A Publication of WTVP

To see a city for its true worth, sometimes you need to explore it like a tourist. With a fresh perspective, everyday sights take on new meaning; obvious destinations become marvels all over again. Earlier this year, the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau named the following 10 destinations (in no particular order) as Greater Peoria’s top attractions for visitors. If you live in the area and haven’t already visited these spots, be sure to make them a priority on your summer to-do list. And if you’re new to Peoria: welcome! Loving where you live is easy—if you make the effort. Here’s a primer to some of the places that make this region great. One word of advice: the more willing you are to explore, the more Peoria will open its arms…

Peoria RiverFront Market/Festivals
Open since 2004 and growing every year, the Peoria RiverFront Market features a vast selection of Midwestern-grown fruits and veggies, locally-produced meats and cheeses, and local arts and crafts in a European-style, open-air market. This year, the market extended its season—having opened in May—and runs through September, with local musicians each week and chef demonstrations at 10am on the first and third Saturdays of the month. Seasonal recipes are available for sampling on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, highlighting available produce.

Down on the riverfront, Peoria’s many festivals are a popular option throughout the spring, summer and fall. Each June, the Steamboat Sports Festival, held in conjunction with the Steamboat Classic, attracts athletes from around the world. Other top festivals include the Louie Louie Parade and Festival, River City Jazz Festival, India Fest, Erin Feis, Oktoberfest and the Fine Art Fair.

Fun Facts:

The Peoria RiverFront Market is open on Saturdays from 8am to noon through September. For more information on riverfront events and activities, visit

Peoria Zoo

Seeking to create connections that inspire an appreciation for the natural world, the Peoria Zoo is home to more than 100 species of animals. Now celebrating its 60th year, the zoo is located within the natural setting of Glen Oak Park, with exhibits organized by continent. Africa!, a simulation of African grasslands, features six species in an open format surrounding the Zambezi River Village and Lodge—a unique event space. In the Australia Walk-About, black swans, emus, kookaburras and wallabies roam, while the Asia Trail features the Amur (Siberian) tiger among others. The zoo’s Conservation Center educates visitors about endangered species and threats to animal habitats around the world—and at home—through programs like the Alligator Snapping Turtle Reintroduction, a partnership with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to reintroduce the endangered species to strategic state watersheds.

Fun Facts:

The Peoria Zoo is open daily from 10am to 5pm. Adults (13 and over) $9; children (2-12) $6; seniors (65+) and military $8. For more information, visit

Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino
Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino, a riverboat casino located in East Peoria, features more than 1,000 slots and table games, a 202-room hotel, fine dining at Boyd’s Steakhouse and casual dining at Options Buffet, Rocks Bar & Restaurant and Nelson’s Deli. Owned and operated by Boyd Gaming, Par-A-Dice incorporates a European theme across the riverboat’s four decks—making for a fun vacation getaway close to home.

Fun Facts:

Par-A-Dice Casino is open daily from 8am to 6am. Admission is free. For more information, visit


Wildlife Prairie Park

Founded by the late philanthropists Bill and Hazel Rutherford in 1978, this 2,000-acre zoological park is home to over 150 animals, including 50 species native to Illinois: wolves, bison, waterfowl, black bears, elk, cougar, otter and more. Serving nearly 140,000 annual visitors in its mission of conservation, education and recreation, the park features more than 20 miles of mountain biking, hiking, trail running, XC skiing and snow shoeing trails, prime fishing spots, animal viewing areas, scenic train rides via a volunteer-operated railroad, the Adventure Trek—an open-air, interpreter-led bus ride through the park, and unique lodging options like cabooses and teepees, as well as traditional cottages and cabins.

Fun Facts:

Wildlife Prairie Park is open daily from 9am to 4:30pm. Adults (13+) $9; seniors (65+) $7; youth (3-12) $6. For more information, visit


Spirit of Peoria
Owned and captained by G. Alex Grieves with co-captain Harold Breithenbach, the Spirit of Peoria is a staple of downtown Peoria, offering visitors a variety of short and overnight excursions up and down the Illinois River. Designed by architect Alan Bates, the riverboat was the first paddleboat vessel to be built at the Walker Boat Yard in Paducah, Kentucky. The paddleboat, capable of traveling up to 15 miles per hour, is proudly powered by twin Caterpillar 3412 diesel gen sets, which drive two traction motors to turn the paddlewheel.

