Welcome to Urbana!

Welcome to Urbana!

Maybe you're from Indianapolis, Vincennes, South Bend, Fort Wayne, Evansville, Crown Point and places in between. You've made a rather sudden business trip and you have some time on your hands.

Friends from the Indiana House of Representatives, you've come to the right town. Urbana is indeed a lovely place.

We've compiled, in good humor, a modest list of food and fun.

Often, visitors focus on that other lovely place – on the west side of Wright Street.

But not today.

It's the county seat's turn to shine.

(If readers have any other suggestions, let us know on Twitter (use the hashtag #indydems), on Facebook, or here in the comments section.)

Before heading out, remember Illinois is in the Central time zone.

1. Meet the mayor: You have a lot in common with Laurel Prussing, Urbana's two-term mayor. She's a Democrat and she was an Illinois House member in the 1990s. If she's in a meeting, stop and chat with her chief of staff, Mike Monson. He used to be a News-Gazette reporter and knows Urbana as well as anyone. The City Building is at 400 S. Vine St.

2. Visit the campus: There's more to the University of Illinois than the Assembly Hall and Memorial Stadium (besides, they're in Champaign). Get your photo taken in front of the Alma Mater, with her outspread, welcoming arms. Be sure to include Altgeld Hall in the background. If you time your trip to the noon hour, you'll hear an Altgeld chime concert from 12:50 to 1 p.m. Check out the Illini Union, which is just east of the Alma Mater. The northern portion of the Union was built as a Works Progress Administration project. From the Union's south patio, you'll see the Quad, a classic college setting.

3. Take in a basketball game: And we're not talking about the Illini. The Urbana boys' basketball team is having its best Big 12 season in seven years. Tonight they play Decatur Eisenhower at 7:30 in Oscar Adams Gym. The Tigers' arrow is pointing up. Be sure to give second-year coach Vashoune Russell a pat on the back.

4. Go to the theater: Not the movie theater (there isn't one in Urbana) – the real theater. The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., is truly one of the world's finest. This weekend, you're in luck: "Man of La Mancha," a UI opera production, is being performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Krannert's Tryon Festival Theatre. If opera's not your thing, "Holi: An Indian Festival of Colors" opens at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Krannert's Studio Theatre.

5. Anyone want ribs? You have choices. Hickory River Smokehouse, 1706 N. Cunningham Ave., is known for its ribs and brisket. Black Dog Smoke & Ale House, 201 N. Broadway Ave., is small and very popular. And you already know about Li'l Porgy's Bar-B-Q, 101 W. University Ave.; local reporters say Minority Leader Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, is quite fond of Li'l Porgy's carry-out.

6. Or maybe you prefer Asian: Two fine options are Siam Terrace, 212 W. Main St., and Miko, 407 W. University Ave. If you prefer fine dining, you cannot go wrong with Kennedy's at Stone Creek, 2560 S. Stone Creek Blvd., or Timpone's, 701 S. Goodwin Ave., or Milo's, 2870 S. Philo Road.

7. Get a souvenir: You can't leave town without a memento. You could buy an Illini T-shirt, for example, at Brownfield Sports in Lincoln Square Village. They have both kinds: orange and blue. Or perhaps you want to show off to the folks back home that you're in sync with local humor. See if Wind, Water & Light, also in Lincoln Square, has any "People's Republic of Urbana" T-shirts. If not, they usually stock a number of uniquely Urbana T-shirts.

8. Shopping? While you're in Lincoln Square, you should check out the eclectic merchandise at the Art Mart. It's also a good place if you have a taste for imported cheeses. Downtown Urbana is known for its galleries. If any of you trace your roots to the Emerald Isle, be sure to stop in Heartland Gallery, 112 W. Main St. For a little taste of Europe, Mirabelle Fine Pastry, 124 W. Main St.

