20 Best Things to Do in Peoria, IL

Peoria, IL
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Known as one of the best places to live in Illinois, Peoria is located along the Illinois River.

It's home to one of the best scenic sites in the state.

The city has a lot to offer, from botanical gardens and wildlife zoos to golf clubs and museums.

If you are planning to visit, check out this list of the best things to do in Peoria, Illinois:

Meet the Wildlife at Peoria Zoo

View of Papuan Hornbill in Peoria Zoo
Todd, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Attention, wildlife enthusiasts!

If you are looking for a place to encounter rare and exotic creatures, the Peoria Zoo certainly won't disappoint.

It's one of Illinois' top tourist spots.

The zoo maintains exhibits of rhinos, giraffes, zebras, and many more.

Enjoy walking along the Asian trails or Australia walk-about, and explore the place with your gang.

Watch a Baseball Game at Dozer Park

Baseball match at Dozer Park in Peoria
Strikerforce, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Looking to relax, watch a baseball game, and perhaps get comfortable in a luxury suite?

Dodger Park is a one-stop destination for all these things and may be the place for you.

There are more than 20 luxury suites for visitors, five concession stands, and the baseball team of Bradley University can be seen practicing here, too.

The park can be rented for seminars, corporate parties, private gatherings, and family reunions.

Take a Boat Trip Aboard the Spirit of Peoria

Paddlewheel of tourist boat in Peoria
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Have you ever seen a paddle wheel-driven boat?

Well, how would you like to ride in one?

The Spirit of Peoria is a one-of-a-kind boat and is wildly popular among tourists.

Featuring an original paddle wheel driving system, it runs without using any kind of thrusters or propeller system.

Spirit of Peoria sailing on a river in Illinois
Zcarstvnz Ryan.harms, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It has an impressive passenger-carrying capacity of 487 and offers cruises lasting one to five days.

Whether you travel with your family, your partner, or by yourself, there's never a dull moment aboard the Spirit of Peoria.

For one thing, you'll surely never tire of watching the beautiful sights of the city from one of the boat's decks.

Get someone to take your pictures with this unique boat—a trip like this is not something anyone can attend too often!

Visit the Peoria Riverfront Museum

This museum is one of the best places in the region to learn more about arts and science.

It's located at SW Washington Street and is one of the best attractions Peoria offers.

Peoria Riverfront Museum features a planetarium, a theater, a sculpture museum, and a giant screen.

There are also temporary exhibits and permanent collections for visitors to check out.

There are guided tours to the museum for students, residents, and tourists alike.

Surround Yourself in Lush Greenery at George L. Luthy Memorial Botanical Garden

Inscribed stonewall at George L. Luthy Memorial Botanical Garden
ProfDEH, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tourists and residents come to this place in droves.

George L. Luthy Memorial Botanical Garden attracts those interested in the beauty of flora, as well as people who enjoy observing rare and exotic, economical, and medicinally essential specimens of the plant kingdom.

The botanical garden and conservatory were built in 1951.

It is located near N Prospect Road in Glen Oak Park.

The museum is famously known for its herb, rose garden, perennial, and all-season gardens; each is separately organized and tended to by its staff.

It's home to everything from annual and seasonal plants, to economic and decorative plans, to valuable and medicinal herbs.

Go Hiking at Forest Park Nature Center

Love hiking?

Or are you someone that likes roaming around enjoying the scenic beauty of nature?

If the questions above caught your interest, then you definitely shouldn't miss out on a trip to Forest Park Nature Center.

The park features hiking trails of more than seven miles, forested woodlands, and open prairie lands.

Going hiking amid its changing landscapes is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Peoria.

If you are a hiking enthusiast, then you must be aware that you need to keep your basic supplies with you at all times: a minimum of two water bottles, bug repellent, basic medicinal first aid, perhaps a towel, and most importantly, your best hiking shoes.

Musical events and educational programs are sometimes also held at the center, so make sure to check out their schedule before you visit.

Some of the center's extra features include the bird observation room, the national history museum area, and a bookstore called Trailhead Nature Store.

