Champaign, population 67,518, and Urbana, population 36,395, are side-by-side college towns, both home to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's more than 40,000 students.
The U of I's Fighting Illini sports teams draw crowds for basketball at Assembly Hall and football at Memorial Stadium. Assembly Hall, the area's top entertainment venue, also hosts concerts and Broadway musicals. Krannert Art Museum exhibits more than 8,000 art works on the university campus.
Parkland College in Champaign adds to the academic-centered attractions with the William M. Staerkel Planetarium and Parkland College Theater. Other theatrical events can be seen in downtown Champaign at the Virginia Theatre. The renovated downtown area caters to the college crowd with restaurants, shops, bars and nightlife spots. Orpheum Children's Science Museum, which is housed in the historic 1914 Orpheum Theatre, features hands-on science. In Urbana visitors can enjoy authentic Japanese tea rituals at Japan House.
Two other attractions offer kid friendly activities. Curtis Orchard hosts a fall festival and apple picking and at Prairie Farm visitors can feed the farm animals.
West of Champaign, the Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve includes the Early American Museum, Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens, a golf course, hiking and cross-country skiing trails, sledding, boating and fishing.
Champaign-Urbana is located 135 miles southwest of Chicago and 50 miles southeast of Bloomington. The area is accessible via Interstate Highways 57, 72 and 74 and U.S. Highway 45. There are many lodging options including national hotel chains, conference centers, bed and breakfasts.