Champaign County Area Road Trip Guide: Monticello, Mahomet, and Rantoul

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 PrairieMabery 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!

We appreciate you coming on these road trips with us! If you have an adventure of your own anywhere in the greater Champaign County area, share photos with us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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