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Featured Photo by Discover Peoria

How To Spend The Perfect Summer Day In Peoria, Illinois With The Family!

Peoria, IL

Whether you’re planning an epic road trip along the Mississippi River or you like to make a few extra stops on the way to and from your vacation destination, the Great River Road is surrounded by big cities and charming small towns that make perfect checkpoints along the way. If you’re in search of a perfect detour river town to spend a day or two exploring with the family, a great option is Peoria, Illinois.

Peoria is a mid-sized Illinois city on the Illinois River, 50 miles southeast of Moline, Illinois. Here you can enjoy big city amenities with a small, river town feel, making it a great place to stop with families and kids. There is a lot going on in Peoria year-round, like concerts, festivals, outdoor recreation, sports games, among other events. Here are a few recommendations for the best things to do in Peoria with the family to enjoy a perfect summer day.

5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River

Home to minor league baseball’s Peoria Chiefs, the St. Louis Cardinal’s High-A affiliate, Dozer Park is a wonderful place to catch a game on a sunny, summer day. With the stadium’s family-friendly atmosphere, plenty of options for food, and various seating locations, your whole family can have a great time watching a Chiefs’ home game. Games are held Tuesday through Sunday each weekday evening, though most fans come on Friday and Saturday night. 

An additional bonus is that the stadium is within walking distance of the downtown hotels and restaurants, so you could dine at one of the many downtown restaurants before making your way over to your seats. Once there you can relax with some beverages from the concession stand and snacks for the kids and then sit back for nine innings of excitement. The stadium even has the RLI Play Zone, where your little ones can play with the interactive equipment if they get a little antsy.

5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River

Photo by Burger Barge

If your family is a fan of hamburgers, Burger Barge is a perfect place to stop in when you’re in the Peoria area. Serving lunch and dinner, this beach themed burger joint is kid-friendly and has plenty of options on the menu to satisfy everyone. They pride themselves on being a laid-back, no frills establishment where visitors can kick back and relax, so it’s a great place to dine after a day of fun.

As the name suggests, Burger Barge is known for its famous, award-winning burgers. There are over 20 different featured burgers on the menu, including the popular Captain’s Burger, which is topped with corn beef and their special dock sauce, and the Illinois Burger with bacon, fried onions, mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese. If you are in the mood for something else, Burger Barge also has an extensive seafood menu. To top it off, kids can enjoy the lemonade fruit chillers and fruit sparklers, while the adults enjoy a variety of cocktails and specialty margaritas. You’ll also be able to enjoy a great view of the Illinois River while you eat.

5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River

Photo by Peoria Zoo

If you’re interested in taking advantage of the nice summer weather and getting outdoors, a great option for families is the Peoria Zoo. Here you can explore the zoo grounds, walking from exhibit to exhibit, and have a blast seeing and learning about the many animal species. The zoo has six different exhibit buildings and areas including Africa!, the Asian Trail, the Australia Walk-About, the Tropics, the Conservation Center, and the Contact Barn.

You can visit the zoo any day of the week for a small fee and the gates open at 10 in the morning. Your family and you can explore the exhibit areas at your leisure, ensuring a day of learning, fun, and the outdoors. If you want to personalize your experience at the Peoria Zoo, you can register for a tour or program for a more hands-on, up close and personal experience with the animals and the behind the scenes work.

5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River

With Peoria being right on the Illinois River, a great way to spend an early summer afternoon is on a sightseeing cruise on Spirit Of Peoria. The Spirit, as the boat is nicknamed, is a 160 foot-long paddle wheeler that can hold up to 385 passengers, and can give some of the best scenic views of the river and the surrounding areas. Regular sightseeing cruises typically run on Saturdays and Sundays, but the time and day can vary based on the cruise you choose.

If you’re planning on being in Peoria for only one or two days, the best cruises for you would be one of the themed cruises or a regular sightseeing cruise. These cruises are held either in the early afternoon or in the evening and typically last 1.5 to 2 hours. Some popular cruises in these categories are the Regular Sightseeing Cruise, the Blues and BBQ Dinner, and the Early Sightseeing Cruise. Whichever you choose, you can expect a fun cruise on the Illinois River where you can enjoy a summer day and take in the sights with your family.

Content Writer and Social Media Coordinator. I paint, listen to music, and play with my dogs a lot. When I’m not doing all that, I love to read and try new things. 

Maeve Miller

Writer , River Travel Magazine