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Champaign-Urbana

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Champaign County : Champaign-Urbana
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Champaign-Urbana is a metropolitan area in central Illinois, composed of the towns of Champaign, Urbana, and Savoy. The community is the site of the main campus of the University of Illinois, one of the great public universities of the United States.

Understand

The University of Illinois' Beckman Institute, located on the Beckman Quad

Champaign-Urbana is a city of almost 120,000 located amongst the corn and soybean fields about 150 miles south of Chicago. The area dates to about the mid-nineteenth century, as Urbana was founded in 1833, Champaign in 1855 and the University in 1867. Starting out as a farming community, the area matured into two cities with influences at various times through the years including the Illinois Central railroad, the University, now-defunct Chanute Air Force Base in nearby Rantoul and others. Today, the cities can be described as growing, cosmopolitan and ethnically diverse, with a modern urban feel in the area's core.

Today Champaign-Urbana is defined by some amount of traditional industry such as Kraft Foods and others, a growing technology and information sector, and the University. The University is the county's largest employer and a very large instituion of 43,000 students. It would be short-changing Champaign-Urbana to call it merely a college town. But there is no doubt that the center of gravity of the arts, entertainment, and intellectual communities rest with the University.

It would be safe to say that Champaign-Urbana is a very open-minded community with regard to social issues, and retains some Midwestern values such as virtue of hard work. Urbana is seen as the more politically liberal and pastoral of the two, and Champaign is seen as having more of a big-city feel. Champaign-Urbana residents are proud of their oasis of culture and big-city amenities amongst the cornfields, of the less intense traffic, sprawl and lower cost of living here compared to major cities, and of the University of Illinois Fighting Illini sports teams.

Get in

By plane

Willard Airport (airport code:CMI) [1], is a regional airport operated by the University of Illinois and located roughly 20 minutes south of downtown Champaign. As of 2011, the only commercial flights to Willard Airport are on American Eagle, which flies to and from Willard Airport to Chicago and Dallas.

The airport is served by a municipal bus line, the CUMTD No. 27 "Air Bus". This makes for a cheap and convenient option to campus or the downtown Champaign transit center. Fare is $1 each way and it operates 5 am to 6 pm daily (except University breaks and major holidays). The "Air Bus" service maintains a very precise schedule, usually arriving at the airport at the bottom of the hour without delay.

A typical taxi fare between the airport and Urbana west of Vine Street is $14 for the first person and $10 for each additional person (not including tip).

Car parking at Willard Airport (short- or long-term) costs a maximum of $5 a day. In contrast, all parking at nearby (45 mins away) Central Illinois Regional Airport [2] (airport code:BMI) in Bloomington, Illinois is free. This is due to land ownership differences (BMI is municipally owned and subsidized, whereas CMI is owned by the university and can not be crossed-subsidized by others). Passengers with car problems should contact the parking booth attendant for free assistance provided by Crash and Rescue (for example, jump starting a dead car battery).

It is possible to bicycle to Willard Airport from Champaign-Urbana via country roads. One can bike south on First Street in Champaign or Race Street in Urbana and then head west on County Road 1100 N which runs directly into the airport. The distance is 8.4 miles from downtown Urbana and 7.0 miles from downtown Champaign. There is an outside bicycle rack in front of the terminal.

The nearest major airports are in Chicago (O'Hare (ORD) and Midway (MDW)), Indianapolis, and Saint Louis. Land carriers such as Illini Shuttle, Greyhound, Burlington Trailways, and Amtrak connect Champaign-Urbana to these other cities and airports.

By train

Outside Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign. This is the Amtrak station and also the Greyhound and local bus depot.

Champaign-Urbana is on the Amtrak system, and is served by three regularly-scheduled train routes, the 58/59 City of New Orleans, the 390/391 Saluki and the 392/393 Illini. All trains run Chicago to Carbondale and the 58/59 continues southward to Memphis, Jackson, and New Orleans. Here are the daily arrival/departure times:

  • Northbound: 6:10 am (train 58), 10:14 am, 6:49 pm
  • Southbound: 11:25 am, 6:15 pm, 10:34 pm (train 59)

The train is an excellent option for traveling between Champaign-Urbana and downtown Chicago, with tickets costing as little as $15 each way if booked far enough in advance. Trip time to Chicago is about 2h 50m, and one can connect to the Amtrak national network there. Amtrak, the commercial bus lines (Greyhound, Burlington Trailways, Illini Shuttle) and the municipal bus system (CUMTD, DMT) all arrive and depart from Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign. However, it should be noted that there is only one set of tracks along much if not most of the route between New Orleans and Chicago and freight trains are given priority. This can result in long delays, particularly toward the Chicago and New Orleans ends of the City of New Orleans train service.

