Illinois, Lakes Rivers and Streams, Rivers, Travel, Video by Mandy

The sights of East Peoria & Peoria Heights

It feels like I haven’t blogged in ages. The last time I wrote to you, I was visiting my sister down in Peoria. We had a great visit and spent some time seeing the sights around East Peoria and Peoria Heights. First we took the scenic route down Peoria Heights’ Grand View Drive, which winds along a very high bank of the Illinois River with a sweeping view of the river on one side and gracious mansions on the other. One of our favorite homes on Grand View Drive is a modern castle complete with turrets on beautifully landscaped grounds.

Castle house on Grand View Drive in Peoria Heights, Illinois
We all argued over who would get the turret bedroom if we were to buy this castle house in Peoria Heights.

After we drove all of Grand View Drive, we headed across the river to East Peoria. My brother-in-law drove us on a precarious bridge that ran over the interstate and up onto another high bank above the river. Once we reached the top of the hill, we drove our car through another neighborhood of sprawling houses overlooking the river. These were not quite as impressive as the ones we saw in Peoria Heights but were still nicer than anything I’ve ever lived in. Plus the view of the river was amazing.

Once we’d wound our way back down to the river’s edge, we stopped by the river front to take a ton of pictures of downtown Peoria across the river. It’s only just now occurring to me that I’ve only seen downtown Peoria from across the river, so I’m thinking a visit to the downtown area might be in order for our next trip.

A view of Peoria, Illinois from across the Illinois River
This is the view of downtown Peoria, Illinois from across the Illinois River.

I noticed that a brand new Bass Pro Shop had been built on the riverfront since our last visit, but I had no interest in visiting there. We have a Cabela’s near our home, so I felt like once you’ve seen one of those outdoor sporting goods mega stores, you’ve seen them all. But, my boys wanted to check it out, so our next stop was the Bass Pro Shop. I’m glad they talked me into it because it was pretty awesome.

Bass Pro Shop in Peoria Illinois
Bass Pro Shop was nowhere near as boring as I thought it was going to be. Even if you aren’t really outdoorsy, it’s still a pretty cool place to check out. And cheap entertainment for the kids!

I’m into the outdoors, but I’m not one of those people who can get excited about walking up and down every single aisle of one of these places to look at every single little thing like some people. My dad, for example, can easily spend four hours in Cabela’s and still need to be dragged out. Not me. I look at the life-sized stuffed animals for about 15 minutes, and then I’m ready to go. But this Bass Pro Shop has a lot to look at even before you set foot through the front door. The front yard is landscaped and includes koi-filled ponds with waterfalls.

Once you step foot inside, you will be in awe at the outdoorsy decor, whether you’re into the outdoors or not. The grand entryway seems to sweep ahead of you forever and is stuffed with lifelike animals of all kinds looking down at you from scenery groupings above.

After you make your way to the back of the main thoroughfare, you come to a gigantic fish tank full of the biggest catfish I have ever seen in my life. These things alone are enough to bring people to Bass Pro Shop whether they’re into hunting and fishing or not.

I would recommend a stop here with kids no matter what you’re into. You can easily spend an hour or two just looking at the animals and other wonders without ever spending a dime. Although, if you want to spend money, they have lots of cute little souvenirs for both the kids and the adults.

After sight seeing for a good part of the day, we were pretty beat. We headed back home to grill out and try not to die of heat exhaustion. It was a crazy hot and humid day that ended with a spectacular thunderstorm I happened to catch on video.

And that about sums up our trip to Peoria. Have you ever visited Peoria, IL? If so, what sights should we be sure to see on our next visit? Please comment below.

~Mandy Webster

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