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Champaign-Urbana

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(Understand)
(Lets stick to the truth.)
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==Understand==
 
==Understand==
Champaign-Urbana is a metropolitan area of about 150,000 located amongst the corn and soybean fields about 150 miles south of [[Chicago]]. The dictionary definition of champaign is "flat place". Champaign is definitely flat. It's also featureless and boring as heck. 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.
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Champaign-Urbana is a metropolitan area of about 150,000 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.
 
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.
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===By bus===
 
===By bus===
  
'''Greyhound Lines''' runs frequently between [[Chicago]] and Champaign-Urbana, as well as to/from [[Springfield (Illinois)|Springfield]] and St. Louis.  
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Two common-carriers connect Champaign-Urbana to the national bus transport network.  '''Greyhound Lines''' runs frequently between [[Chicago]] and Champaign-Urbana, as well as to/from [[Springfield (Illinois)|Springfield]] and St. Louis. '''Burlington Trailways''' offers 2 daily frequencies 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.  
  
'''Burlington Trailways''' offers 2 daily frequencies 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.
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Another local company offers charter buses, and in Sep 2007 has started a frequent daily scheduled bus service to Chicago airports and suburbs as Illini Shuttle by Suburban Express. Suburban Express offers weekend scheduled services (Thu-Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon) from various UIUC points to various Chicagoland suburbs.
 
 
'''Illini Shuttle''' operates daily service to Chicago airports and suburbs using Mercedes vans and full-size coaches. See the [http://www.illinishuttle.com Illini Shuttle] website for schedules. Tickets can be purchased on-line.
 
 
 
'''Suburban Express''' operates weekend service to Chicago Suburbs using full-size coaches. See the [http://www.suburbanexpress.com suburban express] website for schedules. Tickets can be purchased on-line.
 
  
 
'''Danville Mass Transit''' operates a Champaign-Danville bus, using city transit-style buses. There are 7 weekday round trips and 5 Saturday round trips (schedules subject to change), and regular fare is $6. See the [http://www.cityofdanville.org/cod/dmt/dmt_home.htm Danville Mass Transit] website for details.
 
'''Danville Mass Transit''' operates a Champaign-Danville bus, using city transit-style buses. There are 7 weekday round trips and 5 Saturday round trips (schedules subject to change), and regular fare is $6. See the [http://www.cityofdanville.org/cod/dmt/dmt_home.htm Danville Mass Transit] website for details.
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As noted above, commercial buses (Greyhound, Burlington Trailways, Suburban Express, Illini Shuttle), trains (Amtrak), and the city buses (CUMTD, DMT) all arrive and depart at Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign.
 
As noted above, commercial buses (Greyhound, Burlington Trailways, Suburban Express, Illini Shuttle), trains (Amtrak), and the city buses (CUMTD, DMT) all arrive and depart at Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign.
  
'''Megabus''', [http://www.megabus.com]. Offers twice-daily service to Champaign from Chicago and Memphis. Fares start at $1 each way when ordered way in advance. The bus stop is located along the west side of South Market Street, just north of East Logan Street, and only a few steps southwest of the Illinois Terminal.
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'''Megabus''', [http://www.megabus.com]. Low-cost carrier offers twice-daily service to Champaign from Chicago and Memphis. Fares start at $1 each way when ordered well in advance. The bus stop is located along the west side of South Market Street, just north of East Logan Street, and only a few steps southwest of the Illinois Terminal.
  
 
==Get around==
 
==Get around==
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===By bus===
 
===By bus===
  
Champaign-Urbana has a tolerable municipal bus system, the [http://www.cumtd.com/ Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District]. The adult fare for the city routes is $1.00 (free with a University of Illinois ID card). On-campus routes (21, 22, 23's, 26) are free for everyone, including visitors - no fare nor ID's required and allow multi-door boardings.   
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Champaign-Urbana has a good municipal bus system, the [http://www.cumtd.com/ Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District]. The adult fare for the city routes is $1.00 (free with a University of Illinois ID card). On-campus routes (21, 22, 23's, 26) are free for everyone, including visitors - no fare nor ID's required and allow multi-door boardings.   
  
 
Major routes run 24/7 during the academic year and includes overnight "SafeRides" vans in a designated community zone around the UIUC Campustown, and until midnight (or so) during school holidays, winter break, and summer break. In addition to providing service to Champaign and Urbana, the bus also serves some outlying areas, such as the village of Savoy and the North Prospect shopping area.  
 
