Although it is surrounded by farms, Champaign is known as the hub of the “Silicon Prairie.” Together with its sister city of Urbana, Champaign is a main campus of the University of Illinois. It also has a large business presence, ranging from technology startups to Fortune 500 companies. The city is split into three sections: downtown, midtown and campustown.
Visit bustling downtown during the day for a coffee or at night for a cocktail. The atmosphere is more upscale than campustown, but the scene is still dominated by students. Shop along Neil Street or have a meal in one of the many restaurants.
The Orpheum Children’s Science Museum in the old Orpheum Theater hosts interactive exhibits and events such as the “building fair” and “weekend wizards” programs. While downtown, watch a film at Art Theater. This single-screen movie theater shows independent and foreign productions. Nearby, the Virginia Theater, in a recently restored building, regularly hosts special screenings, live performances and events.
Midtown links downtown and campustown together. The area is oriented toward business and has a few shops. While passing through, visit Champaign County Historical Museum, located in the restored Cattle Bank. It displays over 150 years of the area’s history through interactive exhibits, such as a model 19th-century dry goods store.
Campustown has a highly energetic feeling. Whether you crave takeout or want to enjoy an extravagant meal, Green Street and the surrounding roads have a restaurant for you. After dusk, campustown buzzes with activity as students come out to enjoy the nightlife.
The Krannert Art Museum is part of the University of Illinois and houses an impressive array of pieces from many different periods. Explore pre-Columbian art to contemporary photography to find something here that will pique your interest.
Champaign is located within easy driving distance of some of the Midwest’s biggest cities. In less than three hours, you can reach Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis.