Midwest weekend
January 2, 2013 5:03 PM   Subscribe

I want to spend this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday driving around to see/do fun, cheap things in a ~3 hour radius from Champaign, Illinois (closer is preferred). Can you help a sister out?

I love music, thrifting, antiquing, outdoorsy/active stuff, good food and drink, and art. I already go to Kickapoo and the main flea markets around here (Arthur and Gordyville, namely) pretty frequently. I've looked at roadsideattractions.com and may try some of those. Weird ideas are welcome.

I would prefer coming back to Champaign for Friday and Saturday nights over getting a hotel somewhere. Closer to Champaign is preferred to save gas money.
posted by quiet coyote to Travel & Transportation around Champaign, IL (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Last time I was home for a visit, I went to a large antique mall in downtown Peoria. I'm pretty sure it was Relics, at 3410 Northeast Adams Street. For art, there's the Riverfront museum (it was Lakeview Center when I lived there long ago).

Also near Peoria is the Wildlife Prairie State Park in Hanna.
posted by caryatid at 6:26 PM on January 2, 2013

Check out Allerton Park, lovely grounds and woods, a couple of sculpture gardens, etc. - details in the link. It's about 15 minutes from Champaign/Urbana.

A bit of background about Kickapoo: when I was a kid, major sections of the park had been turned over for strip mining. It was not pretty. I remember seeing a presentation regarding the plans to restore the park after mining operations closed. The "after" pictures were beautiful, but they were at the end of a 50 year timeline. My reaction would have been the same had he said 500 years—it was simply too far into the future for my grade school brain to process.

Seems like yesterday.
posted by she's not there at 7:25 PM on January 2, 2013

Some good restaurants in Champaign are Escobar's and Radio Maria.
posted by daisystomper at 8:26 PM on January 2, 2013

Thanks for the suggestions so far! I should have specified- I am very familiar with C-U, and want to get out of town. So non C-U, but near C-U recommendations are what I'm looking for.
posted by quiet coyote at 8:46 PM on January 2, 2013

You are braver than I am if you are able to leave your warm apartment this weekend. "Outdoorsy/active stuff"? Brrrr.

1. Pick up Thursday's News-Gazette for the Entertainment section, which includes all the goings-on for this area over the weekend and into next week. I'll try to stop back here later and update you on the concerts/shows and activities reported therein, if you can't find it.

2. The Abraham Lincoln museum in Springfield is supposed to be pretty awesome. 9-5 daily.

3. Go outlet malling down in Tuscola.

4. Assuming you are serious about going outdoors: Allerton Park (of course); Homer Lake; walk along the long trail at Lake Of The Woods. Farther afield: Sandy Ridge State Forest (a former sand desert preserved from prehistoric times), Forest Glen Preserve.

5. Take in a movie at the beautiful Normal Theater in Normal's campustown. Even better: look for the Lorraine Theater out in the middle of nowhere (Hoopeston!), a restored Art Deco (inside) and Beaux Arts (outside) movie house which a California millionaire bought and put one of the nation's best projection and sound systems into.

6. Peoria is a nice trip. The Riverfront Museum is now open, with some interesting art. Wandering around the gigantic Bass Pro store across the river in East Peoria is culturally amusing, plus there's live fish. If the last outdoorsy suggestions didn't kill you, head to Forest Park Nature Center for some of my favorite hikes in Central Illinois. (Or if you really want to see something cool no one knows about and you have hiking boots, e-mail me.)

7. Funk's Grove is a funky bit of preserved pioneer Illinois, not far south of Bloomington.

8. For antiquing, look up Bob Swisher's columns on the News-Gazette web site. For instance, here's one on an interesting-sounding antique store in Saybrook, west of Rantoul.

9. Metafilter Meetup! Well, OK, this never happened -- it's pretty much going to require someone organized to organize it, and I think everybody assumed it would be the OP. But we could probably scrape something together, and campustown is mostly deserted this weekend.

Finally, your profile picture shows you flashing the Llama Sign invented by my friend Emily (kajsa). If you are her, then you know everything I just told you, and I am dumb.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:42 PM on January 2, 2013

Where to eat on your trip to Peoria:

LOW-END ETHNIC: KHANA KHAZANAH, an unassuming venue serving some of the only Hyderabadi cuisine in the Midwest, about 1/2 mile north on Knoxville from the I-74 exit. EL MEXICANO, authentic food (including vegetarian options) in large portions, on Jefferson about halfway between War Memorial and downtown Peoria.

HIGH-END: Head to Peoria Heights for a dinner at JUNE, SEVEN, or FRENCH TOAST. (This isn't my kind of food, so I'm not helpful here, but if it's what you're looking for, June gets national coverage in major gourmet mags.)

ECHT MIDWESTERN WORKING CLASS: PEORIA PIZZA WORKS on a Friday or Saturday night. Turn north on Prospect from War Memorial, look to your left, and set your watch back 40 years to the days of Pabst workers whooping it up at their neighborhood bar & grill.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 11:05 PM on January 2, 2013

The Abe Lincoln stuff around Springfield is fun. In addition to the museum mentioned above, you could also visit his tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery.
posted by cabingirl at 7:08 AM on January 3, 2013

This opened after I left, but I've heard great things from friends about this thrift store/tattoo parlor in Tuscola: Vintage Karma.
posted by MsMolly at 7:54 AM on January 3, 2013

Oh! And have you been out to Homer Soda yet? I think they still have a storefront you can go to, although you might want to call and check first, because they might just be doing mail order now.
posted by MsMolly at 7:58 AM on January 3, 2013

Also in Tuscola, Flesor's Candy Kitchen.
posted by cass at 9:23 AM on January 3, 2013

Though there are two Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Kankakee, unless something has radically changed there is nothing interesting in Bradley, Bourbonnais or in Kankakee.
posted by lstanley at 10:31 AM on January 3, 2013

Its a little bit of hike but the drive along the Mississippi from Dubuque north all the way to Minneapolis (and beyond) is a sweet one.
posted by specialk420 at 11:07 PM on January 4, 2013

I had to cut the trip down to one day, so I decided on Peoria based on caryatid's suggestion in the first comment. The trip ended up just costing gas and lunch money, and it was lots of fun. I thought I'd share the stops in case others are interested in doing some Midwest tourism.

Relics- Definitely not the a big antique mall you were thinking of, caryatid, but very cool nonetheless. A tiny shop with some antiques, crafts, and boutique items, all very reasonably priced.
Peoria Zoo- SO MUCH FUN! It was a donation day, so it was free, and almost totally empty! This is a smaller-town zoo, so they didn't have a ton of animals, but I had fun.
Ribbon Records- A nice little record store with some vintage clothing.
Electronics Diversified- This place was next door to Ribbon Records, so I wandered in. For sound geeks, this place is heaven. They seem to mostly do repairs and some sales, but they also had a ton of antique amps/stereos.
One World Cafe- Delicious. Completely hit the spot. Big, varied menu.
Urban Artifacts- Another very reasonably priced antique store, with some really great items. Definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

My intent was to also stop at the Riverfront Museum based on Harvey Kilobit's suggestion, but time got away from me.

I'll definitely be returning to this thread for ideas for future weekends. THANK YOU ALL!
posted by quiet coyote at 9:36 AM on January 9, 2013

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