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Overview

Twin cities divided by a street, Champaign and Urbana share the University of Illinois and a wealth of cultural attractions, sporting events and diverse cuisine. Urbana was founded first, in 1822 by William Tompkins. Champaign was settled three decades later when railroad tracks were put down 2 miles outside town, connecting the area to the outside world. Originally called West Urbana, the new community was later incorporated as Champaign. The combined cities are often nicknamed Chambana. Opening in 1868, the University of Illinois brought museums, performing arts, different cultures and other benefits to the community. The University is one ...

Twin cities divided by a street, Champaign and Urbana share the University of Illinois and a wealth of cultural attractions, sporting events and diverse cuisine. Urbana was founded first, in 1822 by William Tompkins. Champaign was settled three decades later when railroad tracks were put down 2 miles outside town, connecting the area to the outside world. Originally called West Urbana, the new community was later incorporated as Champaign. The combined cities are often nicknamed Chambana. Opening in 1868, the University of Illinois brought museums, performing arts, different cultures and other benefits to the community. The University is one of the few places that march king John Philip Sousa's music may be studied and understood as he actually intended. About 3,400 titles of published and manuscript music by the "Stars and Strips Forever" bandmaster are housed in the Harding Band Building in a suite of rooms especially designed for the collection. Art critic Roger Ebert is an alumnus of the University of Illinois and an event in his honor, the Roger Ebert Film Festival in April, draws many visitors. A bronze plaque on the sidewalk in front of 410 E. Washington St. notes that this was Ebert's home from his birth in 1942 until 1961. For some hometown music, crafts and food, visit the annual Urbana Sweetcorn Festival which has been going on in August since 1975.

Jackie Finch
About the Expert

Jackie Sheckler Finch has written several guidebooks, including The Unofficial Guide to Campgrounds in the Great Lakes States, and four times she was named Travel Writer of the Year by Midwest Travel Writers Association.

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Jackie Finch for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Last week of April for the Roger Ebert Film Festival or August for the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival