After Decatur, our next stop on this road trip was just 50 miles to the east to visit Champaign, and after delving into its history we started checking out downtown and where to get a great bite to eat. (To start at Part 1 click here).
My favorite meal (and one I have been dreaming about since I got home!) was at Big Grove Tavern. The décor here is absolutely mesmerizing and soothing with dark hardwoods, lofty ceilings, floor-ceiling windows and beautiful artwork, true to its vision to envelop diners in an inviting, tavern feel.
The menu here focuses on using local and farm fresh ingredients yet in unexpected twists to some American classics as well as comfort foods. Props go out to their savory deviled eggs (which change daily), the Local Cheese & Beer Tasting Plate (delightful!) and the Tavern Burger—a beef, bison and pork burger topped with red onion marmalade, cornichon aioli, Amish white cheddar cheese and a farm fresh fried egg, and served with house-cut fries. It was simply amazing!
Still Lookin’ for Lincoln
Fully sated, I ambled back to the car and drove about 10 minutes west and a little north to the town of Mahomet to the Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve, set on 900 acres of breathtaking rolling expanses of wide open spaces and copious groves of trees with a lake, boathouse, golf course and an awe inspiring, crimson-red classic, covered wooden bridge built in 1965 spanning the Sangamon River. Together it all puts you completely at ease and one with nature.
The Preserve is also home to the Mabery-Glevin Botanical Garden, a lovely setting dotted with inviting sitting areas, a crimson Japanese-themed bridge over a lily pad covered pond, waterfall, sculptures and scores of native and exotic plants and flowers. And, Lincoln is well represented at the Museum of the Grand Prairie with several impressive exhibits detailing where he lived, his friends and family, his work, his stand on and involvement in the abolishment of slavery, and the impact that he made as a politician in this country back in the day.
The museum also delves into a great deal of the area’s early African American history, as well as its founders, early industries and more. You could easily spend a few hours in the museum alone.
On the Road Again
After this lovely afternoon respite it was time to hit the road again for the next stop on my Lincoln adventure – Springfield, Illinois.
To start at Part 1 click here.