Did someone say pumpkin spice? If you’re like the majority of the United States your ears just perked up and your mouth began watering. Above that however, there are certain feelings and sentiment that are attached when referencing this highly anticipated flavor’s launch. Autumn. You know…that time when the hoodies come out from hiding and the foliage begins changing in a way that you would swear came right from an editorial piece from Outdoor magazine. Although we aren’t quite there yet, there’s still plenty of ways to embrace the upcoming transition and have some fun while you’re at it! Terri has some advice on what to do as we begin rolling into the beauty that is Fall without completely leaving summer behind in Champaign County!
1. “Let’s start with our parks…”
Throughout the county we have over 100 parks to be enjoyed all offering something different. Here at Hessel Park, the Champaign Park District just opened a new playground which is ideal for young kids needing to expend some energy. This is their tallest playground to date, reaching 12 ft. in the air with a ton of climbing opportunities. The park is also accessible for all, with a special merry-go-round, swing and a barrier-less border. Additionally, this park has tennis courts which is a great way for older kids and families to burn off a lot of energy, a volleyball court, areas to play pickleball, and a long path that is perfect for walking. Make a challenge this fall to discover one new park a week and you’ll be sure to get in plenty of exercise!
2. “Did you just say FOOT golf?”
This is one of my favorite new activities that is absolutely perfect for families. Foot Golf is a mixture of soccer and golf. You get a soccer ball and play 9 holes, but instead of clubs and a tee, you just need a solid pair of shoes and a good kick. Both Lake of the Woods and the University of Illinois Golf Course offer Foot Golf. It’s a great, fun way to be active. And in the fall, these courses are beautiful with all the foliage changing.
3. “Trails on Trails on Trails.”
As the foliage starts changing, our trails at our various forest preserves and parks take on a new look. With five preserves in the county, you can easily pick a different trail but I recommend joining an event already in place that makes the hike more interactive. Next week at the Sangamon River Forest Preserve, they’ll be hosting a sunset hike as you search for bobcats and owls. And later in the month, Allerton will host a family campout and exploration with guided exploration with experts from the U of I and a stargazing hike led by the Astronomy Department.
4. “Release some adrenaline with paintball!”
This is one of those activities that flies under the radar but can really get you moving. During paintball, your whole goal is to avoid getting hit, so running and dodging those paint balls really gets your heartrate up! We have several paintball courses in town with Salt Fork Paintball in St. Joe and Firemark Paintball in Dewey. It’s perfect for fall as you want to layer your clothes to protect yourself for the sting of impact.
5. “Who said swimming was just for Summer?”
Just because summer is over doesn’t mean you can’t swim. Swimming is tremendous exercise whether you’re just playing in the water or doing laps. The Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center is a great facility for spending a few hours in the water. They have slides, a zero-depth entry, a diving board and lanes for lap swimming. They also offer swim lessons which is another great way to get kids moving.
6. “Ice, Ice baby…”
Ice skating is one of those activities that not only keeps you moving, but it makes you work on balance! The U of I Ice Arena is a great facility for going with the family. They have evening skates on Wednesdays and Fridays and will have their weekend skates available in October. Skateland in Savoy is also fun for rollerskating and even laser tag. Both those activities keep you on the move while still having fun.
7. “Our geography might be flat, but your activities don’t have to be!”
Finally, we have a fun activity at Urbana Boulders where you can take part in rock climbing. This is a whole body activity that builds strength and coordination as you make your way up their 9-13 ft. walls. They change the courses frequently so you’ll always have something new to experience.