Major routes run 24/7 during the academic year and includes overnight "SafeRides" vans in a designated community zone around the UIUC Campustown, and until midnight (or so) during school holidays, winter break, and summer break. In addition to providing service to Champaign and Urbana, the bus also serves some outlying areas, such as the village of Savoy and the North Prospect shopping area.  

Revision as of 18:04, 31 March 2008

Champaign-Urbana is a "twin city" in central Illinois, composed, reasonably enough, of the two towns of Champaign and Urbana. 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

Champaign-Urbana is a metropolitan area of about 150,000 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, but 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 the main part of town. American Airlines files from Willard Airport to Chicago and Dallas. Northwestern Airlines offers service to Detroit. Allegiant Airlines flew to Las Vegas in the second half of 2007, but left the airport in early December of the same year supposedly due to an unmanageably high cost of fuel. (See http://www.flycmi.com/ )

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.

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 (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).

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

By train

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. 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, LEX, Illini Shuttle) and the municipal bus system (CUMTD, DMT) all arrive and depart from Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign.

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

Two common-carriers connect Champaign-Urbana to the national bus transport network. Greyhound Lines runs frequently between Chicago and Champaign-Urbana, as well as to/from Springfield and St. Louis. Burlington Trailways offers 2 daily frequencies 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.

Another local company offers charter buses, and in Sep 2007 has started a frequent daily scheduled bus service to Chicago airports and suburbs as Illini Shuttle by Suburban Express. Suburban Express offers weekend scheduled services (Thu-Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon) from various UIUC points to various Chicagoland suburbs.

Danville Mass Transit operates a Champaign-Danville bus, using city transit-style buses. There are 7 weekday round trips and 5 Saturday round trips (schedules subject to change), and regular fare is $6. See the Danville Mass Transit website for details.

As noted above, commercial buses (Greyhound, Burlington Trailways, Suburban Express, Illini Shuttle), trains (Amtrak), and the city buses (CUMTD, DMT) all arrive and depart at Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign.

Megabus, [2]. Low-cost carrier offers twice-daily service to Champaign from Chicago and Memphis. Fares start at $1 each way when ordered well in advance. The bus stop is located along the west side of South Market Street, just north of East Logan Street, and only a few steps southwest of the Illinois Terminal.

Get around

By bus

Champaign-Urbana has a good municipal bus system, the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District. The adult fare for the city routes is $1.00 (free with a University of Illinois ID card). On-campus routes (21, 22, 23's, 26) are free for everyone, including visitors - no fare nor ID's required and allow multi-door boardings.

Major routes run 24/7 during the academic year and includes overnight "SafeRides" vans in a designated community zone around the UIUC Campustown, and until midnight (or so) during school holidays, winter break, and summer break. In addition to providing service to Champaign and Urbana, the bus also serves some outlying areas, such as the village of Savoy and the North Prospect shopping area.

Community bus routes (route numbers 1-15, 24, 25, 27, and the decennial series at nights and on weekends(ie 20, 30, 50, 70, 80, 100, 130) ) on most routes run on a thirty minute schedule, while Campus bus routes (route numbers 20's) can run on every 20 min, 10 min, or even as frequently as every 4 minutes throughout the day, depending on route number and time of day. Route 28 operates before all home men's basketball and football games.

Daily ridership fluctuates based on the university school year. System ridership reaches highs of over 1 MILLION per month during the school year, but can be as low as 300,000 during July when most students are away. Yearly transit ridership on CUMTD exceeds 10 Million, roughly on par with Indianapolis, and far exceeding transit usage in much larger cities such as Tampa or Omaha. In comparison, a comparably-sized nearby Illinois city, Bloomington-Normal, has yearly ridership of just over 2 Million.

The bus fleet is composed primarily of 40 foot low-floor transit buses, supplemented by 60 foot articulated buses and some 30 foot low-floor buses as well. Transit vans are used for SafeRides and for ADA Paratransit. All buses are low-floor, equipped with ramps, wheelchair tiedowns, and lift-up seats in the handicapped-priority seating area - ideal for wheelchairs/walkers/canes/service animals. All buses are installed with GPS several years ago, and have "Stop Annunciators" to meet ADA requirements for blind travelers.

