In honor of Grandparents Day (always the second Sunday of September), we present 10 great ways for grandparents to spend time with their grandchildren in Champaign-Urbana – and some bonus ideas!
Thanks to Age Wise Care Management, Inc. for sponsoring this article. Age Wise provides professional care management services to families caring for an aging loved one or a family member with a disability. Age Wise is a locally owned and operated business which maintains professional relationships with local hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted care facilities. Whether you’re caring for your Central Illinois-based loved one from close to home or far away, Age Wise’s local knowledge and experience will save you time, worry, and guilt. For more information visit www.agewisecm.com or call 217-493-3086.
Without further ado, 10 great ways Grandparents can spend time with Grandchildren in Champaign-Urbana (in no particular order):*
Curtis Orchard and Pumpkin Patch: What’s not to like at Curtis Orchard? This family-run business is operated by folks with grandkids of their own. Whether you just want to feed the goats or if you want to eat at the cafe (now open), pick apples or ride a pony, this is the perfect outing for this time of year with the grandparents. Curtis Orchard was mentioned multiple times by our readers when we asked for recommendations of this topic. (Open July 20-December 20)
Busey Woods and Anita Purves Nature Center: Busey Woods is a great option for a walk in the woods with the grandparents, especially those who may have mobility issues, as the raised boardwalk is ADA accessible. The Nature Center provides bird watching and listening in a comfortable indoor environment, among other activities – such as the resident animals. Open year-round. Bonus: It’s completely free.
Paint at the Pottery Place or do a canvas painting event: For grandparents who like to be creative but perhaps aren’t as mobile (and maybe prefer to be indoors), these are good options. Paint-your-own-pottery can be for children of all ages; even babies can get into the action with handprints! Canvas painting classes are for various ages, so look into places like Champaign’s Lola’s Brush for info on specific events.
Do the museums: There’s something for everyone at local museums. We like to head to Krannert Art Museum with our art-loving parents, especially for events like Kids at Krannert. Museum of the Grand Prairie in Mahomet is another common stop with the downstairs play area, the adjacent Botanical Gardens and the schoolhouse. Both are free.
Go to Urbana’s Market at the Square: Hands down this is my parents’ favorite place to take my kids. Seriously. They enjoy the local flavor, the ingenius makers, the pop-up musicians, and the great people-watching. Oh, and the food, whether it’s fresh produce or baked goods or everyone’s darling, the kettle corn. Open Saturday mornings in the parking lot next to Lincoln Square, Saturday mornings May – early November.
See a classic movie at the Virginia Theatre: Getting to go to the Virginia Theatre is always a treat, and who better to appreciate this majestic refurbished building than our elders, who grew up going to moviehouses just like it. Most movies are $6 or less. And who doesn’t love their popcorn?
Jupiter’s at the Crossing: This is a common kiddo-grandparent destination, although some grandparents might find it a bit chaotic. If you’ve never been to Jupiter’s, think smaller version of Chuck E. Cheese with a) better pizza and b) no animatronics. Some of the arcade games are interactive, such as air hockey or bowling. Pro: If someone’s a sports fan, there’s always something to watch. Con: Not incredibly expensive, but not light on the pocketbook either. In Southwest Champaign, open daily.
If the grandparents don’t mind driving a bit farther …
Take a picnic basket to Allerton Park: Who doesn’t want to spend an afternoon in the beautiful sunken gardens or the Fu Dog Gardens. A hike is great fun too, depending on the ages. Allerton Park in the fall is particularly beautiful with the changing colors.
Visit Amish Country: No matter how many times we take the grandparents to Arthur and the surrounding areas (Tuscola, Arcola, etc.) it’s an instant hit. And an instant shot in the arm to the Amish economy: my parents love shopping for wooden furniture and especially enjoy Beachy’s grocery store. Lots of good places to eat, too.