While we strive to have original content on our blog posts and website, occasionally we come across something that is pretty darn good on it’s own merit and worth reposting! Sometimes there are too many great things to narrow down to a top 10 list…so here are the top 30.
1. It’s A River City
Source: Flickr user Kevin May
Peoria is the largest city on the Illinois River, giving its downtown picturesque views that only a riverfront can provide. The Peoria RiverFront district is one of the state’s oldest urban areas, and is home to great restaurants, live entertainment, cultural centers and more. The passing by of barges and pleasure boats, like the paddlewheel boat The Spirit of Peoria, adds to the ambiance.
2. Go Meet A Bison
Source: Flickr user Todd Ryburn
Come learn about wolves, bison, elk, or any of the 50 other Illinois native species that live in the Wildlife Prairie State Park. The 2,000-acre zoological park is home to more than 150 animals and is a destination for hiking, biking, fishing, riding a train and overnight adventures.
3. It’s Polite
Source: Flickr user Melissa Wiese
The city consistently ranks in the Top 10 Best Mannered Cities in the country in the list compiled by etiquette expert Marjabelle Young Stewart.
4. Swirl, Sniff And Sip
Source: Mackinaw Valley Winery and Vineyard via Facebook
Raise your glass, because the Peoria area is home to three wineries: Mackinaw Valley Winery and Vineyard in Mackinaw, Kickapoo Creek Winery, Inc. in Edwards and Willett’s Winery and Cellar in Manito.
5. You Can Eat Locally
Source: Peoria RiverFront Market via Facebook
The Peoria Farmers Market at Metro Centre and the Peoria RiverFront Market along the riverfront bring consumers and farmers together. The Peoria Farmers Market runs May through October, while the RiverFront Market runs June through September. Shoppers can choose from a wide variety of local vegetables, fruit, herbs, honey, baked goods, flowers and more.
6. No Penicillin Shortages Here
Source: Flickr user U.S. Department of Agriculture
No one wants to get an infection; but if you do, never fear. The city is home to the USDA’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, the lab where mass production of penicillin was developed.
7. Take A (Really Grand) Drive
Source: Flickr user Tripp
Peoria is the home of the “world’s most beautiful drive,” (according to Theodore Roosevelt, anyway). During a 1910 visit, the 26th president made the comment about Grandview Drive, which runs through Peoria and Peoria Heights.
8. Enjoy The Great Outdoors
Source: Luthy Botanical Garden via Facebook
The city has more than 9,000 acres of parks, which include the Peoria Zoo, Luthy Botanical Garden and five public golf courses. The Peoria Park District was the city’s first park district and is the largest in the state.
9. Run Your Socks Off
Source: Flickr user midwestnerd
The Steamboat Classic is an annual June event made up of three races: the Steamboat Classic 4 Mile, the 15 Kilometer Race and the 4 Kilometer Race. The first is regarded as the “World’s Fastest Four Miles,” while the 15K has been dubbed the “Illinois Toughest 15K,” and the third is “Peoria’s Easiest 4K.”
10. It’s A “Good Ship Lollipop”
Source: Flickr user GRCC Library
The city was home to Richard A. Whiting, born here in 1891. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970, and is the author of “On the Good Ship Lollipop,” made famous by Shirley Temple, as well as “‘Til We Meet Again,” “Ain’t We Got Fun,” “Hooray for Hollywood” and more.
11. Step Back In Time
An old river town is a great place to take a peek into history, and the city’s historical museums and homes help visitors do just that. Popular places to visit are the Pettengill-Morron House Museum, built in 1868; the John C Flanagan House Museum, built in 1837; and the Wheels O’ Time Museum, which exhibits items representing industry, farm and home life, transportation and entertainment from the past.
12. It’s Where Art And Science Meet
Source: Peoria Riverfront Museum via Facebook
The city is home to not just one, but three museums that serve as cultural hubs for the area. The Peoria Riverfront Museum connects art, history and science through exhibitions, collections and programs. The Contemporary Art Center of Peoria is home to art exhibits, artist studios, open mic for poetry, salsa and swing dancing, and instruction in art, dance, yoga and tai chi. The Peoria Art Guild and Galleries is a leader in contemporary art and also hosts the Annual Fine Art Fair, named in the top 100 art fairs in the country.
13. Get Your Groove On
Source: Peoria Ballet Company via Facebook
The city is home to several music and performance groups. They include the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, the 10th oldest in the nation, as well as the Peoria Municipal Band, Central Illinois Youth Symphony, Peoria Area Civic Chorale and the Peoria Ballet Company.
14. It’s Young
Source: Morton Pumpkin Festival via Facebook
According Census data, the median age in Peoria is 34 years, and about 17 percent of the population is between ages five and 17.
15. Celebrate The Seasons
Source: Morton Pumpkin Festival via Facebook
When summer comes to a close and the air starts to cool, the country tends to go a little pumpkin crazy. One of the best places to celebrate the popular gourd is at the Morton Pumpkin Festival. Morton is the home of Libby’s Pumpkin, and more than 80 percent of the world’s canned pumpkin is processed right here. And when the pumpkins have all been picked and fall colors are replaced with twinkling lights and snow, residents flock to the East Peoria Festival of Lights. The festival begins with the Parade of Lights and continues through December with the Folepi’s Winter Wonderland drive-through display, one of the largest lighted festivals in the country.
16. It’s A College Town
Source: Wikimedia user Jimcrone
This city is no stranger to higher education. Bradley University, Midstate College, Methodist College, OSF St. Francis College of Nursing, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Illinois Central College and Robert Morris University are all located here. In addition, Eureka College and the main campus of Illinois Central College are located in nearby Eureka and East Peoria, respectively.