By car

Interstate 74 runs east-west. 120 miles east is Indianapolis and continues to Cincinnati. To the west are the cities of Bloomington-Normal and continues to Peoria, Galesburg, and the Quad Cities of Davenport/Moline/Rock Island/Bettendorf. Interstate 57 runs north to Chicago and south into Southern Illinois, joining up with I-55 to Memphis. Interstate 72 runs east from Hannibal/Quincy,Springfield (Illinois) and Decatur (Illinois), terminating in Champaign.

By bus

All of the following buses and trains (Amtrak) arrive and depart at Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign which is also a hub for public buses (CUMTD, DMT).

Burlington Trailways, [3]. Offers 2 daily trips for its east-west service between Champaign and Peoria and Galesburg, and to Danville and Indianapolis. Burlington Trailways buses are also sold as connecting Amtrak Thruway services for Amtrak passengers.

Danville Mass Transit [4]. Operates a Champaign-Danville bus, using city transit-style buses. There are 7 weekday round trips and 5 Saturday round trips.

Greyhound Lines runs frequently between Chicago and Champaign-Urbana, as well as to/from Springfield and St. Louis.

Suburban Express [5] offers reliable weekend scheduled services (Thu-Mon) from various UIUC points to various Chicagoland suburbs, ISU, and Purdue.

Illini Shuttle [6] run by Suburban Express offers daily service between Champaign-Urbana and Chicago Suburbs and Airports.

megabus.com, 1-877-462-6342, [7]. Express bus service to/from Chicago and Memphis. Double Deck Coaches with WiFi, Restrooms, Power Outlets and seats starting at $1.

Peoria Charter, [8]. Has infrequent buses to/from the suburbs on weekends. They have buses to/from the Chicago airports 3 times a day for $30. O'Hare buses require a transfer in Bloomington, IL. Midway buses require a transfer in BOTH Bloomington, IL and Joliet, IL.

Get around

Most of Champaign-Urbana is laid out on a grid, aligned with due north, making navigation not too difficult. The exception is the oldest part of downtown Champaign, which is rotated East from the main grid. (This is because Champaign first developed parallel to the railroad).

However, be aware that street addresses can be ambiguous, if not given with the city name. For example, there are four Green Streets: East and West in Champaign, and East and West in Urbana. Therefore, if you drive eastward from Champaign to Urbana along Green, you will start out on West Green, go through East Green, and then you'll be back on West Green again-- but in Urbana. Other examples are the two Washington Streets, which have nothing whatever to do with each other, and the two Elm Streets, one of which goes east-west, and the other, north-south.

By bicycle

Champaign-Urbana has a significant number of bicyclists who cycle for transportation and recreation. The flat geography of the community makes it easy to get around on bicycle. While there are few on-street bike lanes or marked bicycle routes and the University of Illinois campus bike path system is considered by some to be obsolete and a bit chaotic, traffic on non-arterial streets is usually light and conducive to bicycling.

The Bike Project Coop [9] in downtown Urbana provides a shop for do-it-yourself bicycle repairs and also recycles and sells bikes at low prices. Two other bicycling organizations are the the Prairie Cycle Club [10] and Champaign County Bikes.org [11].

The only known source of rental bicycles in Champaign-Urbana is the University of Illinois' Division of Campus Recreation [12] which rents bicycles (including tandems) to students as well as to the general public starting at $15/day for students and members to $20/day for others.

The Champaign-Urbana Bicycle Map [13], published in 2008, shows recommended routes for bicycle travel in the community. It can be obtained at no cost at many locations in Champaign-Urbana [14].

The Champaign County Regional Planning Commission [15] publishes maps of Greenways and Trails [16] that includes bicycle paths in Champaign-Urbana and surrounding areas in Champaign County.

Every Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District bus is equipped with a bike rack that will carry two bikes on the front of the bus (see instructions for use [17]). Additionally folding bikes may be carried on buses as per the transit district policy.

By bus

Champaign-Urbana has an award winning municipal bus system, the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District [18]. The adult fare is $1.00. Students, faculty, and staff of the University of Illinois need only show their university ID card to ride. Routes that serve campus with 10 to 15 minute frequency are the 1 Yellow, 5 Green, 10 Gold, 12 Teal, 13 Silver, and 22 Illini. Most community routes will drive through campus, but with limited frequency. iStops are designated stops for boarding and alighting that do not require passengers to pay a fare or show their ID card. These iStops are positioned along high density corridors found mostly in Campustown. Designated Stops require riders to show ID or pay a fare, but also designate where passengers may board and alight [19].

The Yellow, Green, Teal, Silver, and Illini run past 3 am during the academic year. SafeRides is a late-night pick-up service provided to and funded by University of Illinois students. Vans are dispatched through the night to safely transport small numbers of students (1-3) within the designated community zone until 6:30 am [20].

