Peoria Things to Do

  • Moss Avenue, Peoria
    Moss Avenue, Peoria
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  • Moss Avenue Mansion, Peoria
    Moss Avenue Mansion, Peoria
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  • Moss Avenue Mansion, Peoria
    Moss Avenue Mansion, Peoria
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Best Rated Things to Do in Peoria

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    The Rebirth of the Riverfront

    by deecat Updated Mar 3, 2005

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    CLICK PHOTO
    Peoria has revitalized itself within recent years, & one of its biggest revitalization projects had to do with the "rebirth" of its riverfront. This rebirth binds its past & its future. The city roots are in river commerce & industry; thus, it was only natural that if they wanted to forge into the future, they needed to revitalize their past. They raised millions of dollars to bring this concept into reality. Today, because of the rebuilding efforts, more than one million visitors come to the riverfront each year.

    Outstanding public facilities have been constructed that include the Gateway Building for meetings & receptions; a public marina for the promotion of the river; performance stages & spaces to promote entertainment; fountains, pavilions, & scenic walkways to create beauty for & to give comfort to the public.

    Today, visitors are able to take in an art gallery, eat in unique restaurants, take a carriage ride, ride on an old-fashioned paddlewheel boat, & shop in exciting boutiques.

    Oh, yes, & on Saturday mornings, the Peoria RiverFront Market is open with its Illinois-grown produce & products; with its local artisans & musicians.

    At the Visitors' Center, I was told that there is a Fine Art Fair, a Rib Fest Cook-off, a Labor Day festival, Oktoberfest, & a spectacular Fourth of July Riverfront Sky Concert with a fabulous fireworks' display.
    Also, in June the riverfront is home to the Steamboat Festival & the Classic Sports Festival.

    Along the riverfront, I saw several restaurants such as Roxy's, Hooters, Joe's Crab Shack, & Old Chicago Restaurant,

    I only wish that I had 1st visited Peoria in the summer when all this "activity" happens. The day I visited, it was barren because of the cold, cold weather. But, I was able to visualize in my "mind's eye" what it would be on a warm, sunny summer day/night.
    The photo shows the deserted Riverfront promenade & The Old Chicago Restaurant.

    Riverfront Promenade and Old Chicago Restaurant
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    Philanthopy Responsible for Bradley University

    by deecat Updated Mar 5, 2005

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    As a high school teacher who wrote recommendations for students, I was aware of Bradley University in Peoria. However, I was not aware of its history.

    Bradley University was founded in Peoria in 1897 by Lydia Moss Bradley in memory of her children and husband, Tobias. The Bradley family had gained a fortune through successful dealings in railroads, a flour mill, a distillery, a sawmill, real estate, and the Peoria Pottery Company. After Tobias Bradley died, his wife Lydia continued successfully with the business dealings. She was a philanthropist and did such good deeds as donating 130 acres of land for the Peoria Park District.

    Mrs. Bradley decided to found a school where young people could "learn how to do practical things to prepare them for living in the modern world." She purchased a controlling interest in Parsons Horological School in LaPorte, Indiana (the first school for watchmakers in America), and she moved it to Peoria.
    She then chartered Bradley Polytechnic Institute and provided seventeen and a half acres of land, $170,000 for buildings and equipment and $30,000 a year for operating expenses!

    The school started with 14 faculty & 150 students. Originally organized as a four-year academy (similar to high school) and a 2-year college, there were 400 students.

    Mrs. Bradley then transferred to the school the rest of her estate, including nearly 1,000 different pieces of property! The profits from the property was to finance the school.

    Mrs. Lydia Bradley Moss died in 1908

    Bradley continued to grow and develop; its facilities were in demand during World War I to train automobile and tractor mechanics.

    By the 1920s, Bradley dropped the "academy" and became a four-year college program.
    After World War II, a Graduate School was established, and the name became Bradley University.

    So, without the generous philanthropic donations of Lydia Bradley Moss, there would be no Bradley University

    Lydia Moss Bradley Statue at Bradley University
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    • Women's Travel

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    Mighty Bur Oak of Peoria

    by deecat Updated Mar 4, 2005

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    If you're ever near Peoria, Illinois, stop at Bluff Historical District (High & Moss Streets) to see the "Sentinel on the Bluff", a gigantic Bur Oak.

