn and meet new friends.

Discover the Friendship Bookstore with shelves of nicely arranged, exciting and different varieties of books for sale.

Address: 200 W Green St, Champaign, Champaign-Urbana, IL 61820-5193

3. University of Illinois Champaign–Urbana

University of Illinois Champaign
Credits: tzm23 / Shutterstock
University of Illinois Champaign

The University of Champaign-Urbana was established in 1867 and has been a vital part of the city’s history for more than 150 years. Each semester, the institution educates over 40,000 students.

Many Fighting Illini alumni are proud to have graduated from this Big 10 public university, which offers top-tier programs and degrees.

Champaign-Urbana is part of the University of Illinois System. It has campuses in Chicago and Springfield.

Champaign-Urbana’s campus is a hub of youthful energy. It also hosts entertainment and cultural attractions.

Fighting Illini sporting events have been a tradition in the state. They include Saturday football at Memorial Stadium and Saturday basketball at State Farm Center.

The free admission Krannert and Spurlock Museums offer public pursuits of higher education. The campus is home to many impressive pieces of architecture and historical landmarks.

Walking around the campus can be a relaxing way to take a break from classes or enjoy the many pedestrian paths.

The UI Arboretum and outdoor classroom are two of the most beautiful natural attractions on campus.

A visit to the University of Illinois Champaign–Urbana is definitely worth adding to a checklist of things to do in Champaign, IL.

Address: Champaign, IL, United States

4. Crystal Lake Park

Crystal Lake Park
Credits: yuan2003 / Flickr
Crystal Lake Park

Crystal Lake Park, located on the northern side of the city, is the crown jewel of Urbana Park District and should be added to your list of fun things to do near Champaign.

The park is a mix of dense urban forest and beautiful surroundings. It also offers many community attractions.

The park’s north side features a Family Aquatic Center with an overhanging rock wall and a zero-depth entry swimming pool.

There are also three water slides. On the park’s north side, you will find the Anita Purves Nature Center. It offers educational resources such as classes and encounters with animals.

A nature trail that runs through the nearby Busey Woods natural region is also featured at the Nature Center.

Crystal Lake Park’s south side offers more fun. Crystal Lake is located on the park’s south side, along with the Lake House large-group rental facility.

The park offers water for all visitors, and Non-motorized boat rentals can be arranged between May and September.

The park’s south side also features picnic areas, playgrounds, and a unique brick labyrinth.

This is an interesting place to explore as the entire park has interpretive information on the surrounding landscapes. Do add this to your list of things to do in Champaign for some fun time.

Address: 206 W Park St, Urbana, IL 61801, United States

5. Downtown Champaign

Downtown Champaign
Credits: stantontcady / Flickr
Downtown Champaign

Downtown Champaign is located just a few minutes north of Campustown and University, and it is home to many local shops and restaurants.

Sam’s Cafe is a favorite place for breakfast, while Bacaro offers unique American cuisine and seasonal menus.

The downtown area of Champaign is a great place to eat al fresco during the summer months.

The Orpheum Children’s Museum downtown is a great place for young explorers. It’s located in an old and renovated vaudeville theatre.

Jane Addams Bookshop, a local favorite for bibliophiles as well as casual readers, is also a popular choice.

Although the Aroma Cafe is considered to be one of the top coffee shops in downtown Champaign, Caffe Benne is also an option.

StreetFest is one of the many concerts and events that take place in Downtown Champaign during the year. The Fridays of StreetFest are the best for street dancing and live music.

Every Tuesday afternoon, the Champaign Farmers Market is held downtown. In search of what to do in Champaign for some adventure? Explore downtown Champaign.

6. Memorial Stadium

Memorial Stadium
Credits: Ethan Rubarts / Shutterstock
Memorial Stadium

Are you in search of a spectacular place to watch football games with your friends or family? The Memorial Stadium is the right place to visit.