Routes that serve the community are the 2 Red, 3 Lavender, 4 Blue, 6 Orange, 7 Grey, 8 Bronze, 9A and 9B Brown, 14 Navy, and 27 Air Bus. On evenings and weekends, the decennial series of the routes operate (ie 20, 30, 50, 60, 70, 100, 120, 130, 220, 270). Community routes operate on 15 to 30 minute frequency, but vary by time of day. The 27 Air Bus runs every hour due to the length of its trip [21].

MTD's Hoppers run along the heaviest traveled portion of a route and operate at either 10 or 15-minute frequencies. This gives passengers the freedom to travel without a schedule. Hoppers connect downtown Champaign, downtown Urbana, and the University of Illinois. There are four Hopper routes: GOLDhopper, GREENhopper, ORANGEhopper, and YELLOWhopper. The GREENhopper is the only one of the four that only operates when the University is in session [22].

The 280 tranSPORT operates before, during, and after all home men's football games. This special route transports fans from parking garages and the Campbell Alumni Center to Memorial Stadium. In addition to providing service to Champaign and Urbana, the bus also serves the village of Savoy. The 331 Northeast Direct and 334 West Direct provide transportation to designated areas within the District that are not served by fixed routes. Direct Services bring community members into areas of frequent service [23].

MTD's bus fleet is composed primarily of 40 foot transit buses. The fleet is supplemented by 16, 60 foot articulated buses that operate primarily on campus. MTD also operates 30 foot buses. All buses are low-floor and equipped with ramps, wheelchair tiedowns, and lift-up seats in the handicapped-priority seating area - ideal for wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and service animals. The front of every bus is also equipped with a bicycle rack that can hold two bikes. (see instructions for use)[24] Additionally folding bikes may be carried on buses as per the District's policy. All buses had GPS locators installed several years ago and have "Stop Annunciators" to meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements for blind travelers. Transit vans are used for SafeRides, Direct Services, and for ADA Paratransit [25].

CUMTD has used GPS for several years to track buses and has developed a suite of STOPwatch services to provide real time information to passengers. STOPwatch.WEB provides arrival times for every bus stop in the District on cumtd.com. STOPwatch.WIDGET is a downloadable application that tracks buses on your desktop. One of the most passenger-friendly utilization is STOPwatch@theStop, which provides real time "Next Bus Arrives..." signage at certain high-traffic bus stops throughout Champaign, Urbana, and the UI campus. Other STOPwatch services include STOPwatch.MOBI for smartphones and STOPwatch.SMS for texting. Learn how to use these services on MTD's STOPwatch page [26].

Free printed maps and schedules come in booklet form (about 160 pages) and include color maps, schedules, and general information. They are easily found on MTD buses, at Illinois Terminal, most UI buildings, dorms and apartments, and at many businesses throughout the cities [27].

By car

Most of Champaign-Urbana is easy driving. However, the campus area is complex. Many streets are one way, traffic lights are set to favor pedestrians, parking is limited, and some streets are restricted to buses, so its easy to get sucked into frustrating loops. Hassles can be minimized by avoiding the rectangle inside Green Street, Fourth Street, Florida/Kirby Avenue, and Lincoln Avenue.

In general, there is little congestion to speak of. The exceptions:

  • Brief rush hours on weekdays
  • Prospect Avenue in Champaign, north of I-74
  • Home football games
  • Parent-student weekends
  • Move-in-day at the dormitories, in late August

As of the Summer of 2009, there are Zipcars available in Downtown Champaign.

See

Museums

  • Champaign County Historical Museum (Cattle Bank), 102 East University Avenue, Champaign, [28]. Houses quilts and other historical artifacts documenting the history of Champaign County.
  • Orpheum Children's Science Museum, 346 North Neil Street, Champaign, +1 217 352-5895, [29]. Constructed in 1914 as a movie theater, it has been converted to a children's museum. $2-3.
  • Krannert Art Museum, 500 East Peabody Dr, Champaign, [30]. Both permanent and rotating collections on exhibit. $3 suggested donation.
  • Spurlock Museum, 600 S Gregory St, Urbana, [31]. Cultural artifacts from around the world. $3 suggested donation.
  • Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, 1103 S Sixth Street, Champaign, [32]. The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music(SACAM) acquires and preserves significant archival records and historical artifacts in multiple media formats that document America's local and national music history and its diverse cultures. Tours are available at no charge though donations are accepted.
  • Early American Museum, 600 North Lombard S., Mahomet, IL, [33]. Mon-Fri.

Movie Theaters

  • The Art Theater Co-op, 126 W Church St, Champaign, [34]. Just two blocks from the Virginia, and shows first-run art, independent, documentary, and other films daily.
  • Virginia Theatre, 203 W Park St, Champaign, +1 217 356-9053, [35]. Built in 1921, the theater is home to the annual Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival [36] and is also used for monthly film series, live concerts, and theatre. It retains its original Wurlitzer pipe organ,[37] which is played before many of the shows.
  • Carmike Beverly Cinema 18, 910 Meijer Dr, 217-359-4995. Standard big-screen movie theater. 3d movies cost $3 more. Temporarily closed as of June 2013 with plans to reopen in summer. Adult $9, Child $6.50, Matinee $6.50, Student $7.

