The 2023 Champaign-Urbana Area Holiday Shop Local Guide
Embrace the spirit of the season and make this holiday truly special by supporting local businesses in the Champaign-Urbana area. From unique gifts to delightful treats, the local shops and festive markets in our community offer an astounding array of options to bring joy to your loved ones. Here’s your ultimate guide to shopping local and making this holiday season a memorable one!
SHOP LOCAL GUIDE FOR THE CHAMPAIGN-URBANA AREA
WOMEN OWNED BUSINESSES TO SHOP THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
There are countless women-owned businesses to explore on our website, and a few make great stops as you start to knock out holiday shopping while supporting our local retail spots. To start, Golden Weather Goods is a carefully curated home and lifestyle shop in the heart of downtown Champaign. They sell everything from kitchenware, candles, blankets, pillows, artwork, and anything that’ll evoke a feeling of comfort within your home. Ruby Jewel Antiques in Paxton specializes in vintage furniture and unique treasures you won’t find anywhere else, from rustic cabinetry, glassware, tabletop accessories and much more. For home comforts, decor, toys, games, and everything in-between, a trip to Checkered Moon in Champaign will solve your shopping needs. In If you know someone who is an avid gardener and is interested in all-things-beekeeping, The Hive by Maple Street Garden in Mahomet is a perfect pick. On top of locally-sourced honey (each flavor with its own notes depending on the season), there are plenty of decorative items and products made from beeswax! Whether you’re celebrating a new relationship, giving condolences, or want to give someone the perfect housewarming gift, a bouquet or vase of flowers from A. Hunt Design over at CU Flowerhouse is a classic choice. You can choose from a variety of floral arrangements in-house or you can customize your selection on their website here. Be sure to check out all the wonderful local women-owned businesses by selecting “Woman-owned Shops” in our Shopping Directory!
LOOKS YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY WILL LOVE!
If your list is calling for clothes and accessories, our local boutiques are here to add a personal touch and will level-up the most challenging wardrobes. If you’re shopping for a thrifting enthusiast, you can’t go wrong with Mojo Retro in Savoy. Located inside Captain Jack’s Antiques and Cosignment Store, Mojo Retro offers an eclectic mix of men’s, women’s, and gender-neutral second-hand clothing without sacrificing trends or style—perfect for young adults or the teenagers in your life. Bella Mia Boutique in Champaign celebrates individuality with style, spanning from casual to evening wear and everything in between (they also offer clothes for infants!). Monticello Mercantile is a popular pick for effortless women’s fashion and chic statement pieces for the closet. Aside from clothing, they also sell home decor and many other local goods! Furthermore, you can’t forget the guys in your life—they’ll be happy with something from Joseph Kuhn and Company, the oldest-running business in Champaign and one of the oldest retail stores in the country! Rainbows and Sunshine in Tuscola adds a slew of options to your holiday shopping list for the kiddos, featuring an array of children’s clothing for boys and girls sizes newborn to 16, as well as maternity clothes. Searching for accessories? Pipapo is all about delightful birch jewelry: earrings and pins that take the form of animals to flowers and abstract shapes. Did we mention you can purchase them at our retail space downtown? Lastly, go big for that special someone with fine jewelry from Christopher & Co.; their store is freshly decorated with festive window displays to make shopping fun and fit for anyone who needs a gift for that special someone.
