Now that the weather is getting warmer, OLLI members share their favorite local outdoor spots.
Meadowbrook Park, Urbana
|"Minimal Response III" |
by Ed Benavente
at the Wandell Sculpture Garden at Meadowbrook Park, Urbana
Try Meadowbrook Park in Urbana. It's a wonderful walk.
I love to walk outside. My favorite place is Meadowbrook Park in Urbana. The trails are lovely and the sounds and sights are scrumptious. I am always excited to discover a new bloom, broken twig pile, evidence of animals, etc. on my walk. I feel so alive and free when I walk there as opposed to inside. Give me warm, breezy air and away I go. Don't join me because I am selfish about my walks and want to focus only on what I see, feel, smell, taste, and touch. No interruptions, please!
Meadowbrook Park in Urbana.
Meadowbrook Park, close to home.
Bill and I like to talk the paths in Meadowbrook Park because the park is close with great open spaces.
I love Meadowbrook Park. Walking there through the seasons is a visual masterpiece! The added beauty of the sculptures and watching the crops grow in the community gardens and the wildlife are so fulfilling to me. Walk there, you will return!
Janice and Mel Rothbaum
Urbana's Meadowbrook Park is our favorite place for walks when most of our body parts are working. It's especially nice in the early morning when one is likely to see deer and other critters. But for reading or eating we're perfectly content to take the air on the deck in our own back yard.
We love to take our dog for a walk in Meadowbook Park.
Number one on my list is Meadowbrook Park. It's close enough to walk from my home and provides beautiful vistas during all four seasons. Love the sculptures. Makes me happy!
Japan House and gardens on Lincoln Avenue is an ideal spot.
Number two on my list is Japan House and the surrounding grounds, which we re-discovered last year. Years ago when this was a local dog park we visited regularly with our dog. The dogs all enjoyed frolicking and retrieving sticks in the ponds until they were banned from the area. I'm amazed at the transformation now. Lots of visitors enjoy the beautiful gardens and ponds. The many blooming trees make spring a great time to visit.
Busey Woods, Urbana
|Seasonal ponds in |
Busey Woods, Urbana
This 59 acre natural area is a remnant of the Big Grove, the oak and hickory forest that stood in this area when settlers arrived. Just north of Crystal Lake Park, it was rescued by the Urbana Park District from becoming a dumping ground and industrial site in the 1970s. Now you can explore its seasonal ponds, spring wildflowers, birds and wildlife, and deer, from an accessible boardwalk, as well as hiking trails that take you further into the woods. Spring wildflowers are dazzling but fall is magical in Busey Woods. Start your walk at the new Gateway Trial leading from the Anita Purves Nature Center.
Indian Acres Swim Club, Champaign
I like to swim at Indian Acres Swim Club.
I live near Morrissey Park and used to think it was the ugliest park I'd ever seen! But time and the Champaign Park District have transformed it - the trees have grown and there is now a wonderful, winding trail around the perimeter. It's a lovely neighborhood spot for strolling, power walking, or picnicking. There's even a little manmade hill to climb if you want to add something extra to your daily exercise.
Porter Family Park, Champaign
I like to walk my dog in the evenings to the park at Rising Road and Windsor. First we walk around the two ponds watching for the birds (the pup looks for rabbits). There is often a flock of yellow finches along the slough that borders the lakes. Then we go to the Pavilion to watch the sun go down across the farm fields. A very peaceful end to a summer day.
Allerton Park - check to see if the bluebells are blooming.
Allerton Park for a day trip.
Walking the trails at Allerton in good weather.
My favorite spot, and I go out there at least once a month, is Allerton Park. I love the trails and take my dog for a walk. It is magical!
Allerton Park is our favorite nearby hiking place, and we like to
|Bloodroots in Allerton Park (photo by Al Wehrmann)|
take guests there.
I was just tromping through the woods at Allerton Park. The wildflowers are blooming and it promises more in the coming weeks.
Allerton Park, of course, for the daffodils. But beyond there, past hidden garden, is a grove of trees where bluebells spring to life.
From April 15th to the 30th, Lodge Park, Monticello, has THE best display of spring wildflowers.
