A Publication of WTVP

With summertime in full swing, it’s hard not to notice that Peoria is a true river city. As soon as the sun returns and the days warm up in late spring, a drive across the Illinois River’s several bridges finds boats of all kinds happily dancing upon open waters—many stopped for dining and entertainment at the riverfront. Crowds are attracted to the scenic view and serene atmosphere best suited for the warmest months of the year. The river’s a natural backdrop for this entertainment hub—a gem not only few communities have, but one not all capitalize on as we have.

Weeknights throughout the summer welcome a leisurely waterfront dinner with friends, an evening stroll, a carriage ride, or a chance to shop at some unique stores you can’t find at other locations. Children enjoy cooling off in the beautiful fountain just east of the Gateway Building, and visitors will find plenty of “to-do” ideas in the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Visitors Center, located at the foot of Main and Water Street.

Weekends on the riverfront have become known as festival season—with a concert, themed festival, or similar event occurring almost every Friday and Saturday throughout the summer. From jazz to blues, modern rock to pop, concerts take place on one of two major stages and welcome a variety of genres over a span of several months. Festivals also run all summer long—events such as the Steamboat Festival and Oktoberfest create a riverfront alive with music, food, and fun. The RiverFront Market, held on weekends during the day, is a European-style open-air market offering locally-grown produce, local artistry, and local musicians. This year, the Taste of Peoria is also moving to Riverfront Festival Park; the event will be held on August 9.

It’s no secret that our riverfront is a favorite hotspot for our residents. It’s become an attraction for those visiting us as well. Major events like the Peoria Art Guild Fine Art Fair serve as significant economic drivers, bringing large numbers of outside groups into our communities—groups who spend dollars at our riverfront as well as on lodging, dining, on other entertainment, and likely in other capacities. Events such as the Fine Art Fair become a great tool for driving tourism efforts in our region, and a unique location like the riverfront can be vital in creating a unique product for the customer.

The Peoria riverfront and downtown areas are certainly key growth areas, and as we see our downtown change with the new Museum Square, our “river city” character and charm offered to visitors will continue to be essential. The riverfront will continue to be a hotspot for families, groups, and individuals to stay and play after a day of activity elsewhere. With so much to do, they’ll have many options. To check out the latest happenings on the riverfront, please visit the Calendar of Events listing on our web site, IBI