The Memorial Stadium has a good and comfortable seat setting, and you will enjoy watching a good football game in the stadium.

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

The Memorial Stadium is mainly for football and a memorial to Illinois men and women who lost their lives for their country during World War I. Engraved on 200 pillars that support the east and west sides of Memorial Stadium are the names of the heroes.

The Memorial Stadium was built in 1923 and can hold 60,670 people. The Memorial Stadium is an architectural firm designed by Holabird and Roche, and the English Brothers of Champaign constructed it.

There are other events and competitions hosted in the Memorial Stadium, such as the NCAA Men’s Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 1977 and 1979.

The IHSA football state finals also took place in the Memorial Stadium in 1999, alongside marathons.

The Illinois Marathon, which takes place on the fourth weekend each April, is being hosted in the stadium as the Memorial Stadium has served as its finish line.

7. Urbana’s Market on the Square

Urbana's Market on the Square
Credits: Arina P Habich / Shutterstock

For some memorable shopping experience, visit the Urbana’s Market on the Square held every Saturday morning of may through October.

The popular farmers’ market features fresh produce, prepared food, clothing, and a variety of locally-made goods.

Market at the Square is a summer event that takes place in downtown Urbana. It’s open, rain or shine, and attracts a large crowd featuring special programs and entertainment for the whole family.

The Urbana’s Market at Square is filled with delicious, ready-to-eat hot foods. This community event also features a variety of local musicians and performers each week who share their talents and provide a great soundtrack.

Address: 401 S Vine St, Urbana, IL 61801, United States

8. Spurlock Museum

Spurlock Museum
Credits: eLjeProks / Flickr
Spurlock Museum

This Museum of World Cultures is located on the east side of the U of I campus and contains over 50,000 artifacts sourced from all over the world.

The nine galleries and rotating exhibits of the Spurlock Museum are connected by a “Central Core of Humanity,” which highlights the contributions of human beings from all regions of history.

The museum also includes artifacts from East Asia, North America, and Mesopotamia.

Every gallery features eye-catching artifacts and displays, including traditional headwear and marble sculptures.

This museum covers 55,000 square feet with two floors of exhibits. It is worth spending an entire day exploring. All community members and visitors are welcome to visit the museum for free.

However, a suggested donation of $3 will help support museum services. The museum is open all year, except Mondays.

Address: 600 S Gregory St, Urbana, IL 61801, United States

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9. Sholem Aquatic Center

Sholem Aquatic Center
Credits: Andrei Bortnikau / Shutterstock

Sholem Aquatic Center is a great place to beat the summer heat. Visit the Sholem Aquatic Center to enjoy a wonderful swimming time with your friends and family.

The Sholem Aquatic Center offers learn-to-swim programs for kids and adults, Junior Lifeguard training, after-hours rentals to other events, including birthday parties, and many others.

If you need to relax under the shade, soak up some rays or enjoy other outdoor recreation, it would be best if you visit the Sholem Aquatic Center as it is the place to be, especially in the summertime.

Your kids are sure to love this amazing place as there are water games they can explore, including the water slide/lazy river combo, toys and other outdoor activities. There is something for everyone in Sholem Aquatic Center.

Address: 2205 Sangamon Dr, Champaign, Champaign-Urbana, IL 61821-4981

10. Alto Vineyards and Winery

Alto Vineyards and Winery
Credits: Ievgenii Meyer / Shutterstock

The Alto Vineyards and Winery in Champaign, IL, is an on-site, outdoor winery that serves beer, wine, water and soda.

You will love the Alto Vineyards and Winery as it displays a country setting with enough outdoor space.

The staff in the Alto Vineyards and Winery is friendly and helpful. You will find a small selection of cheese, crackers, and meat.

Enjoy wine tasting in the great winery; the winery serves different varieties of sweet and affordable wines.

Visit the winery with your loved ones to enjoy a relaxing evening with a glass of good wine. You are sure to leave with glass gifts.