Lodge Park is the site for the Monticello Freedom Festival fireworks display, which takes place on July 3 each year.
Lodge Park near Monticello has an abundance of every early woodland wildflowers - bluebells, trillium, spring beauties, May apples, jack-in-the-pulpit and more.
We like Lake of the Woods Park for picnics.
Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve has a wonderful hiking/biking trail over 3 miles long. I enjoy an early morning hike throughout the summer. Feel free to join in. Plenty of free parking.
There are many spring walks to enjoy near CU. Wild hyacinth and blue-eyed Marys bloom along the Johnson Hill trail in the Middlefork River Wildlife area.
Moraine View State Recreation Area, Le Roy
The Middle Fork River Forest Preserve has over seven miles of hiking trails ranging from 0.8 to 2.2 miles. The Wildlife Management Area features a viewing platform that allows visitors the opportunity to observe a wetland teeming with life.
Moraine View State Park is another local, wonderful place.
A perfect day trip would be the Landing at Kickapoo, just north of Oakwood. They offer canoes for rent, either on the pond or on the river with hourly "drop-offs," a simple but great restaurant, and if you get tired of canoeing, you can go a mile or two down the road and rent a horse to carry YOU!!
Curtis and Susan Krock
We enjoy going to Homer Lake. There are nice well-maintained hiking trails, beautiful views of the lake, and excellent picnic facilities. It is a short drive East of Urbana on I-74 and makes a good day trip with good bird watching opportunities.
Homer Lake is a pretty tranquil place, even on summer weekends. I find it a nice place to canoe, hike, fish, and do some casual birding. Lots of little-used trails.
Weldon Springs State Park, just a few miles southeast of Clinton, is less than an hour drive and a great getaway. It has a lovely spring-fed lake, a loop hiking trail around the lake with nice variation in terrain, more miles of trail through the woods and surrounding fields, a nice prairie restoration, a museum village with an old farmhouse and schoolhouse, picnic areas and shelters, rowboats and paddleboats for rent on the lake, even a small cafe where you can get a light meal and snacks. You can spend the day or just go for a few hours. There's a good campground if you want to stay longer. And it feels like a world apart from CU.
In 1983 my husband Stan and I bought a piece of property at Lake Sara just northwest of Effingham. Although the cabin was small, it accommodated well over twenty people during family Fourth of July activities. Eventually someone suggested building a tree house that still stands today as a "landmark" on Lake Sara. Over the course of the years, Lake Sara has become less of a weekend get-away and more devoted to year-round housing but it continues to have a public beach, a motel, and rental housing. It is a clean lake, and the fishing is awesome! A new bike path leads from the edge of Effingham to the lake.
For hiking and walking.
Starved Rock Park is about two hours drive north - it is a good place for walking and has food service. (Also over-night lodging for those who would like to stay longer.)
| Watch a video for a two-minute tour of the Wildlife Prairie Park. |
Wildlife Prairie Park, Peoria
My favorite outdoor spot is Wildlife Prairie Park near Peoria. There are nice trails to walk, benches to rest, and a train ride around the park. It's a great place to take children. The wildlife is all native to Illinois. On the other side of the exit is Jubilee Park. Don't forget to stop at the Jubilee Cafe for a piece of pie, and take home some slices, too. There are at least 20 different kinds!
For hiking and walking.
Walking the trails at Turkey Run in good weather.
Pere Marquette State Park, Grafton
Great time at Pere Marquette State Park over by Grafton, Illinois. It overlooks the spot where the Mississippi and Illinois rivers join. Great place to camp or just go there to see the sun set. Best view in the Midwest.
Birding, thanks to Greg Lambeth and his Birding 101 OLLI class! Birding is great anywhere and everywhere - always carry a bird book and binoculars!
Golf! Most of my group's golfing occurs at the University Golf Courses due to convenience, price and availability. We have played at Lake of the Woods in Mahomet, the Gibson City Golf Course, Brookhill in Rantoul and Harrison Park in Danville. My favorite is the last one though each has good points.
There's No Place Like Home
In my yard and garden...all day long!
My own front yard, and back garden, in Urbana --- covered with daffodils, blue flowers on vinca minor, and an old quince bush in full bloom.