It’s been said that when looking for a place to live, location… location… location is what’s important. But what does that mean? A low crime rate, proximity to work and family, quality schools, and access to parks and recreational facilities all make an area desirable to potential homeowners. Fortunately, Tazewell County has an abundance of all these features, and particularly, access to parks and recreation.
Quality parks and a variety of recreational opportunities bring many things to a community and a region. First, the quality of life is greatly enhanced by having greenspace in which kids can play, and family and friends can come together. I have fond memories of getting together with extended family at Glen Oak Park in Peoria every Father’s Day for a picnic.
Second, recreational facilities are engines of tourism and economic development. From soccer tournaments to Frisbee golf events, people from all over the state of Illinois and the Midwest fill our hotels, shop at our stores and eat at our restaurants. The dollars generated at these events are reinvested back into our communities, making them even stronger. It is also an opportunity to showcase what a wonderful place central Illinois is to the rest of our state.
The City of East Peoria is a prime example of a community that has invested very strategically in parks and recreation—and has seen many positive outcomes as a result. Eastside Centre is one of the premier sports complexes in the Midwest, with multiple baseball and softball fields, soccer fields, a football stadium, a complete track-and-field complex, workout facilities, indoor gyms, plus a water park for all ages (Did they miss anything?). Eastside plays host to multiple sports tournaments and attracts visitors from throughout the Midwest. In addition, East Peoria has a wonderful bike trail system that combines fitness and fun for everyone, while the Illinois River, Friday farmers’ markets and numerous golf courses also add to the fun… and encourage community.
Another example of a community that has brought its vision of recreational opportunities for everyone is Washington and its Five Points community center, which brings together a fitness center, banquet facilities, aquatics center, the local library and a wonderful performing arts center. I believe the leaders and citizens of Washington fully understand the importance of working as one in bringing their community together. The city also has a bike path, several parks and an outdoor pool.
If it’s variety you are looking for, Pekin offers a diverse set of activities for the entire family. On hot days, you can go boating on the Mineral Springs Park lagoon or head over to Dragonland for fun at the water park. Pekin also has two great golf courses, an ice rink, a riverfront park and the Parkside Athletic Club, with indoor and outdoor tennis courts. Most recently, the park district invested in a new 80-acre sports park on the south edge of town with a dozen baseball/softball diamonds, four football fields and 10 acres for soccer.
In Morton, the Idlewood Arts Pavilion in Idlewood Park provides a beautiful setting to enjoy concerts in the summer. The Downtown Plaza, now under construction, will provide a community gathering place for all ages, while a soccer complex on the east edge of town draws players and parents from throughout the Midwest. New tennis courts, a public pool, pickleball courts and a bike trail also provide relaxation and recreation for everyone.
The list of parks and recreational opportunities in Tazewell County could continue on for pages. The Mackinaw River, campgrounds, areas for horseback riding and hiking… and on and on the fun continues. Our region, working together, has developed a system of parks and recreation that every person, family, out-of-town guest and business can embrace. Looking for something to do this week? Head on over to Tazewell County and feel refreshed. iBi