Named Fort Clark when the city was first settled, Peoria is an interesting destination in Illinois. The city is the oldest permanent European settlement in Illinois and is halfway between Chicago to the north and Springfield to the south.
As one of the larger cities in the state, there are many varied things to do in Peoria. Peoria has something for everyone from Teddy Roosevelt’s Grandview Drive to the cutting-edge Louisville Slugger Sports Complex.
20 Things To Do In Peoria
Looking for things to do in Peoria, Il? Start by getting your bearings while walking around the city.
1- Visit The Caterpillar Visitors Center & Museum
Conveniently situated next door to the popular Riverfront Museum in Downtown Peoria, the Caterpillar Visitors Center & Museum is a 50,000 square foot (4,645 m2) facility dedicated to Peoria’s most famous company.
The museum tells the story of Caterpillar’s founding and humble beginnings and the brand’s rise to become the world’s leading construction and mining equipment manufacturer.
From a driving simulator and the centre’s merchandise store to the large Caterpillar machinery and vehicles displayed throughout the facility, this is a unique museum to tick off your to-see list.
Caterpillar Visitors Center & Museum is at 110 SW Washington St, Peoria, IL 61602.
2- See The Exhibits At Peoria Riverfront Museum
The city skyline of Peoria, Illinois.
Adjacent to the Caterpillar Visitors Center and Museum, the Peoria Riverfront Museum is among Downtown Peoria’s most popular attractions to visit.
This sprawling centre is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute, meaning the museum regularly receives prized artefacts from the Smithsonian catalogue to display for locals and visitors to enjoy right here in Peoria.
The museum features permanent exhibits ranging from science to art, including the 1898 Duryea Motor Trap, one of the first gasoline-powered cars ever sold.
The Giant Screen Theater regularly hosts screenings of documentaries and film festivals, while the museum’s more sombre Peoria Holocaust Memorial shines a light on one of the darkest periods in history.
With so many diverse attractions, exhibits and displays, visiting this museum is one of the things to do in Peoria that you’ll not want to skip out on.
Peoria Riverfront Museum is at 222 SW Washington St, Peoria, IL 61602.
3- Go On The Grandview Drive
Peoria City Hall.
Described by Theodore Roosevelt as the most beautiful drive in the world, Grandview Drive is an incredibly scenic, 2.5-mile-long (4 km) stretch of road listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The drive passes through Peoria’s most idyllic neighbourhoods, serene forests and scenic waterways and it is accessible for cars, bikes and pedestrians.
One of the best free attractions in Peoria and one of the best ways of experiencing Peoria’s charm and natural beauty, the “world’s most beautiful drive” is bound to be one of the highlights of your stay in
4- Relax On The Peoria Riverfront
The city skyline of a reasonably sized city, where you’ll find lots of things to do in Peoria, Il.
Known for cosy cafes, vibrant entertainment venues and a rich assortment of art galleries, the Peoria Riverfront is the heart of the action in the city.
Every Saturday morning between June and September, the riverfront hosts the RiverFront Market, a celebration of fresh produce, art and live music.
This urban attraction combines riverside views with a laundry list of fun and exciting things to do in Peoria.
5- Get Creative At The Contemporary Art Center
The Contemporary Art Center of Peoria is the leading cultural venue in the city, offering different art forms that range from painting and sculpting to tai chi and improv comedy.
A leading contemporary art centre for the entire region surrounding Peoria, the venue organises weekly fun and entertaining classes to help get visitors intertwined with the local arts scene.
Established in 1994 as a space for different artists and musicians to collaborate, the venue has grown to become a leading tourist destination in Downtown Peoria and one worth checking out.
Contemporary Art Center of Peoria is at 305 Southwest Water Street, Peoria, IL 61602.
6- Step Back In History At Pettengill-Morron House Museum
Built in 1868 for local store owner Moses Pettengill, the Pettengill-Morron House Museum tells the tale of one of Peoria’s most prominent and influential families.
The Second Empire-style mansion features a Colonial Revival porch and a general Victorian appearance and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
After Pettengill died in 1883, the house passed through several owners until Jean McLean Morron, a relative of the Pettengills, bought the property in 1953.
The house was put in a trust and given to the Peoria Historical Society after her death, along with its collection of ornate 18th, 19th and 20th-century furniture and décor pieces, which visitors can see when touring the mansion.
Pettengill-Morron House Museum is at 1212 W Moss Ave, Peoria, IL 61606.
