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.
Champaign-Urbana is a community of about 120,000 located amongst the corn and soybean fields about 150 miles south of Chicago. The area was first settled by Europeans in the early 19th century. Urbana was founded in 1833, Champaign in 1855 and the University in 1867. Starting out as a farming community, the area's development was largely influenced 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 are growing, cosmopolitan and ethnically diverse, with a modern urban feel in the area's core.
Most residents of Urbana know that their town was there first, and that Champaign (originally named "West Urbana") started because a major north-south railroad was built three miles west of downtown Urbana, prompting the building of a second town along the tracks.
Today Champaign-Urbana is defined by some amount of traditional industry such as Kraft Foods, Hobbico, and others, a growing technology and information sector, and the University. The University is the county's largest employer and a very large institution 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.
Champaign-Urbana is a very open-minded community with regard to social issues, in stark contrast to the much of the surrounding area. 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, the University of Illinois Fighting Illini sports teams, and its burgeoning arts scene.
Willard Airport (airport code:CMI), is a regional airport operated by the University of Illinois and located roughly 20 minutes south of downtown Champaign. The only commercial flights to Willard Airport are on American Eagle which flies to and from Willard Airport to Chicago and Dallas.
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 (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.
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: 6:10AM (train 58), 10:14AM, 6:49PM
- Southbound: 11:25AM, 6:15PM, 10:34PM (train 59)
The train is an excellent option for traveling between Champaign-Urbana and downtown Chicago for anyone flexible on time, with tickets costing as little as $15 each way if booked far enough in advance. Trip time to Chicago is about 2h 50m, and connects to the Amtrak national network there. Amtrak, the commercial bus lines (Greyhound, Burlington Trailways, Peoria Charter, and Illini Shuttle) and the municipal bus system (CUMTD, DMT) all arrive and depart from 1 Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign. Note the Amtrak service is subject to notoriously long delays (sometimes over an hour) because freight trains have priority over the tracks and there is only one set of tracks along most of the route between New Orleans and Chicago. It is not uncommon to sit for half an hour on the train with Chicago visible in the distance.
Trains rarely sell out except at peak times for student traffic.
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.
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. 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 [dead link]. 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 Offers weekend scheduled services (Thu-Mon) from various UIUC points to various Chicagoland suburbs, ISU, and Purdue.
- Peoria Charter. Offers daily buses to/from downtown Chicago, the suburbs, and airports. Also service to Normal and Peoria.
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.
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 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 Prairie Cycle Club and Champaign County Bikes.org.
Bike rentals are available from 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. Rentals are also available from Neutral Cycle bike shop.
The Champaign-Urbana Bicycle Map [dead link], 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.
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 ). Additionally folding bikes may be carried on buses as per the transit district policy.
Bike theft is a constant concern. Many thefts occur each year of bikes that are either unlocked or only locked with a low quality cable lock. It is easy to avoid being a victim by properly using a high quality lock. Most thefts are likely crimes of opportunity, where a thief will quickly move on if they can't easily steal your bike.
Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (+1 217 384-8188) is an award winning municipal bus system. 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.
The front of every bus is also equipped with a bicycle rack that can hold two bikes.
Routes that serve the community are: 2 Red, 3 Lavender, 4 Blue, 6 Orange, 7 Grey, 8 Bronze, 9A and 9B Brown, 11 Ruby, 14 Navy, and 27 Air Bus. On evenings and weekends, the decennial series of the routes operate (i.e. 20, 30, 50, 60, 70, 100, 110, 120, 130, 220, 270) along with the 180 Lime which serves southwest Champaign and the 190 Plum which serves Parkland College on Saturdays. Community routes operate on 15 to 40 minute frequency, but vary by time of day. The 27 Air Bus runs every hour due to the length of its trip.
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 routes that only operates when the University is in session .
SafeRides is a late-night pick-up service provided to and funded by University of Illinois students. The Yellow, Green, Teal, Silver, and Illini run past 3AM during the academic year. Vans are dispatched through the night to safely transport small numbers of students (1-3) within the designated community zone until 6:30AM.
