15 Best Things to Do in Rantoul, IL

Rantoul, IL
Eddie J. Rodriquez / shutterstock.com

Rantoul, a small and quaint village in Illinois' Champaign County, is known to have been the site of Chanute Air Force Base in 1917.

Tourists will be enchanted with what this beautiful community offers, from museums and outdoor adventures to dining and shopping.

Enjoy feeding the reindeer at a ranch, shop for unique gifts, buy beautiful flowers, or simply have a delectable lunch at one of the restaurants downtown.

The possibilities are endless around the village, and the only thing you do is visit and get in tune with nature.

Rantoul was named after politician Robert Rantoul, Jr., a Massachusetts representative.

In 1854, John Penfield laid out the village; in 1856, a post was established.

The Air Force base’s opening in the village had brought substantial economic growth, although it was closed in 1993.

Here are the best things to do in Rantoul, Illinois:

Stay at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Rantoul

Finding comfort in the cozy sheets of Holiday Inn Express & Suites Rantoul is an experience you won't be able to find elsewhere.

Nestled on Broadmeadow Road, the hotel is within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and tourist attractions.

Enjoy the hotel's delicious complimentary breakfasts, take a dip in the indoor pool, and sweat it out at the fitness center.

IHG Hotels & Resorts owns Holiday Inn Express & Suites Rantoul, which uses the IHG Green Engage system.

The hotel is eco-friendly, minimizing its impact on the environment.

Step into the Past at the Rantoul Historical Society

Rantoul, known for being the former site of Chanute Air Force Base, has a dedicated spot where it preserves the village's rich history and culture.

At the Rantoul Historical Society, you'll learn more about the village and how life was in the past.

It showcases artifacts, collectibles, and memorabilia, which tell the story of Rantoul,  preserving them for the future generation.

The Rantoul Historical Society was founded in 1973.

You can find it on Klein Avenue.

Make Friends with Reindeer at Hardy's Reindeer Ranch

Hardy's Reindeer Ranch is a must-visit tourist spot if you're in Rantoul.

For an affordable price, you can have a reindeer tour at the ranch and feed and befriend the animals.

You'll be given crackers and oats to feed them.

You can even literally put one in your mouth, and the reindeer will take it—how cute is that?

If it's your first time, the staff will teach you how to deal with reindeer and how you can feed them.

The ranch also has a cool-themed corn maze, pedal race carts, hay rides, pumpkins, a gift shop, and a paintball gallery.

Hardy's Reindeer Ranch is nestled on County Road.

Buy Perfect Souvenirs at Schitts & Giggles

Bringing home a nice souvenir from vacation means happy memories!

Shop owner Roxanne Street wanted to open a boutique that doesn't only offer fantastic gift items but also creates a fun environment—so in 2022, she opened Schitts & Giggles.

Here, you can find the perfect gift items for your loved ones back home, ranging from novelty gifts, home decor, jewelry, cards, candles, and more.

You can find Schitts & Giggles on North Kentucky Avenue.

Enjoy a Karaoke Night at T & T Tavern

Spending an hour or two at T & T Tavern means karaoke and good food and drinks to share with your loved ones.

While there, you should enjoy a few selections of beer and delicious food while enjoying karaoke time.

Its honey wings with fries and famous chicken strips are to die for!

The bartenders will make delicious drinks for you, too.

Located on North Century Boulevard, T & T Tavern is known as the go-to pub for locals and tourists.

Buy Gorgeous Flowers at A House of Flowers and Gifts

Whether you're celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or even on regular days with your loved ones, having beautiful flowers around speaks volumes.

At A House of Flowers and Gifts, you can choose all the perfect and stunning flower arrangements you can have.

Browse through its wide selection of fresh and dried flowers.

The flower shop offers gift baskets, funeral designs, old-school and modern arrangements, silk arrangements, and more.

A House of Flowers and Gifts is located on East Sangamon Avenue.

Play Golf at Brook Hill Golf Course

Brook Hill Golf Course offers an unrivaled golf experience with its excellent sand traps, fairways, and water hazards.

Set amid lush greens, this 18-hole golf course also hosts tournaments and special events like weddings, birthdays, and more.

Its huge park is also great for cookouts.

Book tee time with them, and enjoy shooting some holes at its beautiful course.

Brook Hill Golf Course is located on County Road East.

Grab a Delicious Bloody Mary at Bud’s Bar

If you're looking for somewhere to grab delicious booze, head to Bud’s Bar on North Kentucky Avenue.

The small sports bar is famous for its version of the popular cocktail, Bloody Mary, which they top with pickles.

If you're a fan of spicy flavors, you can choose to top it off with their spicy pickle to enjoy more of Bloody Mary's unique savory taste.

Bud's Bar also features pool tables, so your time there is never wasted.

Explore the Beautiful Heritage Lake Park

Located on Titan Street, Heritage Lake Park offers a stunning man-made lake where visitors are welcome to paddle or fish.

