Our staff has compiled a list of our top places to visit in Peoria. Whether someone is new to the area or just looking to explore outside of campus, these picks are a great starting point.
The Rock Island Trail – Conor McEntee
The Rock Island Trail is the ideal place for those who love to walk, bike or enjoy the great outdoors. The trail starts by the Peoria riverfront and goes 38 miles north into Stark County. But it also has great views of wide-open fields, rustic bridges and large, beautiful trees lining the trail. Specifically, it is great for anyone who wants to get away from all the rush and noise of college life and have time to decompress in the presence of mother nature. For anyone who loves to be outside, this is something not to miss during the summer and especially during fall when the leaves begin to change.
Ice Cream Shack – Haley Johnson
This local favorite lives up to the hype. With slushies, shakes, sundaes and Wizards everyone in the friend group is sure to find something they like. The shack is also popular among Bradley students because it’s budget-friendly. A large Wizard, or ice cream mixer, is only $4.50, the price of a small Blizzard at Dairy Queen. The only catch: they only take cash. The Ice Cream Shack is open from the beginning of May until the end of September, only giving new students a full month to enjoy delicious treats. Act fast for these frozen treats!
Luthy Botanical Garden – Valerie Vasconez
The Luthy Botanical Garden is a quiet sanctuary that neighbors the Peoria Zoo. It is free to attend and runs on volunteers and donations. While touring the area, it won’t be much of a surprise to find wild animals, birds and insects making their rounds at various plants. Sculptures, ponds, canopies and play areas are scattered throughout the garden, making it an adventure to discover what’s around the bush.
Although the best time to visit would be in the warmer months when everything is in bloom, their tropical conservatory shelters plants all year like budding forget-me-nots to birds of paradise that strain one’s neck trying to find the highest leaf. It’s excellent for peaceful walks, taking photos or having a picnic on a bench. In December, the conservatory is turned into a winter wonderland with poinsettias and decorated trees, minus the snow of course.
Fondulac Drive Lookout Point – Joey Wright
Interested in stepping away from campus and taking in a nice view? High atop East Peoria sits Fondulac Drive Lookout Point, which offers a stunning view of the Peoria skyline from just across the Illinois River. An alternative to Grandview Drive, which offers views of the river and greenery that flanks it, Lookout Point allows one to take in a breathtaking view of Peoria’s cityscape. The perch is especially fun to visit at night when Peoria and its surrounding communities are aglow with lights. During the wintertime, you can also see East Peoria put on its annual Festival of Lights parade, featuring dazzling floats and Christmas lights.
Laura Bradley Park – Angeline Schmelzer
When the weather is nice and you want something different to do while putting off all the work you need to do, Bradley Park is the place to go. Less than a block from campus, it’s especially great for students without cars. Grab some of your friends and take the short walk to a magical new world that seems far enough away to recalibrate your brain from schoolwork. Follow the trail and see where your sense of adventure takes you. Whether it is on a thorough walk or hike and taking in the fresh air or getting a workout from playing disc golf, you are sure to enjoy your time away from campus. If you missed the Bradley squirrels, have no fear, there are plenty scurrying around the park as well. While walking back to campus, make a stop at One World Cafe for some of the famous flavored lemonade. It’ll cool you down after your excursion and ease you back into the school mindset.
The Jukebox Comedy Club – Jade Sewell
The Jukebox Comedy Club has a unique history in the area. Peoria’s self-proclaimed “home for comedy since 1990” has seen several famous comedians over the years, recently featuring Marlon Wayans from “White Chicks” and Jay Chandrasekharfrom “Super Troopers.” Every Wednesday is open mic night, where anyone can test out material. There are also several shows and opportunities to score free tickets. For the most part, The Jukebox has been rather unattended by Bradley students, which is unfortunate considering it provides quality entertainment at an affordable price.
Hyvee on Lake Avenue – Anthony Landahl
It’s true that once you become a college student, it’s all about saving money and only buying cheap food products. You have to buy a big bag of generic cereal or maybe an 18-piece value pack of Quaker granola bars. But once in a while, if you want to reward yourself for an A on your exam or be the party hero with some awesome snacks without breaking the bank, direct yourself up north on University and take a right on Lake Avenue to visit the nearest Hy-Vee.
If you’re not privy to Hy-Vee, you will be after your time at Bradley. Once again, the prices are on the more expensive side. However, if you’re just looking for that one type of vegan sausage, have an inkling for organic cereal or just looking for something different, Hy-Vee is worth piling into the car with your friends and taking your taste buds on a trip.
Dozer Park – Larry Larson
If you’re in search of entertainment on a summer evening in Peoria, look no further than a Peoria Chiefs game at Dozer Park.
Peoria boasts one of the best stadiums in Single-A minor league baseball, thanks to the proximity and convenience of this downtown ballpark. You’ll get a bang for your buck, as the typical price of admission for a lawn seat is just $9. Take a close look at the promotional schedule to plan your visit around a bobblehead or fireworks night for some extra fun.
After the game, take a short stroll down Adams Street and get some woodfired pizza at Sugar. That sounds like a great date night in the opinion of this sports fan.