Live Performance

  • Station Theatre, 223 North Broadway, Urbana, [38]. A small playhouse constructed in a former train station. $15.
  • The Canopy Club, 708 S Goodwin Ave, (217) 367-3140, [39]. 'til 2am. Located at the edge of campus in Urbana and is an excellent musical venue; it draws some big-name acts regularly. Must be 18+ to enter.
  • Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave, Urbana, (217) 333-6700, [40]. The main venue in town for music, theater and dance. Features community, university, and world-famous performers.

Sports

  • State Farm Center, [41]. Home of the Illini basketball team. Also hosts large rock performances. Elvis Presley, Aerosmith, U2, The Rolling Stones, Phish, and Garth Brooks have all performed here.
  • Memorial Stadium, [42]. Home of the Illini football team.

Do

  • Champaign-Urbana and the surrounding countryside is an attractive place for bicycling. The Prairie Cycle Club [43] has organized rides of varying distances and intensities throughout the non-winter months.
  • Japan House, +1 217 244-9934, [44]. Houses informal and formal Japanese tea rooms constructed by Japanese artisans, and surrounded by Japanese-style gardens. Tea ceremonies are held every other week throughout the year ($5, reservations required). Classes and free tours are also available.
  • Market at the Square (Urbana Farmer's Market). Sa: 7am-noon. Held every Saturday morning from May to November at the corner of Illinois Avenue and Vine Street, Urbana.
  • Urbana/Champaign Independent Media Center (IMC), [45]. Community run center for community media and social events located in downtown Urbana. It regularly hosts independent music, cultural, and political events as well as a variety of classes and community group meetings. A schedule of events can be found on the Independent Media Center's website.
  • Illini Union, [46]. The University of Illinois Student Union hosts many dance, music, comedy, and other assorted social events in it's ballroom or outside in it's patio. A link to their schedule of events can be found on their online calendar (linked).


  • Krannert Uncorked, 500 S. Goodwin Ave, Urbana, [47]. Th 5-7pm. Most Thursdays throughout the year (check calendar), Krannert Center holds a free wine tasting for those who are 21+. Each week, a different local bar/winery/store brings in one white and two red wines to sample. Generally, a sample of each will range from 1-3oz. Free chex-mix and cheese & crackers available. free.
  • Art at the Park, north of the Urbana City Hall (400 S. Vine Street Urbana, IL 61801) (On the corner of Vine and Green Streets in Urbana), [48]. open 24hrs. Art in the Park: This historical park, just north of the Urbana City Hall (400 S. Vine Street) dedicated October 2012, took 22 years of struggle and efforts of three mayors. The environmental and sculptural artist/curator of the park, John David Mooney designed the plantings, walkways, a 12-foot high fountain sculpture (Falling Leaf), and a 33-foot high light sculpture (Spirit Tree). The Spirit Tree specifically gives new meaning to Urbana's designation as a "Tree City" and to trees as landmarks or beacons. Mooney, an internationally acclaimed artist, is a native to Champaign-Urbana. free.

Annual Events

  • Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, [49]. The only full marathon in central Illinois. Half marathon, 10k, and 5k distance races are also available. Held in late April.
  • Central Illinois Metalfest, [50]. Three-day heavy-metal festival, held annualy in July.
  • Champaign County Fair, [51]. Annual fair held by the county in Urbana in late July.
  • Annual International Beer Tasting and Chili Cook-Off. Annual festival held in downtown Urbana in October.
  • Roger Ebert's Film Festival (Ebertfest), [52]. Annual film festival historically hosted by Roger Ebert every April. Held at the Virginia Theater.
  • Taste of Champaign-Urbana. Annual event in late June where dozens of restaurants, artists and music groups set up on West Side Park in Champaign.
  • Pygmalion Music Festival, [53]. Indie music festival in late September, lasting four days.
  • Insect Fear Film Festival, [54]. Held each February on the campus. Motto: "Scaring the general public with horrific films and horrific filmmaking since 1984."
  • The Annual Sweetcorn Festival, [55]. is organized by the Urbana Business Association each August in downtown Urbana. This is a family friendly festival with activities for all ages. There are two entertainment stages, food and merchandise vendors, booths for community groups, a car show, petting zoo, activities for children, and more. And the highlight of the event if the hot buttery ears of sweetcorn.
  • Boneyard Arts Festival, [56]. Occurs each April and is hosted throughout Champaign-Urbana.
  • Quad Day, [57]. An event at the beginning of the fall semester in which student organizations at the University of Illinois showcase their clubs on the main quad. Although mainly for students, many clubs put on interesting showcases that are quite entertaining and worthwhile to see.

