16 Best Things to Do in Champaign, IL, This Weekend

The city of Champaign, IL, is bustling with fun and exciting things to do this weekend! From cheering on your favorite college basketball team at the State Farm Center to exploring the William M. Staerkel Planetarium, there is something for everyone.

For those looking to explore nature, head up north and explore Anita Purves Nature Center or take a leisurely stroll along Crystal Lake Park. If you need a refreshing dip during hot summer days, check out Sholem Aquatic Centre, where visitors can relax in its resort-style beach entry pool or take a ride down one (or both!) of its two tall slides.

Don’t miss out on trying some local delights from Urbana’s Market at the Square, either! And if you want an experience unlike any other – meet goats and watch cheese being made at Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery.

It’s time to start planning your itinerary; here are some of the best things to do in Champaign, IL, this weekend!

1) Explore the Heart of Champaign: Downtown

Spend a weekday or weekend in downtown Champaign, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by its quaint small-town charm but also the cosmopolitan cultural buzz of 1,700 al fresco dining seats.

Enjoy chic bistros to casual pubs while discovering special finds from comic books to rare coins at independent stores dotting the area.

Catch an event on any day with numerous historic theatres and festivals throughout the year that make this spot always alive with something exciting!

2) Discover the Art of the World at the Krannert Art Museum

Credits: Krannert Art Museum

If you’re a lover of art, you won’t want to miss the Krannert Art Museum in Champaign, IL. This museum is one of the best university museums in the country, and it’s also the second-largest fine art museum in Illinois.

With a rich collection that spans the globe, you’ll find everything from ancient Roman funerary steles to Chinese tea bowls from the 12th century to Peruvian burial mantles from 100 BCE. And that’s just scratching the surface!

The museum also has a strong collection of 20th-century art and constantly changing temporary exhibitions to check out. Whether you’re a seasoned art connoisseur or just looking to expand your horizons, the Krannert Art Museum is a must-see destination in Champaign.

3) Experience the Magic of the Movies at the Virginia Theatre

Credits: Virginia Theatre

Step back in time to the glamour of the 1920s at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign, IL. This grand movie house, which first opened its doors in 1921, boasts a stunning Renaissance Revival facade and lavish Spanish Revival decor in its lobby and auditorium.

But the Virginia Theatre isn’t just a place to catch the latest flick – it’s also a hub of performing arts, hosting a wide range of concerts, talks by notable cultural figures, dance performances, and film screenings.

Film fans won’t want to miss the annual Ebertfest, founded by the beloved local film critic Roger Ebert. And while you’re there, be sure to check out the stunning 1921 Wurlitzer theatre organ, fully restored to its former glory.

Don’t miss the chance to experience the magic of the Virginia Theatre for yourself.

4) Unlock the Wonders of the World at the Spurlock Museum

Credits: Avijit Mukherjee

Journey back through history and explore the captivating artifacts on display at Spurlock Museum in Champaign, Illinois.

With over 50,000 pieces from a multitude of civilizations throughout time to peruse – such as Amazonian bark cloths or incredible relics found in Merovingian tombs – this museum is truly an enchanting repository for discovering humanity’s storied past.

From Ottoman Empire coins to Inuit items collected long ago and even ancient papyrus parchment with manuscript letters written 1,900 years prior, these remarkable displays will transport you into cultures near and far across our world.

5) Find Your Zen in the Heart of Champaign at Hessel Park

Credits: Gulmira Nurpeissova

Escape from the busy city life and find peace in Hessel Park, Champaign’s beloved green oasis since 1918!

Explore over 22 acres of lush greenery with more than 25 varieties of trees to admire. On hot summer days, cool off at the park’s accessible splash pad that runs between 11 am – 7 pm for a family-friendly activity.

You can also take advantage of their picnic areas complete with grassy spots, shaded tables, and grills, making it ideal for enjoying an outdoor meal while taking in the tranquil scenery.