    In the mid 1600's, the French explorers toured this region inhabited by Peoria Native Americans, & the 1750's early surveys by European settlers include a reference to this particular tree.

    In the 1850's, Dr. & Mrs. E.H. Bradley acquire the land upon which the tree now stands; 1930's, the Bradley family purchases adjoining backlot, has large house razed to allow tree's roots to grow unhampered. Much later (1960's), The Park District purchases the site to save the oak tree.

    1971: site is illuminated, & 3 years later, Giant Oak Park becomes the name of the tree site.

    1976: the tree is designated a "Bicentennial Tree" by the International Society of Arboriculture & National Arborist Association because the tree was living during the American Revolutionary Period. During the years of 1976-1977, Frank Hanbury, Jr collects 200 acorns from the tree & plants them in 4 western states.

    By 1991, The Giant Oak Tree is designated Peoria's "Tricentennial Tree", & the beginning of a seed propagation project by Illinois Department of Conservation & Peoria Urban Forestry Board begins.

    1992-1993 sees the Peoria City Beautiful, City of Peoria, & the Peoria Park District, through deed of land transfer, secure the eastward expansion of the tree's root system.

    From 1994 until today (2005), Peoria Park District owns & maintains the Giant Oak Park.

    Where did I receive this history about the tree?
    I discovered it on a brass plackart within the enclosed portion of the park. The tree has been protected by a black wrought-iron fence so it is not vandalized or damaged in any way.

    Dimensions of the Giant Oak:: (1994)
    50 feet high
    110-foot spread
    54.5 inch trunk diameter

    The Brass Commemoration ends with these stirring words: "To the brave old oak tree, Cheers!"

    Giant Bur Oak in Peoria
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    • Eco-Tourism
    • Adventure Travel

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    Peoria: What To Do First?

    by deecat Updated Mar 3, 2005

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    The first thing I try to do when I enter a new place is to find the visitor center. That's exactly what I did when we visited Peoria, Illinois in early March, 2005. The Peoria Visitors' Center also called the Riverfront Visitors' Center was formerly known as the Powell Press building; before that, it was the John Schwab Grocery. How do I know that? I learned it by visiting the Visitors' Center. That is the purpose of going...to find answers to my questions. The staff that day consisted of a helpful volunteer who gave me directions, brochures, and maps. I also found out that this building is the only pre-Civil War commercial building in Peoria!

    In the beginning, this building stood only 50 feet from the river so that boats could carry goods to the back of the grocery store; then they were taken to the front of the store for the customers. But, by the turn of the century, the Eckwood Park landfill project made access by boat impossible!

    Once the city decided to revitalize the riverfront area, they wanted to use this historic building in some way. Fortunately, the Peoria Historical Society as well as the Central Illinois Landmarks Foundation joined forces to restore the building about 1997.

    Today, when you go to Peoria, you will see this former grocery, former press building being used as an information center at the foot of Main Street...what a nice location for welcoming visitors to the Peoria Riverfront. I certainly enjoyed visiting it and gained much information I otherwise would not have discovered on my own.

    Peoria Visitors Center at the Riverfront
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    What a Great Building the Peoria City Hall Is!

    by deecat Updated Mar 4, 2005

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    From the moment that I saw it, I fell in love with the impressive Peoria City Hall.
    It's a massive stone structure in the Flemish Renaissance style, and the stone is a lovely shade of red.
    When it was erected in 1899, it sat on the corner of Madison and Fulton Streets, but as Peoria's layout changed over the years, Madison Street no longer crosses Fulton!
    Instead, today City Hall resides next to the modern Civic Center where Madison meets Fulton. The contrast between the old and new is glorious.
    This building was designed by Reeves and Ballie, costing $271,000 to construct. It was in 1978 that this stylish building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
    Interestingly, City Hall still has the Victorian Ball tower from the original structure, and in the lobby, the marble statue, "Love Knows No Caste" still stands to greet visitors. Guess what? The same local artists who created the Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial on Main Street sulpted this marble statue. (Fritz Triebel)

    Over 100 years later, City Hall is still within the same walls, and through careful restoration, it has managed to retain most of its original appearance. That is ever so refreshing!

