Travel Diary: Champaign, Illinois

Friday, October 3, 2014


As I mentioned, Skyla and I headed to Champaign, Illinois for the weekend for Pygmalion Fest (a seven hour drive). The main attraction was American Football and their fifteen year hiatus coming to an end. We also got to see Owen (my favorite of all favorites), Bishop Allen, Into It. Over It., and CHRVES (which I so did not love) and some other great bands. In addition to it being a music festival, there was also comedy, an independent press lit fair (where we got great chapbooks and novels) and a handmade craft/arts fair. It was essentially everything I love in one event.

We used AIRBNB to book a room that was less than ten minutes from the fest/downtown area. I highly recommend this when traveling. It's simple and it's cheap. Our host was wonderfully out of the way, accommodating and even had coffee and granola for us. American Football was the last band of the festival so we had two full days to fill (with the other bands being intermixed). We searched shopping, eating, and sight seeing before we arrived and that proved to be helpful. Thanks, Yelp!

IMG_5635We ate a lot because we were there for three days and when it's 90 degrees and you're sweaty, you eat. Plus I love supporting local establishments. Big Grove was hands down my absolute favorite. The place had the best vibe, beautiful modern aesthetic, and insanely perfect food. They even had a breakfast blend popcorn that came in tiny buckets. How hip is that? Cream and Flutter was a hybrid treat shop and coffee shop that was beautiful inside. Everywhere we went was delicious and wonderful.

Place We Ate / Drank Coffee at:
-Le Peep
-Crane Alley
-Flying Machine Coffee
-Cream and Flutter
-Big Grove Tavern
-Seven Saints

We tried effortlessly to shop. Every single vintage store we found was out of business. Even the thrift stores were a bust. So, naturally, we found a mall and ended up at Forever 21. After almost giving up we found one really cool vintage store that was a mash-up of vintage clothes and housewares. Skyla found so many awesome things and I got a vintage D.A.R.E. pin.

foodThe city of Champaign reminded me of a hybrid of every city I've ever been to, but with the chillness of Akron. It wasn't busy anywhere we went, the driving was super easy and it was a breeze to navigate around. The people here were so kind and it was kind of a shock to us. We have that Akron mentality about us where we don't expect cars to stop at cross walks, people to compliment us, or the servers to genuinely smile, and we're overly suspicious of anyone that does any of these things. But in Champaign, the people were just bursting with a different mentality. Even the crowds at the shows were different. I adore Akron in the way that people tend to adore their hometowns, but damn are the people grumpy. It was a nice little refresher.

The times that weren't filled with food, music, or shopping were spent walking the streets of Champaign. I love walking and exploring places in this way and we happened upon Polyvinyl Records (home to some of the best bands like Owen/American Football). It was also nice to spend the weekend with someone as cool as Skyla. I mean, even her name is great. But really, she is just the sweetest, funniest, and most intelligent girl. She is a wonderful and easy going travel companion which is great because itineraries freak me out.


All photos taken and edited on an iPhone 5s

© Midwest Muse.