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21 Best Things to Do In Decatur, IL

21 Best Things to Do In Decatur, IL

Decatur, IL might not be a vacation destination like Branson or Orlando, but there’s still plenty to do here if you take a moment to look!

COVID-19 has forced many local businesses to shut down, and while some have reopened, some are still waiting patiently. Most businesses post updates on their Facebook pages, so we’ll be sure to link those here for you.

If you have any recommendations to add, please leave them in the comments section below! We love supporting our community, and we hope this offers up inspiration for 21 new things to do here in Decatur, Illinois.

Need Medicare or retirement planning help? The Sams/Hockaday team specializes in Medicare health insurance as well as retirement planning. Read more about what we do and schedule an appointment with the agent of your choice today!

1. Enjoy a Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra Performance

Do you enjoy sitting back, closing your eyes, and breathing in the full sound of an orchestra? The Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra has delivered exciting musical experiences since 1914. While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced some changes, the Symphony recognizes the power of music to impact our lives and will be streaming their performances until further notice.

In the fall of 2020, all performances will be streamed live from the Millikin University School of Music YouTube page.

Dr. McClain, the new conductor of the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra

Here is the concert schedule:

Millikin Chamber Orchestra Fall Concert (Live Streamed Event)

  • Suk Serenade for Strings
  • September 26, 2020

Masterworks II (Live Streamed Event)

  • Respighi Ancient Airs and Dances
  • October 24, 2020

Masterworks III

  • Symphonic Dances and Young Artists
  • February 6, 2021

Dido and Aeneas

  • with Millikin Chamber Orchestra
  • A collaboration with Millikin Opera Theatre
  • February 19-20, 2021

Masterworks IV

  • Tchaikovsky "Pathétique"
  • March 6, 2021

Masterworks V

  • Chicago Tribute - Sibelius Symphony No. 2
  • April 17, 2021

Heidi Sack, Vice President of Audience Development on the Symphony Orchestra Guild of Decatur, shares why the symphony holds a special place in her heart:

“When I go to the symphony, I am enveloped by a rich experience that I can't get anywhere else. 

Sitting in the concert hall with the audience, I am immersed in an emotional journey of timeless musical arrangements so unlike what I hear every day. As I watch the physical involvement of world class artists, I sense the drama as the conductor does this dance of motion to pull out the soothing strings of the violins, the booming brass section or the thumping percussion.  

For these moments I am taken out of my everyday life into something bigger, sweeping, and beautiful.” 

Sams/Hockaday & Associates is proud to support the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra. Look for our ad at the next performance!

2. Devon Lakeshore Amphitheater

Starting in May 2021, you can expect some fun events at the Devon Lakeshore Amphitheater, located at 2686 East Cantrell Street in Decatur, IL. The venue sits along the shore of Lake Decatur as part of Lakeshore Landing nestled inside the Historic Nelson Park.

From a Music and Beer Festival (May 15, 2021) to Lisa McClowry’s Cher Tribute (May 29, 2021), you’re bound to have an unforgettable time! You can purchase tickets on Eventbrite.

The Devon G. Buffett Amphitheater is owned and operated by the Decatur Park District and was made possible by a generous donation from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. The venue’s name is in honor of Howard G. Buffett’s wife, Devon, and is referred to as the Devon Lakeshore Amphitheater. Construction began in 2018, and the venue opened on May 24, 2019.

3. Retirement Planning at Sams Ranch

It’s never too early to start preparing for retirement and Medicare. If you’re nearing retirement, are new to Medicare, or are soon to be new to Medicare – even if it’s 3, 4, 5 years away – get tickets to the next Sams Ranch seminar, held on the first Tuesday of every month at 6pm.

This 1-hour educational seminar is hosted at the Sams Family Ranch at 4150 Sandcreek Rd, Decatur, IL 62521. 

Over 11,000 people are turning 65 every day, and Michael wants to help with the education process. You have Medicare Supplements, Medicare Advantage, nearly 30 drug plans to choose from… you may also have a retirement account like a 401k or IRA that needs attention. It’s a lot to try to figure out on your own. Michael’s goal with these 1-hour monthly seminars is to take all of the information you need to know and put it into plain English.

The first seminar took place on August 4, 2020, and it was a roaring success. Sandee Moyer, soon-to-be-retiree says, "It was like a destination. It was going to the old TV show Dallas – I loved it!" Moyer says she learned Medicare isn't as overwhelming as everyone thinks.

Tickets are free and there are 15 seats available for each seminar. You can claim your tickets on the Sams/Hockaday website.

4. Browse Through Connie’s Country Greenhouse

Do you love nature? Connie’s Country Greenhouse is a must-go location that offers a wide variety of annuals, perennials, shrubs, herbs, vegetables, and garden supplies.

Connie’s started out as a small greenhouse in 1998 and has since expanded across 15 acres in the heart of central Illinois. For many Decatur locals, a trip to Connie’s is a Sunday afternoon staple.

