The World Outside of Green Street

While all UIUC students are familiar with the bright lights of chain restaurants on Green Street, making weekend plans doesn’t have to be restricted to the section of Champaign-Urbana that’s across from Alma Mater. If you are looking to find a cute hangout spot or to spend a day out and about, stepping out of the campus comfort zone might be the perfect plan.

This list offers insight on places to explore both in and around Champaign-Urbana. From unique bars to used bookstores and other Instagram-able locations, the world outside of Green Street is one worth checking out.

Let’s start with something we all need and love, food.

  1. The Sipyard

With some major hipster-vibes, this beer garden in Urbana is the perfect place to grab a drink, kick back, and listen to some chill music on a weekend. The graffiti and attractively urban aesthetic doesn’t hurt either.

    2. The Courier Cafe

If you are looking for a cute little place to grab a bite to eat, the Courier Cafe is ideal. With family-owned diner vibes, a unique historical background and garden-fresh food, the Courier Cafe will easily become your go-to brunch location.

    3. Black Dog Smoke & Ale House

This one comes as no surprise to most, but the Black Dog makes the claim to having the “best barbecue in town.” With custom-made smokers and a menu full of amazing food and drinks, the claim stands true.

    4. Aroma Cafe

If you like the aesthetic of chalkboards, unfinished wood, and coffee shop vibes, the Aroma Cafe is the perfect fit. Not only is this location cute and cozy, but the glorious glass case full of pastries makes it that much better.  

    5. Riggs Beer Company                                 

If you like cats, dogs and enjoy a good beer - Riggs Beer Company is right for you. Not only do the three Brewery cats wander around, but the beer-garden vibe only gets better when pets are allowed. Besides this, Riggs makes their own beer and has been doing so for five generations.

    6. Big Grove Tavern

This one is a personal favorite. All I can say is: Best. Tacos. Ever. Big Grove Tavern not only has adorable outdoor seating with beautiful string lights, they also permit pets in their patio area. The food is delicious and the indoor decor is the perfect mix of urban and rural vibes. This restaurant should be at the top of your list.

    7. Crane Alley

Crane Alley may just look like your average pub-style eatery, until you check out where they get the “alley” portion of their name. The alleyway of the restaurant is beautifully decorated with ambient outdoor lights making for the perfect outdoor eating space.

Of course, once you’re done with your off-campus meal, you still need to figure out what to do the rest of the day! No worries, there are plenty of unique ways to spend a day in Champaign-Urbana. Here are just a few ideas!

  1. Exile on Main St.

This is another place that has some major hipster vibes. If you don’t have a record player, no worries! The Exile on Main is still a place worth checking out. With CDs and tapes, you’re sure to find some old-school or modern music that is up your alley.

      2. Art Mart Champaign

The Art Mart in Champaign is described as “a little bit of everything, and a whole lot of awesome." With food, wine, unique home items, and even finds for kids, Art Mart is certainly worth checking out.

      3. Jane Addams Book Shop

I may be partial to this place as a bookworm, but the Jane Addams bookstore is an old home that was filled wall-to-wall with bookshelves. Everywhere you seem to look, there is another book calling for your attention. What’s more, the books here are reasonably priced, unlike at the severely expensive Illini Union Bookstore.

      4. Art Theater & Virginia Theater

These two vintage theatres are definitely worth checking out. While the Art Theater shows current and old-school movies, the Virginia Theatre is a little more performative. Either way, both are super Instagram-able and host amazing events.

    5. Market at the Square 

If you love farmer’s market finds, then you need to check out the Market at the Square in Urbana. With tent after tent of fresh food, you’re bound to find what you need.

    6. Prairie Fruits Farm

With fresh “farm-to-table” dinners, adorable goats strolling the orchards, a creamery with farmstead gelato, and amazing cheeses, this place is worth checking out.

     7. Curtis Orchard and Pumpkin Patch

Without a doubt, Curtis Orchard is a must for anyone who loves fall. Between apple picking, pumpkin picking, a corn maze, and the best apple cinnamon donuts in the world, it would be a shame not to throw on your fall scarf and flannel to spend a day here.

While Green Street is close and convenient, there is a whole wide world of unique places to check out just down the road in Champaign-Urbana. Next time you plan a day out with your friends, try passing by Green and checking out what else there is to do locally!

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