17. It’s Historic
Source: Flickr user Roger Wollstadt
Peoria is the oldest European settlement in Illinois, established in 1691 by French explorer Henri de Tonti. It was first called Fort Crevecoeur, and was constructed by de Tonti, along with René-Robert Cavelier and Sieur de La Salle. The fort later burned down, and was replaced in 1813 by Fort Clark, which was renamed Peoria when the County of Peoria was established in 1825. Peoria takes its name from the Peoria tribe, and is believed by many to be a derivation of a Proto-Algonquian word meaning “to dream with the help of a Manitou.” The Manitou are spirit beings of the Algonquian tribes. Originally, the tribes numbered in the hundreds, living in New England, the St. Lawrence River area and the Great Lakes region.
18. It’s Funny (And Musical, And Athletic, And Literary And Religious)
Source: Wikimedia user Darwin Bell
Peoria is the hometown of Richard Pryor, one of the most important and influential stand-up comedians of all time, drawing “the line between comedy and tragedy as thin as one could possibly paint it,” Bill Cosby reportedly once said. Other notable famous people calling Peoria their hometown include musician Dan Fogelberg, professional basketball player Shaun Livingston, professional baseball player and manager Joe Girardi, professional baseball player Jim Thome, writer and activist Betty Friedan and Roman Catholic archbishop Fulton John Sheen.
19. It’s All-American
Source: Flickr user Jen Knoedl
Peoria has been awarded the All-America City Award four times: in 1953, 1966, 1989 and 2013.
20. It’s On Ice
Source: Flickr user Jeremy Bronson
The people of Peoria love their hockey team. The Peoria Rivermen is a minor league hockey team that plays at Carver Arena. It used to be part of the American Hockey League franchise, but it was announced in 2013 that the team had been bought by the Vancouver Canucks and would move to Utica, New York. The Rivermen’s former executives and former owner applied to be admitted into the Southern Professional Hockey League in an attempt to save hockey in Peoria. Just two days later, the team (along with the Bloomington Thunder) were accepted into the SPHL, and fans have been happily cheering on their Rivermen ever since.
21. Hungry? Lose That Empty Feeling And Be Happy
Source: One World Café via Facebook
The area’s restaurants are numerous and there’s something for every taste. For starters, you might try sushi at Sushi Gawa, upscale American fare at June, Asian fusion at Hokkaido, Vietnamese at Thanh Linh or brunch at One World Café. And, thanks to the area’s large Lebanese-American population, Mediterranean and Lebanese style food is readily available. Local favorites include Khoury’s Cuisine, Peta’s Mediterranean Wraps, Kabab G and Haddad Restaurant.
22. It’s Industrial
Source: Flickr user Kevin May
Construction, mining equipment, engine, industrial turbine and diesel-electric locomotive maker Caterpillar has been headquartered here for almost 90 years. The company employs 125,000 people worldwide, and 23,000 in Illinois.
23. The Former ‘Whiskey Capital’ Is Still Distilling
Source: Peoria Historical Society Image/Bradley University Library and visit their Facebook page
Between 1837 and 1919, Peoria was home to more than 24 breweries and 73 distilleries, earning it the names “Whiskey City” and the “Whiskey Capital of the World.” At the whiskey industry’s height, the Peoria tax collection district supplied almost half of the federal government’s alcohol tax revenue. Before the distilleries were closed due to Prohibition, Peoria made about one-third of all the whiskey in the country. Today, whiskey is making its way back to the city and the J.K. Williams Distilling opened in the fall of 2013.
24. You’re Well Taken Care Of
Source: Wikimedia user Robert Lawton
The health care industry makes up about 25 percent of the city’s economy. There are three major hospitals, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, UnityPoint Health – Methodist and UnityPoint Health – Proctor and The Children’s Hospital of Illinois. The University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria and the Midwest location of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital are also located here.
25. Meet Santa
Source: Flickr user Bart Fields
The annual Santa Claus Parade is the longest running holiday parade in the United States, and features more than 88 floats and characters in costume.
26. Visit The Bridge of Peoria County
Source: Flickr user Anne Hornyak
Yes, the book and movie were called “The Bridges of Madison County” and based in Iowa, but Peoria County is home to the only two-lane covered bridge in Illinois. The Captain Swift Covered Bridge, which has a burr arch design, is located just a mile outside Princeton.
27. Cook Your Own Steak
Source: Flickr user Naotake Murayama
Do you love meat? Do you also love open flames? If so, you’ll be happy to hear about a riverfront dining staple called Alexander’s Steakhouse. Here, patrons can choose their own steak and it cooked over a large open pit in the restaurant by a professional cook! Or, if you are up for it, you can cook it yourself!
28. Take A Hike
Source: Flickr user Tim
The Illinois River Country Nature Trail begins in Princeton and ends in Havana, linking more than 100 nature-based destinations in the Illinois River Valley. It has seven loops, each with different geological regions, wildlife habitats and types of agriculture.
29. It’s High Ranking
Source: Flickr user Scott McLeod
Peoria was ranked 51 out of 331 metropolitan areas in Bert Sperling and Peter Sanders’ “Best Places to Live Rankings” in 2005. In 2007, Forbes ranked it 47th out of the largest 150 metropolitan areas in its annual “Best Places for Business and Careers.” In 2009, it was ranked No. 5 in the best mid-sized cities list.
30. Play Ball!
Source: Flickr user Joel Dinda
“America’s pastime” is at home in Peoria, and that home is Dozer Park (formerly O’Brien Field). The Peoria Chiefs, are a Class A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.