CUMTD has used GPS for several years to track buses, and has developed a suite of STOPwatch services to aid in passenger travel. STOPwatch includes on-line tracking via a web interface, and the new STOPwatch.WIDGET allows a downloadable Yahoo! widget to track buses on your desktop. One of the most passenger-friendly utilization of STOPwatch is for real-time "Next Bus Arrives..." signage at certain high-traffic bus stops throughout Champaign, Urbana, and the UIUC campus. The entire suite of STOPwatch services (Plus, Journey, Widget, Textmsg, Wap, Web, MyRide) can be found at Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District STOPwatch.

Free printed timetables come in booklet form (about 120 pages), include color maps, and are easily found at Illinois Terminal, most UIUC buildings, dorms and apartments, and at many businesses throughout the cities, as well as on board buses.

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 (see photos), traffic on non-arterial streets is usually light and conducive to bicycling.

The Bike Project Coop 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 and Champaign County Bikes.org.

The only known source of rental bicycles in Champaign-Urbana is the University of Illinois' Division of Campus Recreation 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 County Regional Planning Commission publishes maps of Greenways and Trails that includes bicycle paths in Champaign-Urbana and surrounding areas in Champaign County.

See

The 1921 Virginia Theatre is home to the annual Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival and is also used for monthly film series, live concerts, and theatre. It retains its original Wurlitzer pipe organ, which is played before many of the shows.

The historic Boardman's Art Theatre is just two blocks from the Virginia and shows first-run art, independent, documentary, and other films daily.


Do

  • Champaign-Urbana and the surrounding countryside is an attractive place for bicycling. The Prairie Cycle Club has organized rides of varying distances and intensities throughout the non-winter months.
  • The Boneyard Arts Festival occurs each April and is hosted by the arts organization 40 North 88 West throughout Champaign-Urbana.
  • The Market at the Square (also called the Farmer's Market) is held every Saturday morning from May to November, 7 a.m. to noon at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Vine Street, Urbana.

Buy

  • The Meat Salesroom 102 Meat Sciences Lab, 1503 S. Maryland, Urbana. 333-3404 for price list & specials. 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 known to locals as "The Meat Lab" 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.

Eat

  • The Ribeye 701 S Neil St, Champaign. Steak and salad bar that locals love.
  • Papa Del's 206 E. Green St, Champaign. A local take on Chicago-style pizza.

Budget

  • The Apple Dumplin' Family Dining 2014 North Highcross Road Urbana, IL 61802. Great local American diner. Don't miss the biscuits 'n gravy and, of course, the famous Apple Dumplin'.
  • La Bamba's Burritos as big as your head
  • Espresso Royale Coffee, across the street from the CLS building and the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Golden Wok Thai, Laos, and Chinese food.
  • Lil' Porgies BBQ Incredibly good 'cause it's cooked on wood.
  • Peking Garden Chinese, good whole steamed fish as well as their shrimp with lobster sauce.
  • Po Boys BBQ open on Fridays and Saturdays only. Order meat like you're at a bar.
  • Red Herring Vegetarian, quirky place across the street from Roger Adams Lab and down the street from Espresso Royale. Awesome soups served with fresh bread.
  • El Torrero Mexican, Great food, prompt service, and the best Margarita in town.
  • Za's Italian Cafe A student favorite.

Splurge

  • Bacaro, an Italian restaurant in downtown Champaign with a vast selection of Italian wines and a delicious artesianal menu.
  • Jim Gould's, a new steakhouse on mainstreet Champaign with an excellent menu and terrific buffet.
  • Kennedy's, in Urbana, specializes in award winning fresh seafood and Certified Angus Beef steaks and offers a mixed cuisine of entrees, salads, soups, sandwiches and appetizers
  • Ko-Fusion, a "fusion" style Japanese restuarant on Mainstreet Champaign. Featuring organic meats, local specialties, wild caught seafood this place also serves wonderful sushi.

Drink

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.

