Champaign to Erie Road Trip Guide


Champaign is a medium-sized, architecturally attractive city in north-east Illinois. It's a city with a pleasant downtown area where there are lots of small side streets lined with sidewalk cafes that lend it a certain Mediterranean air in the warmer months of the year. Downtown, along with the distinctive art-deco City Building and the plush renaissance-style Virginia theater, are Champaign's main attractions. The city has few museums, but the Krannert Art Museum, and the Champaign County Historical Museum are worth taking a look at. So too is the Orpheum Children's Science Museum if you're living there or are visiting with youngsters.

Champaign only covers around twenty-three square miles of the state of Illinois, but a fair percentage of its urbanization has been designated to public green spaces. With over sixty park areas totaling over six hundred acres, there are plenty of places to go to participate in terrestrial outdoor recreational activities like walking, jogging, or cycling. With less than a half of one percent of the city's total area covered in water, it does mean there's not a lot of space for enjoying aquatic-related sports unless you head to the Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve near Mahomet to the north-west of the city.

If you want to spend more time by the water and have a couple of days free, pack up your rig, van or trailer, and motor east out of Champaign on the I 74. On a weekend RV road trip from Champaign to Erie in Pennsylvania, you can forget about life in a dry city for a while. Go boating or fishing at a picturesque lake surrounded by a verdant forest, then go to see a house designed and built by an award-winning architect before camping by the river of a spectacular national park.

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Road trip length: 2-3 days
Recommend rig: any
audience: all

Point of Interest

Kickapoo State Recreation Area

As you set out on your five-hundred-mile long weekend road trip, you won't need to go too far before you can begin to enjoy some water-related scenery and activities. While it may be only thirty-five miles or so from Champaign, the Kickapoo State Recreation Area is a complete contrast and is well worth spending the day and even a night there before traveling further. If you decide to pitch camp there to make the most of the water, you'll find two year-round campgrounds where there are altogether almost two-hundred campsites.

Within the three-thousand acres of the Kickapoo State Recreation Area, there are numerous bodies of water with the largest being a lake covering fifty-seven acres as well as a long stretch of the Vermilion River. The Middle Fork of the river has been classed as a scenic waterway and is the perfect place to go paddling in a kayak or canoe. If you don't have one you can rent a craft from an on-site concessionary operating in the recreation area from Memorial Day to Labor Day. There are nine boat ramps at various points on the RAs lakes and ponds although only electrically powered boats are allowed.

If you're a scuba diver desperate to get underwater, you can do that here too so long as you register with the rangers before submerging. If you want to stay on land, there are miles of trails for hiking and biking running through the surrounding forests and countrysides plus enough fish in the lakes and river to keep any angler happy.

Wescott House

Frank Lloyd Wright was a prolific architectural designer who completed more than five hundred structures in his lifetime. His unique creations are located all over the United States with many be open for public viewing. There is only one single example of his work to be seen in the state of Ohio, so that makes it a must-see as you're passing through on your road trip from Champaign to Erie. The Wescott House is on Greenmount Avenue in the city of Springfield. If you decide to camp close to Springfield rather than at the Kickapoo State Recreation Area, you'll find a campground and some fabulous lakes in the Caesar Creek State Park to the south of the city.

The Wescott House by Frank Lloyd White is an incredible, Prairie-style dwelling built in the first decade of the twentieth century for the Wescott family who commissioned the work. The house has a Japanese-style influence with pergolas, dark wood, numerous terraces, and extensive ornamental gardens. Tours of the property are by prior arrangement and all are accompanied by a professional guide. Prospective visitors should be aware that while the house is open for viewing all year, tour times do vary with the seasons. Another fascinating object on display at the house is a vintage car manufactured by the Wescotts in the early 1900s.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

To get your fill of water-oriented places before you reach the final destination of your weekend RV road trip from Champaign to Erie, there's one place you have to stop at and that's the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It is a natural wonderland you can get to by following the I 70 until you're through Windfall and can join the I 271 that goes right into the heart of the park.

There are no RV suitable campgrounds in the park, but don't let that put you off going to explore this amazing area as there are plenty of places close by where you can pitch camp for a night or two.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park encompasses a terrain of lakes, rivers, and canals surrounded by stunning scenery with forests and cascading waterfalls. It's an idyllic spot to go hiking along over a hundred miles of trails that wind through marshes and forests or to get out your mountain bike and peddle along the Towpath Trail. There are also more challenging rides on the Eastern Rim Trail System that will give your legs a real work out. Head out onto the Cuyahoga River in a kayak or canoe, go fishing, horse riding, or questing along the canal banks. The outdoor experiences you have in the Cuyahoga Valley will be unbeatable.


Roll into Erie in Pennsylvania after a weekend road trip from Champaign in Illinois and there's one thing you won't lack seeing and that's water. The city of Erie sits on the shores of Lake Erie, one of the biggest lakes in the United States and has enough water-oriented activities to keep even the most dehydrated human happy. Head to the Presque Isle State Park to spend some time on the beach or go for a splash in the Waldermeer Water World. Whatever you do in Erie, guaranteed you'll get your fix of H2O.

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