by Erin Tarr
As a student at the University of Illinois in the late 90’s, I hardly ventured off campus except to see SCREAM 2 at the Savoy 16 or the occasional Wal-Mart/Meijer adventure. Post-graduation and as a “townie” parent, the opposite became true … I avoided campus and its traffic at almost all costs except for the Assembly Hall (now State Farm Center) and grabbing an occasional meal on Green Street.
All of this changed last summer when I switched jobs and started working in Greg Hall which has led me to rediscover that campus is awesome! And now that the students are leaving for the summer (Friday was the last day of finals), you TOO can come enjoy all that campus has to offer.
Here are my TOP FIVE recommendations for places to visit on campus this summer.
#5 GREEN STREET – There are several restaurants and shops unique to the Green Street region of campustown that can’t be found elsewhere in the C/U area. My favorites include the following, but beware: this list is NOT comprehensive so you may find yourself wandering down to Green Street more than once this summer!
SHOPS: Ragstock, Apricot Lane & Urban Outfitters
CHAIN RESTAURANTS: Noodles & Potbellys
BAR & GRILL: Legends & Joe’s
DESSERT: The Cookie Jar
#4 URBANA SIDE of CAMPUS – This side of campus offers two additional restaurant options that should be fully enjoyed while the students are away which are: The Bread Company & Timpones. Situated between these two gems is the Canopy Club which hosts Open Mic Nights, and Live Jazz on a weekly basis (sounds like date night to me!) Spurlock Museum offers a great indoor option and, in addition to its standard artifact collection, they currently have a James Bond display (ends June 16). Many of their galleries also have hands-on components to keep even toddlers intrigued. Finally, the Alice Campbell Alumni Center houses University of Illinois yearbooks from the past – so if you have relatives who attended here, this is a great place to look them up, while enjoying the fountain view.
#3 KRANNERT (Center for the Performing Arts and Art Museum) – Most people know about KCPA which also sponsors free summer concert at the Research Park but do you know about Krannert Uncorked every Thursday at 5:00 where you can listen to music and enjoy a glass of wine? Kids will also enjoy climbing up the outdoor amphitheater and putting on their own impromptu show for friends and family. Then there is the often overlooked KAM and its variety of collections and exhibits which are a steal at the suggested donation price of $3 admission!
#2 THE UNION – With a bowling alley, pool tables and video games, not to mention the fast food joints, the basement looks like the place to be in the Union, but there is a hidden art gallery on the main floor, as well as a hotel on the South Side, a ballroom on the second floor and several other interesting nooks and crannies to explore. The Courtyard Café also hosts a variety of events during the school year and a few in the summer as well – you can keep up with them via their facebook page.
#1 THE QUAD – there is so much to do on the Quad, that I saved it for another post! Click over there and discover all the excitement to be had between Wright Street in Champaign and Mathews St. in Urbana.
WHEW… so much to do without leaving town! Keep in mind, I haven’t even TOUCHED on the Engineering Quad, the College of ACES and Vet areas, the Japan House, the Recreation Facilities or summer athletic events!
Please share your favorite places to visit on campus and things to do, so we can all enjoy a summer in C/U!
Erin (Trent) Tarr made the three hour drive from Southern Illinois to Champaign in 1997 to attend the University of Illinois and never left. Mother of two beautiful girls (2 & 4 years old), she is currently working at the University of Illinois and enjoys reading non-fiction, listening to leadership podcasts, singing, taking pictures of her kids, and blogging at www.erintarr.com. The epitome of an extrovert, she is an active participant at Quest UMC and loves getting together with strong women for book clubs, writing clubs, and wine tastings. You can often find her (with two kids in tow) at Champaign Centennial sporting events where her beloved husband of nine years, Adam, works as an Athletic Trainer.