Spring is a wonderful time for outdoor pictures with your family in Champaign-Urbana
Whether you’re seeking wildflowers by the woods or blooming trees on the Quad, there are picturesque places all over East Central Illinois to plan a photo shoot or hold an impromptu selfie session. Some places are hardly a secret — expect to be standing in line at the Lake of the Woods bridge on Mahomet’s prom day, for example –and know that peak cherry blossom time at the University of Illinois Japan House is attended by hundreds (thousands?) of other camera-happy people.
But if you get creative with your timing or your destination — find another bridge, walk an extra block, or get up extra early — you may have a lovely vista all to yourselves. If you are working with a professional photographer, ask them if they have favorite outdoor locations (most do) and when the best lighting conditions will be.
Finally, keep in mind that the most memorable outdoor photos of people dressed in spring finery sometimes take place at the most informal or unexpected locations. We have seen amazing prom pictures taken at the Sidney Dairy Barn, at an elementary school playground, and with Roger Ebert’s statue in front of the Virginia Theatre. Use your imagination and make some spring memories!
Our readers weigh in on their favorite outdoor spots in Champaign-Urbana and beyond to take spring family photos:
Old Town Champaign: “The older central neighborhoods in Champaign have magnolia trees that are absolutely stunning in full bloom. There are some great old specimens on Prospect Ave and on a lot of the brick streets.” The State Street area in Urbana is another location for a neighborhood vibe.
Downtown Champaign: If you want a more urban vibe that still includes the option to capture flowering trees, this is the place to go.
The University of Illinois Arboretum: “We got married in the Arboretum on campus in early May.” Other popular locations around the Arboretum include the Japan House and Gardens, especially during peak cherry blossom time, as well as “the daffodils at the Idea Garden.”
The Quad at the University of Illinois: Always a popular photo spot — experience spring on the beautifully landscaped campus, with or without picturesque buildings in the frame.
Research Park, Champaign: The U of I’s Research Park is not really a park but it does have beautiful landscaping. Lots of flowering trees, for example, at the pond at 2021 S. First St.
Lake of the Woods, Mahomet: Many readers voted for taking photos at Lake of the Woods, a jewel of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District. You’ve got a great variety of photo backgrounds here — think constructed features like ornamental bridges, covered bridge, giant chair, or more natural elements like bulb gardens, forest paths, wildflowers. Oh, and there’s a lake too.
Homer Lake, Homer: Another Champaign County Forest Preserve. “We’ve had family photos taken at Homer Lake on several occasions, and they were beautiful!”
Busey Woods, Urbana: While beautiful right now, it also can get pretty muddy in spring so you might need to stick to the boardwalk. The nearby boathouse at Crystal Lake Park can also make a lovely photo backdrop.