Campustown contains perhaps a dozen and a half bars. Here you can expect a clientele that is 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 bars have an over/under age entry policy, but specifics can vary by location. Must be 21+ years old to purchase liquor at all times. Generally, all ages can be on the property for food and non-alcoholic drinks during the day and evening until 9 pm. After 9 pm, you must be at least 19 years old to enter (some bars may charge cover for under 21), and ID's required by all patrons after 9 pm at most places, due to video scanning/recording of IDs and patrons by doorpeople. Some examples of Campustown bars include:

  • Legends Bar and Grill
  • Murphy's Pub
  • Brothers
  • White Horse Inn
  • Firehaus
  • Clybourne's
  • FU Bar
  • Red Rock
  • Station 211
  • CO Daniels
  • Kam's
  • Illini Inn
  • Joe's

Murphy's, Legends, Joe's, and Firehaus are the sports bar types with food and drinks, while Brothers has more of a dancing atmosphere (but not a dance floor) to it. Dance floors are at Joe's, Station, Kam's, and CO Daniels. Outdoor seating/beer gardens are at Legends, Whitehorse, Firehaus, and Kam's. Almost all bars have daily and weekly specials, too numerous to mention here, but some examples include:

  • 'Brothers has dollar drafts on Thursdays
  • 'Legends has dollar bottles on Wednesdays
  • 'Murphys has 6.50$ Leinie's pitchers on Thursdays
  • 'Firehaus has logo glass night and 2$ drafts on Wednesdays


Downtown Champaign contains maybe another 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.

  • Esquire (Older age range, pool tables, fried food)
  • Cafe Kopi (Coffee shop with sandwiches but serves beer and wine too)
  • Bacaro (Modern Italian wine bar with a full menu and small plates)
  • The Blind Pig (English pub style)
  • Aroma Cafe (Coffee shop with sandwiches but serves beer and wine too)
  • Mike & Molly's (Irish pub style)
  • Boltini (Loungy martini bar)
  • Soma (Upscale)
  • The Highdive (Rock venue and dance club)
  • The Cowboy Monkey
  • The Brass Rail (Cheap beer)
  • C Street (Dance Club, and primarily GLBT)
  • Radio Maria Tapas Bar (Wine, beer, "tapas-style" dishes)
  • Memphis on Main (Blues, Harleys, etc)
  • Tracks
  • Jupiters (Best thin crust pizza in town, pool tables, decent beer list)

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. Boltini is known for their specialty martinis, and note that Soma has been rumored to deny admittance to people who are dressed sloppily. Mike & Molly's and The Blind Pig are known for a very large and wide-ranging beer selection, with draft beers that change seasonally. The Highdive and Cowboy Monkey are both known for getting nationally-known touring bands to play regularly; the Highdive has a capacity of about 400 concert-goers, and the Cowboy Monkey around 125.

Finally there is downtown Urbana, which contains about a half-dozen bars. Ages of patrons are similar to downtown Champaign, although the atmosphere is a little more laid-back in comparison. Try Crane Alley for a wide beer selection, and it is a good place to get dinner as well. The Iron Post has live music most nights. The Office is also a good place to get dinner and chill over drinks.

There are a couple of fun places to go outside of these three scenes. Hubers and The Ice House are both nice neighborhood bars in older neighborhoods in Champaign. The Canopy Club is located at the edge of campus in Urbana and is an excellent musical venue; it draws some big-name acts regularly.

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 Illini Union Hotel 1401 West Green St. Urbana (217) 333-3030. E-mail: [email protected] 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.
  • Comfort Inn Champaign Hotel 305 Market View Dr. (217) 352-4055. A hotel that combines comfort with great value for money for both business and leisure travelers. Convenient to Interstate 74 and Interstate 57.
  • Econo Lodge Inn Suites Champaign Hotel 914 W. Bloomington Rd. (217) 356-6000. Affordable accommodations in the Champaign / Urbana market that will also give you a quiet, relaxing and comfortable setting. Secure Online Reservations.
  • Sleep Inn Urbana Hotel 1908 N. Lincoln Ave. (217) 367-6000. Conveniently located on Lincoln Avenue, right off Interstate 74, exit 183. The Sleep Inn is 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)
  • Historic Lincoln Inn

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.

  • Allerton Park, near Monticello, IL, 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, Illinois, a 30-minute drive south on Interstate 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, Illinois 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.
  • Bloomington-Normal is about 45 minutes west on Interstate 74. Among residents, it is thought that Bloomington boasts the most franchise restaurants per capita of any city in America, but this is likely a local legend. Still, a wide variety of your favorite chains are represented.
  • Rantoul, IL is 12 miles north on Interstate 57 or US highway 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.



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