If there’s one thing kids love about the holidays, it’s getting that new toy or game everyone’s talking about. Don't be fooled—anyone can enjoy a good game no matter their age! Whether you want to purchase a board game for the whole family, or you want to surprise your child with something fresh and unique, there are a few local shops ready to help make this holiday successful. If you're buying for someone who is up for a challenge, a puzzle or brain teaser from Dr. G’s Brainworks inside MarketPlace Mall is a great place to find something as fun as it is mind-melting. Yellow and Co. in Mahomet may be a boutique, but it also offers games, puzzles, and coloring books for both adults and children. While we're on the topic of gaming, you likely know someone itching for the latest board game, Pokémon cards, or Magic: The Gathering booster box. If so, Rad Lad Games in Mahomet is a place you'll need to visit! Gopher Mafia Games and Enchantment Alley, both in Urbana, are also great choices to buy the latest collectibles, board games, accessories, and other gaming needs. A sure-fire gift-giving favorite is Art Mart, ready to bring a smile to your kids’ faces with unique toys, puzzles, games, and fun activities for all ages. If you want an activity for older kids, grab a gift card to an area escape room like Brainstorm Escapes or CU Adventures in Time & Space to give them a real challenge!
GIVE THE GIFT OF A COZY, COMFY HOME!
There’s no greater feeling than adding that perfect statement piece, furniture, or decoration to your home or apartment. If you know someone who loves their home as much as you do, be sure to consider one of the Champaign-Urbana area home stores. St. Joseph’s Country Chics is a wonderful place to find rustic home décor and home accents, with favorites from Mudpie and more! For homemade bath and body products, make a trip to the Arthur General Store for bath bombs, lotions, and many other items from local makers. While you’re out there, Yoder’s Homestead Shop in Arcola, Illinois, offers beautifully-crafted rustic Amish furniture in walnut, oak, quarter-sawn, cherry, hickory and maple.
There’s plenty of other things that might make a great housewarming gift for recent college grads, or newly moved friends and family. DIGS in Champaign is more than an antique store—they boast a gorgeous collection of vintage home decor, furniture, draperies, art, and comfy finds that’ll put a smile on anyone's face as they unwrap their gift. For fans of mid-century décor and other retro home furnishings, Furniture Lounge is a great place to find a new chair, table, or piece from their collection of art and decorative items for the home. Hoping to help a friend or family member decorate this season? Purchase thoughtful, decorative signage and home decor from Downtown Design Studio in Tuscola—you can even partake in DIY Workshops to add that personal touch to any home. Catherine’s Gallery in Sullivan is also a hotspot for boutique shopping, home furnishings and accessories, and custom framing. Lastly, we can’t forget about the plant parents in your life: Plant Mode in downtown Champaign rotates their items frequently and provides a wide-variety of plants, succulents, and exotic finds you can’t get anywhere else. Planted is also a great choice, as you can find seasonal plants as well as decorative items for your home— inside and outside.
READ ALL ABOUT IT!
It’s tough to beat a great read during the winter months, so why not take advantage of some of the great booksellers we have in the Champaign-Urbana area? Three stories of adventures and timeless classics exist at the Jane Addams Book Shop. A gem in the downtown Champaign shopping scene, Jane Addams offers amazing assortments of used books, magazines, and more across all genres of reading. Who knows: you may come across some novelties that are more than 100 years old! In Monticello, Hartfield Book Company is specially curated to carry new books, unique, high-quality, book-related products and gifts, and a sure-fire way to please the bookworm in your life this holiday season. For vintage lovers and the philanthropic, Orphans Treasure Box doesn’t just stock some amazing secondhand finds, but also provides all proceeds to vulnerable kids and families in our area. If you have a friend who can’t stop watching Marvel movies in anticipation of the next wave of superhero epics, be sure to gift them something from Dark Tower Comics to hold them over! Don’t worry DC and Image Comic fans—they’ve got you covered too, plus lots of indies and one-offs worth checking out! Lastly, The Literary is a crowd-favorite in the heart of downtown Champaign, and is a great place to find books and enjoy a bite to eat, a glass of wine, or a latte to refuel for more holiday shopping!
HOLIDAY MUST-HAVES FOR ACTIVE FRIENDS AND FAMILY!
