Explore Champaign-Urbana in Summer
The great outdoors
Even in the "off-season," the University of Illinois anchors Champaign-Urbana, a two-in-one city 150 miles southwest of Chicago. But instead of catching a football game, in summer go for a stroll at the pastoral 57-acre University of Illinois Arboretum, where flower beds form artful geometric patterns. You'll find hundreds of colorful plants in the Miles C Hartley Selections Gardens, a sheltering pergola in the Noel Welcome Garden and traditional tea gardens surrounding Japan House. And check out the Idea Garden, where university scientists working in this living laboratory experiment with its borders, ornamentals and vegetables. See reviews and ratings.
A half-hour west in Monticello, Allerton Park and Retreat Center feels like a long-lost sanctuary amid fields of corn and soybeans. Robert Henry Allerton, an avid art collector, filled the gardens of his estate with more than 100 lovingly placed sculptures. The century-old mansion isn't open for tours, but manicured paths lead to striking European- and Asian-inspired art. See reviews and ratings.
Pictured: You can explore until sunset at the UI Arboretum.