Do all of fall in one day, with just one hour total drive time — we’ve already planned the day, so all you have to do is pile the kids in the car and go!
Champaign-Urbana is overflowing with autumnal activities. Sometimes, that can be overwhelming. We’ve mapped out a perfect fall day for your family.
With a few more weekends left before Halloween, we all know that holiday cheer is right around the corner. But if you’re anything like us, you want to soak up all that fall has to offer in Champaign-Urbana and beyond — you’re just a little tired of planning everything! We get it. Check out our ultimate fall day in map form: at 58 miles round-trip and just over one hour of driving, it’ll allow you to hit all the best of fall in just one weekend day.
Start your day in Campustown
We know, we know — “you want us to go to campus during the school year?!” Hear us out: start your morning early, before the students wake up and start prowling the sidewalks. Grab breakfast or coffee from one of our favorite Campustown restaurants or cafes and go for a stroll on the Quad. Take in the fall colors and pretend you’re in an episode of Gilmore Girls.
Head out of town on a pumpkin quest
After your leisurely morning stroll, jump in the car and head southeast to Sidney. A quick 20-minute drive will take you to Negangard Pumpkin Patch, an oasis for the gourd guru on a budget. A no-frills pumpkin patch (not u-pick), this is the place to go when you want to decorate for fall and not break the bank. There’s no admission charge, but there’s also not any organized entertainment. No worries, though — there are plenty more fall festivities to enjoy at our other stops.
Take in a Champaign-Urbana fall staple
You’ve got your pumpkins, now you need apples! Nineteen minutes in the car and you’ll arrive at Curtis Orchard. The live animals, delicious food and kid-friendly attractions may be the perfect mix of everything you’re looking for in a fall family outing. Pick a peck of apples, browse the gift shop, and make sure to feed the goats and catch a kitten to cuddle. You could spend a lot of time here; be sure to grab lunch at the cafe to fuel up.
Unwind in a beautiful fall prairie landscape
If you’re not exhausted from a fall-tastic day, jump in the car and head to our last destination: Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve in Mahomet. It’s just a quick 15-or-so minute drive on the highway, but you’ll feel like you’re a world apart. From its gazebo to its giant Adirondack chair, from its covered bridge to the Mabery Gelvin Botanical Garden, there’s a lovely backdrop around every corner for taking in the blazing colors of autumn. Though it’s a popular place for hiking, exploring, and playing, you’ll likely find it a bit calmer than some of our previous destinations, making it the perfect place to wind down after a busy fall day.
Head home and warm up
When your family is well and truly wiped out, head home to Champaign-Urbana (if you’re following our map, it’ll take you right back to campus in about 20 minutes, so make sure to set your GPS for home instead). After an hour in the car split up between four classic autumn destinations, treat yourself to a warm mulled apple cider, a good book, and a cozy blanket. Well done, super-parent: you did all of fall in one lovely day!
Looking for even more fall fun? We have everything you need to plan more fall family fun in Champaign-Urbana and beyond!