20 Best Things to Do in Peoria, Illinois
By VacationIdea Staff on January 31, 2023 - Updated
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Located on the Illinois River, Peoria is a historic city that offers many unique attractions, museums and things to do. Explore the Peoria Riverfront Museum, stop by the Caterpillar Visitors Center and stroll through Luthy Botanical Garden which features a beautiful conservatory filled with orchids and tropical plants.
Best things to do in Peoria for families include the Peoria Zoo, the Peoria PlayHouse Children's Museum and Forest Park Nature Center.
1. Peoria Riverfront Museum
© Peoria Riverfront Museum
The Peoria Riverfront Museum is an art and science museum located on SW Washington Street and one of the top Peoria attractions. In addition to the museum, there is a planetarium, a theater with a giant screen, and a sculpture museum. The museum’s permanent collection includes decorative arts, ethnographic arts, fine arts, folk art, natural science, and more. Other exhibits are temporary and include displays such as Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition and GENOME: Unlocking Life’s Codes.
The museum welcomes group tours and school field trips, and it rents out a Riverfront Museum Bus with a capacity of 28 people for those in need of transportation to and from the museum for tours and field trips.
222 SW Washington Street, Peoria, Illinois, Phone: 309-686-7000
2. George L. Luthy Memorial Botanical Garden
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George L. Luthy Memorial Botanical Garden is a 4.5-acre garden and conservatory located on North Prospect Road in Glen Oak Park. Founded in 1951, the botanical garden contains a variety of separate gardens such as an all-season garden, herb garden, perennial garden, rose garden, and more.
There are many species of plants in the garden with an emphasis on annuals, herbs, hosta, perennials, and roses. The 2,500 square foot conservatory is home to orchids and other tropical plants as well as seasonal displays. George L. Luthy Memorial Botanical Garden is one of the best things to do in Peoria, Illinois.
2520 North Prospect Road, Peoria, Illinois, Phone: 309-681-3506
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3. Things to Do in Peoria, IL: Caterpillar Visitors Center
© Caterpillar Visitors Center
The Caterpillar Visitors Center, located on SW Washington Street in Peoria, introduces visitors to the world of the Caterpillar Company and its history. Founded in 1886 when Benjamin Holt built his first combined harvester, the company has grown over the years to manufacture a large variety of various kinds of tractors and other farm implements, construction equipment, and bulldozers.
Caterpillar became known all over the world and helped with several projects such as widening the Panama Canal and helping with equipment needed for the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Opened in 2012, the Caterpillar Visitors Center gives visitors an enthralling look at the company and its long history.
110 SW Washington Street, Peoria, Illinois, Phone: 309-675-0606
4. Peoria PlayHouse Children's Museum
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Located in the Glen Oak Park Pavilion and adjacent to the Peoria Zoo on North Prospect Road, the Peoria Playhouse Children’s Museum inspires children to learn through fun activities.
It was built by the Junior League of Peoria and is open to all children regardless of background, income, or skills. The museum offers a variety of programs such as Tot Time, an hour-long program offered on Monday and Wednesday with read-alongs, scavenger hunts, and themed programs with topics like animals, colors, and shapes.
Other programs include Kid Workshops, Family Workshops, and Transformation Events. The museum can be rented for special events like birthday parties. Weekend getaways from Chicago
2218 North Prospect Road, Peoria, Illinois, Phone: 309-323-6900
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5. Illinois Attractions: Peoria Zoo
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The Peoria Zoo, located on North Prospect Road, is owned and operated by the Peoria Park District. The zoo began in the late 1800s as Glen Oak Zoo when a herd of elk was donated to the Park District.
The zoo expanded several times over the years, and these expansions made it necessary for the zoo to relocate several times. Today, the zoo features exhibits such as the Africa Exhibit, which opened in 2009.
This exhibit is special because visitors can walk on boardwalks through an enclosure in order to see animals like gazelles, giraffes, rhinos, zebras, and more. Other exhibits include the Asian Trail and the Australia Walk-About.
2320 North Prospect Road, Peoria, Illinois, Phone: 309-686-3365
6. Dozer Park, Peoria, Illinois
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Located on SW Jefferson Avenue in downtown Peoria, Dozer Park is a baseball field that is home of the Peoria Chiefs. Formerly known as O’Brien Field, the current name refers to Caterpillar Bulldozers, a company that helped fund the building of the park.
The park opened in 2002, and today it is also the home of the college baseball team of Bradley University. The park also features five concession stands and 20 luxury suites, including a double suite owned by Caterpillar for its VIP guests. The park offers tours for guests for company outings, family reunions, church groups, and more. The park is also available for corporate seminars, parties, and other special events.