Address: 4210 N Duncan Rd, Champaign, Champaign-Urbana, IL 61822-8934

11. Meadowbrook Park

Meadowbrook Park
Credits: bujcich / Flickr
Meadowbrook Park

Meadowbrook Park is a favorite spot for those who enjoy walking in the natural world, and a visit here is worthwhile.

The park has more than five miles worth of trails, both paved and unpaved, as well as many gardens and natural areas, which attract lots of attention.

Another popular spot for enjoyment is a sculpture garden, a historic farmstead, as well as a 13,000 square-foot playground, which is the largest in Urbana Park District.

A unique sensory garden, an 80-acre tallgrass prairie, and an organic community gardening space are some of the highlights of Meadowbrook Park. Residents can also reserve a plot.

The park has picnic tables and pavilions that allow you to bring a lunch or enjoy eating outdoors.

A visit to Meadowbrook Park is one of the best fun things to do in Champaign with the entire family.

Address: 2808 S Race St, Urbana, IL 61802, United States

12. Krannert Art Museum

Krannert Art Museum
Credits: Vince Smith / Flickr
Krannert Art Museum

The Krannert Art Museum is located just a few blocks from Memorial Stadium, University of Illinois campus.

It has two floors and many galleries of fine art. The Krannert art collection spans millennia, and it features art from all over the world.

The arts include ancient Andean artworks and West African headwear, as well as American and European paintings of the past two centuries.

Permanent and rotating exhibits are featured in Krannert’s galleries. You will enjoy the art in the galleries thanks to their high ceilings and well-lit spaces.

Krannert is open to all and free to the public. There are also many events throughout the year like Summer Yoga at Museum.

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

Address: 500 E Peabody Dr, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

13. University of Illinois Arboretum

University of Illinois Arboretum
Credits: Leigh Trail / Shutterstock
University of Illinois Arboretum

The UI Arboretum covers 160 acres of the university’s south campus. It is a rich collection of plants, habitats, special features, and other natural resources.

This sprawling public space can be used to provide an escape into the natural world as well as an outdoor classroom for students in landscape design and plant sciences.

Different gardens, such as the Sen Cherry Tree Allee, are great to see during the spring bloom.

The Idea Garden can also be visited throughout the year for inspiration. This tree-lined area also contains cultural attractions, such as the university’s Japan House with Zen and rock gardens.

Open all year; the arboretum is accessible between sunrise and sunset. Visitors are welcome to visit the arboretum for free.

However, they should be prepared to pay parking fees if they wish to park near it.

Address: 2001 S Lincoln Ave, Urbana, IL 61802, United States

14. Orpheum Children’s Science Museum

Orpheum Children's Science Museum Champaign
Credits: tengrrl / Flickr
Orpheum Children’s Science Museum Champaign

The Orpheum Children’s Science Museum, located in Champaign, is an interactive space that inspires children through science and creativity.

The museum is housed in an old vaudeville movie theatre that was rehabilitated and had a number of interactive exhibits, including a Dino Dig and Critter Corner.

The Orpheum Butterfly Garden, located on the grounds, is a great place to visit in spring and summer.

The museum has many permanent exhibits. However, the Orpheum offers a variety of after-school programs and summer camps for children from kindergarten to fifth grade.

Orpheum Children’s Science Museum is closed every Monday of the week.

Address: 346 N Neil St, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

15. Japan House

Japan House
Credits: KaneJamison.com / Flickr
Japan House

A rare but unique attraction in Urbana, Japan House is an amazing attraction worth adding to your list of things to do while in the city.

This traditional Japanese-style home is located within the University of Illinois Arboretum.

It aims to expand perspectives and offer a moment of calm in the day. The Japan House is part of the College of Fine and Applied Arts and offers both experiential education and aesthetic pleasure through features such as the Japanese tea garden.

The house and grounds are open to the public and students throughout spring, summer, and fall.

There are many educational opportunities available and cultural demonstrations throughout each year at the house.