Buy

  • Glass FX, 202 S First St, Champaign, +1 217 359-0048, [58]. Stained and decorative glass gallery. Also sells supplies and teaches classes.
  • Boneyard Pottery, 403 S Water St, Champaign, +1 217 355-5610, [59]. Local pottery studio, for both decorative and functional items. Also offers classes.
  • Champaign Surplus, 303 S Neil St, Champaign, +1 217 356-4703, [60]. Clothing and gear for hiking, camping and other outdoors activities. Military surplus is in the back.
  • The Meat Salesroom (Meat Lab), 102 Meat Sciences Lab, 1503 S Maryland, Urbana, +1 217 333-3404. 1-5:30 p.m. Tues/Thurs; 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Fri.. One of the stranger local institutions, this University of Illinois facility sells a variety of meats produced by the agriculture college. Offerings vary widely depending upon what classes and experiments are in session. The beef jerky is a local legend. Call for price list & specials.

Eat

Chains

Champaign contains most of the chain restaurants in the area; Urbana has relatively few. There are four main concentrations in Champaign:

  • North Prospect: Applebee's, Burger King, Chili's, Fazoli's, McDonalds, Outback Steakhouse, Steak'n'Shake, Subway, Wendy's.
  • Campustown, mostly along Green Street: Chipotle, Coldstone Creamery, IHOP, Jimmy John's, Cocomero, Noodles & Company, Pizza Hut, Potbelly Sandwich Works, Starbucks Coffee, Subway, Dunkin Donuts, and Panera
  • South Neil Street: Biaggi's, Hardees, Hooters, McDonalds, Monical's Pizza, Steak'n'Shake, Subway.
  • West Springfield Avenue: Arby's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Niro's Gyros, Original Pancake House, Taco Bell, Wienerschnitzel.

Budget

  • The Apple Dumplin' Family Dining, 2014 North Highcross Rd, Urbana. Great local American diner. Don't miss the biscuits 'n gravy and, of course, the famous Apple Dumplin'. Cardiac procedures at Carle Clinic, necessitated by the food, are free when you have your frequent diner card punched 10 times.
  • La Bamba's, 1905 Glen Park Dr, Champaign (west of downtown Champaign), 217-355-6600. Tagline 'Burritos as big as your head'
  • The Courier Cafe, 111 N Race St, Urbana (downtown Urbana), 217-328-1811, [61]. For students, a popular place to have breakfast with their parents. For locals, a comfortable place to have burgers, malts, and fountain drinks. Several options for vegetarians.
  • Jarlings Custard Cup (Custard Cup), 309 West Kirby Avenue, Champaign. Local favorite for frozen custard desserts.
  • Famous Dave's (closed), 1900 Round Barn Rd, Champaign (corner of Mattis & Springfield Aves), [62]. The BBQ chain, in a Red Barn House, with a Famous Daves Sign on the Top.
  • Golden Wok. Thai, Laos, and Chinese food.
  • Jerusalem Restaurant. Palestinian food. $6-9.
  • Lil' Porgies, various places. BBQ, small, cheap place but good. Tagline: 'Incredibly good 'cause it's cooked on wood'.
  • Merry Ann's, various locations. A local diner. Good if you're drunk or at 2 AM.
  • Peking Garden. Chinese, good whole steamed fish as well as their shrimp with lobster sauce. Has some interesting sweet cocktails.
  • Papa Del's, 206 E. Green St, Champaign (on-campus). A local take on Chicago-style pizza.
  • Po Boys BBQ. F-Sa only. Order meat like you're at a bar.
  • Red Herring, (across the street from Roger Adams Lab and down the street from Espresso Royale). A quirky vegetarian restaurant. Awesome soups served with fresh bread.
  • The Ribeye, 701 S Neil St, Champaign (south of downtown Champaign). Steak and salad bar that locals love
  • Seaboat. Best place in town for cheap, fresh seafood. Known for the 'Seaboat Sandwich', a fried fish sandwich and their homemade coleslaw. Be prepared to wait, your food will be cooked only after you place your order. The wait is worth it.
  • El Torrero. Mexican, Great food, prompt service, and the best Margarita in town.
  • Za's Italian Cafe, 1905 N Neil St or 2006 W Springfield Ave, Champaign, (), [63]. Varies daily/by location. Italian, pizzas/paninis/soups. Can make your own by choosing ingredients. Free wi-fi.
  • Zorba's, (on-campus). Greek and Mediterranean fast food, specializing in gyros