The bookstore is unique because it sells books mainly related to nature and outdoor adventures, as well as hiking-related items.

Let Your Kids Explore the Peoria PlayHouse Children's Museum

This attraction may be a bit different from the norm, as it is focused solely on visitors who either have or are traveling with kids.

If you have kids, bring them here, let them loose, and the staff will guide them through a wide array of fun activities.

The kids can join in various interactive exhibitions where they can play, create, and explore.

There are also family workshops that are held in the museum.

They also have workshops for the whole family to enjoy together.

It's a great place to visit for travelers roaming with their little ones.

Rejuvenate at Senara Health and Healing Center & Spa

Senara Health and Healing Center & Spa renders services such as manicures, relaxing massages, careful waxing, pedicures, and facials.

They also have special medical weight loss, anti-aging medicine, health and nutrition, and physical therapy programs.

Moreover, the center's lineup of offerings also includes acupuncture, blood testing, allopathic treatments, and chiropractic treatments.

Explore the Best Places to Eat in Peoria

How about grabbing a bite at one of the most popular restaurants in Peoria?

The Blue Duck Barbecue Tavern is famous in the locality for its house-smoked barbecue, along with its locally crafted beer.

They offer outdoor dining and takeaway options.

Perhaps you would prefer a more private, romantic setting for your date?

Connected is a fine dining restaurant popular among couples for its innovative cocktails, American entrees, and Italian specialties.

If you are traveling on a budget, Jerusalem restaurant is one of Peoria's best places to eat.

Offering kebabs, shwarma, and salads, it's a simple homely eatery popular among residents and tourists alike.

Visit the Caterpillar Visitors Center and Museum

Exterior view of Caterpillar Visitors Center and Museum
Bohao Zhao, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of Peoria's best attractions, the Caterpillar Visitors Center and Museum displays tools, artifacts, and machines that date back to the construction company's early days.

The exhibits on display are machinery utilized by the company in diifferent phases of its rich history.

To uncaring eyes, they might be machines, but to the company's staff, the local populace relates to the company differently.

The center showcases the machines used in the past and the company's vision for the future.

Enjoy a Guided Tour with a Twist

To the tourists that are too tired, unfit, or don't want to walk, a Segway guided tour might tickle your fancy.

Some tourists like wandering around alone, while others prefer guided and narrated tours, listening to the background and significance of the sites they visit.

If you're the second kind, then you'll probably enjoy joining a Segway tour or a quadricycle bike tour and stopping to snap photos of famous sites along the way.

The feeling of a shared pilgrimage, which this kind of tour arouses, is what most tourists crave.

Whether you're college students on vacation, colleagues at the workplace, kids on a school trip, an NGO, or a private organization, there are many guided tour plans available for all.

Enjoy Performances at the Peoria Civic Center

Peoria Civic Centre during snow
Boykov / Shutterstock.com

Featuring a theater, exhibit hall, many meeting rooms, and a grand arena, the Peoria Civic Center is a well-known convention center.

It's also home to the region's best sports teams, from the Bradley University Braves men's basketball team to the Peoria Rivermen of the Southern Professional Hockey League.

Although that does not make it sound like a tourist hub, now does it?

What makes it such a major attraction to tourists is the center's famous theater, which features a total of 2,244 seats.

The Civic Center hosts spectacular performances, famous Broadway shows, fantastic symphony orchestras, groovy concerts, and even ballet productions.

It is an excellent place to visit for those that enjoy classic performances and music shows.

Relish the High-Quality Yet Affordable Shows at Corn Stock Theater

Here's one thing about scoring tickets to a show while on a trip: they hardly ever come cheap.

For those traveling on a budget, you'll be pleased to learn that it's possible to enjoy high-quality performances without breaking the bank.

Corn Stock Theater usually hosts performances about five times a year.

In winter or fall, the events are performed at the theater in Bradley Park.

During the summer months, they take place under a vast top-style tent.

