Champaign, Illinois (home to the University of Illinois) is perfect for a weekend visit. Just 2-3 hours by train from Chicago, the twin cities of Champaign – Urbana will surprise you. Champaign is the college town and consists of Campustown (near the campus) and downtown Champaign. Don’t miss the University of Illinois Arboretum as well as the Krannert Art Museum on campus. You can even stay at the hotel at the Student Union. A walk around the beautiful campus is a must.


The TownePlace Suites (605 S. 6th Street) in Campustown cannot be beat. Your extended stay room includes completely ready to use kitchen. But you won’t use it as it is surrounded by every international restaurant you would want: sushi, Korean, Japanese, Mediterranean, Mexican, natural foods, Italian, Thai, Zambian, Cambodian, Caribeaan, Farm to Table, Creole, Vegan and more. There must be 30 restaurants/fast casual outlets with two blocks of the hotel.  I’ve never seen so many Bubble Tea joints. The University of Illinois is #2 in having the most international students. Try Paris Super for great crepes. Brewlab Coffee has your morning brew. Jipbap has great Korean food. Oozu is the place for ramen bar. Pho Noodle Station has great Vietnamese food. Poke Lab has the best poke.


Amtrak has 3-4 trains a day from Chicago and can take as little as two hours. The campus area is very walkable so you won’t need a car once here. Hop on the #50 Bus from the Amtrak Station to your hotel.


A walk around the University of Illinois campus is a must. The University of Illinois Arboretum is also nice. The Illini Union Art Gallery on campus has a new show, Illini Past and Present, features alumni art work.  Other ideas:

Krannert Art Museum |

Fine art comes to life in this University of Illinois campus museum through engaging events and exhibits putting a spotlight on issues that impact our daily lives. Current and upcoming exhibits include: Black on Black on Black on Black (through December 10); Fake News & Lying Pictures: Political Prints in the Dutch Republic (through December 17); Well-Designed Beauty: Trade, Technology, and Decorative Arts (Nov 15–May 13).

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts |

Imagine access to the symphony, opera, folk music, ballet, modern dance, theatre, and national bands all under one roof. That’s Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, a hub of creative activity for all with over 400 performances throughout the year.

Allerton Park & Retreat Center |

Get away for a few hours or a few days at this European-inspired estate in nearby Monticello. Fourteen miles of hiking trails and fourteen formal gardens await you along the Sangamon River.  During the winter months, walk the gardens for Holiday GLOW, featuring a one-mile lighted walk with new art included. Details about Mr. Allerton: “Robert Allerton was born to one of the preeminent families of Gilded Age Chicago. He embarked on a career as an artist, living and studying in Berlin and Paris before settling in downstate Illinois, near Monticello, on a piece of property known as “The Farms.” From the 1920s until Gregg’s death in 1986, Robert and John referred to each other as father and son, they even made it legally official, with Robert’s adoption of John in 1960, a few years before the elder man’s death. But their relationship  was not confined to those traditional bounds. It was, in fact, visibly queer at a time when the perception and reception of homosexuality in American society were undergoing a transformation.  All of this is explored in the book An Open Secret: The Family Story of Robert and John Gregg Allerton, which was published last year.” Details at


Check out for events in the area. Quality is your LGBTQ+ friendly bar and there are events throughout the year.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION has your experience planner tips with over 100 experiences in the great Champaign County area.

About the Author

Bill Malcolm is the nation’s only LGBTQ+ syndicated value travel columnist. Residing in Indianapolis, he travels with a focus on the local and value orientation.