Peoria, population 112,936, sits along the banks of the Illinois River in a metropolitan area of more than 370,000. The city is often considered to represent the average American city. It has an growing economy based on agricultural products, manufacturing and information technology.
An entertainment district, RiverFront, along the Illinois River includes restaurants, hotels and attractions. The Peoria Civic Center hosts the area symphony and sports teams, here. Visitors can take horse drawn carriage rides, walk and hike along the river trail or take a sightseeing or dinner cruise on board a paddlewheeler. Nightclubs mix with art galleries, like the Contemporary Art Center of Peoria and the Peoria Art Guild, and antique shops. Marinas provide river access and during the summer, a market showcases local produce and wares. Festivals throughout the year include: Steamboat Festival, in June; Fourth of July fireworks; the Riverstock musical festival in August; and a popular Fine Arts Fair in September.
The Illinois River Country Nature Trail provides access to outdoor activities along the river. Two loops of the trail, the East Peoria Loop and the Peoria Loop, travel through the area's river bluffs, wetlands, forests, savannas and tall grass prairies connecting some of the area's best nature spots.
Peoria is located 168 miles southwest of Chicago and 40 miles northwest of Bloomington. It is accessible via Interstate Highway 74, U.S. Highway 24, and State Highway 29. There are many lodging options including national hotel/motel chains, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds and retreats.