Midrange

  • Cafe Luna. Intimate atmosphere, with an eclectic menu, including tapas. OUT OF BUSINESS
  • Bombay Indian Grill, 401 East Green Street, Champaign, +1 217 344-3380, [64]. Small restaurant usually packed with people. Fresh roti and naan are especially good. Portions look small, but are quite filling. $10-15.
  • The Bread Company, 706 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, 217-383-1007, [65]. Bistro-style at lunch, European-inspired at dinner. Menu features include tapas, grill specials, fondue and an extensive wine list. Good for dates, student meet-ups and banquet events. $5-10 Lunch, $10-20 Dinner.
  • Escobar's, 6 E Columbia Ave, Champaign, +1 217 352-7467, [66]. Nuevo Latino cuisine. $8.50-12 lunch, $13-23 dinner.
  • Milo's, 2870 S. Philo Rd, 217-344-8946, [67]. "Nuevo American" cuisine, with a friendly, low key atmosphere. Relocated from downtown to southeast Urbana August 2008. $7-10 lunch, $10-22 dinner.
  • Black Dog Smoke & Ale House, 201 N Broadway, Urbana, IL, 217-344-9334. New barbecue in Urbana, which quickly became one of the area's most popular restaurants. Almost always hard to find seats, but always worth the wait.

Splurge

  • Bacaro, 113 North Walnut, Champaign, +1 217 398-6982, [68]. Italian restaurant in downtown Champaign with a vast selection of Italian wines and a creative artesianal menu. Small portions. $25-28, $75 fixed meal.
  • OUT OF BUSINESS December 2011.
  • Kennedy's at Stone Creek, 2560 Stone Creek Boulevard, Urbana, +1 217 384-8111, [69]. Overlooking the Stone Creek Golf Course, serves American-style steaks and seafood. Reservations encouraged. No dress code. OUT OF BUSINESS January 2012.
  • Ko-Fusion, a "fusion" style Japanese restuarant on Mainstreet Champaign. Featuring organic meats, local specialties, wild caught seafood. Many types of sushi, both traditional and original. Salsa dancing some nights. Often has $1 sushi specials Sunday nights (edit: it use to be Sunday nights, now it is Monday nights as of 2011).

Drink

Bars

There are three "scenes" that contain most of the best known bars in town. These are campustown, downtown Champaign and downtown Urbana. All bars will be smoke-free in state of Illinois on Jan 1, 2008, but most (not all) bars below are already smoke-free due to local ordinances and exemptions. Closing time is 2 am, set by local ordinances, but may be earlier based on individual businesses.

Since the real St. Patrick's Day often falls within the University's Spring Break, local bars often celebrate "Unofficial St. Patrick's Day" the 2nd Friday before. The event goes off much like a normal St. Patrick's Day, and attracts party animals from all over Illinois and other Big Ten schools. Be aware of it if you plan to travel to Champaign-Urbana in early to mid-March as it parking can be scarce and drunk driving checkpoints are common.

Campustown

Campustown contains roughly a dozen bars. Almost every bar has daily and weekly specials, too numerous to mention here. Here you can expect a clientèle that s uniformly college-aged, if it is not Homecoming weekend. Most bars here have a pretty open floor plan and what seating there is tends to be in a loud and exposed area, in contrast to more of a "lounge" establishment. Most bar are 19+ to enter (sometimes with cover for those who are underage. Generally, all ages can be on the property for food and non-alcoholic drinks during the day and evening until 9 pm.

  • Green Street Cafe, 35 E. Green St. (One block west of First St.). Sa-Thu 5pm-2am, Fri Noon-2am. Originally a hookah bar, it is more of towny bar than a Campustown bar. Since the smoking ban, they've opened up a separate location next door with hookahs. It's a very chilled bar with daily specials, $7 pitchers every night, darts, pool and a food served till 1am every night. Cheap.
  • Legends Bar and Grill. Sports bar popular with upperclassmen and graduate students. Generally not very crowded and usually no cover.
  • Murphy's Pub. Traditional Irish pub with no cover. Popular with upperclassmen and graduate students they have a logo glass night on Wed.
  • Brothers. Sports bar with an open floor plan. Two stories with an indoor balcony make it very spacious. Popular with upperclassmen and has lines consistently 1 hour+ long. No cover for those 21+.
  • Firehaus. Tri-leveled sports bar with a beer garden The front windows are glass 'garage doors' that can be opened up when it's warm out. Fairly expensive but generally clean for a Greek bar. No cover for 21+. Cochrane establishment
  • The Clybourne. 'Upscale' Greek bar. Touts itself as 'The Class of Champaign.' Tri-leveled with a coat check. Dance floor, dark, and loud. Popular with those underage due to the fact that they do not use an ID scanner. Cochrane establishment.
  • Red Lion. The definition of a Greek bar. Large open dance floor. Loud techno. Very popular with Freshman Greeks, making it the 'hook-up' bar. Cochrane establishment.
  • Kam's. 'An Illini Tradition'. Down the block from CO's. Very Greek. Numerous HDTVs purchased during the 2005 Illini Basketball Final 4 make it a popular spot to watch Illini sports. Dance floor and numerous booths with a central bar and a basement. Nauseating smell emanating from both Kam's and CO's make it the dirtiest block on campus.
  • Illini Inn. A small hole in the wall bar where becoming a member of the 'Mug Club' is a popular campus tradition.
  • Joe's. Four distinct areas give everyone a place at Joe's. Large beer garden, bar area with indoor seating and pool tables, upstairs that can be rented out, and the main draw: the dance floor with a stage and stripperpoles. $3 U-Call-It every night.
  • Geovanti's. A small bar underneath the first floor 'restaurant'. $4 Miller pitchers and a quiet atmosphere when there isn't a live band.

