Six September Day Trips in Champaign County
September marks the end of summer, so a full vacation might be out of the picture. Luckily, there are a ton of day trip possibilities in the greater Champaign County area! Whether you’re full-on ready for the fall season or simply looking for a way to break the normal routine, here are some day trip ideas for the month!
Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch
Every year as fall starts to move into our area, a lot of great seasonal attractions open and debut new features and activities. A favorite for many is the 10-acre corn maze at Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch. Every year, the corn maze is designed in the shape of a seasonal scene, major event, or fun theme. This year’s corn maze is called Under the Sea and features a nautical theme with dolphins and more! Take the corn maze on while you’re visiting the farm for the day. If you lose track of time greeting the reindeer, don’t worry about the dark! People love taking on the corn maze with flashlights, making for an extra bit of difficulty!
Allerton and Monticello main street
Over in Monticello, an entire day of fun is easy to plan. Start off with a morning hike around Allerton Park and Retreat Center. They open at 8 a.m. and feature so many incredible formal gardens and spaces to explore. Once you've worked up an appetite, head to Monticello Main Street for brunch at Bergie's Place or a meal at the Brown Bag Deli. Then, explore and shop around the local stores in the Square. Find a read or Hartfield Book Co. or explore the incredible works at Prairie Fire Glass.
Mahomet/Lake of the Woods
If you’re a foodie or an outdoor enthusiast, a September day spent in Mahomet is a fantastic trip to take. At Lake of the Woods, there is so much to do you might not even end up leaving the preserve! Over 900 acres running across the Sangamon River corridor make for an amazing day of hiking, fishing, and playing outdoors in one of the most scenic areas of Champaign County. Find yourself running on fumes or needing a reprieve from the great outdoors? Take a trip over to the Project 47 Smokehouse. The expansive beer menu, as well as flatbreads, shareable, and of course, smoked meats, make it an amazing meal you’ll want to return for the next day. Planning your Mahomet day trip on a Saturday or Sunday? Start your day here for an out of this world brunch!
In terms of scenic and historic, it doesn’t get much sweeter than Downtown Tuscola. Sweet being the keyword that leads you to a great start for the day at Flesor’s Candy Kitchen! With lunch options as well as a ton of sweet treats to try, this is a must-stop in downtown Tuscola. From there, walk around and enjoy the scenic downtown district, full of great businesses and adorable outdoor décor. Make an effort to stop by The Vault Art Gallery, a two-story, 12,000 square foot display of local arts of every sort. Shop and take something home with you to make your day in downtown Tuscola one you’ll never forget!
KICKAPOO RAIL TRAIL AND ST. JOSEPH
A wonderful way to embrace the outdoors and local favorites all in one amazing September day is a trip on the Kickapoo Rail Trail and surrounding St. Joseph favorites! With almost 25 miles spanning from east Urbana to just outside Danville, the Kickapoo trail in September makes for an incredible fall ride as you can feel cooler weather working its way into the greater Champaign County area. As you near the trail’s run by St. Joseph, you can make a day out of some amazing places to visit. Geschenk’s Boutique and Coffee and Tea Haus is all of fall’s favorite things in one, including seasonal kitchenware, a kid’s corner with games and activities, and a full-service espresso bar and kitchen for eats and something delicious to sip on. After a long day of riding, you might also want to take advantage of some great food in the area, which means visiting the Wheelhouse. With farm-fresh local eats, a fantastic menu, and occasional live acts and trivia nights, The Wheelhouse is always the place to go for great food and fun. Ride back as the sun sets and enjoy reflecting on your perfect day on the trail and in St. Joe all the way home.
Middle Fork River Forest Preserve
Middle Fork River Forest Preserve is not only an incredible stretch of land spanning over 1,700 acres. It’s also Illinois’ only International Dark Sky Park! For this reason, it’s a perfect place to spend a day, afternoon, and evening. 5 diverse trails allow you time and space to hike during the day, all of which add up to around 7 miles. You can also swim and fish in the river, making it perfect for a relaxing September day before temperatures get too cool. Stick around at night, and you’ll understand why the park has an International Dark Sky designation. This makes the park officially noted for its lack of light pollution, allowing for clear sights of the stars and sky. From dawn to dusk, and into the darkest evenings Illinois has to offer, Middle Fork River Forest Preserve makes for an amazing day trip.
Taking a day trip to the greater Champaign County area soon? Make it a whole weekend with a stay in our Outside of Ordinary community. For a full list of events, check out our events calendar, and make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.