6) Explore Champaign’s Rich History at the Champaign County Historical Museum

Credits: Champaign County History Museum at the Historic Cattle Bank

Discover the hidden stories of Champaign’s past at the Champaign County Historical Museum. Housed in the oldest documented commercial building in the city, the Cattle Bank was originally a hub for cattlemen and the southern terminus of the Illinois Central Railroad.

Today, this stunning Italianate brick building is home to the Champaign County Historical Museum, which offers a unique glimpse into the city’s rich history through its rotating selection of exhibits.

From the impact of WWII on Champaign to the famous Great Harris Mansion Heist of 1929, there’s always something new and interesting to learn.

Plus, with only a small portion of the museum’s massive collection on display at any given time, hidden gems of things to do in Champaign, IL, are always waiting to be discovered.

7) Feel the Energy at Memorial Stadium, Home of the Illinois Fighting Illini

Credits: Rocio Alarcon

Get ready for heart-pumping action at Memorial Stadium, the magnificent home field for the Illinois Fighting Illini in Champaign, IL.

Built as a tribute to University of Illinois students who lost their lives in WWI, this stadium has undergone several renovations over the past century. It can hold upwards of 60,000 passionate fans.

In 2013, it was equipped with a giant 36 by 96-foot video board to enhance the game day experience. As you take action on the field, be sure to pay tribute to the fallen by checking out the 200 Doric columns on the east and west sides of the stadium, inscribed with the names of those who died in WWI.

The Fighting Illini, a member of the fabled Big Ten Conference, last claimed a conference championship in 2001 and are always a force to be reckoned with.

The stadium hosts events like the Illinois Marathon and the Illini Marching Band Festival when there’s no game on. Be sure to add the Memorial Stadium to your bucket list of things to do in Champaign, IL.

8) Discover the Natural Wonders of the University of Illinois Arboretum

Credits: Nahid Al Nahian Rahat

Escape into the beauty of nature at the University of Illinois Arboretum, a stunning living laboratory on the UoI campus.

This breathtaking space has been in development for over 30 years and is home to various breathtaking gardens and features.

One of the arboretum’s most iconic features is the Japan House, a set of three authentic tea rooms accompanied by a Japanese rock garden.

The Japan House has been connected to the Sen Cherry Tree Alleé since 2008, creating a stunning canopy of white blossoms in the spring.

In addition to the Japanese garden, the arboretum also boasts the Hosta Garden with native Illinois prairie plants, the Idea Garden with borders, vegetables, and more, and the Hartley Garden, an All-American Selections trial ground.

9) Dive into the World of American Music at the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music

Credits: City Mouse

Music lovers, take a step back in time at the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music! Located within Champaign’s Harding Bank Building, this museum houses rare archives like Albert Austin Harding’s papers and Herbert L.

Clarke’s artifacts—are all devoted to exploring America’s musical culture through engaging exhibits. Whether you marvel at The Sal-Mar Construction or explore impactful topics such as women in music or sport & music intersections showcased during yearly events, one thing is certain: history never sounded so good!

Make sure not to forget to add the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music to your bucket list of things to do in Champaign, IL – it’ll be music to your ears!

10) Orpheum Children’s Science Museum: Time-Traveling Fun for Little Adventurers!

Credits: Colleen Combes

Take an exciting journey through time with a visit to the Orpheum Theatre! Built way back in 1914, this historic downtown landmark has been transformed into an interactive children’s museum.

Let your little adventurers explore different scientific concepts as they dig for fossils, captain their own tugboat, and even don astronaut suits before blasting off on space missions.

As if that wasn’t enough – kids can also meet live critters or take care of pets at the Vet Clinic! An ongoing renovation promises more fun surprises still yet to come from this unique venue

11) Experience Iconic Entertainment and Sports at the State Farm Center

Credits: Darryl Liu

Aptly named after its major sponsor, the State Farm Center is a landmark of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The complex resembles something between a scallop shell and a flying saucer; it has offered an iconic home to sporting events since 1963 as well as playing host to renowned comedians and music artists such as Prince, Dave Chappelle, Ludacris (an alumnus), Kanye West and Kenny Chesney for decades!