7- Explore Wildlife Prairie Park
One of the things to do near Peoria is to explore Wildlife Prairie Park.
The majestic outdoor venue of Wildlife Prairie Park is home to over 50 species of animals native to the state of Illinois.
The 2,000-acre (809 ha) park sits 15 miles (24 km) west of Downtown Peoria, making it perfect for a quick afternoon sightseeing trip during your stay in the city.
Animals such as bison, bears, foxes, snakes, owls and bobcats freely roam the park’s scenic landscapes for visitors to marvel at, while the venue’s disc golf course and bike trails provide visitors with a much-needed break from animal watching.
Whether you’re stopping by for the animals or the other fun attractions and activities, this is one outdoor park you just have to add to your Illinois itinerary.
Wildlife Prairie Park is at 3826 N Taylor Rd, Hanna City, IL 61536.
8- Roll Into The Past At The Wheels O’Time Museum
A European street clock in Peoria, Illinois.
The Wheels O’Time Museum takes visitors on a history trip down automotive memory lane with a vast collection of vintage cars, bicycles, tractors, trucks, aircraft, locomotives, and many more classic items related to transportation.
Established in 1977, the museum is open every year from May to October and features several buildings on site for visitors to tour, each with its own theme and exhibits.
Continuously expanding its extensive collection of items, artefacts, vehicles and memorabilia, the museum is among Peoria’s best attractions.
Wheels O’Time Museum is at 1710 W Woodside Dr, Dunlap, IL 61525.
9- See The Animals At Peoria Zoo
Opened in 1955, Peoria Zoo, next to the Luthy Botanical Garden, is a magnificent 14-acre (6 ha) zoo home to over 230 animals from around the world.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited the zoo in 1976 and has since become a leading zoo and marine institution in the Midwest region.
Some of the zoo’s most popular attractions include the giraffes, lions and rhinos in the Africa exhibit, the endangered reptiles at the Conservation Center, and the Siberian tigers and Sichuan Takins in the Asian Trail exhibit.
Peoria Zoo is at 2320 N Prospect Rd, Peoria, IL 61603.
10- Explore Tower Park
Established in 1968, Tower Park has become the go-to urban park for many Peoria residents and visitors thanks to its unrivalled number of attractions and activities.
The park’s landmark is its 200-foot-tall (61 m) bright red water tower, complete with three observation decks for visitors to enjoy the stunning sights of Peoria and the surrounding areas.
While the park is famous for its water tower, it’s not all the park has in store for visitors.
The Abraham Lincoln monument, pavilion and water fountains are all wonderful attractions to enjoy in their own right.
Tower Park is at 1222 E Kingman Ave, Peoria Heights, IL 61616.
11- Take The Kids To The PlayHouse Children’s Museum
Looking for things to do in Peoria, Illinois? Check out these 20.
Established by the Junior League of Peoria in 2015, the Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum encourages children of all ages to learn and be inspired through various fun and interactive exhibits.
The venue organises all sorts of events, workshops, scavenger hunts and themed programs throughout the year, so there’s always something for kids to do.
Conveniently situated near the Peoria Zoo and the Luthy Botanical Garden, the venue is your one-stop destination for family-friendly fun in Illinois.
Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum is at 2218 N Prospect Rd, Peoria, IL 61603.
12- See A Show At The Corn Stock Theatre
Hosting Broadway-quality performances in an outdoor setting, the Corn Stock Theatre is one of Peoria’s most beloved cultural institutions.
The venue aims to provide the people of Peoria and beyond with affordable, community-led productions featuring some of the most talented local actors, musicians and dancers.
Providing quality entertainment at a budget-friendly price, the theatre organises five performances throughout the year, performed under the venue’s big open-air canvas tent if weather permits.
The theatre even organises several kid-oriented plays and workshops in addition to their main line-up, making it a remarkable Peoria destination for the entire family.
Corn Stock Theatre is at 1700 N Park Rd, Peoria, IL 61604.
13- Scour The Cosmos At Northmoor Observatory
The Northmoor Observatory has been among Peoria’s most popular attractions ever since it became the first observatory in Illinois to offer public viewings.
Situated just north of Downtown Peoria near Donovan Park, the observatory organises public viewings of the night sky every cloudless Saturday evening between May and October.
Maintained by the Peoria Astronomical Society, the observatory features a 9-inch refractor telescope and a rotating dome ceiling, perfect for endlessly scouring the cosmos.