The 280 tranSPORT operates before and after all home men's football games. The Urbana tranSPORT serves the Parking Deck on University & Goodwin, Ceramics Building on Springfield & Goodwin, Krannert (east side) and Campbell Alumni Center (west side) on Gregory Street, Gregory & Goodwin, and ends at Memorial Stadium. The Champaign tranSPORT serves the Hill Street Parking Deck in downtown Champaign (north side), Green & Wright, and ends near the intersection of Peabody & Fourth.
In addition to providing service to Champaign and Urbana, the bus also serves the village of Savoy. The 334 West Direct operates within a designated area that is not served by fixed routes. It provides a connection from the outlying areas west of I-57 to fixed route service.
All buses had GPS locators installed a decade 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.
CUMTD has used GPS for a decade and uses it to track buses with 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.
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
There are Zipcars available in Champaign-Urbana.
- Champaign County Historical Museum (Cattle Bank), 102 East University Avenue, Champaign. Houses quilts and other historical artifacts documenting the history of Champaign County.
- Orpheum Children's Science Museum, 346 North Neil Street, Champaign, ☎ . 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. Both permanent and rotating collections on exhibit. $3 suggested donation.
- Spurlock Museum, 600 S Gregory St, Urbana. Cultural artifacts from around the world. $3 suggested donation.
- Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, 1103 S Sixth Street, Champaign. 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.
- [dead link]The Art Theater, 126 W Church St, Champaign. Located in Champaign's historic downtown, just two blocks from the Virginia, The Art Theater shows first-run art, independent, documentary, and other films daily. Home to the annual New Art Film Festival showcasing local filmmakers. The theater is owned and operated as a co-op.
- Virginia Theatre, 203 W Park St, Champaign, ☎ . Built in 1921, the historic theater is home to the annual Roger Ebert's 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.
- Carmike Beverly Cinema 18, 910 Meijer Dr, ☎ . Standard big-screen movie theater. 3d movies cost $3 more. Adult $9, Child $6.50, Matinee $6.50, Student $7.
- Savoy 16 Goodrich Quality Cinema, 232 Burwash, Savoy, IL, ☎ . Standard big-screen movie theater with stadium seating, digital projection & sound, party room, assisted listening devices, handicapped seating, open caption events, captiview closed captioning, and special events. Open but currently under construction, the theatre will have the only IMAX theater in Central Illinois. 3D movies cost $2.50 additional. $6-9.25.
- [dead link]SoDo Theatre, 114 South Neil, Champaign. SoDo Theatre is a developing space for visual and performing artists and arts organizations. The stage hosts a variety of live entertainment on a regular basis, including improv comedy, music and magic.
- Station Theatre, 223 North Broadway, Urbana. An intimate, "black box" playhouse, and home to the Celebration Company, the theatre is located in downtown Urbana. The theatre was originally a passenger station of the Big Four Railroad. $15.
- [dead link]The Canopy Club, 708 S Goodwin Ave, ☎ . '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, ☎ . The main venue in town for music, theater and dance. Features community, university, and world-famous performers.
- Illinois Fighting Illini. University of Illinois sports, featuring 21 teams (10 men's, 11 women's) competing in the Big Ten Conference alongside 13 other schools, mostly in the midwest with a few eastern outposts. Almost all athletic facilities are on campus; the two most prominent ones are listed immediately below.
- 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.
- Japan House, ☎ . 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). 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.
- [formerly dead link]Illini Union. 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. 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.
- Champaign Public Library (Library), 200 West Green Street, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Beautiful renovated library with lots of spaces for all users. Free wifi. Special area for children with toys, puppets and friendly librarians.
- Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Farm on the outskirts of town embodying core sustainability and social responsibility principles. They sell excellent, high-quality goat cheeses. They occasionally host community days where one can visit the goats on the farm, peruse the grounds, and eat tasty farm-produced food.
