Worried about boredom over Winter Break in Champaign-Urbana? We’re here to HELP!
You may be thinking: I have these kids at home, stuff 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. 17. Some other schools will continue through Dec. 21 or 22. It’s the longest break from instruction that our kids have all year, no matter what school you attend – until summer.
Thanks to Illinois Athletics for presenting our list of things to do over winter break. Need something to do over winter break? Come out and watch your Fighting Illini! Both Men’s and Women’s basketball will be in action. Enjoy the rivalry between Illinois and Missouri on the Women’s side and purchase a family 4-pack to watch your Men’s team!
Things you can do at home
What: Watch Illinois basketball games on TV
When: Men’s games: Dec. 18, 22, 29 and Jan. 2; Women’s games: Dec. 19, 22, 30 and Jan. 2
Where: Your home
How Much: Free if you already have the Big Ten Network.
All four men’s games are on BTN. The Dec. 18 game, at State Farm Center, will feature the honoring of the 2001 and 2002 Big Ten Championship teams. The Dec. 22 game is the annual Braggin’ Rights game against Missouri. (The women’s games are available on the BTN’s streaming service or ESPN’s streaming service.) 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
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.
What: Ice Skating
Where: University of Illinois Ice Arena;
When: Schedule varies by the day
How much: Ages 4 and up are $6; ages 3 and under are free. Skate rental is $3 for all.
Some days have discounted rates, and there are also family passes available or bulk rates. In any case, you can skate around the ice to your heart’s desire.
Where: Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center
When: Special hours from Dec. 17-Jan 2. Click here for the schedule. Closed Dec. 24-25, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.
How much: $6 per person; under 4 years free; $3 fee for anyone who enters the facility. Punch cards and various memberships are available.
An energetic swim in the middle of winter? Sounds like a great way to burn off some energy to us.
What: Playing at Leonhard Recreation Center in Champaign
Where: 2307 Sangamon Dr., Champaign
When: Hours vary by the day. Click here for the schedule.
How much: Day pass is $6 for residents, $9 for non-residents; monthly and annual memberships available.
There are open gym times and pickleball courts; weight room and indoor track; indoor playground is still closed. Round up some friends and hit the basketball court or try your hand at pickleball this winter break.
Places to visit during Winter Break (as a day trip)
What: Miller Park Zoo
When: Any day, except Christmas Day
How Much: Pricing is $4.95 per person with children ages 2 and under free.
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
Closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Stop at the visitor’s center first, then wander the grounds and enjoy the Lincoln Log Cabin up close.
Events to check out over Winter Break
Gender-Expansive Kids Play Group
Time: 10:00 am
Champaign Public Library
200 W. Green Street, Champaign
Noon Year's Eve Take-Home Craft Kit
Time: All Day
The Urbana Free Library
210 W Green St, Urbana
New Year's Eve Early Bird
Time: 3:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Big Thorn Farm & Brewery
14274 E 600 North Road, Georgetown
Everything Holiday Season In and Around Champaign-Urbana
- Where to Eat on Christmas in Champaign-Urbana
- Amazing Christmas Lights Around Champaign-Urbana and Beyond
- Live Nativity Displays in Champaign-Urbana
- How to Chop Down Your Own Christmas Tree in the Shawnee National Forest – For $5 (or Less)
- Home for the Holidays: Shopping and Eating Locally in Champaign-Urbana
- Botanical Garden at Lake of the Woods to Illuminate during Holidays for First Time