Champaign

Downtown Champaign contains maybe a dozen bars and is growing all the time. It has a more varied clientèle with people of all ages, although the median age still probably isn't any higher than thirty. The atmosphere is more upscale than campustown in almost all cases.

Maybe the most upscale establishments in downtown are Boltini and Soma. These bars are new, have had the most thought put into their aesthetics, but still have drink prices pretty much in line with the other establishments and attract trendy as well as less trendy people.

  • Esquire, 106 N. Walnut St., (217) 398-5858, [70]. 'til 2am. Older age range, has pool tables and bar food. Also has complimentary peanuts whose shells can be discarded on the floor.
  • Bacaro (Wine Lounge), 113 N. Walnut St., (217)-398-6982, [71]. T-Su 5-11pm. A pricy modern Italian wine bar with a full menu and small plates
  • The Blind Pig, 120 N. Walnut St., (217) 398-1532, [72]. 'til 2am. An English style pub with the largest beer selection in Champaign-Urbana. Has rotating draft beers.
  • The Blind Pig Brewery, 120 N. Neil St., (217) 398-5133, [73]. 'til 2am. Blind Pig's 2nd location that doubles as a brewery and a pub.
  • Mike & Molly's, 105 N Market St, (217) 355-1236, [74]. 'til 2am. Irish-style pub with a large bottled beer selection. Cover is charged when there's live bands playing upstairs.
  • Boltini. 'til 2am. Loungy martini bar, known for their specialty martinis, can be difficult to find a place to sit
  • Soma Ultralounge, 320 N Neil St., (217) 359-7662, [75]. 'til 2am. Upscale club which has been rumored to deny admittance to people who are dressed sloppily
  • The Highdive, 51 E Main St., (217) 356-2337, [76]. 'til 2am. Rock venue and dance club
  • The Cowboy Monkey. 'til 2am. Sometimes books nationally-known bands, hosts salsa dancing nights
  • The Brass Rail. 'til 2am. A dive bar with Cheap beer, oldest bar in Champaign
  • C Street, (Southeast of Illinois Terminal). 'til 2am. Short for Chester Street, it's a dance club that is LGBT-friendly.
  • Radio Maria, 119 N Walnut St., (217) 398-7729, [77]. 'til 2am. Tapas bar and restaurant. Wine, beer, "tapas-style" dishes, has good dancing nights
  • Memphis on Main, 55 E Main St., (217) 398-1097, [78]. 'til 2am. Blues, Harleys, etc.
  • Jupiters, 39 E Main St., (217)-398-5988, [79]. 'til 2am. Best thin crust pizza in town, pool tables, decent beer list
  • Guido's. 'til 2am. Sports bar and restaurant
  • Seven Saints. 'til 2am. A bar/restaurant with a good selection of beer and quality food
  • Emerald City. 'til 2am. Swanky lounge, LGBT clientele CLOSED
  • Quality Beer Inc., 110 N Neil St. 'til 2am. A new bar in downtown with a wide beer selection.
  • Hubers, 1312 W. Church (west of downtown). A nice neighborhood bar
  • The Ice House, 703 N. Prospect (north of downtown). A nice small neighborhood bar

Urbana

Finally there is Urbana, whose bars are mostly contained within downtown. Ages of patrons are similar to downtown Champaign or older, and the atmosphere is a little more laid-back in comparison.

  • 88 Broadway, (Inside the Lincoln Square Mall), (217) 954-1008 or (217) 359-6960, [80]. A lounge that is available to be rented for private functions.
  • Black Dog, 201 N Broadway Ave, (217) 344-9334, [81]. Su-Th 11am-10pm, Kitchen F-Sa 11am-11pm, open later for drink. Wide beer selection, also great food at a fair price with some of the best BBQ in the C-U. Small place, which fills up quickly at dinner time.
  • Bunny's Tavern, 119 W Water St, (217) 367-8175, [82]. A chilled bar with daily food and drink specials.
  • Crane Alley, 115 W Main St, (217) 384-7526, [83]. A bar with pool tables with the widest beer selection in Urbana. It has good but relatively expensive food.
  • Iron Post, 120 S Race St (downtown Urbana), 217-337-POST (), [84]. M-F 11am-1am, Sa-Su 5pm-1am. A bar with live music most nights, features lots of Jazz music and known as an older musicians hang-out.
  • Rose Bowl, 106 N Race St (downtown Urbana), (217) 367-7031. 'till 1am. Live country music.
  • Red Star Liquors, 114 S Race St, (217) 954-1125 (), [85]. 'til 1am. Great DJ's, Every Wed old school hip-hop

