When you’re looking for a close destination for a day trip, check out the charms of Tuscola
The greatest opportunities come on a Saturday, but Tuscola has plenty to offer no matter what day of the week you are in town
There is something nostalgic about stepping into a scene straight from the past, adapted to meet the needs of a community present-day. In addition to having whatever the residents of Tuscola need, the community is ready to welcome visitors from miles away who are looking to enjoy what Tuscola has to offer.
Chambanamoms thanks Tuscola Tourism for presenting this article on planning a day trip to Tuscola.
As with many small towns in rural America, locally-owned shops, vintage decor and a slower pace to life all have a place in Tuscola. And while many of the local establishments do have an assortment of hours they are open for business during the week, we are going to show you how to spend what we consider the “busiest” day in this quiet community with a Saturday in Tuscola.
Something Unique: The Vault Art Gallery
One of our favorite reasons to visit Tuscola is to spend some time at The Vault Art Gallery. Champaign and Urbana have many awesome places to see art, but the Vault offers something a bit different (more family-friendly?) than other places we have checked out nearby. Special exhibits rotate, family-friendly events are offered regularly on the weekends and some summer weekdays, and the whole place in general is likely to captivate kids of all ages. Our kids are big fans of all the animals they can find throughout the Vault — we can see they love animals as much as our kids do!
Check out The Vault Art Gallery’s Facebook page for info on upcoming special events or exhibits.
Where to Get Some Food
When Champaign-Urbana families think of Tuscola, the first place that probably comes to mind is Flesor’s Candy Kitchen. We even have a review of Flesor’s from the early days of chambanamoms! You can stop in to see the Flesor’s staff making its famous hand-dipped chocolates right behind the counter, pull up a stool at the old-fashioned soda counter for milkshakes or plan to have a whole seated meal at Flesor’s. Think sandwiches, salads, burgers, specials like chicken and noodles and more if you’re there for lunch. Breakfast is also available.
Other dining options include Joe’s Pizza (open at 4 pm most days), The Pantry (open earlier hours, so a definite lunch option), Sol Del Mar, Mi Veracruz, and Ta’Carbon. We’re already planning a trip back to Tuscola to visit the Cast Iron Pub when its kitchen re-opens, as we loved the ambiance of the pub when we stopped in. In the meantime, you can visit the pub for a cocktail before or after grabbing a bite elsewhere in Tuscola.
Shopping in Tuscola
The quaint shops of Tuscola range from traditional furniture stores to antique shops to contemporary clothing boutiques. We often hear of readers driving to Tuscola to buy their new beds or living room furniture at Kelsey Furniture. We have experienced firsthand how much fun it can be to stroll the boutiques (like Shimmer & Sheek, pictured below) with your mom, sister, daughter or friends.
If there is a specific store you plan to visit, we recommend you call ahead to make sure it is open during the time you plan to be there. Find more info on Tuscola’s boutiques by visiting their Facebook pages: Shimmer & Sheek, Sweet Soul, Rainbows & Sunshine (consignment) and Downtown Design (decor, craft kits and more).
Outdoor Recreation in Tuscola
Tuscola is located about halfway between Champaign-Urbana and one of our Central Illinois favorite spots for outdoor recreation, Lake Shelbyville. You can easily swing through town on your way to Lake Shelbyville, as we have done many summers. But when you find yourself spending the whole day in Tuscola with your kids and looking for a place to enjoy some outdoor fun, we have some suggestions for where to head to get some fresh air.
We have visited Ervin Park before for special events, like Sparks in the Park around the Fourth of July. It is the largest park in Tuscola and has several different “sections.” When you first pull in, you’ll see the large wooden playground (think Meadowbrook Park in Urbana). Our school-aged kids loved the playground at Ervin Park! You can also see the Tuscola pool from the front of the park.
If you continue north on the road through Ervin Park, you’ll pass many baseball fields. Beyond those fields, you will find Tuscola’s newer toddler-friendly playground and fenced-in dog park. The toddler playground features plenty of shade and the soft playground material along the ground that we have come to appreciate (no wood chips). It is also fenced in.
We know Chambanamoms readers are always looking for interesting places to visit with their dogs, and this dog park is a great option. From what we can tell, no membership is required to visit the fenced-in, off-leash play area for pups. Rules for use are posted at the park.
Get driving directions to Ervin Park here.
Wimple Park is situated around Wimple Pond, a picturesque backdrop for a stroll around the water. You can fish here if you’d like, or simply grab the stroller or scooter from the back of the car and walk around the paved path. Many people were seen to be walking their dogs around Wimple when we stopped by for a visit.
Get driving directions to Wimple Park here.
Tuscola is a great place to get in the car and drive to if you’re looking for a change of scenery. We love day trips here, and a quick trip down I-57 is always at the top of our day trip list!
Other trips you can take with your family: