Worried about boredom over Winter Break in Champaign-Urbana? We’re here to HELP!
You may be thinking: I have these kids at home, even more stuff than normal is closed for the holidays, and we’re not even going out of town at all. What to do? Well, we’ve got you covered. There are more opportunities to get out and have fun in the Champaign-Urbana area — and keep kids active — than you ever imagined! We also have a collection of day trip ideas.
So when does winter break start for Champaign-Urbana area schools? For some area school districts, winter break begins at the end of the school day on Friday, Dec. 18. Some other schools will continue through Tuesday, Dec. 22. It’s the longest break from instruction that our kids have all year, no matter what school you attend.
Things you can do at home
What: Watch Illinois basketball games on TV
When: Men’s games: Dec. 20, 23, 26 and Jan. 2; Women’s games: Dec. 19, 22, 31 and Jan. 3
Where: Your home
How Much: Totally free if you already have the Big Ten Network.
Have fun watching games together as a family. Dress in your orange and blue, and take your own basketball outside during half time to burn off some energy.
Places to visit during Winter Break (in Champaign-Urbana)
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 Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and maybe others, depending on location)
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!)
What: Explore Champaign County Forest Preserves
Where: Mahomet, Homer, Fisher, Penfield
When: Generally speaking, the Forest Preserves are open from dawn to dusk. The Middle Fork Forest Preserve has an area that stays open 24 hours a day for night sky viewing.
How Much: Free
There are so many things you can do to enjoy nature this winter! Bundle up and head outdoors — your kids will run around to their hearts’ content.
What: Visit the University of Illinois campus and Campustown
Where: see above
When: Anytime — students are gone for an extended break from on-campus instruction
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 check out 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 see Christmas lights, both in Champaign-Urbana or throughout Central Illinois
Where: Check out the posts above (linked)
When: Daily, all winter break
How much: Usually free; some of the larger displays have a fee per car
Lights, lights and more lights! This is a great year to drive around and see ALL the lights. And since it gets dark so early, if you plan on heading to one of these further-away light displays, you can leave in the afternoon and make a day trip out of it if you wish, arriving there right at opening.
Places to visit during Winter Break (as a day trip)
What: Miller Park Zoo
When: Any day, except Christmas Day
How Much: Winter pricing is $3 per person with children ages 2 and under free.
The indoor buildings may not be open but a walk through the zoo will prove to be a fun outing for your family even in the middle of winter.
What: Casey Big Things
Where: Casey (about an hour from C-U)
How much: Free
The world’s largest crochet hook and knitting needles; the world’s largest mailbox; and the world’s largest wooden shoes — this is a trip to remember. Budget-friendly, mostly outdoors and definitely unique, this could be fun to do over winter break.
What: Lincoln Log Cabin
Where: Lerna (about an hour from C-U)
When: The grounds are open daily
How much: Free
The visitor center may be closed right now, but you can wander the grounds and enjoy the Lincoln Log Cabin up close.
Events to check out over Winter Break (check back often, we will be adding to this!)
Night Light for Santa Craft - Virtual with Allerton Public Library (Registration Required)
Time: 10:00 am - 11:00 am