Not only is the observatory just a short drive from Downtown Peoria, but the scenic location and fantastic outdoor attractions found right next door to the observatory make it one of the best places to visit in the city.
Northmoor Observatory is at 5805 Knoxville Ave, Peoria, IL 61614.
14- Watch A Game At Louisville Slugger Sports Complex
Complete with a 125,000 square-foot (11,613 m2) domed roof, a 1,300-seat stadium and 10 synthetic turf fields, the Louisville Slugger Sports Complex is mighty impressive.
The venue caters to baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball and a variety of other sports, including non-sporting events such as trade shows.
Louisville Slugger Sports Complex is at 8400 Orange Prairie Rd, Peoria, IL 61615.
15- Explore The Attractions At Laura Bradley Park
The Laura Bradley Park was established in 1864 when the 100-acre (40 ha) plot of land on which it sits was given to the city of Peoria by Lydia Moss Bradley as a tribute to her late daughter, Laura Bradley.
Situated next door to Peoria’s Bradley University, the park features high bluff woodland landscapes with attractions such as a traditional Japanese garden, playgrounds, baseball diamonds, an ornamental shelter and an off-leash dog park.
It’s one of the best parks to visit in Illinois because of its central location and multitude of things to do.
Laura Bradley Park is at 1314 N Park Rd, West Peoria, IL 61604.
16- Learn A New Skill At Wheel Art Pottery Studios
Wheel Art Pottery Studios is a pottery studio and pottery school offering visitors of all ages and experience levels the opportunity to indulge their creative sides by learning how to make pottery.
The venue was opened in 2010 by artists Jacob Grant and Susie Mathews and is within the Murray Center for the Arts in Downtown Peoria.
Whether you’re a seasoned artist or a beginner looking for a space to practice your craft, this Peoria pottery studio is worth a look.
Wheel Art Pottery Studios is at 1101 SW Washington St, Peoria, IL 61602.
17- Watch Some Baseball At Dozer Park
Home to the Peoria Chiefs of Minor League Baseball, Dozer Park is Downtown Peoria’s sporting and entertainment mecca.
Opened in 2002 as O’Brien Field, the stadium received a name change in 2013 to better reflect the main sponsor, Caterpillar.
The stadium boasts a capacity of over 8,500 and features 20 luxury suites, concession stands and several private dining spaces.
Perfect for attending a game of America’s favourite pastime or a live music concert in Downtown Peoria, this state-of-the-art venue is always one of the liveliest destinations in the city.
Dozer Park is at 730 SW Jefferson Ave, Peoria, IL, 61605.
18- Attend Winterfest At Peoria Civic Center
Attending a show or exhibition at the civit center is one of the things to do in Peoria.
The 11,000-seater Peoria Civic Center is the city’s go-to event and entertainment venue, hosting everything from Southern Professional Hockey League games to Broadway.
One of the biggest and most popular events held at the centre is the annual PNC Winterfest, a family-friendly winter wonderland held between November and January featuring an outdoor ice rink and even a 100-foot long (30 m) ice slide.
Built in 1982 and recently renovated, this 108,000-square-foot (10,034 m2) venue is an absolute must-visit Peoria landmark whenever a big event or concert is taking place.
Peoria Civic Center is at 201 SW Jefferson Ave, Peoria, IL 61602.
19- Go Hiking In Forest Park Nature Center
Nestled between the Illinois River and Downtown Peoria lies the Forest Park Nature Center, a sprawling 540-acre (218 ha) nature preserve with attractions ranging from hiking and biking trails to a natural history museum.
The nature park offers fantastic birdwatching opportunities, with over 100 different bird species found inside the park.
It has scenery ranging from prairie to woodlands and is an urban escape for hikers, with over seven miles (11 km) of nature trails to get out and about in nature.
Forest Park Nature Center is at 5809 N Forest Park Dr, Peoria Heights, IL 61616.
20- Luthy Botanical Garden
The George L. Luthy Memorial Botanical Garden, or Luthy Botanical Garden for short, is a lovely botanical centre within Glen Oak Park.
Featuring 15 different themed gardens across the 5-acre (2 ha) venue, including a Children’s Garden, a Rose Garden and a Herb Garden, the botanical centre is one of the city’s visually stunning attractions.
The venue even hosts several events and festivals throughout the year, so there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy colourful blooms while in Peoria.
Luthy Botanical Garden is at 2520 N Prospect Rd, Peoria, IL 61603.