Pools to creeks, camps to concerts, free movies to fairs and so much more, we have everything you want to know about summer in Champaign-Urbana
No matter how old your kids are, we know you’re looking ahead to summer with anticipation and want to make some great family memories this year
Here you’ll find one gigantic round-up of fairs and festivals, summer camps, summer reading programs, swimming pools, food trucks and more … everything related to summer in Champaign-Urbana and surrounding communities, all in one easy spot.
Chambanamoms thanks the Illini Union Rec Room for presenting this post.
We will keep adding posts, events and updates as they are announced, so check back often; all events are also listed on our events calendar. Click on the links below for more information on each topic — we have lots of exciting things to share with you in the coming months. Pin this page, post this to Facebook, save the link to your homescreen, or bookmark this link because this is one post you’re going to want to come back to over and over again, all summer long.
Also, some topics do not have links yet as the information has not been finalized. Check back again soon!
Fairs, Festivals, Parades and More
Champaign-Urbana Area Summer Fairs and Festivals
This list starts with festivals in May and runs all the way through Labor Day weekend. The festivals we include in the “Champaign-Urbana Area” for the purposes of this list are within about 90 minutes from Champaign-Urbana.
9 Great Summer Festivals in Central Illinois
If you’re up for a drive, we have a list of fairs and festivals around Illinois (and one in Missouri) that will become a highlight of your summer. Some of these may require an overnight stay, but others may not (hey, Peoria). All are unique and distinctly different from your typical festival, in our opinion.
Summer Parades in Champaign-Urbana
We love parades (and kids love catching candy), so we put together a list of the parades around C-U that you’ll want to hit before summer comes to an end.
Things To Do: As A Family
Did you know our list already includes more than 60 (yes, sixty!) free concerts this summer that are just waiting for your presence? All concerts we include, yes even at wineries, are family-friendly and outdoors.
Catching a movie outside is a favorite summer tradition, and even better when it is free (or close to it)! Find out where to catch one here.
50+ Ways to Have Summer Fun on a Budget
You don’t have to spend lots of money to make memories this summer. We offer a lengthy list of things to do that are free or quite inexpensive. This list alone will pack your summer to-do list when you’re planning what to do and when.
A trip to the playground is a summer staple and we highly encourage you to bust out of your normal playground routine and venture to another one of Champaign-Urbana’s great playgrounds. Find out what we love about each one.
Where to find local farmers markets in and around Champaign-Urbana, from Homer to Rantoul to Monticello and everywhere in between. You can find fresh produce nearly any day of the week.
13 Things to Do on the University of Illinois Campus This Summer
The students are gone, there are actually places to park (yes, it’s true) and you don’t have to worry about trudging through snow. Now’s the time to head to campus and we have a list of things you’ll enjoy doing as a family.
Ice cream, burgers, BBQ, slushy drinks (just for adults, of course) and so much more — many of our food trails fall right in line with something to do this summer. Try something new AND feed the family — a perfect combo.
Things To Do: Just For Kids
Dozens of organizations and businesses offer summer camps for your kids, and we have a lengthy list of options. Don’t delay any longer and get your registration in now.
For our children roughly ages 12-15, making plans for summer isn’t as easy as it used to be when they were younger. We have ideas on what is “out there” for kids this age around town.
Free Summer Meals for Children
Many children who rely on school meals struggle to get enough to eat during the summer months. We share relevant info for the different communities around Champaign-Urbana so that this information is easy to find for all.
Champaign-Urbana Area Summer Reading Programs
Most area libraries offer reading programs — with rewards, like free food — to keep students of all ages engaged in books during the months they are out of school. Did you know: Signing up for multiple programs, even at multiple libraries, is totally OK (and even encouraged).
Kids Bowl and Skate Free
Get the scoop on local bowl and skate for free programs in Champaign-Urbana.
Midwest Summer Road Trips
Broken down by driving distance, this list is for when you’re looking for places within a two-hour drive, some within a two-to-four hour drive, and others that are more than four hours away. You can’t go wrong with any of them, but if you’re looking to stay a little closer to home (and sleep in your own bed at night …)
20+ Unique Summer Day Trips
We have more than 20 ideas on where to head for a day trip just a short drive from Champaign-Urbana. This includes places like Springfield, Decatur, Peoria and more.
We have stand-alone posts on St. Louis, Indianapolis or Chicago for you to peruse, since they’re really not covered in the “road trip” or “day trip” categories.
Champaign-Urbana Area Swimming Pools
It’s pretty simple — here’s where to go swimming in the Champaign-Urbana area. Includes information on dates, times, costs and everything in between, as well as up-to-date info on COVID-related details.
There’s no time like the present to teach your youngsters (or yourself!) how to swim. Here’s our list of businesses and organizations that offer swim lessons in Champaign-Urbana.
Kids who like to get their competitive juices flowing in the pool have a variety of choices. From very beginner to more advanced swimmers, there are options for all who wish to give competitive swimming a try in 2021.
If you’re looking to spend time outdoors this summer, we have entire posts on camping, hiking, walking paths, bike trails, creek stomping, all gathered in one place. We list all of our favorite forest preserves and state parks, too, with details reviews on what to do while you’re there.
The best places to fish, where to find fishing gear, family friendly fishing events and more. There are many fish to catch right here in C-U!
Getting out on the water may be much easier (and cheaper) than you ever imagined! We cover paddle boats (least expensive) all the way through pontoon rentals, with the farthest location on the list being Lake Shelbyville.
Sometimes heading outdoors is simply to enjoy and experience nature. We give you the scoop on the closest places to C-U that have you feeling like you’ve retreated to a nature oasis in an instant.
Fourth of July
How to Celebrate the Fourth of July in Champaign-Urbana
We’ve got the date, time, place and info on the Fourth of July celebrations in and around Champaign-Urbana, from Arthur to Farmer City, from Saybrook to Arcola.
Champaign-Urbana Area Fourth of July Fireworks
Don’t miss the fireworks in your favorite town! They start as early as June 26 and run through the Fourth of July.
Some ideas on trips you can take with your family:
- Visiting the Indoor Waterpark at Grand Bear Resort Near Starved Rock
- Midwest Indoor Waterparks Within a Few Hours of Champaign-Urbana
- Winter Road Trip: Visiting Ice Castles at Lake Geneva, Wis.
- 20+ Unique Summer Day Trips from Champaign-Urbana
- How to Rent a Boat on Lake Shelbyville with your Family
- Road Trip: Visit St. Louis as a Family
- Visiting Imagination Grove Near Bloomington-Normal
- Best Midwest Summer Road Trips for Champaign-Urbana Families
- Road Trip: Visiting Wisconsin Dells
- Day Trip from Champaign-Urbana: Living Large in Casey
- Head North for Family Fun: What To Do On Your Chicago Trip
- An Insider’s Guide to a Springfield Getaway
- A Whole New (Old) World: Exploring the Arthur Amish Area with Kids
- Effingham, a Trip to the Crossroads
- Winter Break Day Trip: Family Fun in Peoria
- Travel Back in Time at Lincoln Log Cabin