- ELLNORA: The Guitar Festival. This biannual festival, started in 2005 and named after Ellnora Krannert the founder of KCPA, features live concerts and workshops by some of the greatest names in the music business. Adrian Belew, Bubby Guy, Taj Mahal Trio, Bill Frisell, Luther Dickinson, Dan Zanes, Sharon Isbin - they've all been there. Jazz, Rock, Steel Guitar, Blues, whatever! If it riffs, sizzles, strums, it's at this hot festival in September at Krannert Center for Performing Arts (KCPA).
- Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon. The only full marathon in central Illinois. Half marathon, 10k, and 5k distance races are also available. Held in late April.
- Central Illinois Metalfest. Three-day heavy-metal festival, held annually in July.
- [dead link]Champaign County Fair. Annual fair held by the county in Urbana in late July.
- [dead link]Annual International Beer Tasting and Chili Cook-Off. Annual festival held in downtown Urbana in October.
- Roger Ebert's Film Festival (Ebertfest). Annual film festival began by critic Roger Ebert, a Champaign-Urbana native, every April. Held at the Virginia Theatre.
- 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.
- [dead link]Pygmalion Music Festival. Indie music festival in late September, lasting four days.
- New Art Film Festival. Annual film festival, started in 2010, featuring films by local filmmakers in Champaign-Urbana and downstate Illinois. Held every April at the Art Theater [dead link].
- Insect Fear Film Festival. Held each February on the campus. Motto: "Scaring the general public with horrific films and horrific filmmaking since 1984."
- Annual Sweetcorn Festival. The 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 and activities for children. And the highlight of the event is the hot buttery ears of sweetcorn.
- Boneyard Arts Festival. Occurs each April and is hosted throughout Champaign-Urbana.
- Quad Day. 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.
- [dead link]Urbana Sweetcorn Festival, Downtown Urbana, ☎ . Late August. This annual event has become the largest festival in Champaign County. The main course: hot, steaming ears of sweetcorn! The festivities kick off on Friday at 5PM and will last until 11PM as well as all day Saturday from 11AM-11PM. Bring your family and friends, enjoy food, music, and more fun than you can handle. Activities include a petting zoo and pony rides, a rock climbing wall and live entertainment.
- Glass FX, 202 S First St, Champaign, ☎ . Stained and decorative glass gallery. Also sells supplies and teaches classes.
- Boneyard Pottery, 403 S Water St, Champaign, ☎ . Local pottery studio, for both decorative and functional items. Also offers classes.
- Champaign Surplus, 303 S Neil St, Champaign, ☎ . 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, ☎ . 1-5:30PM Tues/Thurs; 8AM-1PM 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.
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, Chipotle, Culver's, Fazoli's, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, 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: Arby's, Biaggi's, Culver's, Hardees, Hooters, McDonalds, Meatheads, 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.
- 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), ☎ . Tagline 'Burritos as big as your head'
- [dead link]The Courier Cafe, 111 N Race St, Urbana (downtown Urbana), ☎ . 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, including "snowstorms" -- custard mixed with toppings or cookies.
- 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'.
- Maize Mexican Grill (Maize), 60 East Green Street, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. An inexpensive restaurant featuring tacos, burritos, tortas, tostadas and other Mexican treats made with fresh ingredients.
- Merry Ann's, various locations. A local diner and favorite late night eatery. Open 24 hours.
- 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
- 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, e-mail: email@example.com. Varies daily/by location. Italian, pizzas/paninis/soups. Can make your own by choosing ingredients. Free wi-fi.
- Zorba's (open), 627 E Green St, Champaign (on-campus, corner of Green and Wright). Since 1973, a mainstay restaurant featuring Greek and Mediterranean fast food, specializing in gyros
- [dead link]Bombay Indian Grill, 401 East Green Street, Champaign, ☎ . Small restaurant usually packed with people. Fresh roti and naan are especially good. Portions look small, but are quite filling. $10-15.
- [dead link]Escobar's, 6 E Columbia Ave, Champaign, ☎ . Nuevo Latino cuisine. $8.50-12 lunch, $13-23 dinner.
