Although Peoria is relatively small compared to its neighbors of Chicago & St. Louis, it has lots to offer tourists to the area. Whether it’s an evening of gambling, a Broadway play or simply a family event you’re looking for, there’s probably something to offer you in Peoria.
One of Peoria’s largest draws is the Par-A-Dice Riverboat Casino located in East Peoria. Tying in nicely with Peoria’s history of Riverboats, the Par-A-Dice originally cruised on the river, but now stays docked for its visitor’s convenience. Offering slots, black jack, poker as well as special promotions and events, the Par-A-Dice runs 4 restaurants on site as well.
If gambling really isn’t your thing, you’re sure to find something to do at the Peoria Civic Center. Originally built in 1982, the Civic Center complex includes a 12,000 seat arena, a 2177 seat theatre and a 110,000 square foot Exhibit Hall which was renovated in 2005. With over 500 event days each year, the Civic Center offers Broadway touring company shows, local performing arts groups, local sporting events such as Bradley Braves Basketball , Peoria Rivermen hockey and Peoria Pirates Indoor Football plus many concerts and family shows as well.
A visit to the recently renovated Peoria riverfront is also a must for any tourist. With many shops and live events plus great restaurants, the riverfront offers many activities.
The Peoria Park District hosts many events each month in its many facilities throughout Peoria at the Glen Oak Amphitheatre, the Riverplex, Forest Park Nature Center and Luthy Botanical Gardens to name a few. Plus they host many festivals on the riverfront throughout the summer.
The Peoria Zoo is currently undergoing a major renovation which will feature their Africa exhibit. Wildlife Prairie State Park, located in nearby Hanna City, is a park unique to the Peoria area featuring animals native to the area. If that’s still not enough to do, check out a Peoria Chiefs game at O’Brien field during the summer months led by manager Ryne Sandberg of Chicago Cubs fame. Or how about a ride on Peoria’s riverboat, the Spirit of Peoria?
Community theatre abounds in the Peoria area: catch a show at Corn Stock Theatre’s outdoor big top tent during the summer months. Easlight Theatre offers shows per year and Peoria Players brings the area 10 events each year. Or if you’re in the mood for a retro art film, you can usually find one at the historic Apollo Theatre on Main Street across from the courthouse.
Depending upon the time of year, the Peoria area offers many great festivals such as East Peoria’s Festival of Lights that runs from the Saturday after Thanksgiving through the New Year. Or there’s one of the many small town festivals such as the Cherry Festival in Washington, the Pumpkin Festival in Morton, the Strawberry Festival in Elmwood or Dunlap Days in Dunlap.