It doesn’t matter if you own a pair of hiking shoes, can’t stand bugs, or spend every waking minute soaking up the fresh air and sunshine — spend this summer outside with your family around Champaign-Urbana
Families with kids of all ages can get outside and have some fun in the great outdoors all summer long, from hiking to kayaking to camping and more
Champaign-Urbana is filled with and surrounded by picturesque nature escapes. Spending time together in nature as a family is great for mental and physical health, and we think you will experience the benefits first-hand rather quickly as you head out with your family. So hike, fish, bike, camp and walk your way through the outdoors this summer!
Chambanamoms thanks Rose Bowl Tavern for presenting the Ultimate Outdoor Summer.
This summer, head to Rose Bowl Tavern for outdoor music on the patio. These events are family-friendly and lots of fun! Many of their events are free to attend. With support from The Urbana Arts Council and donations from concert attendees, the Rose Bowl Tavern is proud to present live music, arts, and entertainment, for all ages and accessible to the public.
Every Friday is Jazz Happy Hour from 5-7 p.m. and every Saturday at noon you can find “After Market! Music, art and more” following Urbana’s Market at the Square. Additionally, you’ll find live music at other times throughout the week and weekend. Check out the Rose Bowl Tavern event calendar to learn all about what is coming up next!
Everything Outdoors for Champaign-Urbana
Walk, Bike or Hike
Start with the basics when you head outside and take a walk as a family. We round up all our favorite walking paths in Champaign and Urbana and give you the distance of the path in most cases.
When you’re biking as a family, you probably have two goals for your journey: somewhere out of the way of major traffic, and somewhere that’s not too strenuous for little peddlers. We take you to some of our favorite riding spots in the area, including the Kickapoo Rail Trail.
Different than a walk, hikes will take you into the woods and off the beaten path, so to speak (though near Champaign-Urbana, we have a lot of beautifully paved paths you can hike). Nonetheless, find out how and where to start hiking near town with a handy legend showing you the varying levels of difficulty you’ll encounter as you tackle the trails with your kids.
Play at a Park
Champaign-Urbana has so many wonderful playgrounds! We provide a roundup of the ones we love to visit. Click on the details of each park to get an in-depth look at its features.
When the weather finally breaks and we just HAVE TO get outside … but everything is muddy and mucky and we just aren’t in the mood to trudge through it all … find a mulch-free playground! Rubberized surfacing makes play safe (and mess free) and you’ll find it on many of our playgrounds in Champaign-Urbana.
We’ll give you a hand and show you the best picnic locations in and around Champaign-Urbana to make sure you’re taking advantage of warm weather and this timeless tradition. Whether you pack your own or pick up a local delight on your way to your picnic, we know that picnics make for the “best day ever” when it comes to fun on a budget.
Fish, Stomp, Canoe and Camp
Fishing might sound intimidating but it’s a fairly easy family activity to pick up and start to do together. Spending a little to get a fishing rod and reel and making sure you have an applicable fishing license pays off rather quickly when you see how much fun you can have casting into the water at convenient locations close to C-U.
You didn’t know this was a thing? Creek stomping is an absolute blast and requires absolutely nothing to “do” other than a parent’s permission to get muddy, wet and dirty. We round up where you can take your kids to stomp around and have a blast in local creeks.
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.
Ramping up the intensity in your “outdoor summer” is when you decide to not just head outside for the day but for a night or two, as well. There are a number of spots to camp throughout Central Illinois, so choose the location that sounds most ideal for you.
Don’t scoff at “boat rental” as out of your budget. Renting a canoe or kayak for a few hours is a special summer outing you can plan with your older kids and teens. We’ve got options within an hour’s drive of Champaign-Urbana that will make it possible.
Top spots for outdoor recreation near Champaign-Urbana:
- Visiting Clinton Lake With Your Family
- Visiting Imagination Grove Near Bloomington-Normal
- Meet Me Halfway: Kankakee River State Park
- Hidden Treasure in Central Illinois: Weldon Springs State Park
- The Perfect Family Hike: Explore the Sangamon River Forest Preserve near Fisher
- Best Kept Secret: Buffalo Trace Prairie in Mahomet
- Getaway for a Day: Matthiessen State Park
- Best Kept Secret: Forest Glen Preserve
- Hiking the Sangamon River Corridor Reserve in Monticello with your Family
- What to Do at Kickapoo State Recreation Area
- What To Do At Turkey Run State Park With Your Family
- Everything You Need To Know about Visiting Homer Lake Forest Preserve with Your Family
- What To Do At Moraine View State Recreation Area With Your Family
- Visiting Lake of the Woods in Mahomet with Children
- 8 Reasons You’ll Love Visiting Allerton Park with Your Family
- At Middle Fork River Forest Preserve, Darkness is the Star
- Parent’s Guide to Busey Woods in Urbana
- River Bend Forest Preserve in Mahomet a Great Escape
Get ready for summer in Champaign-Urbana:
- Champaign County Fair Fun for Families: Preview, Highlights, Tips and Ways to Save
- Blueberry Picking Near Champaign-Urbana
- Summer Parades in the Champaign-Urbana Area
- Best Midwest Summer Road Trips for Champaign-Urbana Families
- Beaches Within a Short Driving Distance of Champaign-Urbana
- How to Celebrate Juneteenth Around Champaign-Urbana
- 8 Great Summer Festivals in Central Illinois
- Champaign-Urbana Area Fourth of July FIREWORKS!
- 50+ Ways to Have Summer Fun on a Budget In and Around Champaign-Urbana
- Summer Fun in Chicago: Free Days at the Best Museums
- Champaign-Urbana Area Summer Fairs and Festivals
- Splash Pads Around Champaign-Urbana
- Strawberry Picking Near Champaign-Urbana
- How to Celebrate the Fourth of July in Champaign-Urbana
- Champaign-Urbana Area Outdoor Swimming Pools
- Champaign-Urbana Area Summer Reading Programs
- Where to Go Boating with Your Family Near Champaign-Urbana
- Free and Cheap Outdoor Movies in Champaign-Urbana
- Have the Ultimate Outdoor Summer with Kids in the Champaign-Urbana Area
- Summer Fun for Families in Champaign-Urbana
- Farmers Markets in Champaign-Urbana and Beyond
- Outdoor Concerts in Champaign-Urbana and Beyond
- Free Summer Kids Movies Return to Savoy
- Where to See a Baseball Game Near Champaign-Urbana
- Visiting Champaign-Urbana Area Parks and Playgrounds with your Family
- Things to Do for Teens (and Tweens) This Summer in Champaign-Urbana
- Fishing Fun for Families in the Champaign-Urbana Area
- Swim Teams in Champaign-Urbana and Beyond
- Where to Take Swim Lessons in Champaign-Urbana
- Season Pool Passes On Sale in Champaign-Urbana
- Champaign-Urbana Summer Camps for Kids