Photo credit: Kelly J. Huff/Herald & Review

You can visit Connie’s at 325 2400th Ave in Latham, IL, from 9am-6pm, and there are additional locations in Forsyth and Clinton. 

5. Find a Gem In the Old Book Barn

The Old Book Barn is one of the Midwest’s largest new and used bookstores with over 200,000 books. If you enjoy reading and browsing through book collections, this is a dream afternoon for you!

From gaming magazines to blind date books, the Old Book Barn has a little bit of everything.

One reviewer said,  “I always manage to find a lost treasure here.” Another reviewer said, “So many books, so little time.”

Visit the Old Book Barn at 126 S IL-51 in Forsyth, IL.

6. Visit Archers Alley Indoor Range

Archers Alley Indoor Range is a safe, entertaining place for hunters to practice their archery. The Fraziers say that despite COVID-19, they’re still up and running at the moment. The range is just bow and arrow – no firearms – but they do offer classes and events for firearms, fishing, paintball, airsoft, and more.

Examples of classes include a Concealed Carry class, the Annual Patriot Shoot, and Intro to Archery.

You can come to the range on Sunday from 1-6pm, Monday through Thursday from 9am-7pm, and Friday from 9am-6pm. They’re closed on Saturday.

Information on upcoming classes and events are updating on their Facebook page, and the Fraziers say, “We’re always bringing something new in, so come check us out!”

7. Scovill Zoo

Scovill Zoo is the perfect place to take the grandkids, and they are officially back in business after being closed due to the pandemic.

The zoo often holds events like Grandparent’s Day and Family Camp Out, but you can always stop by any day to learn more about reptiles, prairie dogs, bald eagles, zebras, spider monkeys, and more.

Four new cheetahs joined the zoo in June, so go check them out during the week from 9:30am-5pm and on the weekend from 9:30am-6pm. A limited number of people are allowed in the zoo every hour to maintain social distancing guidelines, so reserve an admission time before you leave the house.

8. Mountain Biking at Garman Park

Garman Park offers a total of 3.78 miles to go mountain biking, making it a favorite spot for avid bikers.

While it’s sort of hidden, that’s part of the charm. There are no big climbs, and it’s an enjoyable, winding trail system.

9. Children’s Museum of Illinois

Unfortunately, the Children’s Museum of Illinois is still closed due to COVID-19 and the Phase 4 restrictions of the Restore Illinois Plan.

However, when they’re able to reopen, it’s a great place to take the grandkids! Their interactive museum is ideal for children ages 3-12 as it boasts over 60 hands-on exhibits and activities. 

While the museum is closed, President & CEO Abby Koester has offered projects and lessons you can do with the grandkids, including tie-dye shirts, home videos, and exploding bags! Check them out at the Children’s Museum of Illinois website.

10. Get Creative at A Crafting Experience

Does getting creative help you relax? Sign up for an upcoming event at A Crafting Experience, located at Hickory Point Mall in Forsyth.

From making Christmas plates to watercolor desert plants, A Crafting Experience has a fun, upcoming event for you.

A happy reviewer says, “I have gone to a variety of craft classes in the past couple months and have thoroughly enjoyed all of them! Painting, macrame, ceramics and dot painting all made a great evening! I highly recommend everyone give it a try. You won't be disappointed!”

Sign up for a string art heart, cricut basics, or a beginner macrame course on their Facebook page.

11. Rock Springs Nature Center

Whether it’s a bluegrass music jam or photography exhibit, Rock Springs Nature Center is always hosting events the entire family can enjoy.

The Ecocenter, a museum exhibit inside Rock Springs Nature Center, is designed to help you explore Macon County’s natural history. From native wildlife sounds to seasonal workshops, it’s an interactive, fun place to take the grandkids.

Birdwatchers and photographers will love the Window on Wildlife area, which offers the perfect viewing experience of a bird feeding area. The sounds of wildlife are amplified by speakers, creating an immersive experience.

The Rock Springs Nature Center also has live reptiles and amphibians in the Nature Center, galleries that feature local artists’ work, and the Charles Franklin Shilling Library, which includes nature-related books for children and adults.

The Rock Springs Nature Center is open during the following times:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday: 8am-5pm
  • Thursday: 8am-8pm
  • Saturday: 9am-5pm
  • Sunday: 1pm-5pm

12. Wabash Depot Antique Centre

Do you love finding unique pieces that have history behind them? You’re bound to find something special at this historic antique mall in the heart of Decatur. 

The Wabash Depot Antique Centre has vintage furniture, hats, clothing, porcelain, paintings, pottery, memorabilia, glass, books, jewelry, linens, silver, toys, and tools. 

Browse the 10,000 square foot of sales space to find that diamond in the rough you didn’t know you needed. This large sales floor holds 70 booths from over 40 vendors, and it has a rich history. The Wabash Depot Antique Centre resides in a 1901 train station listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Related Reading: 22 Fun Facts About Decatur, IL

13. Catch a Movie at The Avon Theatre

The Avon, located at 426 N Water St in Decatur, IL is a unique independent movie theatre that’s a true staple of our city! They’ve been reopened since July 17, 2020 but are still asking the community to rally together and enjoy some movie theatre magic!

