Thank you to the U of I Community Credit Union for sponsoring our 2018 Fall Fun on a Budget! Make the most of your financial situation by stopping in at their location on First Street in Champaign to see what the UICCU has to offer your family.
The weather may be cooling down but the fall fun is just heating up.
It’s time to start planning some fun, fall family outings. And don’t worry — there’s a lot to do this fall in the Champaign-Urbana area that won’t cost you too much.
Take advantage of the fall sports events the University of Illinois offers. They are lot’s of fun to watch and tickets are usually free or reasonably priced! Check out our Family Friendly Guide to Illini Sports to find out more.
Open daily from July 20 to Dec. 24, Curtis Orchard includes free admission and a great fall-like atmosphere. Activities include a petting zoo, play area, Putt ‘n Play, and a giant slide. On the weekends there are even more activities including live entertainment. Some activities are free but others require a paid ticket.
Opens in August with activities like a 10-acre corn maze, hay rides, pedal race carts, country gift shop, and a paintball shooting gallery as well as concessions on the weekends in the fall. Admission is free but check out the website for individual activity pricing.
This museum located at Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve in Mahomet offers a variety of great educational programs for kids this fall, many of which are free or very cheap. Lessons about nature and history are taught in a fun hands-on way. There’s also a number of fun fall activities planned including the popular Harvest Festival.
See various art exhibits and enjoy hands-on family fun. KAM will keep your little ones busy on a nice fall afternoon.
Krannert offers a unique experience for families and many of their events are free or don’t cost a lot of money. Check out their fall calendar for special events you won’t want to miss.
If the nearly 45,000 artifacts at the museum don’t entice you, check out their special exhibits and kid-friendly programs.
Located in downtown Champaign, the Orpheum has been letting kids explore science and the arts for over 20 years. From Toddler Tuesdays to Animal Encounters, there are many opportunities to engage your children this fall.
Give your kids an astronomical experience and check out one of the several shows the Staerkel Planetarium is offering this fall.
10. Virginia Theater
This live performance and movie theatre in downtown Champaign has been providing theatrical and cinematic entertainment to the Champaign-Urbana community since its doors opened in 1921. Check out their fall line-up for upcoming shows.
11. Savoy 16
Savoy 16 will offer free fall morning movies for FMG Rewards members on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Sept. 7 through Oct. 28. Show times at 10 a.m. Not a FMG Rewards member? Movies are $1 per ticket.
12. Fall Festivals
The best way to usher in the new season is to attend one of the many fall festivals in the Central Illinois area. Click the link above to read our guide to Fall Festivals.
13. Princess Theater
The Princess Theater in downtown LeRoy offers a free family movie once a month as well as new releases at affordable prices. Their concessions prices are considerably lower too.
This local family favorite located in Gibson City will continue to entertain families this fall. Don’t miss the end of the season Fundraiser on Sunday, October 7, the final night of the 2018 season.
Considered a Best Kept Secret by many local residents, Negangard’s offers a huge variety of pumpkins and gourds at affordable prices, and opens for the season on Sept. 22. Pack up the kids for an afternoon of fall fun but make sure you leave plenty of room for pumpkins — you’re going to need it. Editor’s tip: Swing by the Sidney Dairy Barn on your way home before it closes for the season.
Open daily Sept. 8 through Oct. 31, the Great Pumpkin Patch offers much more to do and see than pumpkin pickin’. Paid admission is required but includes a variety of fun fall attractions.
Admission is always free to this pumpkin patch that also includes a Farmstead Café and craft booths. Opening day is Sept. 2 but check the website for regular hours of operation.
18. Indoor Playgrounds
We have a guide to free indoor play spaces so if the weather is a tad too crisp for your little ones, we’ve put together some options for you.
Exploring new parks is so much fun, especially when you can admire the beautiful leaves changing colors. Check our online reviews before you head out and remember, you can go to more than one!
20. Fall Films at Illini Union
Many films offered this fall at the Illini Union are family-friendly (some are not). Check the Illini Union Events Calendar for more information.
21. U of I Ice Arena
Enjoy gliding along the ice at the U of I Ice Arena this fall. Check the online calendar for updated skating opportunities at the Ice Arena including discounted prices.
22. Allerton Park
Named the most underrated tourist destination in the state of Illinois, we’re lucky enough to have this gem in our backyard. Entry is free; go hiking, check out the formal gardens, hunt for the sculptures, have a picnic.
In our experience, the only fees charged at MRM are to ride the trains between downtown Monticello and the museum campus on the outskirts of town. There’s plenty to see and do there; if your kids don’t care about taking a ride, take them over there to get up close and personal with trains and learn about the history of train travel in our area. And the rides aren’t terribly expensive if you choose to do so.
Homer Lake Playscape: In some communities, “creek stomping” is all the rage. We don’t really have that many creeks to stomp, but the playscape fills that void. “The idea behind this sort of place is to let the wild ones run free and do what they do best – create, explore, get dirty, wet and muddy, throw rocks and sticks into the water, sort out the social hierarchy without adult interference and in general just be kids.” FREE. You just have to get there.
Another great spot for viewing the fall colors, check out Anita Purves Nature Center and Busey Woods. It’s a great place to take a hike this fall. While you’re there, explore the new nature playscape, Busey Friendship Grove.