The Daily Illini

Free and fun things to do off-campus

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Free and fun things to do off-campus




By Elani Kaufman, buzz Editor

The University of Illinois has a lot to offer to its students in terms of culture, from unique lectures to beautiful architecture and every kind of activity imaginable. Likewise, the cities of Champaign and Urbana both have their own cultural mainstays, many of which fly under the radar of students. For those looking for some new things to do after exploring campus, here a few places that a just a short bus ride away.


The Sipyard, located at 204 W. Main St. in Urbana, is a lot to take in at first. Illinois’ only beer garden that operates from a shipping crate, the Sipyard is a great space for hunkering down and studying outside while the weather is still nice. Champaign-Urbana is home to a lot of artists, many of which like to decorate the adjoining alley. The entire alleyway is covered in graffiti that changes regularly, so take the time to explore what’s on the walls because it may not be there the next time you come and people-watch.

Curtis Orchard

Curtis Orchard and Pumpkin Patch in Champaign is fun for all budgets. An apple orchard with a petting zoo and corn maze, the various sights and scents will keep you busy — and probably make you hungry. Many RSOs do field trips to Curtis, but for those who want to visit on their own time, or really have a hankering for apple cider, the orchard is open for the fall season and is roughly a 15-minute drive from campus.

Boneyard Creek

Boneyard Creek is a 3.3-mile waterway that spans both Champaign and Urbana, passing through the Bardeen Quad. In Urbana, the creek is part of a short walking trail on Race Street, which allows you to explore more of Urbana than just Main Street. In Champaign, the best place to catch the waterway is at the Second Street Basin, on Second Street and Springfield Avenue. Both provide quiet, reflective places to relax and later in the evening, a perfect place to stargaze.

Japan House

While technically not off-campus, the Japan House is far enough that most people don’t head out there unless the cherry blossoms are in bloom. The Japan House offers both a traditional tea garden and dry garden, with the plants and shrubbery being constantly updated. And for nature lovers, the University Arboretum is located right next to the Japan House, perfect for leisurely strolls under lush trees or getting some fresh air in between a packed day of class.

Allerton Park

Allerton Park is truly off-campus — you will probably need a car to get there. But for outdoor aficionados who are looking for a place to hike in the middle of the flatlands of Illinois, Allerton Park is your best bet. The park offers over 14 miles of hiking trails as well as a manor house with large gardens and sculptures, so Allerton Park might need to be a repeat visit.

Elani is a senior in LAS.

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