Spending Spring Break in Champaign-Urbana? Here are five ideas to get you out of the house and on your bike! 

1. Big Yellow Ride + Picnic

_IMG4621Ever ridden a tandem? Ever wanted to? Big Yellow Ride is your ticket to adventure in C-U!

Spring break means less people on the roads and in public spaces, and bikes are a great way to take advantage of the relative quiet. Big Yellow Ride, a tandem bike offered for rent by Neutral Cycle, makes it easier than ever to bring a friend and some food with you on your rides.

As no doubt you’re aware, C-U’s got tons of great parks just begging to be picnicked at. Some are close and others are further away. Some have huge open fields, while others have winding trails. With Big Yellow Ride, your legs are your only limit.

Rentals start at just $10 and you can have the bike for twenty-four hours for only $35.


2. Railfanning in Tolono


As any five-year old will tell you, trains are awesome. For some reason, though, we tend to forget this when we grow older. Bike to Tolono and reconnect with your childhood flame while exploring Central Illinois.

Railfanning refers to practice of watching trains. Some like to get close enough to feel the trains as they pass. (Make sure to be careful!) Watching trains pass through the Illinois prairie can be a surprisingly moving experience. If you’re looking for a longer ride (18-20 miles) and something unique to do, this is a great option.

A good spot to see trains is east of Tolono. To get there, start on First Street and continue south for around 9 miles. (Once you leave Champaign, the road’s name will change to the very creative County Rd 1200 E.) Once you’ve had enough of trains, take a right and head into the city. Get a lemonade and then head home.

3. Mountain Biking in Kickapoo

If mountain biking is your thing, then Kickapoo State Recreation Area‘s one of your best options in Central Illinois. Located outside of Danville and close-ish to the Indiana border, Kickapoo offers 12 miles of trails to satisfy the needs of local mountain bikers.

But wait, there’s more! Beyond mountain biking, Kickapoo has loads to offer: hiking, scuba diving, fishing, boating, and canoeing. If you know you’ll want to spend a lot of time there, you can always stay the night and camp.

And for future reference, in a few years’ time you’ll be able to bike out to Kickapoo using the Kickapoo Rail Trail.

4. Spurlock Museum – Crafternoons – Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Whether the weather is great or not, Crafternoons will let you to enjoy your well-deserved break while getting out of the house.

The Spurlock Museum is definitely an under-utilized space among UIUC students. Not only do they have a collection of artifacts from places as diverse as ancient Rome and modern Oceana, they’ve always got a great lineup of events.

Crafternoons are events designed to help you unleash the Picasso within through guided art projects. This spring break they’ll be holding three of them. You can make your own Fabergé egg (Wednesday, 1 p.m.), create a pair of upcycled sweater mittens (Thursday, 1 p.m.), or build paper bead figures (Friday, 1 p.m.). Crafternoons are for people of all ages and you’ll just have to pay $3 to cover materials.

5. Crystal Lake Park

Wanna go to a park that has it all? Crystal Lake Park fits the bill.

Crystal Lake Park is located in Urbana, just north of University Avenue. It’s both a good place to ride to and a good place to ride at. While you’re there, you can simply enjoy the old-growth trees and winding waterways, or you can do more. You can bring some friends and have a barbecue. If you’ve got a license, they have perfect spots for fishing. If you want to explore the area, you can head north and visit the Anita Purves Nature Center and Busey Woods.

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