Worried about boredom over Thanksgiving Break in Champaign-Urbana? We’re here to HELP!
You may be thinking: I have these kids at home, there are days off school, things are closed due to COVID-19 and I’m not traveling like I normally do over the holidays. What to do? Well, we’ve got you covered. There are plenty of opportunities to get out and have fun in the Champaign-Urbana area — and keep kids active, too!
For many Champaign-Urbana area schools, kids are off Monday through Friday OR Wednesday through Friday. Roll that into some regular weekend days off, and we have a long stretch of days to consider.
As your family makes plans to head out to an event this season, we encourage you to double check to confirm details as open/closed status can change quickly — and remember to pack your masks!
Places to visit over Thanksgiving Week
Editor’s Note: We have some libraries moving back to curbside pickup only as buildings close for Tier 3 mitigations. Please double check your local library’s website or Facebook page before heading out to make a trip to pick out books.
What: Check out books, movies and more at local libraries
Where: Urbana Free Library; Champaign Public Library; Mahomet Public Library; Tolono Public Library; Rantoul Public Library and many more
When: (almost) anytime (except Thanksgiving Thursday, that is)
How Much: Free. Many of our area libraries continue to offer take-and-make craft kits while programming is on hold. Pick out some new books (or movies) to keep your time at home interesting for your kids. Some even have equipment like 3D printers you can check out (we’re looking at you, Urbana!)
Editor’s Note: Due to Tier 3 mitigations, indoor museums will be closed during Thanksgiving break.
What: Explore local museums
Where: Mahomet, Urbana, Champaign, Homer
When: Well, that depends!
How Much: Everything listed here is free; some do require timed reservations before visiting. Spurlock Museum is closed Thanksgiving and the day after Thanksgiving (no reservations needed for parties of four or under). Museum of the Grand Prairie is open 1-5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; sign up for a free timed reservation before visiting. Krannert Art Museum is open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; sign up for a free timed ticket here. The Homer Lake Interpretive Center is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Simply drop in between 1-5 p.m. Visit the playscape for some nature fun while you’re there or explore the rest of Homer Lake.
What: Order takeout from a new-to-you restaurant
Where: We have a list of where you can get your Thanksgiving meal to-go, but if you’re looking to take some other non-turkey nights off from cooking, we have a whole bunch of ideas on where to get takeout for a family. Please note that this list is constantly evolving and all offers may not be happening during the week of Thanksgiving.
How Much: Varies, depending on restaurant and their current offers of course.
What: Go swimming
Where: Stephens Family YMCA
When: You must sign up for a reservation. Use the YMCA website if you’re a member and filter by “aquatics”; call the Y at (217) 359-9622 if you are going to be using a guest pass to go swimming.
How Much: $5 per person. Reserve a time starting three days in advance, and times do fill up.
Editor’s Note: Bowling alleys are going to be closed over Thanksgiving break now.
What: Go bowling
Where: Several places, like Old Orchard Lanes
When: Most bowling alleys are open; Illini Union is closed.
How Much: Varies. Another way to stay active and have fun with the kiddos.
What: Visit the University of Illinois campus and Campustown
Where: see above
When: Anytime — students leave campus for an extended break from on-campus instruction as classes wrap up Nov. 20.
How Much: Depends where you go, of course. The students are gone! The students are gone! The students are gone! This is a great time to visit Campustown restaurants (or special treats), especially now that Green Street is more accessible. Shop at Campustown retailers. If the weather holds, walk around and see all the neat architecture and history. There’s even a self-guided tour. Support our Campustown businesses during this challenging year.
What: Go explore nature and get outdoors.
Where: Forest Preserves, Allerton Park, Busey Woods, any local park or trail
When: any time (during the daylight hours)
How much: FREE! From what we’ve seen, the forecast won’t be too terribly cold over Thanksgiving week. There’s something about bundling up, getting out into that cool, crisp air, and going out on an adventure.
What: Kiss a reindeer
Where: Hardy’s Reindeer ranch
When: Wednesday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
How much: It’s free to go to the ranch, but various attractions have a fee. Take the Reindeer tour ($5 per person) and surround yourself with these magical animals of the North. You’ll be given a treat to feed them then you can even give them a ‘reindeer kiss’ — if you’re brave. It’s a great photo opportunity. Cut down your tree while you’re there, too!
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