By Kelly Youngblood
Located 10 miles west of Champaign, Mahomet is a small town that offers big perks.
While many area residents living in surrounding communities drive to Champaign-Urbana to find things to do, Mahomet offers plenty of fun opportunities for families within its own city limits.
Whether you’re a lifelong resident, new to town, or just a short drive away, Mahomet boasts a long list of family-friendly things to do.
Here are some of our favorites:
There’s so much to do and see at Lake of the Woods, which is part of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District. You can rent paddle boats, go fishing, take a hike, go for a bike ride and much more.
The preserve boasts several unique charms, including the Hi-Tower, the Covered Bridge, and a Swinging Bridge (think Golden Gate Bridge but on a much smaller scale). The Mabery Gelvin Botanical Garden at Lake of the Woods is also a unique place to visit. It features a koi pond, a vegetable garden where kids can pick their own to take home, and an old-fashioned one-room schoolhouse.
There’s also a playground and covered pavilions throughout the park. You could easily spend a day at Lake of the Woods with your kids. Lake of the Woods is located at 109 South Lake of the Woods Road.
The Museum of the Grand Prairie, which is located within Lake of the Woods, is a great kid-friendly museum. Admission is free but that’s not even the best part about this place. There are many opportunities for children to interact with the exhibits. The Discovery Room is all hands-on for children and includes puzzles, books, and coloring pages. Many other exhibits throughout the museum encourage visitors to touch certain displays, which parents will probably find very refreshing. The museum is located at 600 N. Lombard Street.
You’ll be amazed by the beautiful scenic views at this 280-acre site that used to be a sand and gravel mine. River Bend is a great place to enjoy outdoor activities such as fishing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, and biking. It’s located south of Mahomet off of Route 47, 1602 Mid America Road.
For a smaller town, Mahomet has a lot of parks and playgrounds. Pack a picnic lunch and spend the afternoon playing at one of these six local parks.
Buffalo Trace Prairie is actually part of the Champaign County Forest Preserve and located off of Rt. 47, right across the street from one of the main entrances to Lake of the Woods and the Museum of the Grand Prairie. With a nice paved bike trail, it’s a great place to go biking, walking or jogging. There are also grass trails you can explore if that’s what you prefer. Buffalo Trace Prairie is a reconstructed prairie that includes a wide variety of wildflower species A brochure is available to those interested in identifying the various types of flowers at Buffalo Trace.
An event that many locals look forward to every year, the Sangamon River Music Festival, is now going by the Mahomet Music Festival. The music festival is a two-day celebration in downtown Mahomet that includes free concerts, carnival rides, food, a big parade, games and more. This year’s festival will be held on Aug. 24 and 25, in 2018, and will feature many favorite local bands and musicians.
Great Local Restaurants
My family always looks forward to going out to eat, and luckily, we don’t have to go far for some of our favorite restaurants. Filippo’s in Mahomet is a local, family-owned business that serves up the very best pizza and Italian food around. I’m not exaggerating when I say their sauce is magical. My husband and I usually share a “special” pizza with everything and my kids devour the spaghetti. It has a small dine-in area but carryout and delivery are also available.
If we’re in the mood for Mexican food, another local favorite is Los Zarapes. Their chips, salsa, and queso dip have converted us into regulars. Project 47 is a fairly new restaurant in town that serves up delicious barbecue. JT Walker’s on Main Street is a great option too and offers a varied menu that appeals to kids and adults.
A brand new frozen yogurt shop just opened up in town. Yo Yo’s is a pay-by-the-ounce type of frozen yogurt place with a variety of flavors and toppings to choose from. It also has plenty of outdoor seating which is perfect for those nice summer nights. Lucky Moon Pies and More is also set to open in Mahomet soon and will offer sweet and savory pies for carry-out only.
Crowley Pumpkins is a bit of a best kept secret in Mahomet. If you’re looking for a great place to buy pumpkins but don’t feel like dealing with crowds or spending a fortune, Crowley Pumpkins is definitely worth a visit.
The local library is a favorite destination for local families for several reasons. It offers regular story times, fun family events, thousands of books and DVD’s and much more. My kids and I love to stop by to browse the bookshelves, do puzzles, and play games on the computer.
Did we miss your favorite thing to do with kids in Mahomet? Let us know in the comments!