Founded in 1907, the IVY Club is a beautiful, historic not-for-profit organization located on the Illinois River.
“This club was, and still is, unique. You didn’t have to be rich or famous to join. What was mainly required was an interest in boats, and the river. It mattered not whether you owned a 40-foot Chris Craft or a 12-foot dinghy. Or maybe no boat at all. Your membership made you part of a boating family, a family that was and still is tight-knit but hardly exclusive. The sign out front may say “Members Only,” but those who might not qualify are seldom, if ever, turned away. Guests are always welcome.”
That’s a quote by Peoria historian Jerry Klein about the Illinois Valley Yacht and Canoe Club, affectionately referred to as the IVY Club. Ideally situated on the banks of the beautiful Illinois River, this institution has long awed visitors with its magnificent view of that wide expanse of water and the hills that slope gently to the banks of the river.
In 1926, a promotional brochure described life at the IVY Club:
“Here, at your doorstep, is one of nature’s wonderful waterways—the majestic Illinois—calling you to rest, recreation and health-building activity twelve months a year. The thrills of sailing, motor boating and canoeing on the beautiful Lake Peoria in summer; the joy of happy companionship that builds lifelong friends—all these are the treasures of IVY membership.”
Ninety years later, that same “life at the IVY Club” still exists. Graceful sailboats continue to dot the river when they race on Wednesdays and Saturdays. They host several regattas and enjoy receptions and parties throughout the season—and the exciting powerboats are as much fun to watch as they are for cruising. You can enjoy canoeing, kayaking, dinghy sailing, jet skiing, tubing and water skiing—all your favorite water sports.
Something for Everyone
The IVY swimming pool offers family fun all summer long, including a swim team for kids, with home and away meets and friendly competition among other area clubs. Swim lessons are available, along with a great snack bar, convenient pool house, baby pool and “Second Sunday Family Fun Days.”
The adults get to have fun, too! The IVY Club boasts a fabulous restaurant, with Chef Kelly and his staff providing everything from fresh, seasonal seafood to the best burgers on the river. Meet friends at the bar—especially on Sundays during football season, as the club is open 12 months a year. Enjoy unique IVY parties like Italian Night, Jazz on the Barge, the Commodore’s Ball, French Night, Gourmet Nights, “Docktails” and many others. (And sitting services for the kids are offered during most events!)
Treasured family memories are made during the celebrations on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Halloween and Christmas, as well as the Cardboard Boat Race on Labor Day. From rib cook-offs to the Pig Roast to the Lobster Boil, there truly is something for everyone!
Water Sports and Beyond
Sailing, power boating, tubing, jet skis… all sorts of water sports are found at the IVY Club. Have you ever wanted to learn to sail? There are classes offered for both youth and adults, and you can hone your skills by participating in the weekly sailboat races on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings.
You can also join other power boaters on the river at weekend raft-outs. Don’t have a boat? That’s okay, as many members don’t—but it’s easy to find a friend who does. Grab a chaise lounge at the pool or a chair on the deck, and watch the boats come in and out of the harbor. There are many club get-togethers at the outdoor tiki bar, where you have a spectacular view of the Illinois River.
In addition, with membership at the IVY Club, you have access to more than 1,500 yacht clubs around the world, from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club to the Chicago Yacht Club on Lake Michigan.
A Resource and Playground
Family events at the IVY Club also help support community organizations. The Stuffed Animal Sleep-Over raises money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, while the Cardboard Boat Race on Labor Day is for Alzheimer’s disease (build a boat and join in the fun!). We also have a large team—“Kim’s Kommandos”—which walks for Susan G. Komen, the Central Illinois Youth Symphony and other worthy organizations.
The Peoria area is so fortunate to have this wonderful resource, the Illinois River, offering each of us a playground for boating, skiing, sightseeing, dining, hiking… and just appreciating the change of the seasons. Memberships start at $50 a month, and trial memberships are available as well. We invite you to stop by and experience all the amenities the IVY Club has to offer you and your family. It’s the best-kept secret on the river! iBi
The IVY Club is located at 5102 North Galena Road in Peoria Heights. For more information, visit ivyclub.org or call (309) 682-5419.