It’s almost Fall Break and it can seem lonely to be in Champaign if all your friends are going home for the week. What do you do on a college campus that’s nearly empty? Here is a list of 4 scenic places around Champaign-Urbana you can visit this Thanksgiving!
All these places are within a 1-hour driving radius of campus. If you don’t have a car, it is typically convenient to rent a Zipcar for a couple of hours!
1. Allerton Park
Allerton Park (donated to the University of Illinois) is considered to be one of Illinois’ best kept secrets! It is an absolutely massive space of gardens, woods, cafés, hiking trails, and lodging. Just about 40 minutes from Campustown, Allerton Park is a serene spot to enjoy the nature, take a stroll, go on a hike, or even study!
2. Middle Fork River Forest Preserve
Middle Fork River Forest Preserve, located along a river about 40 minutes from campus, is a large forest area and perhaps the best spot in Central Illinois to stargaze! On a clear night, you can see the vast expanse of the sky and hundreds or thousands of stars. It’s my most favorite escape from the hustle and bustle of Campustown and always opens my eyes to the beauty of nature. I use this handy website to look for good stargazing nights!
3. Curtis Orchard & Pumpkin Patch
Curtis Orchard is located about 15 minutes south of Campustown and is a really pretty farm where you can pick your own apples and pumpkins! But it’s more than just a farm. It also has a playground, a petting zoo, a café, and many fun and free activities. Check out their website for the calendar of events that happen all around the year!
4. Japan House
Japan House is a Japanese arts & culture center located on the southern end of campus, right next to the University of Illinois Arboretum. While the house itself is beautiful, the gardens around it are the real highlight of the place. It’s always fun to sit by the pond and watch the different natural colors of the trees as seasons change! It’s also one of my favorite spots to go for a walk on campus!