As one would expect from their NBA alumni list with multiple first-round draft picks over time – including Deon Thomas in 1989 – The Fighting Illini have had plenty of success on the court through the years with 12th best all-time win percentage ranking, which continues today when 15500 appreciative fans crowd into this great arena located just two hours south of Chicago.

12) Centennial Park

Credits: Anirudh Madhusudan

The west side of Champaign is home to the Sholem Aquatic Center; think of a mini water park!

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, visitors can relax in the resort-style beach entry pool or take a leisurely float on its lazy river.

And don’t miss out on trying your luck down one (or both!) of its two tall slides. Plus, there are facilities for sports lovers and even an interactive farm with animals such as goats, sheep, chickens & more that you won’t want to leave behind come summer’s end!

13) Cool Off and Have Fun at Crystal Lake Park

Credits: Leslie Radice

Crystal Lake Park tucked away in Urbana’s northeast corner, is an oasis for outdoor fun! Take a relaxing stroll along the lake or rent out one of its piers to go fishing.

Head up north and explore Anita Purves Nature Center with environmental displays. Or let your family have some summer splashing around at their Aquatic Centre – including eight lanes perfect for swimming laps, three excellent slides, and even a climbing wall!

With so much on offer, from peaceful nature trails to aquatic thrills, Crystal Lake has something enjoyable for everyone.

14) Discover Local Delights at Urbana’s Market at the Square

Credits: 강승자

This Saturday morning, make the trip to Urbana for Market at the Square – an outdoor market that’s been serving Illinois since 1970.

Delight your senses with farm-fresh seasonal produce from local growers and pick up quality pasture-raised meats, cheese, honey, eggs, and handmade bread & pastries!

And there’s more; browse a selection of unique arts & crafts or find something tasty among their food trucks catering to all palates.

15) Explore the Universe at the William M. Staerkel Planetarium

Credits: Katrina Wefel

Staerkel Planetarium offers a unique experience for anyone looking to explore the universe and experience one of the top things to do in Champaign, IL.

Located just ten minutes away from downtown Champaign at Parkland College, this second-largest planetarium in the state boasts 50 feet of the dome and over 7600 stars visible up to magnitude 6.

Staerkel Planetarium hosts full-dome shows with high-tech film projectors on Friday and Saturday nights, providing an immersive journey into space.

There are also many interesting features within its lobby, such as the solar window, which presents how the sun’s path changes throughout June till December, or the Cosmic Blink mural depicting humanity’s evolution since ancient times – making it both educational and entertaining!

16) Meet the Goats and Watch Cheese Being Made at Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery 

Credits: Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery

Ever wanted to meet the goats and watch cheese being made? At Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, you can do just that!

This is a working farm located in Champaign–not only can visitors stop by during open hours in summer to check out all of the animals, but they also have access to fresh fruit set up at their stand.

Plus, there are delicious Chevres and feta pelota Roja ready for purchase on-site. Try something new with this unique tour opportunity: be sure not to miss it!

Plan a trip to Champaign, IL

Champaign-Urbana is brimming with activities for people of all ages, personalities, and interests. From cheering on the Fighting Illini at State Farm Center to experiencing nature in Centennial Park or Anita Purves Nature Centre, you are guaranteed to find something that piques your interest here!

Don’t forget to explore the Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery for a truly unique experience, or take the family to Crystal Lake Park for some summer fun.

Finally, no trip to Champaign-Urbana would be complete without a visit to the William M. Staerkel Planetarium and Market at the Square! With all these amazing things to do in Champaign, IL experiences, you can guarantee yourself an unforgettable summer here in Champaign-Urbana. Enjoy!

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