Coffee shops

  • Aroma Cafe, [86]. M-F: 7am-11pm, Sa/Su: 8am-11pm. Also serves sandwiches, beer and wine. WiFi access.
  • Cafe Kopi, [87]. 7am-midnight. Also serves sandwiches, beer and wine.
  • Caffe Paradiso. 7am-11pm. Also serves sandwiches. WiFi access.
  • Espresso Royale, [88]. Multiple locations around town.
  • Pekara, [89]. Mon-Sat: 7am-9pm Sun: 8am-5pm. Next to Aroma Cafe in downtown Champaign. Serves a very unique selection of sandwiches and baked goods. Free WiFi is available.

Sleep

There are a multitude of hotels/motels in the Champaign-Urbana-Savoy area. Most national chains have a hotel in the area, so check your favorite hotel's web site or hotel booking web sites for more complete listings and details. The area also has a fairly decent Couchsurfing community [[90]], but a lack of visitors. Because of this you are likely to find plenty of couchsurfers willing to host you in their homes and show you around the city.

  • The Illini Union Hotel, 1401 W. Green St. Urbana, +1 217 333-3030 (), [91]. Located in the center of the University of Illinois campus and adjacent to campustown, the Illini Union offers guests the unusual experience of sleeping in a student union -- in this case, a grand colonial building built in 1939 on the north end of the University's main quad. This location grants guests access to the on site bowling alley, video games, food court, art gallery, reading rooms and lounges, walk-in massage clinic, and other amenities (additional charges apply). Room rate includes continental breakfast, local phone calls, and one extremely good parking place. Often completely booked far in advance. Accepts reservations by e-mail. $94-170.
  • Comfort Inn, 305 Market View Dr. Champaign (near I-74 and I-57), (217) 352-4055. Has a restaurant/bar in the lobby which opens at 5pm.
  • Econo Lodge Inn Suites, 914 W. Bloomington Rd. Champaign, (217) 356-6000. Affordable accommodations in a quiet, relaxing and comfortable setting. Secure Online Reservations.
  • Sleep Inn, 1908 N. Lincoln Ave. Urbana (located on Lincoln Avenue, right off Interstate 74, exit 183), (217) 367-6000. Close to the University of Illinois, Carle Medical Center, the Champaign County Fairgrounds, and Market Place Mall.

Other hotels include:

  • Hampton Inn
  • Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express
  • Marriott Courtyard
  • Hilton Gardens
  • Best Western
  • Red Roof Inn
  • Baymont
  • Hawthorne (Conference Center)

Connect

Champaign-Urbana has large number of free Wi-Fi hotspots.

Get out

A number of day trips are an easy drive from Champaign-Urbana, but many day-trip destinations are notable for their eccentricity or are otherwise offbeat.

  • Monticello, 20 minutes west via I-72. Features Allerton Park, is a University facility containing a Georgian-style mansion, large formal gardens, and some lovely nature trails.
  • A variety of Amish tourism destinations surround the town of Arcola, a 30-minute drive south on I-57. This area represents one of the largest concentrations of Amish in the United States. The attractions can be surreal, and include an Amish theme park (almost a contradiction in terms) called Rockome Gardens where it is possible to pay to play tic-tac-toe with a chicken. Other destinations include local Amish businesses selling specialties like Shoo-Fly Pie, Apple Butter, quilts, and hand-made furniture. (Note that Amish goods have a reputation for being extremely well-made, not for being bargains.) More information and directions are available from the Illinois Amish Interpretive Center.
  • The town of Arcola itself is also home to the official Raggedy Ann & Andy Museum, as well as the world's only Hippie Memorial, a 62-foot monument erected by local eccentric Bob Moomaw (worth driving by if the weather is good). Arcola also boasts the world's largest broom and brush museum. More information is available from the Arcola Chamber of Commerce.
  • Rantoul is 12 miles north on I-57 or US-45. On the south side of Rantoul is the site of the former Chanute Air Force Base. Now it is the site of the Chanute Air Museum. The museum contains traditional indoor exhibits as well as a broad collection of aviation equipment and aircraft from WWII era up to a F-15A jet.
  • St Louis is a few hours away by train or by car.
  • Memphis is a 7.5 hrs away by Megabus or ~7hrs away by car.


Routes through Champaign-Urbana
KankakeeRantoul  N noframe S  TuscolaEffingham
SpringfieldMonticello  W noframe E  END
PeoriaBloomington-Normal  W noframe E  FithianIndianapolis




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