    Peoria City Hall
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    Attractions of Interest in Peoria

    by deecat Updated Mar 4, 2005

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    Please Click photo

    Two days was not enough time to completely explore historic Peoria. While there, and with the help of the Historical Society and the Visitors' Center, I know that I need to see:

    Lakeview Museum of Arts & Sciences, 1125 W. Lake Drive, (309)687-7000
    A comprehensive museum with the world's largest model of the solar system; a showcase for more than 15,000 items in art & science. It also features an Illinois folk art gallery, a planetarium, and the hands-on children's discovery center.

    The African American Museum Hall of Fame, 309 DuSable Street, (309)673-2206.
    It's located in a 19th Century warehouse and offers 2 exhibition galleries. 20 in-house working artist are here & workshops & classes are offered to art center visitors.

    St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church, 103 South Sheridan Rd., is a registered historical landmark (1852) because of its historic architecture & art. Recently restored, its 3000-pipe organ is a "must see".

    Glen Oak Zoo, 2218 North Prospect Rd., (309)686-3365. Open year round, this 1930's zoo covers 7 acres and is home to over 150 animals from around the world, several which are endangered. It offers hands-on programs, shows, and conservation-based presentations.

    The Illinois Historical Water Museum, 123 West Washington, (309)671-3701. On the banks of the Illinois River, this historically preserved building was a pumping station built in 1890 (listed on National Register of Historic Places) that is now a museum that displays photos & historical equipment once used to purify & treat drinking water.

    These are only a few of what's left for me to explore.

    Lincoln Statue in Front of Peoria Court House
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    • Zoo
    • Museum Visits

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    "The Defense of the Flag" War Memorial

    by deecat Updated Mar 4, 2005

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    While I was walking to the Riverfront via Main Street, I spotted a lovely memorial that intrigued me so I crossed the street to investigate. It was The Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil War Memorial, and what a tribute it is.
    It was erected by the Ladies' Memorial Day Association through contributions and donations from the city, the citizens, and even the area school children who donated their pennies!.. Dedicated on October 6, 1899, even President McKinley and members of his cabinet attended the ceremony!
    The memorial was created by Fritz Triebel, a local artist , who named it "The Defense of the Flag". The bronze sculptures were cast in Italy and weigh in at 70,000 pounds. The granite at the base of the memorial was shipped from Deere Island, Maine. However, the ship with the granite on it sank so new stone had to be sent.
    With a closer look, I could see that the side nearest to Main Street is of a beautiful woman dressed in draped robe writing something like, " We write on the page what they fought on the battlefield...". On the right and left sides are broze sculptures of young men in battle raising the flag, some of them severly wounded. On the top of the tall column is a globe with an eagle perched on it.

    A copper box was supposedly placed beneath the memorial's base with a list of schoolchildren in Peoria County and a list of Civil War soldiers, both living and dead.

    Also, a tin box was placed inside the globe on which the eagle(called "Old Abe") is perched.

    There was a book published in Peoria in 1906 called "Love's Labor" that tells the entire story and history of this monument. I plan to try to find a copy.

    There are stone benches surrounding the memorial that are nice for sitting and admiring this most powerful tribute to the Civil War soldiers and sailors.

    Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil War Memorial
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    Look What's Under One Roof in Peoria

    by deecat Written Mar 5, 2005

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    I was really impressed when I went to a Josh Groban Concert in Civic Center Arena in early March, 2005. Built in 1982, Peoria Civic Center has played host to the best artists and athletes and numerous exhibitions.
    It was designed by world-renowned architects Phillip Johnson & John Burgee. This complex is really "a modern urban landmark" surrounded by a striking glass arcade which links spaces. It's made up of a 12,000-seat arena, where we saw the concert, and a 2,000-seat theater,. There are also exhibition halls and meeting rooms for any need (they can cater as many as 3,000 for dinner!)
    The Peoria Civic Center is home to:
    Peoria Symphony Orchestra
    Opera Illinois
    Peoria Area Civic Chorale
    Peoria Ballet
    Illinois Ballet
    Broadway Theater Series
    YouTheater Series
    This place is tops for sports.. The center hosts the Illinois High School Association Boys State Basketball Tournament. They serve as home for Rivermen Professional Hockey, Peoria Mutineers Indoor Football, and Bradley University men's basketball.