9. You're tired of sitting around the hotel: There's jazz and blues at the Iron Post, 120 S. Race St. For those who prefer country, you'll love the Rose Bowl, 106 N. Race St. (It may be the closest Indiana fans ever get to Pasadena.) There are plenty of other places to kick up your heels; check out the e3 calendar in Thursday's News-Gazette. Fair warning: If someone says "Silver Bullet," reconsider. Politicians and strippers have a way of making headlines.

10. Relax, you can see the Hoosiers: Or Purdue or even – gasp – Notre Dame. Two good sports-oriented bars: Bunny's, 119 W. Water St. (if you can find Black Dog Smoke & Ale House, you can find Bunny's), and Po' Boys, 1901 S. High Cross Road. Both serve food and plenty of it.

Dan Corkery, the managing editor of The News-Gazette, has lived – and paid taxes – in Urbana since 1987.

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ducks4you wrote on February 25, 2011 at 9:02 am
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ROFLMAO!!!!!! BEST article yet for the NewsGazette!!!
Didn't know that somebody sold a PROU ("People's Republic of Urbana") t-shirt. Hope the visting Hoosiers enjoy their stay.

Mary Schenk wrote on February 25, 2011 at 9:02 am

Just a couple of my Main Street favorites: 1) The Champaign County Courthouse lit up at night. Bell tower is a sight to behold. 2) Heel to Toe shoe store: comfortable shoes for all ages. What could encourage diplomacy faster?

Dan Corkery wrote on February 25, 2011 at 7:02 pm
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After I had a night to sleep on that story, I remembered many places that I should have mentioned. For example:
-- Great Impasta is probably my favorite restaurant in Urbana.
-- Courier Cafe and Silvercreek are great restaurants for visitors. I like 'em both.
-- Birkenstocks! How could I forget the official shoe of Urbana!
-- I agree, the Champaign County Courthouse is a beauty. And I'm very partial to historic renovations.
-- I've never been to Montana Mike's, but by the looks of its parking lot, the management has found the right restaurant to put in that location.
-- Blockbuster. Hey, rent a movie while you can.
-- Our parks. OK, it's still winter. But going for a walk in Busey Woods or Meadowbrook is a great way to get fresh air, exercise, and work out problems.
-- Lorado Taft's statue of Abraham Lincoln as a circuit-riding attorney. While you're there, Carle Park is the nicest neighborhood park in C-U. This morning, with the newly fallen snow, Carle Park was a postcard.
-- Pray. Urbana is home to just about every imaginable faith and denomination. OK, we lost Chabad to Champaign a few years ago, but we have a mosque, Baha'is, Catholics, Presbys, Lutherans, Baptists, Quakers, the Vineyard, Mennonites, LDS student center, and more.

Hartree wrote on February 25, 2011 at 11:02 am

Send em down to Derald's catering truck outside of Noyes Lab on campus. The Friday lunch special is fish sandwich. Very yummy and affordable!

ronaldo wrote on February 25, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Actually, cowardly politicians who obstruct legal proceedings should be in prison, not Urbana. (well, there's not much difference I guess).

Don't kid yourself, only those of the same demographics as those in Wisconsin/Indiana who support you there, support you in this community. At least you could entertain us by running from place to place to avoid the cameras like your equally-cowardly counterparts in WI are, but nooooooooo........you have to hunker down and pretend like you're working. You aren't kidding anyone except some of the more simple citizens.

Oh, and don't let the door hit you on in the rump the way out.

serf wrote on February 25, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Pay no attention to the local kook, we're not all like that.

welive wrote on February 25, 2011 at 4:02 pm

i agree this is a great piece on downtown Urbana as i do live in downtown thank you for letting everyone know what we have to offer.However i must say could you of maybe used a better picture then the front of the run down Rose Bowl?Maybe of Main ST with a nice looking building.Just my thought please dont remove.

silenceisgolden wrote on February 25, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Why im thrilled folks would visit our area and spend money. Are politicians supposed to run for office or from it ?

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 25, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Good story with great recommendations for the visitor whether political, or not. Hopefully, local establishments can benefit from it. The travelling media are here for the weekend also. Chance for looking our best, or worse. Let's try to look our best to the rest of the nation.