Allerton Park, one of our favorite places to experience nature as a family, should be tops on your list.
There are so many things to love about Allerton Park & Retreat Center in Monticello that it’s hard to pick just eight. Monticello is just a short drive from Champaign-Urbana in Central Illinois (just over 30 minutes from the heart of C-U) and if you’ve never been, you’ll want to make the drive the next time you’re met with a beautiful day and want something to do. Here’s why:
- FREE. There is no admission fee to Allerton Park so your visit is free! (They do appreciate donations, if that’s something you wish to do.) Anywhere we can visit with our families that’s FREE is tops in our list.
- Imaginative. Their gardens transport you to a place where your imagination can run wild with your kids and feel like you’re living in a storybook. Our kids’ favorite spot at Allerton is the Triangle Parterre Garden, where it feels like a scene straight out of the book, “The Secret Garden.”
- Art. Perhaps your kids are still at that young and rambunctious age where the thought of walking them through a quiet indoor museum while you attempt to enjoy some beautiful art sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. At Allerton, you’ll find art at every turn (Robert Allerton had a love for all things art and music) and your kids will be able to run around and burn off all that energy at the same time. Win win!
- Nature. We know how important it is for children and adults to spend unstructured time in nature and we’re fortunate to have so many places in and surrounding Champaign-Urbana to do exactly that. At Allerton, you’ll hear plenty of birds, be able to climb and jump and play and take in the breathtaking scenery of the formal gardens and paths that make up the grounds.
- Be Active. We can’t think of many places more beautiful than Allerton where you can hike to get in your steps for the day and burn off that energy. Allerton Park is open year round (except for a few holidays), so you can head there even in the middle of winter if you just need somewhere to get outside and move.
- Picnic. Allerton Park was made for picnics! If the idea of eating outside on a blanket is on your family’s bucket list, Allerton is your spot. And if you don’t want to pack sandwiches from home, or if you just want to grab a coffee or cool off with some ice cream, the Greenhouse Cafe has you covered for food (check website for hours).
- Stunning. There’s a reason that Allerton Park is so popular for weddings and other picture-heavy occasions. If it’s been awhile since something took your breath away, there’s a good chance that something at Allerton will. Your kids may see it as a fun place to visit but they may not appreciate its beauty in the same way you and your partner may. It’s simply gorgeous and photos can’t fully do it justice. You have to go see it for yourself.
- Concerts. Allerton provides a great backdrop to outdoor concerts in the warmer weather months and has a variety of special events throughout the year. Some may have a cost attached to them, but others will be free. (If there are ones coming up on our event calendar, they’ll be listed below.)