It’s September and you know what that means...Illini Football tailgates will be underway, newly formed couples will be spotted at places like Curtis Apple Orchard, you know…doing couple-y things and most importantly, those comfy hoodies will come out from hiding, taunting you to put them on throughout the unpredictable hot-cold weather that is September. This is one of the greater Champaign County area’s greatest months as its vibrancy is brought back to equilibrium with the returning students finally having settled in. With all of that being said, this September we encourage you to pay a visit to Monticello, Illinois. They have been doing Septembers right for years and have an incredible line-up of things to do, even for those new couples picking apples out at Curtis Orchard. If it isn’t the charm of the downtown that sucks you in, then it will surely be their Monticellobration event with all of your favorite vendors, cookouts, music, and of course food trucks. Still not impressed? Don’t worry there’s plenty of local shops, eateries, history, sweet treats, and nature to go around and put a smile on just about everyone’s face. Here’s ten of our favorites in Monticello worth your visit. Are we missing anything? Probably. Head over to Monticello to fill in the missing pieces yourself. You won’t regret it.
Let’s time warp to some of the classiest of decades and relish in the history that resides in Monticello. Here you will find food trucks, live music, restaurant cookouts, antique cars, local vendors, and a great time had by all. Grab your dancing partner and get your swing dancing on to the live Jazz featuring Jim Markum Swing Band! It wouldn’t be a true taste of Monticello without some railway history! Take a 1920’s and 30’s themed train ride from Wabash Station to the Railway museum where you will find the Railroad Days celebration going on. Who knows…maybe you’ll see a flapper or two walking down the streets!
You simply can’t go to Monticello without paying a visit to the Monticello Courthouse Square! It is here where plenty of events and gatherings call “home” and for a good reason. You’ll find the historic Monticello Courthouse for Piatt County, which is a classic revival building designed by Urbana architect, Joseph W. Royer. Peak around each and every corner of the courthouse and you’ll find local restaurants and shops galore, just waiting for you to explore!
One of these cool shops located within the Monticello Square is a local glass blower! Jim Downey the owner of Prairie Fire Glass, began working with glass 30 years ago when he discovered his affinity for stained glass. Here you can check out his gallery, purchase his work, take a class, or even come and watch him work his magic! Jim likes to share that his creations are inspired by sunsets, landscapes, flowers and images created by the Hubble telescope. Talk about Outside of Ordinary!
Trust us when we tell you this isn’t what you would expect from your normal brown bag. You’ll find this place sweeping with locales getting sandwiches, soups, and salads crafted from meats, cheeses, and breads from Chicago and New York City delis, (you know…the ones that have salamis hanging from the ceiling and what not?) Whether you need something to take to the office for lunch or want to dine in, this dose of authentic will keep you coming!
Restoration buildings are the biggest craze these days. Don’t get us wrong, new modern development is exciting and all, but old restored buildings provide an atmosphere like none other. The Steeple Gallery Coffeehouse calls an old vintage church “home” and is located near the Historic Courthouse Square! Not only can you stop by and enjoy a fresh pastry and delightful cup of coffee, but you can often find local art on display adding even more to the experience!
The railway is such an important part of Monticello’s history! Head on over to the Monticello Railway Museum, an all-volunteer organization with an operational railroad! The museum hosts several events throughout the year, including the incredibly popular “The Polar Express” and “Lunch with Santa on the Train”. You can always catch a ride on the train on Saturdays and Sundays through October, regardless of weather conditions (that’s the joy of trains)! Check out all their upcoming events on their events calendar and bring the whole family!
7. Three Ravens
Monticello High School’s mascot may be the Sage, but the Three Ravens restaurant is where it’s at! Currently the #1 restaurant in Monticello on TripAdvisor and Yelp, Three Ravens gives you a diversified American menu with a wide selection of sprits to pair. Fan of outdoor patio seating? No worries! Three Ravens has you covered. Whether you’re with the whole family or just you and your partner, this eatery will provide the ultimate Monticello experience.
8. Eli Field
RC toys, motorized planes, and drones are some of the trendiest things these days! Head over to the ever-popular Eli Field for training and other air events, perfect for the RC fanatic or someone newly getting into the hobby!
The name says it all…”The Occasional Place”. Bergie’s reminds us that “The truly great things in life are worth waiting for.” Bergie’s is known for their pop-ups that are more often than not, uniquely themed. After you taste their deliciousness you’ll soon be spreading the word of their catering services to everyone you know. Be on the lookout for any Bergie’s events coming your way and join their group on Facebook to keep up on all the details!
10. Pearls and More
Sure big chain jewelry pieces are pretty and all, but don’t you think they lack some character? Pearls & More not only gives you topline, unique jewelry pieces, but also gives you an experience! Whether you’re looking for yourself or a loved one, you’re in good hands with Pearls & More’s highly knowledgeable staff. We don’t know about you, but we feel there is just something special about downtown jewelers that gives you the Outside of Ordinary!