Champaign-Urbana: The Middle of Everywhere

map of champaign-urbana

The twin cities of Champaign and Urbana are a diverse and thriving community of 100,000 located in east central Illinois, just two hours from Chicago and Indianapolis, and three hours from St. Louis. The campus and surrounding communities constitute a vibrant university community rich in the social, cultural, and recreational resources typical of much larger metropolitan areas.

Champaign-Urbana and the University provide residents with the best quality of life available in midsize Midwestern cities, including multiple health care centers and providers, nationally recognized public schools, park districts, and mass transit; and ample affordable housing and a moderate cost of living.

Cultural Life

Each year, for example, the critically acclaimed Krannert Center for the Performing Arts attracts dozens of nationally and internationally renowned artists to the campus. More than 350 performances of theater, music, and dance are held in the center's four theaters, including major symphony orchestras, classical and modern dance, opera, jazz, world music, and family entertainment.

wide view of krannert's outside

The University also supports two excellent museums: the Krannert Art Museum, second only to the Art Institute of Chicago among Illinois public museums in size and value of its collections, and the Spurlock Museum of world history and culture. The William M. Staerkel Planetarium, located in Champaign, is the second-largest in Illinois.

stage inside of krannert

A number of notable performances are held in CU every year. Recent performers include: Creed, Jessica Simpson, Nelly, Janet Jackson, Natalie Merchant, Third Day, MTV Campus Invasion, Ben Folds, N'Sync, Sesame Street Live, Ragtime, Rent, David Copperfield, the Harlem Globetrotters, and John Hancock Champions on Ice: Olympic Tour 2002. Roger Ebert, the noted Chicago film critic and a Illinois alum, also hosts his annual "Overlooked Film Festival" here.

For sports enthusiasts, there is no shortage of events: the University has numerous teams, including Big Ten football. Additionally, during the 2002 football season, as Soldier Field undergoes renovation, the Chicago Bears will be playing their home games in the University's world-class Memorial Stadium, which seats 70,904 people.

The CU metro area also supports two malls and a number of shopping centers; there are several movie theaters, bowling alleys, golf courses, and pool halls.


biaggis restaurant tables

Champaign-Urbana is a city of many diverse options, with over 320 restaurants, cafes, and coffeehouses to satisify every palate. Take your choice: there are American, Australian, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Indian, Japanese, Jewish/Kosher, Korean, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Swiss, Thai, Vietnamese, and vegetarian/vegan places, among others. There's fast food, health food, and gourmet restaurants; there are dozens of pizza places, innumerable bars, clubs, and pubs, and a coffeehouse on every corner. Many of these restaurants are within easy walking distance from the campus. Some local restaurants are listed in the Visitor's Guide to Champaign County.

Every Friday night, graduate students in the department gather for a so-called "Happy Hour" at The Bread Company, an affordable Swiss restaurant serving fondues, raclettes, sandwiches, pizza, pastas, soups, entrees, and an extensive wine list. It's a great opportunity to socialize with your fellow philosophy grad students, and spouses and significant others are welcomed!

Recreational Facilities

picture of fitness class

Six recreational facilities, including the Intramural Physical Education Building, one of the largest complexes of its kind on any university campus, serve the athletic interests of students and staff.

The Division of Campus Recreation sponsors more than 60 individual and team sports. A member of the Big Ten Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the University supports nine men's and nine women's sports, including football, basketball, and volleyball. The campus is also a leader in providing athletic and other opportunities for the physically challenged.

Facilities include:

  • playing fields and gyms
  • ice arena
  • basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts
  • squash and racquetball courts
  • swimming pools
  • indoor running tracks
  • weight rooms
  • outdoor center
  • in-line skating pad
  • billiards
  • bowling lanes
  • arcade

Programs include:

  • group exercise
  • strength and conditioning classes
  • intramural sports
  • ice skating
  • outdoor trips
  • clinics and equipment rentals
  • special events
  • aquatics
  • sports clubs

The following information is offered in anticipation of some of the questions you may have about our department. If you have other question, please let us know.

Moving to C-U

Moving to a new city can be stressful for anyone. To make your transition easier, we have collected a list of resources and information for incoming students. If you have a specific question not addressed here, please contact our office; they may be able to point you in the right direction.


In addition to university-run graduate dorms and apartments, Champaign-Urbana has numerous landlords and affordable housing options. The Daily Illini maintains an apartment guide for campus landlords and sublets. Listings for the entire Champaign-Urbana area can be found in the News-Gazette, which also maintains an apartment guide.

The Tenant Union at the University of Illinois is available to review all leases, and also maintains a listing of complaints about local landlords.


A variety of local, regional, and national transportation is available from Champaign-Urbana; the city is readily accessible by car, plane, train, or bus. A number of US and state highways serve the motorist. Willard Airport is five miles south of Champaign, just off US-45; American Eagle, American Connection, and Northwest Airlink airlines link the community to five major hubs where passengers can make connections to more than 500 destinations worldwide. Amtrak provides daily rail passenger service to and from Chicago and points from Milwaukee to New Orleans, from Kansas City to Toronto. Greyhound, Trailways, Suburban Express, and Illini Swallow provide national and regional bus service.

Extensive local service throughout the Champaign-Urbana area is provided by MTD, CU's nationally-recognized bus system; it is free for all University faculty, staff, and students. Various charter buses, shuttle, and taxi services are also available.

For more information, visit the Champaign-Urbana Transportation Page. The City of Champaign maintains a listing, as does the University.


There are numerous churches in the area, and several synagogues, mosques, and temples. Check the yellow pages for listings.