Venture to quirky spots outside campus

By Samuel Kottoor, Columnist

Like Facebook, The Walking Dead and newspapers, the initial enjoyment of our incredible campus eventually dies out. We become complacent with the multitude of beautiful buildings, the grandeur of the four quads and the variety of events to attend. Complacency is an evil, but it is a reality, as much as I hate to admit it. So, when running out of ideas for adventure on campus, people often times feel at a loss, forgetting there is a lot to see just off campus.

When bored of the campus we know so well and itching for exploration, the downtown areas of Champaign and Urbana offer many a solution. Though they seem inaccessible, as a 20-minute walk can be life-threatening, the birth of the VeoRide has unlocked these areas and more; we are no longer hindered by time or transportation.

There are many awesome spots in downtown Urbana. Upon entering, you are immediately aware of its artistic, hip energy. I often head straight to Sipyard, a beer garden set in an alley filled to the brim with graffiti of all sorts. Stacked neatly against the walls are large shipping containers you can enter, allowing for an unconventional shelter from the elements.

I enjoy going here in the daytime when no one is around just to hang out in the containers, admiring the artwork that is all around me. Wholesome messages written in sharpie, large depictions of familiar people and, for some reason, drawings of eggs, cover the walls of the alley and containers. Every time I go, I am inspired by the creativity of others.

After long periods of time on our campus, I often forget there are places in this world free of buildings, roads and sidewalks at every turn. Nature feels like a figment of my imagination.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Crystal Lake Park, however, is truly a real place, just outside downtown Urbana. The park is a gorgeous hilly land that’s speckled with trees and is home to a lake with magical wooden bridges that connect various parts of it. Simply put, it makes you feel like a kid again. Sprinting through the fields with the colorful leaves on the ground sends you down memory lane — the days filled with capture the flag, tag and more sleep. Crystal Lake Park is a fantastic place to simply feel human.

Downtown Champaign has many interesting little stores to wander around as well, like G-Mart Comics, the Preservation and Conservation Association’s Architectural Salvage Warehouse or record shop Exile On Main St. My personal favorite is the Furniture Lounge.

The Furniture Lounge has a personality of its own, having a youthful feel with respect to a more retro era. Its main pieces are unique, colorful articles of midcentury modern furniture; however, the store is also filled with random old-school objects, artwork and music. The downstairs section of the shop encloses racks of vintage clothing and other knickknacks. Perusing through the shop is an adventure in and of itself.

These places are just a start to the unlimited peculiarities to be found right outside of campus. There are plenty of regular bars and restaurants downtown that people flock to, but what is the appeal in another by-the-book weekend? A park and a shipping container aren’t necessarily traditional spots for us college students, but a traditional lifestyle is a normal one, and normality is the first step to losing your inner child.

And growing up is possibly the most dangerous thing you could do.

Samuel is a junior in Engineering.

[email protected]