Fun Things to Do in Peoria Illinois | 8 Exciting Activities


Peoria is a beautiful riverfront city in central Illinois. Situated along the Illinois River, it contains cultural attractions for all to enjoy and is a city of rich history. Peoria was established in the late 17th century by French explorers and is one of the oldest European settlements in North America.

You will find various fun things to do in Peoria, thanks to the city’s many cultural sites, outdoor activities, and restaurants. This city is a wonderful place to spend your holiday, but it may be challenging to find exactly what to do with all of Peoria’s points of interest.

Make sure your trip to this riverfront city is packed with things you want to do and read on to help plan your holiday.

Tip: Read our article on different types of holidays, vacations, and travel to plan your ultimate trip.

Building in downtown Peoria, Illinois

Things to Do in Peoria Illinois

Nicknamed the “Gem City” thanks to its great location for trade and fertile land, Peoria will not leave you bored. Whether you are a person who enjoys being outside taking in nature or indoors and marveling at museum artifacts, Peoria has it all for you.

Peoria Riverfront Museum

One of the city’s cultural jewels, the Peoria Riverfront Museum is a must-see. It has exhibits and collections revolving around art, science, and history so finding something you’re interested in won’t be hard. There are also classes and programs to take part in with some recurring while others are a once-off.

The museum hosts events of different kinds during the day and evening like book signings, food tasting, yoga, and movies. There are so many things to experience in this museum that it may take you more than one day to appreciate it all.

Vintage clock in Peoria, Illinois

Peoria Zoo

The Peoria Zoo is perfect for the whole family to enjoy. It’s open daily from 10 am to 5 pm and is a lovely way to spend your afternoon in Peoria. The zoo has six different exhibits with its most popular one being the Africa exhibit.

The Africa exhibit simulates the country’s environment to house fourteen different species. You will be able to see the African Lions, Giraffes, Mandrills, and the critically endangered Northern White Rhino. Other exhibits in the zoo include the Conservation Center, Asian Trail, Australia Walk-About, Tropics, and Contact Barn.

Penguins swimming underwater at the zoo

Dozer Park

If you are a fan of baseball then visiting Dozer Park is one of the best activities in Peoria. It is home to the Peoria Chiefs, a minor league baseball team, and the Bradley University baseball team.

The park has five concession stands with an array of food and sweet treats you can snack on while you enjoy a game. There are also craft beers supplied by breweries that are in the area leaving you spoiled for choice.

Three baseballs sitting in grass in Illinois

Caterpillar Visitors Center

The Caterpillar Visitor Center is a very different museum from the Peoria Riverfront Museum but is totally worth visiting. The center is a unique museum where you learn about the history of this company and its construction equipment.

The museum has eight different galleries that feature exhibits of the past, present, and future. If you aren’t interested in the company’s history, you might be interested in the engineering side of things. You can design your own Cat machine or get on a simulator and see for yourself what it’s like to operate the impressive equipment.

Yellow heavy caterpillar equipment

Grand View Drive

Referred to as the “World’s Most Beautiful Drive” by President Theodore Roosevelt, Grand View Drive is the perfect location to take in the views of Peoria. It is a lovely route that’s just over 2.5 miles (just over 4km) long and has adjacent parks to enjoy.

The drive gives you the opportunity to see the luxurious architecture of the historic homes in the neighborhood of Peoria Heights and scenic views over the valley. The park just next to the Grand View Drive is also a great place to hike and enjoy the outdoors.

Aerial view of bridge over water and land in Peoria, Il

Wildlife Prairie Park

Another way to take in nature and see beautiful animals is Wildlife Prairie Park. It has over 60 different species to see and learn about, so if you are interested in animals it’s perfect for a day out. The park also offers space for events like weddings and corporate events like seminars or retreats.

There are also daily events at the Wildlife Prairie Park that are free to partake in. These include River Otter feeding, animal encounters, reptile exhibits, and animal keepers answering questions during the animal feeding time. The park also offers accommodation and gives you access to different activities like biking, hiking, and fishing while you stay.

Aerial view of road in middle of snow and trees in Peoria, Il

Luthy Botanical Garden

The Luthy Botanical Garden is a gorgeous place to spend your day and escape the busyness of city life. It has over five acres of land giving you plenty of trails to explore and flora to admire, easily making it one of the best things to do in Peoria, Illinois.

You can wander through this beautiful garden without spending anything thanks to admission being free. Donations are encouraged though to help keep the Luthy Botanical Garden in pristine condition. There are classes and tours on offer to learn more about the different flora and fifteen themed gardens to admire.

One red flower in focus and the other out of focus

Forest Park Nature Center

If you are an avid hiker or bird watcher then the Forest Park Nature Center has to be on your list of things to do when visiting Peoria, Illinois. It has 7 miles (just over 11km) of hiking trails which is a great cardio exercise for you to enjoy while appreciating the nature around you.

There is a gift shop in the park where you can purchase bird feed and anything you may need for hiking. The center offers classes, like Tai Chi for beginners and wildflower identification, for adults and children making it perfect for the whole family.

Branch with small berries in front of sunset in Peoria, Illinois

A Footnote on Things to Do, Peoria Illinois

No matter what you enjoy you will find something in Peoria to do. The city has everything you could want from outdoor to indoor activities. Whether it’s being inside and enjoying a museum or outside and admiring nature on a hiking trail you will never grow bored here.

Thanks to there being so many points of interest in Peoria Illinois planning your trip there could be quite the challenge. You are spoiled for choice in this city so hopefully, this list will make it a little easier to decide what to do.

Matt Davison
Matt has done marketing for travel and tourism for over a decade. His first love is SEO, with entrepreneurship hotter on its heels than a girlfriend. When he is not looking up flights back to his next destination, you can find him in the garden, making excuses to walk Rusty, strategizing with the team and tinkering on sites until the early morning.