730 SW Jefferson Avenue, Peoria, Illinois, Phone: 309-680-4000
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7. Pettengill Morron House Museum
© Peoria Historical Society
The Pettengill Morron House Museum was built in 1868 as a mansion and home for Moses Pettengill who came to Peoria in 1833. Featuring a Second Empire Style of architecture, the Pettengill Morron House Museum has 11 rooms, a 1900 colonial revival style porch, and a porte-cochere. Unlike many house museums, the Pettengill Morron House is filled with exhibits of items and artifacts that belonged to Moses Pettengill and his family. Visitors can take a tour of the home, hear about the Pettengill family and the interesting families who came to reside within the mansion after him, and explore what life was like during the late 1800s.
1212 W Moss Avenue, Peoria, Illinois 61606, Phone: 309-674-1921
8. Peoria Civic Center
© Peoria Civic Center
Located on SW Jefferson Avenue, the Peoria Civic Center is a convention center that contains an arena, an exhibit hall, meeting rooms, and a theater. Built in 1982, the center was renovated in 2008 to expand the lobby and the meeting rooms. The Carver Arena is the home of several sports teams, including the Bradley University Braves men’s basketball team as well as the Peoria Rivermen Southern Professional Hockey League team.
There are over 108,000 square feet of space in the exhibit area that can be divided into four smaller spaces. The 2,244-seat theater hosts a variety of performances such as ballet productions, Broadway shows, and concerts by the Peoria Symphony Orchestra.
201 SW Jefferson Avenue, Peoria, Illinois, Phone: 309-673-8900
9. thirty-thirty Coffee Co.
© thirty-thirty Coffee Co.
thirty-thirty Coffee Co. is a locally owned coffee shop in Peoria. It prides itself on its high quality roasted and brewed coffee as well as its excellent service. The name derives from the fact that most gourmet coffee is grown between 30 degrees north and 30 degrees south of the Earth’s equator.
Some of the special coffees offered by thirty-thirty Coffee Co. include Snuggle Bear Espresso, a blend of Costa Rican and Guatemalan beans, Costa Rica Don Sabino, and Costa Rica Zapotal. Blends from Ethiopia include Ethiopia Beriti and Ethiopia Kochere.
734 Main St, Peoria, IL 61602
10. Illinois Attractions: Forest Park Nature Center
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Located on North Forest Park Drive, Forest Park Nature Center is a 540-acre nature center and preserve sitting along the bluffs of the Illinois River. The center features seven miles of hiking trails that meander through a variety of landscapes, including forested woodlands and open prairie land.
Visitors can learn about the area at the natural history museum and see some of the amazing wildlife from the bird observation room. There is also a Trailhead Nature Store that sells books and other items related to nature. The center hosts a variety of educational programs and musical events.
5809 North Forest Park Drive, Peoria Heights, IL 61614, 309-686-3360
11. Senara Health and Healing Center & Spa
© Senara Health and Healing Center
Senara Health and Healing Center & Spa is a 12,000 square foot facility that includes the 7,000 square foot Senara Spa. The center offers a full range of health treatments, including spa treatments such as facials, manicures and pedicures, massage, water therapies, waxing, and more.
It also offers other services not often found in spas; some of these include acupuncture, allopathic treatments, blood testing, chiropractic treatments, and much more. The center features several programs such as anti-aging medicine, medical weight loss, health and nutrition coaching, and physical therapy.
2208 West Willow Knolls Drive, Peoria, Illinois, Phone: 309-693-9600
12. World on Wheels, Peoria, Illinois
© World on Wheels
World on Wheels is a Segway tour along Peoria’s RiverFront. There are 30-minute, one-hour, and two-hour Segway tours, and the company also offers a 30-minute tour on Quadracycle bikes. The tours are guided and narrated, and guests learn about the history of the area as they stop to listen and take photos along the way.
World on Wheels welcomes groups to participate in these interesting tours, and these can include groups from churches, schools, corporations, and other organizations. World on Wheels is also a fun way for children to celebrate birthdays.
13. Peoria Players Theatre
© Peoria Players Theatre
If you have a passion for performing arts or simply enjoy watching theatrical or musical performances, stop by the Peoria Players Theatre and pick up tickets for its next show! Bring together shows for the public since 1919, the Peoria Player Theatre is known for being Illinois’ longest continuously-running theater, and the nations’ fourth longest. The theatre typically produces up to nine shows annually, with a range of musicals, comedies, dramas, and special productions on cue. Peoria Players Theatre also runs a youth theatre in the summer and has holiday productions to catch once December rolls around. Catch a show at this 302-seat theater to watch talented local performers put on great shows.
4300 N University State 5823, Peoria, Illinois 61614, Phone: 309-688-4473
14. Illinois Attractions: Corn Stock Theatre
© Corn Stock Theatre
Located on North Park Road, Corn Stock Theatre is an outdoor community theater that presents high quality stage performances to Peoria and the surrounding areas. Its goal is to make the productions affordable so that everyone can experience the world of live theater with its talented actors, dancers, and musicians. There are five performances per year, each of which is held under a big-top style tent during the summer months.