    The acoustics were excellent for the music concert. There were about 9,000 people in attendance, and all could hear, even those sitting in "nosebleed alley"!

    I read that the Peoria Civic Center is preparing for a major renovation soon; it's in the works!

    Peoria Civic Center
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    Skip Stewart Modified Pitts Special "Prometheus"

    by Dester Updated Apr 24, 2008

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    Skip completely disassembled his Pitts S-2S and rebuilt it to specifications unique to his flying style.

    The fuselage has been strengthened and fitted with new wings, designed by Scheunemann Aviation Products, to handle the high G loads imposed during his routine.

    All the control surfaces have been enlarged to make Skip's unique maneuvers possible.

    The engine was replaced by a highly modified, 550 cubic inch powerhouse

    I watched him fly sideways fifteen feet off of the ground. The darndest thing to see.

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    Theater

    by Sandypaws3 Updated Sep 24, 2003

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    Corn Stock and Peoria Players Theaters are two of the oldest community theaters in town, and they're complimentary to each other. Peoria Players season begins at the end of August, while Corn Stock is just winding up their season at that time. Some of the Broadway shows that have been done at the theaters are Fiddler on the Roof, Hello Dolly, and Jesus Christ Superstar. If you want Broadway theater done by a Broadway cast, the Civic Center, in downtown Peoria, has touring Broadway shows.

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  • Wildlife Prairie Park

    by JulieAnn410 Written Feb 25, 2003

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    Similar to a zoo but has only animals that are native to Illinois and they are in their natural habitat. You must walk through trails to see all the animals. There is also an area with an old log cabin, one room school house and a modern playgroud. There are also some great stores and a museum. Ask about watching a film with information on the area. And don't forget to visit the reptile house!

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking

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  • Glen Oak Park

    by JulieAnn410 Updated Aug 26, 2002

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    Besides picnic and playground areas, it has a small zoo (which is expanding), a botanical gardens, and a big wooden playground with lots of tunnels and things for the kids to play on. It also has tennis courts and ball diamonds. There are often concerts near the lagoon. On Monday nights in the summer, they show movies where admission is only .25.

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    The best sight of Peoria is...

    by Moishka Updated Aug 26, 2002

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    The best sight of Peoria is Peoria in your rear view mirror. To enjoy this, get in your car and leave for better and freer lands in this free nation!
    Nothing to do. All the time in the world to do this in!
    Nowhere to dance. You could always drive to Chicago, though!
    Nowhere to go {unless you are smart enough to be leaving!}
    Anybody over the age of 45 feels the urge need and desire of blowing their nose loud enough to be heard down the street which to me is completely offensive and very ill mannered.

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    Stop and see Wildlife Prairie...

    by brdwtchr Updated Aug 25, 2002

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    Stop and see Wildlife Prairie Park if you like wildlife and nature.
    2,000 acre park is home to the native animals of Illinois. It also has an old farmstead for educational purposes. One feature I liked best was the chance to do some bird watching as we walked around looking at the animals there.

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    Frank Lloyd Wright "Little House"

    by atufft Updated Feb 16, 2013

    I've seen numerous Frank Lloyd Wright Homes, and this one fits well within the architect's Prairie style genre of modern residential homes. Unfortunately, this home has been modified by it's owner, action which was cause for anger in the neighborhood. The home is named after the first owner, Francis W Little, and having been built in 1903, is one of Wright's earlier works.

    Please see note from reader on my page about the modification, and restoration of this house.

    Frank Lloyd Wright Little House, Peoria Frank Lloyd Wright Little House, Peoria Frank Lloyd Wright Little House, Peoria Frank Lloyd Wright Little House, Peoria
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Peoria Things to Do

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