Students should venture off campus

By Alex Cocanig, Columnist

The end of spring semester is approaching and for many students at the University, this means it’s time to buckle down and write those term papers or finish that group project you’ve been putting off since February.

But the end of the semester also brings gorgeous weather to campus and the urge to go out and do something fun is evermore present for many students, especially those who will be graduating in a matter of weeks and want to live it up during their final days.

Students should take advantage of what free time they do have by venturing off campus and exploring what the surrounding areas have to offer in terms of local food, nightlife, entertainment and scenery that isn’t on campus.

Of course, there’s nothing like a wildly intoxicating Friday or Saturday night at Red Lion followed by a slice or two of Antonio’s Pizza as you stumble down Green Street; however, Champaign-Urbana has much more to offer than these go-to, classic campus establishments.

There exists two places called downtown Champaign and downtown Urbana, located just northwest and northeast of campus, respectively. Both are utopias of quality food and hygienic, mature nightlife, with a variety of other shops, theaters, parks and scenery.

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In downtown Champaign, for instance, one can enjoy easily one of the best burgers in the area at Farren’s, splurge on some Nando Milano that rivals some of Chicago’s better Italian fare, as well as Ko Fusion’s upscale, off-campus location. Wash all this superior-than-campus food down with a craft beer from the Blind Pig or a cocktail from Seven Saints — neither of them have a cover charge.

Downtown Urbana offers a similarly unique, but not as high-end food scene. The original Black Dog is on Race Street and serves up, without a doubt, the best barbeque in the Champaign-Urbana area, but beware as a lot of students have done their barbeque homework and the wait times can be long. Not far from there you can get a decent breakfast at the Courier Cafe, or some solid pad Thai at Siam Terrace. Urbana also has a picturesque historic district, is charmingly artsy and provides a fairly quiet, but interesting oasis from campus life.

Getting to either of these places is one reason many students might not go; however, they are very accessible with a little effort and easy to navigate with any trusty maps app. Depending on where you live, they’re a 10-20 minute walk or a short, free ride on several CUMTD buses, namely the evening yellow, green or silver, among others during the daytime.

Cost is also a significant factor when it comes to any student’s going-out budget. While campus food and bars are generally cheaper, downtown Champaign and downtown Urbana offer better quality consumables and a hygienic, more sophisticated nightlife that are definitely worth shelling out a couple extra dollars for every once in awhile. It also doesn’t cost any amount of money to simply walk around and check the places out, which more students should.

Alex is a senior in LAS.

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