Last year, I broke down all of the best and worst spots to make out in Downtown Champaign, just in time for Valentine’s Day! This year I’ve explored Downtown Urbana for similar spots. Urbana may not have as many date-night-appropriate restaurants as Champaign, but that don’t matter, it’s still a great place for a stroll, and it contains a very diverse set of locations for locking lips with your lover (or your February fling, or whoever you find yourself spending quality time with this week).
First, some of the worst spots!
Near the Race Street Angry Face
Last year I said it was a very poor choice to make out in sight of Mr. Eggwards, the salacious egg statue. I didn’t think that Urbana had a similar statue, but I did find an analogue. You’ve perhaps never noticed it, but if you’re outside the Rose Bowl Tavern, near the alleyway that separates it from the next building, and you look up, you will see this very angry face:
Image: The corner of a brick building. A decorative column runs up the corner, with a face carved into the underside of the small overhang. Photo by Tom Ackerman.
Let's get in a bit closer....
Image: A close up view of the face carved into the underside of the overhang. Photo by Tom Ackerman.
Not sure what this dude is so pissed about all the time, but I guarantee if you’re bein’ all lovey-dovey around him, he’s gonna be pissed at YOU. Maybe you enjoy pissing other people off with your kissin’ (more power to ya, make love not war and all that jazz) however the Rose Bowl alleyway is not a good place for smoochin’ even without the angry face. It’s dark, cramped and generally contains some trash.
Image: A facade of the Urbana Landmark Hotel. The windows are boarded and the parking lot is empty with overgrown grass and weeds. Photo by Tom Ackerman.
In the Urbana Landmark Hotel Parking Lot
Sure, we’re once again being told that the Landmark has sold and will be an awesome new hotel in a few dozen months. We’ve all heard that before! Anyhow, for the time being the exterior of the empty hotel will continue to be a crappy place to suck face. Currently the Urbana Landmark has that special ambiance that’s 50% depressing and 50% spooky. Just not a fun or romantic vibe at all.
Image: The back of the writer with his hands wrapped around himself. He is standing in an empty mall with a public restrooms sign to his left. Photo by Andrea Black.
Inside Lincoln Square Mall
Speaking of vibes, Urbana’s own shopping mall is not quite as much of a ghost town as it once was. However, it’s still not a great place for playful pecks with your partner even though it is very easy to find an empty bench with room for two to sit on.
(As fun as it is to make fun of Lincoln Square, it does have some of my favorite places, so big shout out to Baldarotta’s, Stango Cuisine, Art Coop, and most importantly The Idea Store where I urge you to go this Valentine’s Day and make all of the sports trophies kiss. Do it for LOVE!)
Images: Two photos with a pink background and two trophies tipped in towards each other, "kissing." Photos by Andrea Black.
These specific spots within the Urbana Free Library
Look, I love libraries. I in fact have a degree in Library Science which, among other things, means I’ve had more than my fair share of stealthy smooch sessions among the shelves. I’m here to say with authority then, that while you can find many good secluded nooks within the Urbana Free Library for the purposes of kissin’, the following three should be avoided:
Image: The entrance to a room with several wooden tables and an information desk. There is a glass door that says Local HIstory & Genealogy. Photo by Tom Ackerman.
The Local History and Genealogy Room
If you are worried that you may be related to your Valentine, you can come to this room and find out for sure. The friendly genealogist will gladly help you out. However, this is generally not a good place for make outs unless thinking about your dead local ancestors is your kink.
Image: The writer is standing between two library shelves, one of which is labeled Gothic & Romance Paperback. He is holding two books. Photo by Andrea Black.
The Gothic and Romance Section
You’d think the romance section of the library would be a great place for actual romance…but you’d be wrong! In addition to being one of the most heavily trafficked areas of the library, none of the romance covers even have kissing on them. Seriously, none of the books I looked at had lip to lip, just lip to chest or neck or hair, or more commonly the characters on the cover were just holding each other and staring wistfully into the distance.
The Children’s Department
If you start kissing in the Children’s Department, all the children will start yelling “EWWWW” and “GROSSS” and they’ll throw books at you. Not fun or romantic.
Image: The writer is climbing up a metal spiral staircase on the outside of a grayish walls. Photo by Andrea Black.
Image: The writer is standing at the top of the metal spiral staircase and frowning. Photo by Andrea Black.
The Goose Alley Staircase
In Goose Alley behind Bunny’s there’s a spiral staircase. I do not recommend climbing to the top for some tongue-touchin’ unless you and your date really enjoy EXTREME DANGER.
Image: The writer is looking through the driver's side of a yellow Volkswagon bus. The passenger door has a red circle with the word "bento" in yellow. Photo by Andrea Black.
The Bento Bus
If you were able to actually climb inside the Bento Bus that sits outside Broadway Food Hall every day, it would of course be an absolutely great make out spot in Urbana. Unfortunately the bus is locked, so you’ll have to settle for standing next to it, which is just not as good.
Alright, now for the very BEST spots for some mouth-on-mouth intimacy.
Image: A large shipping container covered in graffiti sits alongside a walkway made of wooden planks. The writer is standing inside the shipping container with one leg popped up. Photo by Andrea Black.
If you’re looking for a very secluded, but still relatively clean and convenient spot in Downtown Urbana for kissing, I recommend The Sipyard. It’s closed for the winter of course, so you’ll have the colorful shipping containers all to yourself.
Image: The length of an alley in between two brick buildings. There is a wrought iron archway with Crane Alley in gold lettering. Photo by Tom Ackerman.
Crane Alley (the alley, not the restaurant)
In an area with a lot of alleys, Crane Alley north of Main Street is the best alley for passionate embraces. It’s spacious, clean-ish, well-lit, and fairly whimsical.
Image: The writer is standing on a bridge with a metal railing, with a blue sky backdrop. Photo by Andrea Black.
Atop the Bridge over Boneyard Creek
The walking path that runs along Boneyard Creek has a number of pretty good make out spots, but the best has got to be on the bridge. It’s a great bridge with a commanding view of a number of important Urbana parking lots. Watch out as the wind gusts can get pretty serious up there. Also, I def don’t recommend making out under the bridge as it is kinda smelly and rusty down there.
Image: The interior entrance to the Urbana hotel. It is a brick facade with a sign that says "Historic Lincoln Hotel" over the double glass doorway. There is a blue staircase with orange wrought iron railings leading up to the entrance. Photo by Tom Ackerman.
The interior entrance to the “Historic Lincoln Hotel”
Now, I know I said not to make out in the Urbana Landmark parking lot or in Lincoln Square Mall, but this doorway inside the mall going to the hotel is actually great. It’s got a fake stained glass ceiling and other charming elements that haven’t been destroyed by exposure to the elements. Nobody really comes up to this doorway, so you and your partner can enact whatever melodramatic film noir role play kisses that you want to.
Finally, the absolute BEST place to make out is:
Image: The writer is facing backwards with hands wrapped around himself. He is standing in front of the Champaign County Courthouse, a red brick building with a clock tower. Photo by Andrea Black.
In front of the Champaign County Courthouse
Every couple wants to cultivate an air of mystery around their relationship, and nothing does this quite as well as Frenching in front of the courthouse. Did you just get married? Did you just get divorced?! Did one or both of you just get acquitted?? FOR MURDER??!??? Or perhaps you finally got that permit to put a tree in your backyard. The possibilities are endless.
Well, that's all I got for now. Next year I'll see where to make out in Savoy! (Just kidding, everyone knows kissing is illegal in Savoy).
Huge thanks to my own Valentine Andrea Black who took all these photos of me being a goof.