This theater was explicitly created to provide visitors with stage productions of outstanding quality at reasonable prices, with the goal in mind to let everyone enjoy good entertainment at low prices.

Go Golfing at Weaver Ridge Golf Club

Unlike most golf courses, this course was established with professional golfers and sporting events in mind.

Although they may be held sometimes, as it is one of the best golf courses in Illinois, it is designed to offer golfing services to people of all skill levels.

Amidst the landscape of rolling hills and valleys in the central Illinois area, Weaver Ridge Golf Club was designed by Hurdzan-Fry.

As it is designed with beginners and amateur golfers in mind, there are learning centers for golf and a warm-up driving range.

Residents and tourists visit the Golf Club to either practice their craft or learn golf.

Everybody starts somewhere, right?

Why not you?

Discover Peoria's Hidden Gems

Are you a typical tourist or one who loves exploring a destination's hidden gems?

Here are some of the underrated spots you might consider checking out in Peoria

Ribbon Records is a go-to shop for people interested in vintage clothing, rare old books, and classic musical records dating back to the 1970s.

Love shopping for secondhand books?

Make sure to visit Lit. on Fire Used Books.

Whether you are a resident student or a visitor of foreign lands, an expansive library full of used books of every genre is tempting to all readers and learners alike.

If you're an art enthusiast traveling with your friends, then stay a night at Art at the Bodega.

Enjoy various recreational activities like canvas coloring, potter painting, and clay art.

Catch a Performance at the Contemporary Art Center of Peoria

Contemporary Art Center of Peoria offers many opportunities for art lovers and aspiring artists in the region, where they can attend workshops and enjoy live shows and exhibits.

The center also serves as a venue for yoga and Tai Chi classes, another on poetry nights, a third around jazz music appreciation, and so forth.

The Contemporary Art Center also has their "Live at the Five Spot," a Friday night music event featuring a variety of great artists.

Every two months, this community-supported platform showcases regional talent performing Rock, Jazz, R&B, Pop, and Blues, among other genres.

Every first Thursday of each month, this space also hosts a rich open mic program that invites a diverse group of poets from around the area to get involved in an exciting and theatrical atmosphere.

The first Friday of every month is a true treat for art enthusiasts.

Artists from all over the city gather at the Contemporary Arts Center and craft, exhibit, and put their work on sale.

Anyone who visits can enjoy the unique talents of local artists while browsing through their wondrous works, which feature various mediums like glass, drawings, oils, and photography.

Grab Fresh Produce at the Peoria RiverFront Market

Peoria’s RiverFront Market has been a staple in the Peoria community for years.

People come from all over to see what this urban supermarket has to offer, which is why you should visit it when you’re in Peoria.

You can witness local produce, such as Illinois-grown produce, flowers, herbs, local meats, fresh bread, cheeses, and much more.

Pottery, candles, wood-turned items, and jewelry are among the local art available at this amazing market.

Only vendors who grow or make their products in Illinois will be here.

You can find the Peoria RiverFront Market in the Water Street parking lot, in the middle of Harrison and Liberty Streets, close to the Liberty Park area.

There are plenty of areas available for parking in nearby lots and on some of the surrounding streets.

Grab a Few Laughs at Jukebox Comedy Club

Experiencing the best comedy in Peoria, Illinois, is an incomparable experience you won't easily forget.

Since 1990, Jukebox Comedy Club has brought the best standup comics and improvisers to an intimate room full of laughter.

This part of Peoria has plenty of luxuries to offer, with lighting and sound.

Entering the club, you are greeted by a 2,000-square-foot bar/lounge, which merges into the comedy room behind it.

It is wise to make reservations as numbers tend to be limited; but there is a first-come, first-served policy, depending on the availability of the tickets.

Final Thoughts

Relax, immerse yourself in nature, and bask in the beauty of nature—Peoria promises everything you'll need for a rejuvenating trip.

On top of that, you'll also be able to enjoy entertaining tours, events, shopping, and trips to the museum.

For a memorable time in the city, make sure to bookmark this list of the best things to do in Peoria!