Weekend trips to take before you graduate


The Daily Illini File Photo

The woods at the University-owned Allerton Park are about 20 minutes off campus. Assistant Opinions editor Jamie says this is a great location for a quick trip before graduation.

By Jamie Linton, Assistant Opinions Editor

For every student traveling from their hometown to Champaign, many of the cities surrounding campus can feel like an agricultural wasteland. Although there’s plenty of culture to explore on campus and in downtown Urbana and Champaign, take a risk and quite literally expand your horizons by traveling during the weekends.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Can anyone say Hoosier?  Indianapolis is one of the most up-and-coming cities for young professionals, which means there’s plenty for a college student to see—even on a tight budget.  Because this city isn’t to the caliber of Chicago or Minneapolis, finding an inexpensive Airbnb or hotel is simple, and driving the two hours makes for an excellent beginner’s road trip. You can browse the Indianapolis Museum of Art, paddleboat next to the Canal Walk and dine at a restaurant in the Massachusetts Avenue arts and entertainment district. Indianapolis is a perfect low-maintenance urban haven for when you’re in the mood for some adventure.

Candlewood Cabins, Richland Center, Wisconsin

Some call it “glamping”, I call it a great Instagram opportunity and an adventurous getaway from on-campus stress. This weekend trip isn’t for inexperienced road-trippers and, at six hours away, may be suited for holiday weekends when you have a few days to spare. Candlewood Cabins encompasses five individual cabins deep in the woods of southern Wisconsin where opportunities to kayak, bike and fish are in abundance. They tend to book out up to two years in advance, but when you catch a glimpse of one you’ll be quick to understand why. The upside to following Candlewood is, since you have to book so far in advance, they’ll often announce last minute cancellations. This means your dreams of saying “forget this let’s pack up our bags and go on a spontaneous trip!” can soon be fulfilled.

New York, New York

One of the best features of the University is its connection and proximity to Chicago. While Chicago is the obvious weekend trip, another perk of being near Chicago is O’Hare Airport’s inexpensive flights to other business hubs like New York City.  If you’re willing to fly a budget airline, stay in a six floor walk-up in an outer neighborhood of Manhattan and travel with a group of close friends, the Big Apple is easily the most exciting trip you can take quickly and relatively inexpensively. When you visit New York, you don’t need an itinerary, hiking boots (OK, maybe Timberlands) or a car. Take one step outside your apartment and with a quick Google search, you’ll stumble upon a thousand free entertainment options. Whether this be strolling through Central Park, a visit to The Metropolitan Museum of Art or window shopping in SoHo, there’s no excuse to be bored in New York City.  

Allerton Park and Retreat Center, Monticello, Illinois

For those of us happy to call the University our home away from home, staying near campus can be just as fun as hopping on a plane. The Allerton Park and Retreat Center is just a half hour drive from campus and features miles of hiking trails, gardens and a historical mansion. There’s even a fall concert series to listen to live music while having a picnic in one of its gardens. Best of all, it’s affiliated with the University and features overnight lodging for a fun staycation.

Looking for ways to keep the campus feeling fresh or ready to go all out on a unique adventure, Champaign has ways to vacation. Although there’s always something to do on campus, taking a spontaneous trip in the middle of the school year is a great way to escape from the monotony of everyday life and makes for a great story.  

Jamie is a junior in Media.

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