With Memorial Day upon us, it’s time to take to the water. Champaign-Urbana area pools will be opening (catch our list here); the NEW Hessel Park spray area will be activated, as will the Douglass Park Splash Pad; and then of course there’s the backyard hoses and sprinklers that work overtime in many neighborhoods.
Or, you could go boating. Before you laugh, there are actually more places to go boating in Central Illinois (yes, CENTRAL ILLINOIS AND BOATING) than you might imagine. All of these locations are within an hour radius of Champaign-Urbana. Here’s our list for quick reference:
Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve, Mahomet: Rentals of pedal boats, kayaks and rowboats are available Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend. Hours are 1 to 7 p.m., Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, and the cost is $6 per half hour. The boat peninsula is located at 101 N. Lake of the Woods Rd., at the intersection of Tin Cup Road and Lake of the Woods Road.
Moraine View State Recreation Area, LeRoy: This state park is a little-known gem, located just north of LeRoy (about 40 minutes northwest of C-U). Call about boat rentals.
Clinton Lake Marina: Want to rent a pontoon boat? Make plans in advance to head out to Clinton Lake Marina. It’s certainly not cheap, but looks like a lot of fun! Rates available for a full day or half day. Clinton Lake is also popular with sailors, and there are sailing lessons available there. Clinton Lake Beach is also popular with local families, see our review of the Beach here.
Larson’s Landing, Lake Sara, Effingham: It requires driving a little farther south of Champaign-Urbana, but Larson’s Landing has five themed pontoon boats that are available for rent. For you ILL-INI fans out there, they even have an Illini-themed boat!
If you have your own boat (with a license) you can use it all the locations mentioned above, as well as at Kaufman Lake in Champaign; Middle Fork River Forest Preserve in Penfield; Homer Lake Forest Preserve; River Bend Forest Preserve in Mahomet; Clinton Lake; among others.
If you want to rent boats locally (before heading to the water), canoes and kayaks are available via Campus Recreation at the University of Illinois.
Curious about renting a boat? We walk you through the process of Renting a Boat at Lake Shelbyville.
Where is your favorite area location to go boating?