While I love in down here in Champaign, I do miss my friends up North like crazy. And I try to make it back to Chicago when I can, like this coming weekend for instance, but I've been down here nearly a year, and have had quite the lack of visitors thus far.
Thanks a lot, jerks! Just kidding, but for reals, I know you're all busy with work, school and the like, but if you have some free time, even a day or two, I would love to see you.
Now that I'm off campus I have some more room to spread my legs, and even a spare bedroom for you. So, if my beautiful face and the promise of indoor plumbing aren't enough to convince you, I've compiled a list of reasons for you to get your ass down here. And the sooner the better - August and September are two happenin' months down here in CU...
1. Festivals continue beyond Labor Day!
First of all, we have the Urbana Sweet Corn Festival coming up the weekend before Labor Day. I have never been, but based on my experience at the Blues, Brews and BBQ earlier this summer, any outdoor festival in Urbana promises a good time.
September is packed with more food, music and fun, all over town(s). The Pygmalion Music Fest (September 16-19) brings bands from all over to perform at our plethora of awesome venues. Iron and Wine is the big headliner, but some of my picks include Ra Ra Riot, Headlights, Owen, Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, Joe Pug, the Horse's Ha, New Ruins and Common Loon. But check out the site for yourself and I'm sure you'll find something that interests you. Passes for the whole weekend can be purchased as well as individual show tickets. And better yet, some shows are free!
Also happening that weekend is the Urbana International Beer Tasting and Chili Cook-Off. Nothing could polish off a weekend better than beer and chili.
2. Speaking of Chili...
Once again this fall I will be cooking up large batches of my own famous chili. Using ground beef from the campus meat lab and locally grown produce from the farmer's market, I make two batches every other weekend or so (one hot and one mild) to coincide with football, of course. September 5 is the first Saturday of college football and both Illinois and Notre Dame will be nationally televised. So take the weekend off and come eat some chili and drink some beer. (I might even be DIYing that this time too...)
3. Saturdays when I'm not cooking Chili...
Chances are I will be AT the Illini home games, or at least tail-gating it up. I didn't get a chance to go to any games last year, so I'll have to make up for it this year. And the team looks better than they did last year. So, be sure to let me know in advance - I'll get some tickets (much more affordable than even a Cubs game) and we can make a day of it. Or, if the fall doesn't look good for you, we can always catch a basketball game in the winter.
4. Free Donuts!
And other baked goods. Working at the bakery not only pays my bills, it satisfies my sweet tooth, and yours.
We're located within an hour drive of Atlanta, Paris and Jamaica. No joke, look at a map!
6. Bars out here for miles.
Like most college campuses, U of I has plenty-o-bars within stumbling distance of the quad. But, beyond campus there is a whole slew of high-class pubs, biker bars and local dives that are sure to match your taste, and budget. From Jupiter's 2 where you can shoot pool, play arcade games, and enjoy some of the best pizza in town (while playing the ponies in the OTB, of course), to the Iron Post where you can enjoy $1 or $2 PBR pints most nights, the nightlife options in the CU are virtually endless. Outside of nearly every city in Wisconsin, I'm pretty sure we have the most bars per capita in the midwest. Plus, for my underage friends, 19 gets you into most Champaign bars, and it's only 18 in Urbana.
7. If you don't drink, you still have to eat.
While Wisconsin may have us beat drinking-wise, Champaign-Urbana boasts the most franchise restaurants per capita in the U.S. But please, you can get a Big Mac or some Panda Express anywhere. Good news is that we also have about the same amount of independent eateries as we do fast food joints. Merry Ann's diner (a 24-hour old school Denny's-like joint) has two locations and serves breakfast all day and night. Crane Alley has some of the best sandwiches you'll ever try (not to mention over 200 bottled beers!) and Seven Saints has to-die-for gourmet sliders.
Almost every downtown (Champaign or Urbana - yeah, we have TWO downtowns) dining spot has outdoor seating, which is great in late summer-early fall.
Pizza-wise, we have great thin crust at a handful of bars, and Papa Del's makes deep dish that rivals the best of Chicago.
Vegans, vegetarians and picky eaters? No worries. Plenty of options for all y'all.
I could eat out every night of the year (if I had the money) and excite my taste buds in a new way with each meal. The CU is full of great places to get your eat on.
8. Plenty o' Fish.
School be starting soon, and that means (in my roommate Jim's words) "fresh meat!"
There are 40,000 students here, all crammed into a roughly five square mile radius. Guy or girl, straight, gay or otherwise, at the VERY LEAST, you'll have eye candy like you wouldn't believe.
9. Meet the pups!
We have three crazy dogs waiting to lick your face and hump your leg.
But seriously, they're a lot of fun and just so cute.
10. Because you miss me...
...and I miss you.