You may be thinking: I have these kids at home, and stuff is closed for the holidays, and everyone seems to be out of town. What to do? Well, we’ve got you covered. There are more opportunities to get out and have fun — much of it for free, or at low cost — than you ever imagined! Don’t forget to check our December Holiday Guide, there are still fun things to do.
What: Holiday Family Play Days
Where: Springer Cultural Center, 301 North Randolph Street, Champaign
When: December 26-29 from noon to 4 p.m.; Dec. 30 2-5 p.m.
How much: $2 resident, $3 non-resident, per child. Supervising adults are free when accompanying a paying child.
Why: Open gym basketball and volleyball, as well as family-friendly board games, a small toddler and preschooler play space, and G-rated holiday movies going on in our activity room. This is a drop-in, open-gym style activity, not a supervised program. Children under the age of 13 must be supervised by an adult 18 or older.
What: Go Swimming at the Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center
Where: Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center
When: Extended Public Swim Hours, Dec. 26-Jan.6; WEEKDAYS: Public Swim 1:30-9 pm; SATURDAY Public Swim 12-5 pm; SUNDAY Public Swim 2-7 pm. Closed Dec. 24-25, Dec. 31, Jan 1.
How Much: $6 per person; $3 for supervising adults; $4 per person on Thursdays. Discount punch cards available
Splash around this great community resource – fun for the whole family!
What: Holiday Tennis Camp & Reduced Court Rates
Where: Champaign Park District Tennis Center, 2802 Farber Drive, Champaign
How Much: Reduced court rates are $12/court per hour for members and guests; Camp is $41/week or $9/day for tennis center members; $46/week or $10 day for guests.
Children ages 6 – 18 are invited to join us for our 24th Annual Holiday Juniors Tennis Camp! Learn the fundamentals of tennis or perfect your backhand, our experienced tennis pros will ensure that you child has a healthy and fun holiday break! Sessions last 1 hour for 6-9 year olds and 1.5 hours for older youth. Camp is 12/26 to 12/30. The Tennis Center is also offering reduced court rates this holiday season — from 12/17 – 12/31, members and guests play for just $12 per court per hour. Questions: 352-6044
What: Cheer on the Illini
Where: Assembly Hall, at home
When: Various dates
How much: varies
Women’s and men’s basketball have home games.
What: Play at the Indoor Playground
Where: First Christian Church, Champaign
When: open regular hours 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. M-W, F; open Thursday noon – 4:30 p.m. Holiday closings: December 24-25, 31, Jan. 1
How much: FREE
We’ve told you before how much we love the indoor playground facility – great for kids to run off some steam. Pack a picnic lunch and make an outing of it!
What: Try a New Restaurant
Where: We have a list where kids eat free in Champaign-Urbana and surrounding areas.
How Much: Kids Eat Free!
Use our kids eat free list and treat your family to a nice meal out.
What: Go roller skating
Where: Skateland, Savoy
When: From Wednesday, Dec. 26 – Dec. 31, and Jan. 2-6 open everyday from 1 – 4 PM; also open regular skating hours, too. Closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Day.
How Much: fees vary by the time slot; skate rental extra
It’s making a comeback – roller skating is great fun for the whole family. Check out family night or $2 Tuesday for great deals. Also: check out kidsskatefree.com where you can get free passes for the kids!
What: Go Ice Skating
Where: University of Illinois Ice Arena
When: Here is the full winter break schedule; times vary.
How Much: Complete rate schedule is available here
Skate at lunchtime, in the evening, or a few weekend afternoons.
What: Visit the University of Illinois campus and Campustown
Where: see above
When: Anytime! Campus pretty much shuts down for a week (this year, Dec. 24-Jan. 1) and some restaurants might take a hiatus.
How Much: Depends where you go
The students are gone! the students are gone! the students are gone! This is a great time to visit Campustown restaurants (or special treats). Shop at Campustown retailers. If the weather holds, walk around and see all the neat architecture and history.
What: Explore local libraries
Where: Urbana Free Library; Champaign Public Library; Mahomet Public Library; Tolono Public Library; Rantoul Public Library and many more!
When: (almost) anytime!
How Much: Free
Many of our area libraries continue to offer regularly scheduled programming, as well as a few special events. A few we can highlight: Craft events at Tolono Public Library (Dec. 22 at 3:30 p.m., Dec. 29 at 10 a.m.); Crafts for school-age kids at the Champaign Public Library’s Douglass Branch at 4 p.m. on Dec. 21.
What: Explore local museums
Where: Mahomet, Urbana, Champaign, Rantoul
When: (almost) anytime! Spurlock Museum is closed Dec. 24- Jan. 1, but open regular hours otherwise. Museum of the Grand Prairie is open 1-5 p.m. every day through Dec. 31 except for Dec. 24-25 (closed in January for cleaning/repairs). The Orpheum Children’s Science Museum is open daily except for Dec. 23-25 and Jan. 1. Krannert Art Museum is open daily except for Dec. 24-26, Dec. 31, and Jan. 1. Anita Purves Nature Center is open except for Dec. 24-25, Dec. 31, and Jan. 1. Chanute Air Museum closed only on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.
How Much: Varies; some are free, Orpheum, Chanute Air Museum has fees. Others take donations.
See the World of Shoes exhibit at the Spurlock, enjoy the hands-on fun and play at the Early American Museum, and play/learn at the Orpheum. Check out the new red owl at Anita Purves.
What: High school basketball tournaments
Where: various locations
When: winter break
How much: varies by school
It’s a time-honored tradition – the winter break period is a busy time for girls’ and boys’ high school basketball teams, with holiday tournaments all over the landscape. One of our favorites is the Monticello Holiday Hoopla tournaments for both boys and girls on Dec. 26-28.
Do you have other ideas? Let us know in the comments below!