Best Places to Hang in Urbana

Downtown Champaign tends to get a lot of attention. There’s a lot of cool shops and restaurants located there, and they’re all a quick bus ride away from campus. However, I think Urbana deserves a little love, too, so I thought I’d post about my favorite places in Urbana to eat and shop. (All of which are also a quick bus ride away via the Silver or Bronze busses.)

SHOPPING

The Art Coop

Art Coop in the Lincoln Square Mall. (Photo courtesy of LocalWiki)

Art Coop is an art supply store inside the Lincoln Square Mall in downtown Urbana. A lot of art majors I know are big fans, but I appreciate it as someone with little to no artistic talent. They sell a lot of fun gift items, including a wide array of quirky, colorful socks. It’s also a great place to look for unique dorm/apartment decor.

Pictured above is all the wallpaper-y/posters/large paper (not sure what to call them exactly) they sell and keep on display outside the store in about every color and pattern known to man.

Priceless Books

Priceless Books in downtown Urbana. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Adams of Smile Politely)

I discovered Priceless Books last summer. They sell used books of all varieties and literally thousands of CDs, and it’s pretty easy to spend a few hours getting lost in the wall-to-wall stacks of books and other media. There aren’t many bookstores left around like this one. I’d say it’s a cool place to waste time in, but spending time browsing books is never a waste (says I, the English major). It’s also a worthwhile stop to make before you go surfing on Amazon for a cheap, used novel for class.

EATING

Courier Cafe

Courier Cafe in all its glory! (Photo courtesy of Noshfolio)

I love Courier. Maybe it’s because they have great chocolate milkshakes. Maybe it’s because they have great breakfast. Maybe it’s just a love inherited from my mom, who used to go Courier all the time when she was an undergrad here. Their food is very reasonably priced and consists of American standards, a lot of which play off the Courier’s old-school vibe. Sandwiches, burgers, an impressive salad bar. They’re also known for their their old-fashioned desserts; there’s not a lot of local places you can score a phosphate at.

Go and appreciate Courier’s history, too. The spot where Courier now sits is the site of Urbana’s first building, and the local Courier Newspaper also used to be produced in the building, hence the name.

Flying Machine Coffee/Pizza M

Pizza

I believe this is a photo of their pizza with pears on it (fancy, right?). (Photo courtesy of Yelp)

Flying Machine Coffee and Pizza M share a space that’s just a few-minute walk from Courier Cafe. I can’t speak firsthand for their coffee because I’m not a coffee drinker, but my coffee drinker friends are fans, especially of their dirty chai (which is chai tea plus a shot of espresso).

Now, are you a fan of pizza? Do you like eggs and bacon? The Abbi is my favorite to get at Pizza M (which shares a space with Flying Machine). It has eggs, bacon, cheese, and a veggie or two (I think the last time I got it, the other major topping was pepperoncini). They sell all sorts of more unique pizzas for about $16 each. Split it with someone else, and you’ll both go home stuffed and satisfied.

A LITTLE OF BOTH?

Urbana’s Market at the Square

This is a farmers market that seriously goes hard. (Photo courtesy of Smart Growth America)

The Urbana farmers market is awesome and located in the parking lot of Lincoln Square Mall. People sell fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms, jams, cider, almost any kind of baked good you can imagine (from bread and cookies to Thai iced tea-flavored cake), and lots of handmade items.

Food trucks also gather there, offering everything from gourmet doughnuts to fish tacos. In the past, I’ve scored some cute, handmade cards and eaten my body weight in unhealthy but delicious nonsense (including gourmet doughnuts and fish tacos). I’ve also indulged in a popsicle or two from The Pop Stop, which are all very aesthetically pleasing and tasty.

This is currently The Pop Stop’s Facebook cover photo. Yum.

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