Greater Peoria is the heart of Illinois — and downtown Peoria is the heart of our region. It’s rich with history, blending the echoes of the past with a vibrant, pulsating social scene. Chock-full of exciting, entertaining and challenging activities, there’s something for everyone. From chucking axes to making pottery like Demi Moore in “Ghost,” here are seven exciting ways to play greater in downtown Peoria.
1. Let Loose at Gone Social
What is it? It’s an amusement and entertainment venue featuring axe throwing, escape rooms, a rage room, pinball machines, skee-ball, live music, food, a full bar and more.
Why go? Gone Social is Peoria’s playground for recreation enthusiasts. It’s the perfect place for a date night, family or friend outing, team building, birthday party or if you feel like smashing a chair to smithereens.
Advice: Be careful with that axe. Oh, and book ahead because this place stays busy!
2. Unleash Your Creativity at Crafted DIY Studio & Bar
What is it? Crafted DIY Studio & Bar is a unique space catering to both creativity and socialization.
Why go? Crafting is a form of self-expression, helping us manage stress and increase feelings of happiness and relaxation. Combine that with your favorite cocktail, craft beer or wine, and you’re in for a memorable evening with friends. What you make is up to you, from a leather passport holder to jewelry to home décor and more. The best part? They provide all the tools, materials and instructions to help you create a masterpiece.
Advice: If crafting isn’t your thing, don’t worry. Come in for a drink and enjoy the cozy atmosphere, open Thursday-Sunday.
3. Elevate Your Adventure at First Ascent Peoria
What is it? It’s the first full-service climbing gym in Peoria.
Why go? First Ascent Peoria is heaven on earth for climbers, thrill seekers and workout enthusiasts. Their 20,000-square-foot facility is a renovated steel supply warehouse in the Peoria Warehouse Historic District — featuring incredible climbing terrain, a yoga studio and state-of-the-art fitness equipment.
Advice: You don’t have to be a sherpa to have a blast at First Ascent Peoria. They welcome climbers of all skill levels, from beginners to experts and everyone in between.
4. Treat Your Senses at Rhythm Kitchen Music Cafe
What is it? “It’s a vibe,” as the colloquial expression goes. The Rhythm Kitchen offers delicious casual dining and live music on the Peoria Riverfront.
Why go? If you’re a foodie, your taste buds will light up thanks to their fresh, authentic NOLA-style cuisine. If you’re a music lover, you’ll enjoy the live jazz and blues performances every Friday and Saturday night. And if aesthetics and décor are your thing, you’ll bask in the ambiance and appreciate the curved bar, open kitchen and casual lounge area.
Advice: Like we said, the Rhythm Kitchen is definitely a vibe, just not on Sunday or Monday because they’re closed. But you can feel the rhythm on Tuesday-Thursday from 5-8 PM and Friday-Saturday from 5-9 PM.
5. Enjoy a Night of Nostalgic Fun at 8 Bit Arcade Bar
What is it? It’s Peoria’s first arcade bar, specializing in over 150 craft beers and iconic, old-school games.
Why go? Who doesn’t love a blast from the past? That’s exactly what 8 Bit delivers, with vintage arcade games like Tetris, NBA Hang Time, Mortal Combat, Golden Tee Golf and Ms. Pac-Man. It’s an ideal spot to compete with your friends, spend a ton of quarters and drink delicious craft beer.
Advice: The 8 Bit Arcade Bar is closed to the public on Sundays but available for private parties if that interests you.
6. Soak in the Culture at the Contemporary Art Center of Peoria
What is it? It’s Peoria’s cultural hub, showcasing the innovative artwork of our region’s top artists.
Why go? The Contemporary Art Center features art exhibitions, art studios, art instruction, comedy improv, poetry nights, yoga and tai chi classes, plus jazz and blues performances. In other words, there’s plenty to see and do, making for a rich cultural experience.
Advice: Check out the sculpture and painting studio of renowned artist Preston Jackson and about 20 other resident artists constantly creating art on-site.
7. Get Your Hands Dirty at Wheel Art Pottery Studio
What is it? It’s a pottery studio and school offering classes for novices and memberships for experienced potters.
Why go? Aside from the many benefits of making pottery — reduces stress, improves focus, boosts confidence, enhances creativity — Wheel Art Pottery Studio is a great place to learn a new skill and make fond memories. Plus, next time you have company over and they ask about your new piece, you can say, “Yeah, I made that.” Whether you reference “Ghost” is up to you.
Advice: The Wheel Art Pottery Studio isn’t just for adults; they also offer kid classes, scout troop sessions to earn pottery badges, field trips, summer camps, birthday parties and workshops. Check out their events calendar or book by appointment.
That’s our list of seven exciting ways to play greater in downtown Peoria. While we have you, you should also check out the Top 10 Places to Explore in Greater Peoria.
Images were sourced from Google and local photographers, including Ron Johnson.