Spring is still open for outdoor pictures with your family in Champaign-Urbana
Yes, life isn’t normal right now, but taking photos is one of the ways some families are passing the time and creating memories. If you 1) keep your distance from other people, and 2) trade off taking pictures with someone else in your household (or finally learn to use that timer feature on your camera/phone), you can get some great spring photos of your family even considering the current situation.
As always, dressing up remains optional.
It’s more important than ever to make sure a given location is open to the public. For example, some trails at Allerton remain open this spring, but the main gardens along with their parking lots are closed.
Other locations may have unexpected potential for good photos: for example, right now the U of I campus is practically deserted.
Our readers weigh in on their favorite outdoor spots in Champaign-Urbana and beyond to take spring family photos.
Old Town Champaign: “The older central neighborhoods in Champaign have magnolia trees that are absolutely stunning in full bloom. There are some great old specimens on Prospect Ave and on a lot of the brick streets.” The State Street area in Urbana is another location for a neighborhood vibe.
The University of Illinois Arboretum: “We got married in the Arboretum on campus in early May.” Other popular locations around the Arboretum include the Japan House and Gardens (where visitors must be especially careful to respect social distancing, especially during peak cherry blossom times), as well as “the daffodils at the Idea Garden.”
The Quad at the University of Illinois: Always a popular photo spot — “plus a few buildings around the Quad” — the current absence of students offers your family a unique chance to experience spring on the beautifully landscaped campus.
Lake of the Woods, Mahomet: Many readers voted for taking photos at Lake of the Woods, which as part of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District remains open (but don’t expect access to buildings, restrooms, or trash cans). Also recommended: “the outdoors at the Museum of the Grand Prairie.”
Homer Lake, Homer: “We’ve had family photos taken at Homer Lake on several occasions, and they were beautiful!”
Allerton Park, Monticello: This beloved site — “I got married there in the spring” — got the most votes from readers. Visit when the Peony Garden is in bloom. Be sure to check their website to see what parking lots, gardens, and trails are open to visitors.
Busey Woods, Urbana: Particularly beautiful right now, it’s also been pretty muddy this spring. Recent drier weather might help.
Downtown Champaign: If you want a more urban vibe but also have the option to capture flowering trees, this is the place to go.
Research Park, Champaign: Research Park is not really a park but it does have beautiful landscaping. Lots of flowering trees. The pond at 2021 South First Street has lots of flowering trees around it. Lower chance to see people.
If you do choose a public park for taking some spring photos, here’s a reminder about using parks responsibly during the time of COVID-19.