No matter if someone is looking to get fit or has been active for years, fresh gear from a local Champaign-Urbana retailer or specialty shop is a guaranteed winner. BikeLab on campus is perfect for those who love to bike or might want to start riding into the new year. If they’re looking to stay on foot, Body N’ Sole is a favorite of Christie Clinic Illinois Race Weekend runners for a reason—they sell clothing, socks, shoes, and more to get them ready for their next race. Let’s face it; running or biking in this weather is a bit rough between snow and cold temperatures, so make sure to give the gift of protection from the elements with a purchase from Rugged Outdoors. How about the gift of staying active indoors? A great option is a gift card to Urbana Boulders—the only climbing facility in Champaign County—no matter if they’re new to climbing or not. Plus, you can always grab a gift card or punch pass to facilities offered through the Champaign Park District and Urbana Park District! Dick’s House of Sport, one of 7 facilities in the entire country, is a sports and athletics-lover’s dream. On top of apparel and sports gear, you can try your hand at rock-climbing (yes, rock climbing), bat at the batter’s cage, test out golf clubs at the Performer’s Range, and much more.
GIVE THE GIFT OF LOCAL FLAVOR!
Truly—the gift that keeps on giving is our robust food scene. As the proud title of Midwest Living’s Greatest Midwest Food Town, a free, gifted meal at one of our incredible local establishments in the Champaign-Urbana area is sure to win over any friend, family member, or loved one. Gift certificates are also offered at many local restaurants and make wonderful presents for locals and out-of-towners planning to visit!
Between food, drink, and desserts, you have a wide variety of options when gifting local flavor. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, a leader in the local food scene, sells their award-winning goat cheeses as well as their gelato. They’ll also have other food options like their homemade jam, and local options from other area farmers. Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery also took home three medals from this year’s American Cheese Society 2023 nationwide cheese competition: The creamery’s moonglo, a goat milk semi-hard cheese, won second place in the Farmstead Cheese category, and Prairie Fruits Farm’s feta and chevre both won third place! There’s a lot to love about our local makers, including the Center for Honeybee Research’s international choice for the World’s Best Honey at Curtis Orchard & Pumpkin Patch! Their shop is still open with great gift items and delicious treats such as apple doughnuts, apple fritters, and their coveted apple slushies. Okaw Valley Orchard in Sullivan houses some of the freshest fruit, apple cider, jams, jellies, baked goods and more–-a fine pick if you’re seeking a taste of what Amish Country has to offer. If you’re looking to buy a treat that’s representative of our area, and can stay fresh no matter the distance, Mom and Pop’s Kettle Corn Shop in Paxton is a community favorite. From fresh-made kettle corn flavors like Lemon Delight and Snickerdoodle, be sure to purchase a couple bags for yourself as they will run out fast! CBPB Popcorn is a great fit, and is also a proud Illinois Made Recipient. Arguably the best local specialty sweets and gourmet popcorn establishment in Central Illinois, you can choose from a variety of popcorn as well as caramel apples!
Being surrounded by corn is quite the advantage, as we have some of the best local breweries in the Midwest. There is a porter, stout, or ale for everyone, and each location offers packaged beer to gift and give this holiday season! The award-winning Triptych Brewing offers their delicious brews in a can that you can purchase online and pick up at their location in Savoy. For the wine drinkers, you can’t go wrong with a stop at Alto Vineyards. Following their first vintage in 1988, Alto Vineyards has over 22 premier wines that have amassed over 1000 Statem National, and International awards. Likewise, Ladro Enoteca, Sun Singer and Art Mart have incredible lineups of the world's best wines to pick-up in-store and send off to friends and family. For a fun, bubbly beverage that's alcohol-free, stop by Lincoln Square Mall and try locally-made Kombucha from Cloud Mountain Kombucha! They also recently won a silver medal for their carrot turmeric kombucha at the 2023 Kombucha cup this year.
If you’re looking for delectable sweets, Flesor’s Candy Kitchen over in Tuscola is beloved as it is delicious. Their chocolate recipes were passed down from generation-to-generation, with their chocolate truffles and old-fashioned soda fountains being a menu-favorite.
