You’ve planned a jam-packed meeting or convention in Peoria, Illinois, because of its terrific central location, the multi-faceted Peoria Civic Center and other meeting facilities. But what entertainment and activities will your attendees find here, before or after a meeting? Check out tasty restaurant fare, local sports events, and arts or historical outposts. Here are 10 great ways for meeting attendees to enjoy their free time in Peoria.
Whether you join a public trip or book The Spirit of Peoria for a private event, an Illinois River cruise will provide a memorable experience for everyone. Ninety-minute public sightseeing trips begin and end at Peoria’s riverfront dock, and themed cruises are also available (check the website for details). Better yet, schedule one of your convention functions on this magnificent old-school paddlewheel boat.
Visitors to the nonprofit Peoria Riverfront Museum can see permanent collections, plus rotating exhibitions and programs, that connect art and science with history and human achievement. The magnificent Dome Planetarium provides real-time trips through the Universe, or you can see a movie in the giant screen theater, which has a 52-by-70-foot screen. This year’s rotating exhibits address genomes and ways in which science and physics create light. The museum can also host meetings and conventions and features beautiful riverfront views too.
At Caterpillar Visitors Center, visitors get a crash course about the machinery and people who have made Caterpillar a worldwide brand since it began in the 1800s. A leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, as well as diesel- and natural gas-powered engines, the company is known for its industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives.
World on Wheels Segway Tours provides a fun and unusual way to ride along the Peoria RiverFront while learning about this area’s history and present-day character. Riding a Segway for the first time requires only brief instruction and practice. You’ll be gliding your way through Peoria before you know it while socializing with other riders. Choose from 30-minute, one-hour or two-hour tours.
Enjoy the outdoors and creativity of artists during free guided Sculpture Walk tours, held on Saturdays through October, or book a private tour for your group. Beginning at the Peoria Riverfront Museum, each year-long show incorporates massive pieces crafted from wood and various metals by individual sculptors and displayed throughout Peoria’s Warehouse District.
Looking for some seasonal fun outdoors? Spend a pleasant evening or weekend afternoon watching Minor League Peoria Chiefs Baseball at Dozer Park. This Single-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals plays in a state-of-the-art ball park, located within walking distance of downtown Peoria and minutes from several downtown hotels. You can also schedule a private meeting or event here.
From October through April, Peoria Civic Center is home to fast-paced sports action, thanks to the Peoria Rivermen Hockey Club. The club plays games against teams that come from as close as Evansville, Indiana, and Columbus, Ohio, or as far away as Mississippi and Pensacola, Florida.
Take one converted railroad depot, serve house-smoked barbecue and fresh tacos paired with craft beers and cocktails, and you have Blue Duck Barbecue Tavern. The popular watering hole flanks Peoria’s RiverFront and showcases pours from regional microbreweries, as well as high-quality
wines and whiskeys. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the restaurant features a 13-foot ceiling and reclaimed barn wood, alongside intriguing artwork and multiple large-screen TVs.
Operating since 1960 and located less than five miles from Peoria Civic Center, Jim’s Downtown Steakhouse is part Old English Country Inn, part pub. You’ll experience an old-school ambience and menu, from tangy shrimp dijon and avocado bruschetta appetizers to fork-tender filet mignon and jumbo sea scallops as entrees. A robust wine and cocktail menu complements live piano music, which begins nightly at 8:00 p.m.
Kickback on Fulton is a relaxed neighborhood bar and lounge not far from the Civic Center. Devour pizza and beer while you take in the latest games, broadcast on large TVs. Its expansive patio is a prime spot to perch during warm weather.
A quick walk from Peoria Civic Center is a lovingly restored 1889 stone church now known as Obed and Isaac’s Microbrewery & Eatery. Fill up on reubens, veggie burgers or bacon-wrapped dates, then unwind over a game of bocce ball or bags outside.
For a casual lunch, dinner or late-night snack beyond your meeting site, Sugar Wood-Fired Bistro crafts inventive wood-fired pizzas, such as smokey pork chipotle or pesto arugula. If you’re not in the mood for pizza, the menu also includes hefty sandwiches plus meal-sized salads and handcrafted sweet treats too, at this cozy, rustic restaurant.
Warehouse District gastropub Thyme Kitchen + Craft Beer combines an extensive bar menu with shareable appetizers, hefty sandwiches and burgers, plus soup or entrée salads and decadent desserts. For something different, try the deconstructed duck tamales or vegetarian stir fry.
Thirty-thirty Coffee Co. is a locally owned morning favorite whose employees are deeply passionate about java. A farm-to-cup mentality translates into coffee varietals from across the globe, served at small or communal tables. There’s also free Wi-Fi available.
Elsewhere in town, grab a latte at Zion Coffee Bar or a beer at Rhodell Brewery. Combine craft brews with games at 8-Bit Beercade and late-night burgers at Richard’s On Main, too.
When meeting attendees have a free time before or after the event, this city offers plenty of enticing options. Plan your visit at www.peoria.org.