A Publication of WTVP

A Date Night Cheat Sheet for Peoria

by Anita Sharkey |

So, you finally shot your shot and scored a date with the person you have been crushing on forever. Or maybe you have been with your partner for quite some time now and want to keep the sparks alive.

Now what? You want the night to go perfectly, so how are you supposed to narrow down where to take this special person in Peoria?

The place you go will set the mood for the entire night. Whatever vibe you choose, you will need options. Hopefully, my boyfriend — hi Josh! — is reading this because he will never have to plan a date again.

First, let’s start with dinner. For this 20-something, the top places to eat in the Peoria area are The Smoking Pit, Weaver’s, Thyme and Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse. Of course, different folks have different favorites.

Feeling fancy? Try Connected. Hankering for pizza? Try Sugar or Brienzo’s. Mexican? Cayenne, Good Tequilas or Blue Margarita. Other delicious options include Blue Duck, Kelleher’s, Childers Eatery, Cyds in the Park, Brasky’s, W.E. Sullivan’s Irish Pub or Obed & Isaac’s.

Second, having something to do while you chat is always a good idea. If you’re looking for a fun, interactive date that doesn’t require choosing just the right restaurant, which can be a colossal stressor, try a place like Fired Up Pottery in Peoria Heights. At Fired Up, you can channel your inner Picasso to impress a date — pick out a piece of pottery, paint it, then sit back and relax with a bring-your-own bottle of wine. You can pick up your artwork a few days after they put it through the fire kiln to achieve that glossy, high-quality look.

Another great option is to head Downtown to Crafted DIY Studio and Bar in the Warehouse District to make gorgeous jewelry, home decor (my personal favorite), leatherwork and woodwork, all while enjoying your beverage of choice. All the tools and materials are available and waiting for you and your date. All you have to do is show up. Lastly, Generations Candle Company in the Heights is another tremendous, memory-making activity. Pick out and mix your fragrances and hand-pour your very own, personalized candle.

Other local activities include going for a climb at First Ascent in the Warehouse District, bowling at the Christian Center, ice skating at Owens Center, hitting up Gone Ax Throwing, or catching a sunset from Grandview Drive.

Bonus points if the night ends with a sweet treat at Emack and Bolio’s, Sweet CeCe’s or Great Harvest Bread Co.

It would be a crime if I did not share some of my favorite places to grab my daily caffeine fix. Peoria has many excellent coffee shops, and you can never go wrong with a cozy coffee shop date. You can’t beat the vibe at Zion Coffee. My favorite drink there actually is the hot chocolate (just trust me on this one). When you visit Cafe Santa Rosa in Junction City, you have to try the chai. The Spot has a killer salted caramel latte. Faire Coffee’s specialty latte flavors never disappoint. Leaves ‘n Beans in Peoria Heights has a homey atmosphere. Thirty-Thirty Coffee Co. and CxT are also my go-tos.

Looking forward to Peoria’s future as a date-night destination for young people, I’d love to see more live music and festivals. More consistent pop-up shops would be a great touch on the RiverFront. More outdoor activities in general would be beneficial to the community. A Topgolf venue, a large water park or just more kayak and canoe rental outfitters would all make for great family excursions while simultaneously being a draw for younger generations.

All in all, though, there are so many options in the Peoria area that can make for a memorable evening. You never know where the night will take you.

Anita Sharkey

Anita Sharkey

is a native of rural Bradford and currently a junior at Illinois State University, where she is majoring in public relations while interning at WTVP PBS