Lastly, our downtown Champaign establishments are something to brag about: Mouth-watering burgers at Smith Burger Co and The Space, award-winning barbeque at Black Dog Ale and Smokehouse, artisanal coffee at Page Roasting Company, authentic Laos and Thai cuisine at Sticky Rice, Perfectly-seasoned Ox-tail at the only Zambian restaurant in the country at Stango Cuisine, soul food at Neil Street Blues: your options for gifting food are endless. You can explore all the different local restaurants you can support this holiday season here.
Are you a lover of Asian cuisine and not sure where to start? Discover flavors from China, Japan, Laos, Vietnam, India, the Philippines, and more from over 70+ locally owned restaurants through our CU in Asia Food Trail! This free passport will reward you for visiting some hidden gems, and is the perfect gift to experience with a friend or loved one over the holiday season.
SHOW LOCAL PRIDE, SHOP CHAMBANA PROUD
We all have community pride, so for that Chambana native on your gift list, our retail space is a must-visit! We have t-shirts, tote bags, hats, sweatshirts, stickers, and all of our t-shirts are designed by local artists: From our whipped cream in a can shirts, CU Pride, the inventions of the modern web browser, super sweet corn, and a general love of CU—we've got a t-shirt designed for everyone. We’re proud to house items from locally-owned makers, such as artisan soaps from The Wright Soapery, mugs and dishes by Piper Pottery, and wooden birch jewelry from Pipapo! All of these wares can be found at our office in downtown Champaign, or you can purchase them online at chambanaproud.com.
SUPPORT LOCAL ART!
We belong to a wonderfully-creative, art-forward community here in the greater Champaign-Urbana area, and art also happens to make a wonderful gift—whether you’re the sentimental type, a lover of nature, or anything in between! If you want to help someone add a feature piece to their home, Cinema Gallery, in the historic Princess Theatre in downtown Urbana, is the area’s largest fine art gallery. Over 70 professional artists around the Midwest showcase their work here, which gives you a lot to choose from to find that perfect gift, maybe even for yourself! Just down the block, The Gilbert Gallery, represents nearly 40 local artists, from jewelry to sculpture and everything in between. Bohemia in Urbana may be a boutique, but it's also home to the works of over 20 local artists, spanning from paintings, jewelry, and metal-work. Broken Oak Gallery in White Heath offers a wealth of artist’s treasures featuring photography, acrylic paintings, and works from local and out of state artists. In Tuscola, a trip to The Vault Art Gallery is sure to net you a few holiday gifts. Across 12,000 square feet of space, you can shop the works of more than 60+ Central Illinois artists. Last but not least, consider something a bit more delicate from some glassmakers in our area! Award-winning Prairie Fire Glass Studios in Monticello creates meaningful glasswork from garden ornaments, jewelry, bowls, glasses, and even glass memorials with ashes to commemorate a loved one. Have a creative in your life? Get them supplies or a gift card to one of the few independently-owned art stores in the country—Art Coop, a queer and women-owned business in Lincoln Square Mall.
MUSIC TO OUR EARS!
It’s only fair to say we have a number of ways to make the music lovers in your life happy this holiday season. For the rock stars in your life, Corson Music is the place to be for percussionists and drummers, and has been a staple in our community since 1999. Guitarists can pick up new amps, music, and vintage guitars at The Upper Bout to help them go from the practice room to the big stage! Voted “Best Record Store” in Champaign-Urbana, Exile on Main St. has a massive selection of LPs and turntables for seasoned vinyl fans and See You CD & Vinyl offers great options for new and old ways of listening! Another great option is Record Swap located in Lincoln Square Mall. Originally opened in 1979, this stop is great for deep cuts and favorite hits from decades past.
