Small Town, Big City

Whether you prefer the buzz of the city, the quiet domesticity of rural life or something in between, Greater Peoria is full of options to suit your lifestyle.

Peoria Riverfront
The Peoria RiverFront is a distinctive hot spot for a range of cultural festivals, music concerts and other special events in central Illinois. Photo: Dennis Slape

Centrally located in the heart of Illinois, Greater Peoria is a great place to put down roots, build a career and raise a family. Situated midway between Chicago and St. Louis, the region strikes the perfect balance of big-city life and small-town atmosphere. Our cost of living is low, neighborhoods are safe and diverse, and there are many unique opportunities for all ages to work, learn, play and make a difference. With world-class healthcare and education facilities and easy access to a range of cultural and recreational amenities, you’ll find everything you need right here!

Peoria is a four-time All-America City and the surrounding metro area is among the top regions in the country for cost of living—well below the national average. With a top position on the Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being Index, Greater Peoria is attractive to all ages and demographics. It ranks high in providing the best value among retirement destinations, according to MarketWatch, and as a place for millennials and Gen Z to get their careers off the ground.

With a median home value hovering around $130,000, the Peoria area is consistently one of the country’s most affordable housing markets. In fact, the Village of Dunlap was named the third best place in the country to buy a home in 2018 by Niche, a national real estate survey website. And if you’re not ready to buy, the median rent in the Peoria metro area is $800—about half of the national median, according to Zillow.

Peoria’s neighborhoods span a diverse range of architectural styles, options and amenities, from urban lofts offering “industrial chic,” to charming mid-century homes, to modern subdivisions. The city’s historic districts are lined with ornately detailed, turn-of-the-century dwellings—the former residences of Peoria’s “whiskey barons”—while eclectic homes at affordable prices can be found all over the region.

In Tazewell County, the City of Washington and Village of Morton finished fourth and 16th respectively in WalletHub’s 2018 “Best Places to Raise a Family in Illinois” list—cited for family life and fun; education, health and safety; affordability; and socioeconomic environment. Woodford County ranks among the healthiest counties in the state—spotlighting the idyllic charms of communities like Eureka, Metamora and Germantown Hills—while the rest of the region is dotted with distinctive towns with unique appeal, from Pekin to Havana to Lincoln.

World of Wonder
Bradley University’s World of Wonder summer camp is designed to promote collaboration, higher-order thinking and creativity.

With preschool programs and childcare centers located across Greater Peoria, there are plenty of options for families with small children. Many of the region’s elementary and high schools have been recognized for academic excellence, while opportunities for higher education are abundant.

And there’s no shortage of family-friendly ways to have fun! With outstanding park districts and unique arts activities, you’ll find something to engage every age and interest. Inspire your little ones at the Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum, or pay a visit to Tanners Orchard for an amazing country farm experience—complete with wagon rides, a petting zoo and more. Looking for more ideas? Try one of these:

  • Take sailboat lessons at the IVY Club;
  • Strap on your skates at the Peoria Palace Skating Rink;
  • Jump around on Family Night at Elevate Trampoline Park;
  • Explore the solar system in the Peoria Riverfront Museum planetarium;
  • Enjoy competitive video gaming at LANmark eSports and Video Game Center;
  • Take part in story time at one of our many public libraries;
  • Spark your imagination at Ignite Peoria, a daylong showcase for creativity;
  • Check out the animals and ride the railroad around Wildlife Prairie Park; or
  • Learn about nature and the environment at Art & Science in the Woods.

Central Illinois is full of amazing museums and historic sites for all ages, while opportunities for lifelong education make it an attractive home for retirees. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Bradley University offers educational travel, classes, lectures and other activities for ages 50 and up—allowing residents to stay vital and active as they enjoy their retirement years.

Greater Peoria is proud to be a melting pot in the heart of the Midwest, with a diverse range of organizations that spotlight our rich cultural roots. The Peoria Chinese Association and Indo-American Society of Peoria promote our Chinese and Indian heritage; the Peoria Hispanics group provides resources to the growing Latino community; and the Tri-County Urban League, Peoria NAACP and African American Hall of Fame celebrate Peoria’s deep African American roots.

Since 1914, the Itoo Society has provided a cultural home for the region’s vast Lebanese community, while the German-American Central Society, St. Patrick Society of Peoria, Italian-American Society, Jewish Federation of Peoria, Filipino-American Society of Central Illinois and Seven Circles Heritage Center honor the heritage of our immigrant ancestors. From India Fest to Oktoberfest, an array of cultural festivals brings their unique traditions to all area residents.

Peoria is also proud of its four sister cities: Aitou, Lebanon; Benxi, China; Clonmel, Ireland; and Friedrichshafen, Germany—which boasts the longest-running youth exchange among sister cities anywhere in the country.

A rich faith-based tradition is a vital element of life in central Illinois. From Christian and non-denominational churches and cathedrals to Islamic mosques and Hindu and Jewish temples, the religious communities of Greater Peoria are as diverse as its people. No matter what your faith or conviction, you’ll find fellowship close to home.

Morton Pumpkin Festival
The Morton Pumpkin Festival draws more than 75,000 attendees each year to the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.”

With a strong network of nonprofit groups and civic organizations, Greater Peoria rests on a solid foundation of community service and philanthropy. Nearly 32 percent of area residents volunteer for charitable causes, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service—well above the national average—while a diverse range of neighborhood associations bring residents together for the common good.

As the region’s largest non-governmental funder of health and human care services, the Heart of Illinois United Way ensures everyone has access to the education, financial stability and health programs they need. The organization collaborates with more than 45 partner agencies throughout central Illinois, working hand in hand to create a strong, safe and healthy community. The Community Foundation of Central Illinois, Greater Peoria LISC and the Caterpillar Foundation are other major partners in efforts to address community needs.

From health and human services to the arts, environment and education, a diverse range of organizations are doing remarkable things in the community. PP


Wheels O' Time Museum is not listed in any of the categories that you have. The museum is family friendly and a place for all ages to engage in displays and learn about the history of manufacturing in the Peoria area and much more. There is something for everyone to enjoy and history is fun!

Submitted by Bobbie Rice on Wed, 08/21/2019 - 21:44


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