By Kimberly Ashbrook
From summer festivals on Main Street to the beautiful Homer Lake, the Village of Homer, located in Champaign County, has plenty of small town charm for families who want to get out of town for an afternoon.
- Hike, ride, fish, play at Homer Lake: From the educational Interpretive Center to the Natural Playscape, the Champaign County Forest Preserve at Homer Lake is a gorgeous spot to enjoy nature and also find some peace and quiet. Or not so much quiet if your kids are checking off one of the 13 Things You Should Do in Champaign-Urbana Before You’re 13 and having a mini-adventure at the Natural Playscape! Homer Lake is also a Champaign County family photo shoot location hot spot, offering some amazing fall foliage views.
- Visit the Farmers Market, the red Caboose, family movie night at the library, or water play area at the Homer Village Park: The Homer Farmers Market is about as fresh as you can get when it comes to eating local. While you visit the market, cross the street to check out the Caboose Park, or explore just south on Highway 49 to find the Village Park, located on Caroline Street. Bring you suit and a towel to play in the spray zone in the summer months. Looking for something indoors? The Homer Community Library, located at the Village Hall on East Second Street, is very family friendly and offers diverse programming, from summer reading programs, to family movie nights, popcorn included!
- Attend one of the many festivals: Homer knows how to put on a festival. While the increasingly popular and very family-friendly Homer Soda Fest typically kicks off the fun in early June, in 2018 it will combine with annual Homer Krazee Daze, but no worries, we’ve been told it will return to it’s usual June festival spot in 2019. The Fourth of July Parade and Fireworks is an excellent way to celebrate on July 4. Homer Krazee Daze helps cap off the summer fun Aug. 23-25 with carnival rides, bubbles, a car show and parade and more. In the winter, kids look forward to the annual visit from Santa at the Homer Village Hall. Santa is always ready for his close-up, and arrives by firetruck.
- Grab a bite at Main Street Belly Deli. Locals in Homer know that Main Street Belly Deli is the place to be for delicious deli sandwiches, coffee, amazing ice cream concoctions, and a vintage video game match between friends. The Belly Deli also serves as the original home of Homer Soda Company, and offers the biggest selection of glass bottled soda in downstate Illinois! See our review of Main Street Belly Deli here.
- Watch a local theater production at the Homer Opera House: Recently taken over by the Creative Dramatics Workshop, the Homer Opera House is rich in history and is now being used as a hot spot for local theater talent and a venue for film screenings, bluegrass concerts, and even wrestling matches. From Shakespeare to Chekov, there isn’t a play that the Creative Dramatics Workshop at the Opera House doesn’t tackle. The Opera House is in the process of being renovated, but has carved out space for local productions. If you’re inspired by the talent and the space, you can volunteer on Wednesday nights to help improve the space, and maybe catch some rehearsals while you’re at it.
Kimberly is the mother to four boys and works for Chambanamoms. She helps put The Beyond in the Champaign-Urbana and Beyond. Where in the Beyond, you ask? Homer, of course!