LIVE MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT FOR ALL
If you want to give the gift of a live show, you’re in luck. We have an incredible music scene with local, regional, national, and even worldwide talent making its way in the Champaign-Urbana area. The Rose Bowl Tavern in downtown Urbana satisfies all of our music needs with live entertainment 364 days out of the year. The Cadillac in Paxton is a recently renovated massive music venue that hosts a large number of musical events, including the recent winner of The Voice and Paxton native, Gina Miles! The Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign is large enough to attract big names, yet intimate enough to feel the concert is meant for you. Krannert Center of the performing Arts has provided our community with symphonies, international musicians, jazz, opera, pop, and everything in between for over 50 years. Lastly, national and worldwide acts will find a home no better than State Farm Center. For more options on live music venues, check out our Music & Entertainment page on our website!
LOYAL TO ORANGE AND BLUE!
With a number of diehard Illini fans likely on your list, don’t overlook the easy win waiting for you with a U of I-centric gift! You can’t go wrong with the Illini Union Bookstore, stocked full of everything orange and blue. Another fantastic option for your Illini spirit is GameDay Spirit, featuring official Illini wear for every season, occasion, and day of the week! With locations in Campustown and on Neil St., you can easily grab the gifts you need or a gift card to allow your recipient the freedom to pick something to their style and liking.
GIFT AN EXPERIENCE!
Experience gifts are a wonderful alternative to your holiday lists, as they provide memories that’ll last a lifetime. Immerse yourself in the art of cuisine by parkaking in a culinary class at Grovestone Gourmet Foods & Gifts. Each class teaches useful techniques and food preparation along with providing a tasting of each dish prepared. They’ll also provide wine tastings with selected dishes! Try your hand at candle-making at Champaign-Urbana’s premier artisan chandlery, Fire Doll Studios, where you can create your own soy wax container candle with your own custom scent! CU Adventures in Time and Space is also a great way to bond with your loved-ones by tackling puzzles and challenges in a themed-escape room. For those who enjoy live entertainment, take your loved one to a live theatrical performance at the Little Theatre on the Square in Sullivan, where you can discover Broadway-quality entertainment right in the heart of the Midwest. Krannert Center for the Performing Arts also brings in big-named talent for musical, vocal, and dance performances of all mediums alongside performances from the talented University of Illinois students and faculty. If you have any animal lovers in your circle, tickets to Aikman Wildlife Adventure in Arcola will make a perfect gift! As the only drive-thru zoo in the state of Illinois, you can get up close and personal to kangaroos, camels, hyenas, zebras, and many more critters. Ever kissed a real Alaskan reindeer before? Partake in the reindeer tour over at Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch in Rantoul and surround yourself with these magical animals of the north. This unique destination attracts visitors from all over the world and is well-worth the visit. Lastly, you can always take your loved one out to downtown Champaign for a dining experience they’ll never forget. With over 40-plus locally owned restaurants, there’s something for any appetite!
SHOP LOCAL MAKER MARKETS!
We have a handful of maker markets to explore for your holiday shopping needs. You can check out the following pop-up style markets:
Riggs Christmas Market: November 24 - December 17 (weekends only)
The First Mistletoe Market (Champaign): November 25
Fab Lab Holiday Maker Market: November 25 - 26
Allerton Holiday Showcase: December 1-3
The Second Mistletoe Market (Urbana): December 1-2
PostMark December: December 2
The Mistletoe Market (Champaign): December 17
RECOGNIZE EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE THIS SEASON
If you're out shopping and an employee or associate makes the process enjoyable and easy, be sure to nominate them for our Cream of the Crop award! The Champaign-Urbana area is known for its Midwest hospitality, and we want to recognize those in this community that are exemplary in customer service! The holidays are always difficult for retail and service workers, as they work odd hours and long shifts to ensure we are all taken care of. Give them the kudos they deserve by nominating them as Cream of the Crop for a social media shoutout and special thanks.
SHOPPING MADE EASY IN THE CHAMPAIGN-URBANA AREA
The options are endless for shopping in the Champaign-Urbana area! Our local businesses appreciate your support more than ever. Putting dollars into a small business means directly supporting the local economy as well as our neighbors, friends, and family who own businesses in Champaign-Urbana and beyond. See all local places to shop and plan your stops today!