For fishing, catch-and-release is recommended at the lake to maintain and improve the fish population so they can reproduce in the coming years.

If you have kids, they can enjoy their time at the playground and go kayaking.

There are covered pavilions and picnic tables with grills to use while spending a lovely day at the lake park.

Stroll around Heritage Lake Park and let the cool Rantoul wind kiss your cheeks!

Experience Staged Horror at Baldwin Asylum

Baldwin Asylum is an award-winning haunted attraction that isn't for the faint of heart.

Get your heart pumping as you go through a journey of terror in a 10,000-square-foot facility.

Located on Lon Drive, the haunted house is considered the premiere horror destination for those who seek both terrifying and exciting adventures.

See and experience how its actors scare you for real as soon as you set foot in their facility.

Feel your adrenaline rushing through your veins at Baldwin Asylum!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Exploring around Rantoul is fun and exciting, especially when outdoor activities are involved.

Why not try getting past the border and experience the magical things happening in the neighboring areas?

Appreciate the Art at Krannert Art Museum

Sculpture at Krannert Art Museum
University of Illinois Library, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Around 25 minutes from Rantoul, Kranner Art Museum is located on East Peabody Drive in Champaign.

The museum is located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was established in 1961.

It was named after the couple Herman and Ellnora Krannert to honor the latter's interest in fine arts, dance, music, and drama.

At Krannert Art Museum, you get to see a vast collection of outstanding fine arts in the form of paintings, sculptures, and beautiful pottery.

These are made by outstanding artists from around the world.

Get Closer to Animals at Anita Purves Nature Center

It's easy to get in tune with nature when you're around Rantoul, but getting closer to animals at Anita Purves Nature Center is far more accessible.

At the nature center, you can experience hands-on educational programs about animals as you observe them closer.

It's a family-friendly center that welcomes guests of all ages.

You can take scenic strolls through the center's Habitat Gardens to appreciate nature's natural and mesmerizing beauty.

It also features a Wildlife Observation Room where you can enjoy all things nature.

Its rescued owls are the apple of everyone's eyes, so don't miss checking them out.

Anita Purves Nature Center is located on North Broadway Avenue in Urbana, 18 minutes from Rantoul.

Stop by and don't forget to check out the Nature Shop, where you can buy unique and nature-related souvenirs.

Participate in the Urbana-Champaign Scavenger Hunt: Hunting Illini

When in Illinois, the adventure doesn't end in Rantoul.

Hunt like a real scavenger and explore the University of Illinois public grounds through the Urbana-Champaign Scavenger Hunt: Hunting Illini.

This scavenger hunt led by the Let's Roam app allows visitors to explore the university's public spaces and meet renowned sculptors, troubled students, and the university's mother.

You'll be rubbing shoulders with the school's famous top sites, such as Main Quad, Krannert Art Museum, and Bardeen Quadrangle.

You and your team will have to complete the challenges and solve puzzles while having fun exploring one of Illinois' historic landmarks.

The two-hour Urbana–Champaign Scavenger Hunt: Hunting Illini takes two hours, starting at 607 South Mathews Avenue.

You'll only have to drive 20 minutes outside of Rantoul to join in the fun.

Enjoy Pumpkin and Apple-Picking at Curtis Orchard & Pumpkin Patch

With only a 20-minute drive from Rantoul, you'll get to enjoy apple and pumpkin-picking at Curtis Orchard & Pumpkin Patch in Champaign.

They offer the best homemade fresh donuts, award-winning apple cider, and pies, mainly made from what they grow at the farm.

You can enjoy apple-picking and browsing their more than 30 varieties of apples every season and hundreds of pumpkins every fall.

Curtis Orchard & Pumpkin Patch also features the Country Store, which sells specialty gift items such as candles, kitchen essentials, unique toys, apple products, and many more.

If you’re down for a delicious homemade lunch, the farm has a small restaurant named Flying Monkey Cafe.

Their pulled pork, green beans, and au gratin potatoes are to die for.

Eat Authentic Mexican Fare at El Toro of Rantoul

Taco Tuesday, anyone?

You can dine in like a local at El Toro of Rantoul while enjoying authentic Mexican dishes made to perfection over the years.

It has now teamed up with Agave Mexican Restaurant, offering a more extensive experience for visitors in a family-friendly setting.

Victor Fuentes established the restaurant in 1998 with a few other branches around the U.S., offering delectable tacos, burritos, chimichanga, enchiladas, and many more.

It also has weekly specials like Margarita Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, and the Cinco de Mayo holiday specials.

Visit the restaurant at East Grove Avenue.

Final Thoughts

Rantoul, despite its size, is a gem in Champaign County, offering rich culture and history with many great outdoor activities.

Experience these beautiful, endless possibilities in the village and take a break from the hustle and bustle of a modern metropolis.

Visit this village and enjoy all the best things to do in Rantoul, Illinois!