- Milo's, 2870 S. Philo Rd, ☎ . "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, ☎ . 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.
- Bacaro, 113 North Walnut, Champaign, ☎ . Italian restaurant in downtown Champaign with a vast selection of Italian wines and a creative artesianal menu. Small portions. $25-28, $75 fixed meal.
- [dead link]Kennedy's at Stone Creek, 2560 Stone Creek Boulevard, Urbana, ☎ . 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 restaurant 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 used to be Sunday nights, now it is Monday nights as of 2011).
There are three "scenes" that contain most of the best known bars in town. These are campustown, downtown Champaign and downtown Urbana. Closing time is 2AM, 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 parking can be scarce and drunk driving checkpoints are common.
Campustown contains roughly a dozen bars. Almost every bar has daily and weekly specials, too numerous to mention here. 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 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 9PM.
- 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. $2 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.
Downtown Champaign contains maybe a dozen bars and is growing, vibrant scene. 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, Soma, and The Wedge. 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., ☎ . '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., ☎ . T-Su 5-11PM. A pricy modern Italian wine bar with a full menu and small plates
- The Blind Pig, 120 N. Walnut St., ☎ . 'til 2AM. An English style pub with the largest beer selection in Champaign-Urbana. Has 20+ list of rotating draft craft beers. Nationally known for great beer selection!
- The Blind Pig Brewery, 120 N. Neil St., ☎ . 'til 2AM. Blind Pig's 2nd location that doubles as a brewery and a pub.
- Mike & Molly's, 105 N Market St, ☎ . '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., ☎ . 'til 2AM. Upscale club which has been rumored to deny admittance to people who are dressed sloppily
- The Highdive, 51 E Main St., ☎ . '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., ☎ . 'til 2AM. Tapas bar and restaurant. Wine, beer, "tapas-style" dishes, has good dancing nights
- Memphis on Main, 55 E Main St., ☎ . 'til 2AM. Blues, Harleys, etc.
- Jupiters, 39 E Main St., ☎ . '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
- 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
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.
- [dead link]88 Broadway (Inside the Lincoln Square Mall), ☎ , . A lounge that is available to be rented for private functions.
- Black Dog, 201 N Broadway Ave, ☎ . 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, ☎ . A chilled bar with daily food and drink specials.
- Crane Alley, 115 W Main St, ☎ . 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), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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), ☎ . 'till 1AM. Live country music.
- Aroma Cafe. M-F: 7AM-11PM, Sa/Su: 8AM-11PM. Also serves sandwiches, beer and wine. WiFi access.
- Cafe Kopi. 7AM-midnight. Also serves sandwiches, beer and wine.
- Caffe Paradiso. 7AM-11PM. Also serves sandwiches. WiFi access.
- [dead link]Espresso Royale. Multiple locations around town.
- Pekara. 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.
Many national chains have a hotel in the area, though only a couple are within walking distance of campus. The area also has a fairly decent Couchsurfing community , 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, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 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), ☎ . Has a restaurant/bar in the lobby which opens at 5PM.
- Econo Lodge Inn Suites, 914 W. Bloomington Rd. Champaign, ☎ . 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), ☎ . 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
- Hawthorne (Conference Center)
Champaign-Urbana has large number of free Wi-Fi hotspots [dead link].
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 [dead link], 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 [dead link].
- 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 car.
- Memphis is a 7.5 hrs away by Megabus or ~7hrs away by car.
|Routes through Champaign-Urbana|
|Chicago ← Kankakee ←||N S||→ Effingham → Memphis|
|Chicago ← Rantoul ←||N S||→ Effingham → Carbondale|
|Kankakee ← Rantoul ←||N S||→ Tuscola → Mount Vernon|
|Springfield ← Monticello ←||W E||→ END|
|Peoria ← Bloomington ←||W E||→ Fithian → Indianapolis|
|Kankakee ← Rantoul ←||N S||→ Tuscola → Paducah|