You can visit their Facebook page for updates on what movies will be showing. They appreciate your continued support during the pandemic. You are required to wear a mask when you’re in the lobby but can remove it when you’re eating or drinking in the auditorium. 

14. Walk the Decatur Park District’s Trail System

Ditch the treadmill and breathe in the fresh air on a trail walk! 

Bike, walk, or run along the Park District’s trail system by winding through Fairview Park, crossing Stevens Creek, tracing the historic interurban railway, wrapping around Kiwanis Park to Lincoln Park Drive, and ending at Macon County Conservation District’s Rock Springs Center.

Check out the trail map:

15. Mini Golf, High Ropes Course, and Batting Cages at Overlook Adventure Park

Overlook Adventure Park located at 2501 E. Nelson Park Rd. features mini golf, a high ropes course, and batting cages.

2020 fall hours are:

  • Thursday: 4-8pm
  • Friday: 4-10pm
  • Saturday: 10am-10pm 
  • Sunday: 12-8pm

The 9-hole mini golf course is now ADA accessible, and the ice cream shop is right there with benches so you can enjoy the day. It’s the perfect place to go when you have nothing planned!

There are often special events announced on the Overlook Adventure Park Facebook page, and be sure to check the page for potential closures due to weather conditions.

16. Bowling at Spare Time Lanes

Who doesn’t love a good game of bowling? Visit Spare Time Lanes at 2870 North Jasper in Decatur, IL any day from 8am to midnight.

Spare Time Lanes has a family arcade, a snack bar, and a newly remodeled video poker room.

Plus, don’t miss Moonlight Bowling on Saturday nights during most of the bowling season. Disco lights and lively music make a true party atmosphere, and if you prepay, you can save a few dollars. 

You can follow updates at the Spare Time Family Fun Center Facebook page.

17. Rollerblading at Campbells Skate Center

Take the grandkids out for an exciting evening at Campbells Skate Center. Rollerblading is a blast no matter your age, and Campbells confirmed with us that any “parents skate free” special also applies to grandparents. (One paid minor allows for one free adult.) Specials are routinely announced on the Campbells Skate Center Facebook page.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, face masks are required to enter the building and must be worn when not eating or skating on the skating floor. Once they reach max capacity, they will not allow anyone else in. Entry is on a first come, first serve basis. 

18. Ice Skating at Decatur Civic Center

The Decatur Civic Center will be open for public ice skating starting October 1, 2020! Because of COVID-19 regulations set by the state, there will be a maximum occupancy of 50 people – that includes staff, skaters, and spectators.

You do not need to purchase tickets or reserve a spot beforehand. The Civic Center confirmed with us that admission will be on a first come, first serve basis.

This could make for a fun date night or event with the grandkids. Even if you’re no good at skating, it’s still a fun way to get out of the house!

Here’s the schedule for ice skating:

  • Friday: 7:30pm-9:30pm
  • Saturday: 3:30pm-5:30 pm & 6pm-8pm
  • Sunday: 1pm-3pm

Admission is $6 and skate rentals are $2.

19. Drink Some Beer at a Decatur Brew Works Event

Decatur Brew Works is the first brewery in Decatur, IL in nearly 100 years. With a passion to bring hand crafted beer to the last remaining Central Illinois brewery holdout, DBW features a wide variety of beers made on-site.

What makes DBW unique is they are strictly a tap room. They opted out of serving food (although they do serve popcorn from Dells on the weekend). You are encouraged to bring in your own food.

DBW often holds events perfect for you beer-lovers, including Oktoberfest – now a DBW annual tradition – and new beer releases.

You can check out upcoming events and announcements on the DBW Facebook page.

20. Decatur Celebration

We Decatur natives know the Decatur Celebration was cancelled for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but next year’s celebration is already in the works!

Mark your calendars for August 6-8, 2021, and check the Decatur Celebration website for updates on the 2021 line up.

21. Monticello Railway Museum

The Monticello Railway Museum is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This museum is an all-volunteer organization in central Illinois with an operational railroad yard open to the public. They offer train rides on weekends from May through October, regardless of weather conditions, as well as a number of special events throughout the year. They also collect, preserve, interpret, and exhibit materials and artifacts from throughout the fascinating history of trains and railroading.

Despite not being able to operate normally this year, they’ve completed a lot of projects behind the scenes, such as acquiring and transporting the Rock Island turntable from Peoria to Monticello. They’re excited to reopen soon, and will post updates to their Facebook page.

It would be a fantastic place to take the grandkids for a fun train ride!

Conclusion

There’s so much to do here in Decatur, IL – we hope this list gives you some inspiration to get out of the house and join the community.

We want to continue adding to this list, so please comment any new suggestions below. Thanks again for reading, and we hope to serve you with your Medicare and retirement planning needs in this great city of Decatur.

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