From barhopping to visiting museums, this college town and Silicon Prairie hub offers plenty to see and do.
Originally settled as farmland, the Champaign-Urbana area is now considered the hub of the “Silicon Prairie.” Champaign County features a main campus of the University of Illinois, established in 1857. The area has a large business presence, ranging from technology startups to Fortune 500 companies. Request a tour of the Blue Waters National Center for Supercomputing Applications to see powerful equipment operating at 13 quadrillion calculations per second while conducting important research.
Visit Center City Champaign’s three sections: downtown, midtown and campustown. The three-block downtown area has more than 40 bars, art galleries and boutique shopping along Neil Street. Orpheum Children’s Science Museum in the old Orpheum Theater hosts interactive exhibits and events such as “building fair” and “weekend wizards” programs. Watch independent or foreign films at the Art Theater. The restored Virginia Theater hosts special screenings, live performances and events.
In midtown, visit Champaign County Historical Museum in the restored Cattle Bank. Learn about more than 150 years of the area’s history through interactive exhibits, such as a model 19th-century dry goods store.
Enjoy the energetic atmosphere of Campustown. Visit Green Street and the surrounding area for fast food to fine dining. 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 impressive artworks from many different periods. Explore pre-Columbian art to contemporary photography. See a symphony, ballet or one of more than 300 performances annually at the Krannert Center of Performing Arts. Once every 2 years, ELLNORA: The Guitar Festival hosts amazing guitarists at the center.
Enjoy the outdoors at Allerton Park. Stroll through 14 formal gardens surrounding a Georgian mansion. Hike nearby along the Sangamon River and look for interesting sculptures. Head north to Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch to enjoy a corn maze in autumn or meet Santa’s reindeer.
Champaign is within easy driving distance of some of the Midwest’s biggest cities. In less than 3 hours, reach Chicago, Indianapolis or St. Louis.