Some of the programs include Zen studies, traditional tea ceremonies, and Gallery Days.

Address: 2000 S Lincoln Ave, Urbana, IL 61802, United States

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16. Hessel Park

Hessel Park
Credits: eLjeProks / Flickr
Hessel Park

Hessel Park celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2018. It has a long history of being one of the most beloved parks in the city.

The park covers nearly 30 acres. Its central location and expansive layout are key factors in its popularity. But it is the abundant trees and play areas that attract a steady crowd.

Hessel Park has an accessible playground and a splash pad, which is used all summer.

The park is surrounded by a half-mile of paved pathways that allow you to enjoy the beautiful shaded environment.

On the first Saturday of each month, live music and local artists take over the park during the summer.

Hessel Park is another interesting attraction worth adding to your list of fun things to do in Champaign, IL.

Address: 1400 Grandview Dr, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

17. William M. Staerkel Planetarium

William M. Staerkel Planetarium
Credits: William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College / Facebook
William M. Staerkel Planetarium

Another attraction worth adding to your list of fun things to do in Champaign, the William M. Staerkel Planetarium, which takes its spot in Parkland College.

Parkland College is located in the northwest corner of Champaign. It offers more academic opportunities for the community.

Although thousands of students have taken advantage of the many degrees and programs offered at this two-year college, it is still open to all.

Anyone interested in seeing a show can enjoy the William M. Staerkel Planetarium. It is one of the most impressive in the state.

The dome screen, measuring 50 feet in height, is popular for field trips and meetings of astronomical societies.

The planetarium hosts most public screenings on weekends. They show everything from Solar Superstorms to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

Address: 2400 W Bradley Ave, Champaign, IL 61821, United

18. Blue Waters Supercomputer

BLUE WATERS
Credits: kosheahan / Flickr
BLUE WATERS

The Blue Waters Supercomputer, located at the University of Illinois’ National Petascale Computer Facility, is one of the most powerful computers on the planet.

It is available for public viewing and enjoyment. Blue Waters, a petascale Cray supercomputer that can perform more than 13 quadrillion calculations per second, was completed in 2013.

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

19. Larry Kanfer Photography

Larry Kanfer Photography
Credits: Larry Kanfer Gallery / Facebook
Larry Kanfer Photography

The Larry Kanfer Photography was established in 1979 and owned by a photographic artist Larry Kanfer known for his Prairiescapes.

The gallery features exclusive photographs of the great artist and Midwest landscape photographs celebrating the rural lifestyle of the American heartland.

Larry Kanfer features extensive collections of the University of Illinois, Woodlands, Cityscapes, International, Tropical, Abstract fine art, and Close-up photographs.

Larry Kanfer Photography specializes in the original wall and framed artwork, home decor, scenic photography, architectural, office art, conceptual painting, artwork installation packages, landscape and a lot more.

Larry Kanfer artworks and photographs are perfect for healthcare, custom installations, corporate, residential paintings, and gifts for your loved ones.

You will love to explore Larry Kanfer Photography as his works take the ordinary and present nature’s unique and extraordinary beauty. His stunning works are a hidden gem and gift mostly to Midwesterners.

The gallery is open to the public, and there are spaces made available for hosting events like book launch parties, tours, personal occasions, presentations for community organizations and others.

Larry Kanfer ensures that its visitors enjoy exploring the art and want a personal fun experience as they reveal the beauty surrounding the community and world.

Address: 2103 N Dunlap Ave, Champaign, Champaign-Urbana, IL 61820-776

20. The Champaign County History Museum

Champaign County History Museum
Credits: Beyond My Ken [CC BY-SA 4.0], Wikimedia Commons
Champaign County History Museum
The Champaign County History Museum is located at the Historic Cattle Bank. It explores Champaign’s history with an impressive collection.

The museum is housed in a beautifully restored building that dates back to 1857.

