Getting out of the cornfield

Rick Wiltfong

By Shira Weissman

Don’t let looks deceive you; there is more to do in Champaign-Urbana and the surrounding areas than may appear to the naked eye.

Step outside the bounds of Campustown, lightly bordered by Neil Street, University Avenue, Lincoln Avenue and Kirby Avenue and you’ll find yourself a whirlwind of fun and interesting activities as well as many great places to eat, drink and visit.

Campustown is great, but after a while you may begin looking for something different, depending on your mood, budget and time allowance.

One of the most abundant things in C-U are the parks. There is a park for anything and everything you can think of.

Meadowbrook Park is a 130 acres park located off Windsor Road in Urbana – just biking or walking distance from campus. The park has many things for enjoyment including a farmstead, herb garden, 30 acres of recreated Illinois Tallgrass prairie, organic garden plots, hard and soft walking trails, the district’s largest play structure and the Wandell Sculpture Garden.

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With everything there is to do it is an excellent place to go to relax and just take the day.

Westside Park is a large park in downtown Champaign near the Virginia Theatre. In the park’s center is a beautiful fountain and many benches and green grass to enjoy a day or a picnic with new friends. Also, the weeping cherry trees there in the spring are absolutely beautiful. The address for the park is 400 W. University Ave.

Crystal Lake Park in Urbana at Lake and Park streets just east of Broadway, is another beautiful park in the C-U area with plenty of room for picnics, or during the summer the boathouse rents paddleboats, canoes and rowboats. It’s also a fun place for the less serious fisherman to relax for a while.

Another place with great traditional fun is Putt Putt Golf and Games at 815 Dennison Dr. in Champaign. Not only does this place feature miniature golf, it also has batting cages, always a good way to spend an afternoon taking out stress on one ball or the other.

Looking for a place to cool off from the summer or early fall heat? Head on down Kirby to the newly opened Sholem Water Park, 2200 W. Sangamon Dr., Champaign. The park features an activity pool called “The Beach,” a winding riv

er called the “Rapids,” water slides and more.

If you are in the mood for something in a more climate controlled area, you can visit either of the commercial movie theaters in the area, The Beverley Theater at 910 Meijers Drive, Champaign, or The Goodrich Savoy Theater in Savoy at 232 Burwash Ave.

Both theaters feature stadium style seating and a full selection of newly released movies.

If you are in the mood for something more adventurous and you have a car and a friend you can take a little drive to the Harvest Moon Drive-in Theatre in Gibson City.

The drive-in features 2 screens and shows begin around sundown. You can find more information on their website at

Not in the mood for sitting? Try one of the many bowling alleys in the area. Besides the bowling alley at the Union, there are two more: Orchard Lanes in Savoy and Arrowhead Lanes, 1401 N. McKinley Ave., Champaign. Both alleys feature cosmic bowling.

Downtown Champaign has many hidden features to it. Venture off Neil Street a little and you will find several unique restaurants including KoFusion, Radio Maria, Jim Goulds and Great Impasta.

If you are in the mood for something lighter you can stop in one of the many cafes downtown including Cafe Kopi, Aroma Cafe and Bacaro. Most of the bars downtown also serve fashionable food, and you can’t go wrong.

Downtown you will also find several interesting stores including “the Homeworks” by Habitat for Humanity at 40 E. University Ave.

This is the place to go if you are on a tight budget and need to find anything from secondhand furniture at amazing prices to old household items. Don’t pass this up if your looking to furnish an apartment.

Downtown Champaign also has plenty of entertainment, including the famous Virginia Theatre, which is home to the annual Ebertfest hosted in the Spring. Find out more at

Downtown Urbana also has many unique features to it, including Market at the Square or “farmer’s market.” The Farmers Market takes place every Saturday morning from May 13 through Nov. 11 at the South East lot of Lincoln Square at the corner of Illinois and Vine streets.

The Market showcases products ranging from meats, prepared foods, fruits and vegetables, kettle corn, to furniture, jewelry, art, clothing, candles and much more.

The Sweetcorn Festival is another exciting event that takes place every fall in downtown Urbana by the courthouse.

The festival features live music, all types of carnival food, lemon shake-ups and of course sweet corn. There are also several notable resturant downtown including Kennedy’s, Courier Cafe, Sivercreek and Miko.

Champaign-Urbana may not seem to have that much from the outside, but when you look closer there is place an activity for everyone, no matter what your interests. Enjoy!