Illinois Itinerary: Cultivating Culture: Arts & Agriculture
The Itinerary at a Glance
Known for arts and agriculture, Champaign County is home to the finest performance venues in the Midwest while its agriculture is the source for delectable dining you can’t experience any place else. This two-day experience offers fresh farm-grown food, entertainment and a behind-the-scenes look at world-class performance venues.
3 Unique Experience on This Trip
- Krannert Art Museum
- Japan House
- Spurlock Museum
Duration: 2 Days
This Itinerary is Ideal For: All
Start your foodie experience with a homegrown lunch at Willow Creek Farms, which sources the popular farm-to-table restaurant V. Picasso in Champaign. The farm features a stunning event space where you’ll enjoy their fresh ingredients. After lunch, head to the small town of Homer, where you’ll find the Homer Soda Company. You’ll become nostalgic for the old days when you sample from over 250 flavors of glass bottled soda, including their own creation, Homer Soda Maple Root Beer.
The next part of the tour will take you to the second-largest fine arts museum in Illinois—Krannert Art Museum with over 10,000 works of art representing cultures from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Before dinner, you’ll enjoy a wine tasting at Alto Winery and Vineyards, which has won over two dozen awards for their wines.
End the evening at the European-inspired Allerton Park and Retreat Center. Built as a private residence in 1900, today Allerton Park and Retreat Center is a historical treasure owned by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Befitting a splendid Georgian manor house, the formal gardens feature extensive plantings and over 100 ornaments and sculptures for your group to discover. Enjoy a delicious group dinner in the mansion and see why it’s listed in the National Register of Historic Places and named one of the American Institute of Architects’ 150 Great Places in Illinois.
Begin the day with fascinating, behind-the-scenes tour of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, the largest performing arts center on a university campus with over 300 performances a year. This guided tour will take you through each level of the center and will provide an in-depth look at the history of the building and the many aspects of production that occur there each day. Venture down to Krannert’s production levels, where you will see the props and costumes used in performances all over the world and learn about the details on the acoustical properties of Foellinger Great Hall.
You’ll return to nature at the University of Illinois Pollinatarium, the first free-standing service science center in the nation devoted to flowering plants and their pollinators. Reconnect with nature as your group discovers everything there is to know about pollinators. Groups can explore beekeeping equipment, enjoy live demonstrations and play interactive games as they learn how pollination impacts our ecosystem.
Combine authentic Italian wood-fired pizza with a guided painting class at Pizza Antica in downtown Champaign. Attendees will learn the basics of painting on canvas as they create their own masterpiece. Hosted by Lola’s Brush, this fun and interactive class can be enjoyed by those of all ages.
Walk it off at Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, where you’ll learn about the first farmstead cheese-making facility in Illinois. This goat dairy will take you behind the scenes to meet the friendly and adorable goats who produce award-winning cheese and the only goat-milk gelato in the country.
Wrap up your experience with an abundance of culture. Immerse yourself in Japanese culture at the University of Illinois’ Japan House. Discover the way of tea through a traditional Tea Ceremony, the time-honored art of Chado. Codified almost 400 years ago by Sen Rikyu, the greatest tea master, the four spirits of tea signify the highest ideals of the Way of Tea: harmony, respect, purity and tranquility. Its core elements involve the acts of serving and receiving a bowl of tea with the utmost sincerity, appreciation and attentiveness while bearing an attitude of single-mindedness and a keen awareness.
You’ll end the tour at the Spurlock Museum, which celebrates the people and places of our world. With approximately 45,000 objects covering six continents and one million years of human cultural history, the Spurlock Museum celebrates our shared humanity by collecting, preserving, documenting, exhibiting and studying objects of cultural heritage. Enjoy a guided tour through their collections, and let their knowledgeable staff interpret the diversity of cultures throughout time and across the globe.