|By TIM ALEXANDER
PEORIA, Ill. — The Peoria Convention and Visitors Bureau is extending a welcome to visitors to the 25th annual Greater Peoria Farm Show, to be held Nov. 28-30 at the Peoria Civic Center in downtown Peoria.
Peoria offers downtown hotspots, towering buildings, a picturesque skyline, quaint parks, charming shops and plenty of culture, entertainment and energy. There is always something to do in Illinois River Country.
A good starting point for out-of-town visitors is the Peoria Area Riverfront Visitor Center, 110 NE Water St., on the riverfront. Stop by for brochures and other free tourism information, along with a map of the area. It is located near the Murray Baker Bridge (U.S. 74) in a historic, relocated building.
•The Contemporary Art Center (305 W. Water St.) is one of Peoria’s cultural hubs, featuring art exhibitions, artist studios, comedy improv, poetry nights, and jazz and blues performances. On display are contemporary artworks from some 20 resident artists including those of world-famous Peorian Preston Jackson, who co-founded the center. The center is in Peoria’s Riverfront District, an area filled with cultural, entertainment, dining, shopping, historical and recreational opportunities. See www.peoriariverfront.com
•Forest Park Nature Center (5809 Forest Park Dr., Peoria Heights) is a 500-acre nature preserve with an outstanding interpretive center featuring a natural history museum, spacious bird watching room and a craft and nature store. Park naturalists Mike Miller and John Mullen are always eager to talk about the area’s natural history and wildlife with visitors.
•Glen Oak Zoo (2218 N. Prospect Road) is home to more than 100 species of animals from around the world, including several endangered species. Come and see the zoo grow as workers prepare to embark on a multi-million dollar improvement project that will triple the zoo’s size.
•The Golf Learning Center and Academy (7815 Radnor Road) is the premier golf practice facility in central Illinois. The center includes indoor and outdoor practice facilities, all weather tees on the driving range, nine-hole pitch and putt course, full-service pro shop and food services.
•The Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences (1125 W. Lake Ave.) is the largest private downstate museum in Illinois. It features art and science exhibits, a childrens’ discovery center, planetarium, Illinois Folk Art Gallery and more.
•Landmark Recreation Center (3225 N. Dries Lane) has 50 automated bowling lanes, health club, off-track betting facility, theaters, shops and a sports bar.
•The Par-A-Dice Casino and Hotel (21 Blackjack Blvd.; E. Peoria) offers 35,000 square feet of casino space with more than 1,100 slot and video poker games along with Blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker, Roulette, Craps and Three Card Poker.
•The Ronald Reagan Museum (300 College Avenue) is at Eureka College’s Donald B. Cerf Center in nearby Eureka. The collection includes more than 7,000 items from President Reagan’s days as a student at the college, his movie and television career, and his years as governor of California and the nation’s president.
•The Peoria Heights Merchants (Prospect Road; Peoria Heights) welcomes visitors to their quaint village overlooking the Illinois River. “The Heights” offers a large variety of specialty shops and fine dining. Park and stroll the main drag and its eclectic collection of shops while browsing for holiday gifts. Be sure to tour the scenic Grandview Drive with its breathtaking views of the Illinois River Valley.
•The Shoppes at Grand Prairie (5201 W. War Memorial Dr.) is the premier dining and shopping destination for the area, rivaling upscale malls found in larger cities.
Finally, a visit to the Peoria area is not complete without a stop at East Peoria’s world-renowned Festival of Lights, one of the largest lighted nighttime holiday festivals in the country.
Named one of the top 100 events in North America by the American Business Assoc., the festival’s centerpiece is Folepi’s Winter Wonderland, a nearly two-mile drive-through an electrical park featuring floats from the city’s annual Parade of Lights as well as animated displays. For details about the festival and its many attractions, visit www.cityofeastpeoria.com
For more information about things to do, go online to the Peoria CVB website at www.peoria.org or call the CVB at 800-365-3743.
This farm news was published in the Nov. 22, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.