The MHM Blog

Exploring Life Off Campus at UIUC

Posted February 22, 2023

If you’re a student at UIUC, you know that there are plenty of things to do on and off campus. But, if you’re still feeling bored and looking to brand ouch, we have compiled a list of the best places, experiences, and restaurants on and off campus that will help maximize your time spent in Urbana/Champaign. 

Things to Do

Downtown Champaign 

Maybe the most obvious answer regarding the best things to do off-campus, but Downtown Champaign is so great that we need to make sure no one misses it! One of the best parts of the location is the downtown area that surrounds UIUC’s campus. Feature some of the best shops, restaurants, and bars around, this is the go-to spot for off-campus adventures. Be sure to stay on the lookout for events happening downtown inducing the Farmer’s Market and Streetfest, a live music festival. 

William M. Staerkel Planetarium

One of the only things that UIUC can’t boast is having a planetarium. A local favorite, the William M. Staerkel Planetarium, located on Parkland College’s campus, is open to be visited by anyone, student or not.

“The William M. Staerkel Planetarium, one of the largest in the state, provides a comfortable seat for anyone interested in catching a show. Popular for field trips and astronomical society meetings, the 50-foot dome screen of the planetarium hosts several public showings. Most public screenings at the planetarium take place on the weekends and range from Solar Superstorms to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.” The reviews for this place are too good to be true, right? Go check this place out if you need to sit in a chair and enjoy a show. Visit their website for an official showtime schedule here

U of I Ice Arena 

Right on your own turf, the U of I ice rink is an awesome spot to spend any night of the week. They host a plethora of events like open skating time and hockey games! The area is a “55,000 square foot facility and is the only one in Champaign-Urbana. The rink dimensions are 192′ by 115′ with a 1,200 seat arena surrounding. There are four public locker rooms, four party areas, and two Zambonis in the facility”. Get yourself out of the house and show your school spirit all at once. Check out the event calendar here

Crystal Lake Park 

When you’re crowded in a dorm and have classes all day, it might be a good idea to take some time to get out in the great outdoors. Crystal Lake Park is just a short drive from campus and is a much-welcome distraction with its beautiful dense forests and scenic views. Some non-motorized boats and vehicles can be rented from May to September. 

This park is full of wonders, and says there are also “playgrounds, picnic areas, and a unique landscaped brick labyrinth that is a challenge to work your way through. Interpretive information about the surrounding landscapes is scattered throughout the entire park.” 

The University of Illinois Arboretum 

The University of Illinois Arboretum deserves a special spotlight. A favorite of everyone in the area, making time to stop by and enjoy all of its cool features will make you grateful you spent time outside and visiting this season. 

There are tons of things to do and see here – you just have to pick where to start. If you’re looking for a chill, scenic day – pack a picnic and a blanket (or utilize one of their picnic tables!) and enjoy the breeze and the view. If you are looking for a little more adventure, the gardens are the spot for you. The Hartley Garden is massive and is what the arboretum has become known for. With the nice weather and season, now is the perfect time to visit. The flowers are in bloom, and the smell as you walk through is unbeatable. 

Memorable Food


Voted Best Seafood and Sushi 2020 News Gazette People’s Choice, Ko Fusion is a go-to for Champaign residents. “Our menu features both signature sushi and a unique blend of Contemporary American and Asian cuisine. Enjoy our menu from the convenience of your own home. Natural meats, wild-caught seafood, and local produce. These are  just some of the touches that set Kofusion apart.” Not only are they known for their sushi, but make sure to check out their bento boxes and ramen, perfect for warming you up on a cold winter night. 

Visit online:

Big Grove Tavern

Another great spot located in downtown champaign is Big Grove Tavern. Currently open for pickup and limited outdoor and indoor dining, they are a classic bar and tavern with a modern twist. Their customers say they have fantastic food, but they also have something many other taverns don’t- a beverage team! According to their website, “The beverage team at Big Grove wants to take the intriguing, odd, fun, and eccentric and make it accessible to everyone. This is a driving focus with a large craft cocktail selection, wine by the glass and bottle program, and regional craft beers.” Stop by for a cocktail; they guarantee you’ll want to stay for a while. 

Visit online:

View All Posts


Blog Categories

Translate this page:

EnglishChinese (Simplified)KoreanSpanishTurkishHindiArabic

Roommate Matching Available - Secure Your Bedroom Before It's Gone! || Parking Sale -$35/mo

303 S Fifth St / 606 E White St

4 bedroom/4 bathroom and 3 bedroom/3 bathroom units available for roommate matching. Secure your bedroom today! $785/person


Parking Sale – $35/mo

Any covered/uncovered space available for $35/month. Underground garage spaces available for only $50/month. 8 month or 11 month leases available.

Call 217-337-8852 or Email for availability.