When you have grandparents coming to visit, you might want to plan a trip to one of our favorite places
No matter what time of year you’re getting some quality time with grandparents (or those of the grandparent generation in your life), we have ideas on how to enjoy that rich time together in Champaign-Urbana
These are in no particular order and some are seasonal attractions. We know a number of factors are at play when you’re choosing an outing with grandparents, so choose the one that sounds like the best fit for your own liking.
Thank you to the Urbana Park District for presenting this list.
Busey Woods and Anita Purves Nature Center: Busey Woods is a great option for a walk in the woods with the grandparents, especially those who have mobility issues, as the raised boardwalk is ADA accessible. The Nature Center provides bird watching and listening in a comfortable indoor environment, among other activities – such as the resident animals. Open year-round. Bonus: It’s free.
Paint at the Pottery Place or do a canvas painting: For grandparents who like to be creative (and maybe prefer to be indoors), these are good options. Paint-your-own-pottery can be for children of all ages; even babies can get into the action with handprints! Canvas painting classes are for various ages, and many offer kits-to-go, like at Yellow & Company.
Do the museums: There’s something for everyone at local museums. We like to head to Krannert Art Museum with our art-loving parents or Spurlock Museum for the most “general” museum around. Museum of the Grand Prairie in Mahomet is another common stop with the adjacent Botanical Gardens and the schoolhouse. All are free.
See a classic movie at the Virginia Theatre: Getting to go to the Virginia Theatre is always a treat, and who better to appreciate this majestic refurbished building than our elders, who grew up going to moviehouses just like it. Bonus if you can find a show that includes the pipe organ (often around the holidays). Most films are $6 or less. And who doesn’t love their popcorn?
Jupiter’s at the Crossing: This is a common kiddo-grandparent destination, although some grandparents might find it a bit chaotic. If you’ve never been to Jupiter’s, think smaller version of Chuck E. Cheese with a) better pizza and b) no animatronics. Some of the arcade games are interactive, such as air hockey or bowling. If someone’s a sports fan, there’s always something to watch. It’s not light on the pocketbook, so come prepared with how much you’re willing to load onto those cards.
Dine at Cracker Barrel: Something about Cracker Barrel with grandparents and kids is pure magic. The setting lends itself to memories of yesteryear, with the peg game on the table to the vintage candy you can find in the shop. Everyone will appreciate a warm meal that sticks to your ribs and leaves everyone with warm fuzzy feelings.
The University of Illinois Arboretum, the Japan House and Master Gardener’s Idea Garden: We’re grouping these all together because of their proximity, but they could be independent trips. This is one of the most beautiful corridors in Champaign-Urbana – and also one of the most zen. We’ve enjoyed special events at the Japan House, but also dig just walking around and absorbing the beauty as weather allows.
Go to Urbana’s Market at the Square: We know what a gem Market at the Square is, now it is time to share it with the grandparents. They will enjoy the local flavor, the ingenius makers, the pop-up musicians, and the great people-watching. Oh, and the food, whether it’s food trucks, fresh produce or baked goods or everyone’s darling, the kettle corn. Open Saturday mornings in the parking lot next to Lincoln Square. (Open May – October)
Curtis Orchard and Pumpkin Patch: What’s not to like at Curtis Orchard? This family-run business is operated by folks with grandkids of their own. Whether you just want to feed the goats or eat at the cafe, pick apples or ride a pony, this is the perfect outing for this time of year with the grandparents. Curtis Orchard was mentioned multiple times by our readers when we asked for recommendations of this topic. (Open late July-late December)
If the grandparents don’t mind driving a bit farther …
Take a picnic basket to Allerton Park in Monticello: Who doesn’t want to spend an afternoon in the beautiful sunken gardens or the Fu Dog Gardens? A hike is great fun too, depending on the ages. Allerton Park in the fall is particularly beautiful with the changing colors.
Visit Amish Country: No matter how many times we take the grandparents to Arthur and the surrounding areas (Arcola, etc.) it’s an instant hit. Lots of good places to eat that everyone will love, too.