Fun Facts:

Ticket prices vary by departure and length of trip. For a current schedule of events, visit


Local Wineries

Some of the state’s finest wineries exist along the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway, stretching from Ottawa in the north to Havana in the south. Just eight miles west of Peoria in Edwards, Kickapoo Creek Winery rests among 250 rolling acres. Owned and operated by Dr. David Conner and his son, Rory Conner, Kickapoo Creek prides itself on doing everything by hand—from picking each grape to hand-bottling each of its 25 wines. The winery also features a full-sized commercial kitchen, with a full-time executive chef on site. Over in Tazewell County, Mackinaw Valley Vineyard’s tasting room overlooks a 30-mile view of valleys, farms and vineyards. The proud creator of 25 table wines, it’s also well known for summer events, like its Saturday-evening outdoor concert series and August’s Grape Stomp and Harvest Festival.

Fun Facts:

Kickapoo Creek Winery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11am to 6pm, and Sunday, noon to 5pm. For more information, visit Mackinaw Valley Vineyard is open Monday through Saturday, 11am to 6pm, and Sundays, noon to 5pm. Visit for more information.


Caterpillar Visitors Center
Located in downtown Peoria adjacent to the Peoria Riverfront Museum, the Caterpillar Visitors Center offers a thorough look at Peoria’s top employer and its fascinating history, from the company’s very first tractor to its present-day achievements as a Fortune 50 company. Full of interactive displays and engaging exhibits, the museum features simulators that offer a firsthand look at what it’s like to operate heavy equipment, a journey through time in the Caterpillar Heritage Gallery, and a theater inside a life-sized 797 truck.

Fun Facts:

The Caterpillar Visitors Center is open 10am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday. Adults $7; seniors (55+), veterans and active military $6; veterans and active military (55+) $5; children (12 and under) free. For more information, visit


Peoria Riverfront Museum

In its mission to inspire lifelong learning by connecting art, history, science and achievement, the Peoria Riverfront Museum allows visitors to explore the world from their own backyard to far-off galaxies. As the only downstate museum to be affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, the PRM features national and international rotating exhibitions, in addition to its permanent collection of art and artifacts; exhibits like the Illinois River Encounter, IHSA Peak Performance Peoria, and The Street—featuring a local history of Peoria; and the Dome Planetarium and Giant Screen Theater.

Fun Facts:

The Peoria Riverfront Museum is open 10am to 5pm Tuesday through Saturday, and noon to 5pm on Sunday. Adults $10; seniors (60+) $9; youth (3-17) $8. For more information, visit


Bass Pro Shops
Located on the East Peoria riverfront, Bass Pro Shops is a 150,000-square-foot outdoor sports and recreation store with an impressive collection of mounts and antiques, and a two-story lobby with grand murals depicting the Illinois landscape from Starved Rock to the Garden of the Gods. In addition to the visual dynamics, the store features fish feeding demonstrations in a massive 26,000-gallon freshwater aquarium showcasing a variety of native fish, such as crappie, long-nosed gar and an 80-pound blue catfish. It’s also home to an underwater-themed bowling alley and a full-scale restaurant and bar.

Fun Facts:

East Peoria’s Bass Pro Shop is open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 9pm and Sunday from 10am to 7pm. For more information, visit


Running Central 

Newly relocated to downtown Peoria, Running Central (RC) was named one of the four top running stores in the country last year by Competitor and Running Insight magazines. Dedicated to the highest level of customer service and expertise, RC strives to provide customers with proper footwear, apparel and accessories custom-fit for each individual’s walking and running goals. The fitness solutions company features a variety of top brands and a unique “Fit Philosophy” with a focus on thoughtfully engaging with customers and their individual needs, as well as finding the perfect fit through sizing and a thorough walk evaluation.

Fun Facts:

Running Central is open Monday through Friday 10am to 7pm, and Saturday from 9am to 6pm. For more information, visit runningcentral.comiBi