During the fall and winter months, the company’s Winter Playhouse Theatre performances are held at the Theatre Center located in Bradley Park. The company also offers two shows each year plus workshops for children between the ages of 7 and 18.
1700 North Park Road, Peoria, Illinois, Phone: 309-676-2196
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15. WeaverRidge Golf Club, Peoria, Illinois
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WeaverRidge Golf Club is one of the top golf courses in Illinois. Created by Hurdzan-Fry, the course is situated in the scenic landscape of Central Illinois with forested valleys and gently rolling hills.
The course was designed for players of all skills and offers a Learning Center and Driving Range for those who want to practice or warm up for a round of golf. Other features of the club include the Clubhouse with a restaurant overlooking the golf course, as well as private rooms for special events such as business meetings and parties. The WeaverRidge Pro Shop is also located in the Clubhouse.
5100 North Weaverridge Boulevard, Peoria, Illinois, Phone: 309-691-3344
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16. Peoria Speedway
© Peoria Speedway
If you’re tired of the same old weekend night activities, why not give Peoria Speedway a try? Promising a rowdy and memorable time, the Peoria Speedway is a short-stack dirt-track racing center that is bound to keep you and your buddies entertained for the evening. Watch local racers duke it out on the track with very competitive races, and for the lucky few, there’s even a chance to head to the pits for an up close and personal look at the race vehicles. There are plenty of concessions to keep guests full with adult beverages also available. Just be sure to bring a change of clothes, as the Peoria Speedway has been known to get loud, dusty, and on some occasions, muddy – all in the name of entertainment, excitement, and fun, of course.
3520 W Farmington Road, Peoria, Illinois 61604, Phone: 309-510-3145
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17. Peoria Holocaust Memorial
© Peoria Holocaust Memorial
Situated outdoors, within the Peoria Riverfront Museum campus, is the Peoria Holocaust Memorial. The memorial is a long-term loan by the Jewish Federation of Peoria and is distinct in that it is the only memorial of its kind currently in existence. It consists of cases of 11 million buttons, each button collected by school children during what is dubbed the “The Button Project”. Each button in the memorial represents a life lost in the Holocaust. Guests to the Peoria Holocaust Museum honor the fallen enemies of the state and Jews, 5 million and 6 million respectively. Tours are often conducted of the Peoria Holocaust Memorial, with educational videos about the importance of protecting society against prejudice and bigotry.
123 SW Washington Street, Peoria, Illinois 61602, Phone: 309-677-3900
Got a need for speed? Head over to Kartville, an outdoor recreation center and Central Illinois’ top destination for go-kart racing and other similar activities. Individuals who want to enjoy speed and racing like an outlaw can head to the Go-karts track where single and two-seat karts are available. Other options are Kartville’s ATV and Dune Buggies, which can accommodate up to two passengers. Children under the age of 10 may ride accompanied by a chaperone who is at least 16 years of age. For budding aquatic drivers who want to captain their own boat, the bumper boats are a great option for up to 2 passengers. Other Kartville activities include batting cages and mini golf.
919 N Swords Avenue, West Peoria, Illinois 61604, Phone: 309-676-3628
19. Gone Axe Throwing
When it comes to axe throwing in Peoria, Gone Axe Throwing is the place to be. As Peoria’s first and only indoor axe-throwing attraction, Gone Axe Throwing promises incredible fun and professional guidance for first-time axe throwers. Guests heading to Gone Axe Throwing can expect a briefing on rules and safety guidelines care of the venue’s resident AxeMasters, after which the axe throwing lessons will begin. Gone Axe Throwing is great for nights out with friends, a unique date, or even team-building events with co-workers or teammates. Try out the different types of axe-throwing games, or keep it simple and go toe-to-toe with other competitors to see who can get as close to the bullseye as possible.
1001 SW Washington Street, Peoria, Illinois 61602
20. Gone in 60 Escape Games
© Gone in 60 Escape Games
Immerse yourself in various themed escape rooms at Gone in 60 Escape Games. In these rooms, problem-solving and teamwork are of the utmost importance as the reach theme is designed to stupefy, confuse, and mislead in every way possible. Do you have what it takes to figure out puzzles and clues before time runs out? Find out when you book gameplay at this premiere Peoria escape room. At the Cemetery Escape, players will have to find a way out of the Oak Street Cemetery before time runs out with the help of clues from a mysterious journal. Meanwhile, the Reactor Escape Game will have players fighting to mitigate the possibility of a nuclear disaster before the reactor blows up.
1001 SW Washington, Peoria, Illinois 61602, Phone: 309-419-2461