Nothing beats a great road trip, and with so many things to see and do in the greater Champaign County area, a fun summer stay-cation is just around the corner! We've been detailing a few trips to take outside of Champaign-Urbana, and we wrap up this week with Monticello, Mahomet, and Rantoul!
Let’s start with something to eat, shall we? As we start our road trip in Monticello, a must-stop lunch spot is the Brown Bag Deli Restaurant. With specials updated online every day at 10 a.m., planning a delicious, meal couldn’t be easier. With meats and cheeses imported from Chicago and New York, the best flavors await newcomers and regulars at Brown Bag. After a bite to eat, downtown Monticello’s robust array of restaurants and shops are worth a lap or two. One shop that will likely stand out is Prairie Fire Glass, a glassworking studio run by local artist Jim Downey. Along with the glass, the shop stocks mixed-media work from local artists — you’ll find everything from greeting cards to paintings, sculpture, and photography. Bring home a gift for a friend, and yourself!
Moving onto another Outside of Ordinary town in our area, Mahomet boasts small town charm with large town opportunities and activities. For the outdoors-y types, a trip to Lake of the Woods is a must. his beautiful preserve occupies almost 900 acres along the corridor of the Sangamon River. Highlighting Lake of the Woods are several well-known attractions: the Museum of the Grand Prairie, Mabery Gelvin Botanical Garden and Lake of the Woods Golf Course. At the latter, play either traditional golf, or foot golf, utilizing a soccer ball and 21-inch diameter holes. After some fun in the sun, head to Mahomet’s Downtown on Main Street, where tons of great shops and local businesses make for a fun shopping trip and delicious meal to refuel. One of the highlights of the area is Yellow & Co., where you’ll find a unique inventory from artisan/crafters (many regional), greeting cards, jewelry, candles, art, decor and more! Check back often, because they update their inventory with new items each week!
Riding on to Rantoul, we have a feeling some of you might know where we’re stopping first…Ott’s Drive In! This traditional diner has a motto attached to their front door sign: “Where Friends Meet.” If you’re coming alone, you’ll likely make friends with the regulars and outside of ordinary staff. With a diner menu, to-die-for onion rings and pancakes, and a million and one reasons to come back again soon. Not that you’ll need convincing after your meal! In Rantoul, there’s another must-visit place we’ll be stopping at on our road trip, and it involves reindeer. Yes, you read that right: reindeer! At Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch, Alaskan Reindeer can be from Fall through Christmas. Reindeer kisses and a 10 acre corn maze are sure to wow. If you’ve done the corn maze before, might we suggest waiting until dark and trying it with a flashlight? Totally different experience!