It features three rotating galleries and exhibits that highlight Champaign’s pioneer past, student life at the University of Illinois, and the war years.

The Champaign County History Museum also features a charming bookstore.

The collection includes the rifle of Henry Sadorus, who was the first European settler to the county, Vriner’s cashier box, and Olympian Bonnie Blair’s speed skating from Albertville.

The museum also features a variety of World War II memorabilia, including medals and uniforms of the Tuskegee Airmen of Chanute Air Base, Rantoul.

A visit to this museum is definitely worthwhile and should be added to your list of things to do in Champaign, IL.

Address: 102 E University Ave, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

21. Kaufman Lake

Kaufman Lake
Credits: Jeff BryantF / Flickr
Kaufman Lake

Are you in search of a good spot for fishing? Explore Kaufman Lake as it is an excellent place for fishing with your friends and family.

The Kaufman Lake is a 29.1-acre land established and donated by Stanley, and Josephine Kaufman (parkland) and Joan Swartz contributed to the lake.

Kaufman Lake provides a grill and a small boathouse and other Kaufman Lake amenities that are available for rent for fun events like parties, group gatherings and others.

The lake is a fantastic place to enjoy a lunchtime picnic and a nice walk with your family or friends.

You will find picnic tables around the lake. Kaufman Lake welcomes remote-controlled boats, radio controlled boats, personal kayaks and canoes, and paddleboards.

Kaufman Lake also offers outdoor fun and engaging activities for individuals and families. Kaufman Lake Boat, as well as other Kaufman Lake amenities, are available for rent for your parties and group gatherings.

This makes one of the best things to do in Champaign, IL, do add to your bucket list of places to visit in Champaign.

Address: 2702 W Springfield Ave, Champaign, Champaign-Urbana, IL 61821-2806

22. University Avenue Tree Walk

Do you need to escape from the bustling streets? Are you in search of a lovely place to take a walk?

Enjoy a scenic walking area located in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, with your friends and family.

The University Avenue Tree Walk offers a walking guide through Champaign’s urban forest, featuring more than 20,000 street trees and approximately 100,000 private trees.

The trees provide shade, good air, increase property value, offer a sense of wellbeing and give beauty to the community.

The University Avenue Tree Walk provides its guests with the opportunity to explore over 40 different tree species. The knowledgeable guide identifies each tree by address and briefly describes the stem, leaf, and fruit illustrations.

Address: University Avenue, Champaign, Champaign-Urbana, IL 61820

23. The Sousa Archives Center for American Music

Sousa Archives Center for American Music
Credits: Simon Kletinitch / Shutterstock

The Sousa Archives & Center for American Music document the history of American music by preserving it through a remarkable collection of historical artifacts, archival records, and other formats.

The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music are located in the Harding Bank Building.

They host annual rotating exhibits that cover a range of topics such as women and music and baseball and music.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s library network and the University of Illinois School of Music are part of the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music.

It houses significant collections, including the archives of Herbert L. Clarke, John Philip Sousa, and Albert Austin Harding.

The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music house Sal-Mar Construction, an electronic musical system that Salvatore Martirano created, as well as the Claude Gordon Personal Papers and Music Instrument Collection.

For some music history time, do add to your checklist of things to do in Champaign, IL.

Address: Harding Band Building, 1103 S 6th St, Champaign, IL 61820, United States

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Plan a Trip to Champaign

Champaign, Illinois, is a hidden gem you will love to explore. There are exciting and unique places to visit, engaging and fun activities, and lovely restaurants to see.

There is something for everyone in Champaign, Illinois, including historical museums and monuments to explore, antiques, collectibles, vintage items, parks, furniture, outdoor games, galleries, and others to discover.

It would be best to visit this place for bike lovers as there are many areas for riding, hiking, etc. Arts and crafts enthusiasts will discover lots of arts and meet local artists.

The places to visit listed above are some of the fantastic places to visit. So start now to plan your trip to Champaign, Illinois.