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Things to Do
CU is home to the annual Illinois Marathon, a collection of races in May that brings over 9,000 people from around the country and around the world to Champaign-Urbana. Events include a 5K, half-marathon, marathon relay, or full marathon, all of which finish on the 50-yard line of Memorial Stadium. The Illinois Marathon is a Boston Marathon qualifier and central Illinois’ flat terrain offers the perfect opportunity for serious runners to set personal bests.
Champaign-Urbana plays host to a variety of local festivals during the year such as the annual Urbana Sweet Corn Festival, the International Beer Tasting and Chili Cook-Off, Pygmalion Music Festival, Ellnora Guitar Festival, and the Boneyard Arts Festival, just to name a few. Also, be sure to visit Engineering Open House, a fun, informal, annual exhibition of some of the projects and research ECE and other engineering students and professors have been working on throughout the year.
The Krannert Art Museum displays the impressive work of Illinois fine arts students as well as traveling exhibits by the likes of Jay Ryan, James Audubon, and Andy Warhol. The Spurlock Museum also hosts a collection of over 43,000 objects in its artifacts collection from the remains of Illinois Native Americans to a burqu’ from pre-Soviet Era Afghanistan. The Champaign-Urbana Historical Society also maintains a museum devoted to local history.
A family owned farm since 1892 and an orchard since 1977, Curtis Apple Orchard is everything an apple orchard should be. Besides apple picking, enjoy their famous cider slush, fresh vegetables, bakery items, or have lunch in their inexpensive but delicious café.
Champaign-Urbana is home to two first-run movie theaters, the Beverly Cinema and the Savoy 16, as well as Boardman’s Art Theatre which features a regular rotation of independent films, including many that have gone on to become blockbuster smashes. Or, for a dose of central Illinois nostalgia, cruise over to Harvest Moon Drive-In in Gibson City for first and second run films.
Named one of the 7 Wonders of Illinois, Allerton Park and Retreat Center in nearby Monticello is the perfect place to enjoy a day outdoors. Set on the banks of the Sangamon River, Allerton offers 1,500 acres of stunning gardens, forest, wild plains, and 14 miles of hiking trails. And the Illinois Arboretum, located just south of the main campus, also offers a wide array of flowers and sculpted gardens to enjoy a walk, run, or just a day spent lazing with a book.
Both Champaign and Urbana boast vibrant downtown areas with sidewalk cafes, modern boutiques, and quirky vintage shops. Both towns also host a wealth of restaurants with everything from fusion sushi to authentic Italian to the classic American steak and chop house. And, if you’re looking for a good beverage, you’ll find a vast selection of craft beers, specialty whiskeys, and perfectly made cocktails.
This family owned winery has been winning national and international competitions since they bottled their first vintage in 1988. Aside from major holidays, the tasting room is open year round and Alto boasts a selection of local specialties to pair with your favorite bottle.
Few things compare to the atmosphere of a Big Ten arena on game day and with both the Fighting Illini football and men’s basketball teams expected to be soaking up the national spotlight for years to come, Illini sports are truly not to be missed. Not a football or basketball fan? Well, Justin Spring, an Illinois alumni and gymnastics coach, recently returned from Beijing with a bronze medal and the Illinois women’s club softball team were crowned the 2008 National Champions.
The University’s state of the art performing arts center provides something for everyone. Krannert features an endless rotation of plays, dance exhibitions, guest lecturers, and musical acts as well as the Great Hall, one of the most acoustically perfect performance spaces in the world. Recent visitors to the Krannert Center include Kaki King, Buddy Guy, Yo Yo Ma, Keb Mo’, and Ani DiFranco.