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Peoria, IL Event Planning

Key Highlights

Hotels 21
Total Sleeping Rooms 2,494
Committable Sleeping Rooms* 319
Committable Meeting Rooms* 12
Convention Center Space 900,000 Sq. Ft.
Largest Exhibit Space 108,668 Sq. Ft.
Average Hotel Room Rate USD $77
Average Daily Meal Cost USD $46
Average Weekly Car Rental USD $256
*Maximum for a single hotel

Peoria, IL Meeting Planning Overview

Welcome to Cvent's Meeting and Event Planning Guide to Peoria, a city guide for meeting professionals. A true Americana destination with Midwestern hospitality and metropolitan – yet affordable – amenities, Peoria is within a three-hour drive of Chicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis and Madison. The largest city set along the Illinois River and the cultural hub of central Illinois, Peoria features a riverside downtown with lodging, restaurants, shops, nightlife and culture all within steps of one another. In addition to its walk-friendly riverfront setting, this vibrant Midwestern city offers an abundance of first-class, affordable Peoria event venues and attractions, as well as a state-of-the-art convention center.

Peoria's convenience is due to its location near I-74 and I-39, as well as the fact that U.S. 24, one of the country's 126 National Scenic Byways, runs right through the area. Visitors traveling to Peoria by air fly into General Wayne A. Downing International Airport, which is located eight minutes from downtown. The airport offers daily nonstop service to 10 major U.S. markets such as Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Detroit, and features such amenities as free parking. At the airport, visitors can catch a taxi, a hotel shuttle or hop on the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District's CityLink bus system, which runs along 23 routes from Monday through Saturday, and serves major attractions, schools, shopping centers, golf courses and more. CityLink also features park and ride services to select Peoria Civic Center events.

Spanning more than 110,000 square feet of exhibit space after a $55-million expansion, the Peoria Civic Center is the largest convention facility in downstate Illinois and the cornerstone of conventions and entertainment in Peoria. The downtown center sits within steps of dining, nightlife, 800 hotel rooms and the riverfront district, and houses a 12,000-seat arena, a 2,200-seat theater, a 27,000-square-foot ballroom and 17,000 square feet of meeting rooms, among other spaces. In addition to conventions and meetings, the Peoria Civic Center hosts a number of family shows, concerts and sports, and serves as the home court for the Peoria Rivermen professional ice hockey team and Bradley University Braves basketball team.

For smaller group functions and events, meeting planners can look to Peoria's variety of unique venues, ranging from a turn-of-the-century paddlewheeler to a 2,000-acre zoological park. One of the only authentic paddlewheel-driven boats offering overnight trips, the 487-person Spirit of Peoria also offers sightseeing, themed cruises and private charter trips along the Illinois River and Mississippi River. The newly opened Peoria Riverfront Museum features art and science exhibitions, the children's Discovery Center, Dome Planetarium and Giant Screen Theater, as well as offering a variety of indoor and outdoor event spaces.

Peoria's Wildlife Prairie State Park houses more than 150 species and 50 species native to Illinois, as well as such attractions as Adventure Trek, a bus with open-air windows that drives through the bison and elk pasture, and such indoor and outdoor event spaces as the 350-person Prairie Hall, overlooking the bison and elk range, and the 100-person Log Room, overlooking the wolf habitat. Par-A-Dice Hotel and Casino features table games, slots and meeting space for up to 1,000 delegates, while the Peoria Zoo is home to more than 100 species of animals and indoor and outdoor event space, including a Tree Top Classroom overlooking the Africa exhibit.

About Peoria, IL / Additional Info

With annual festivals, professional sports teams, golf courses, a thriving economy, strong arts scene and picturesque natural beauty, Peoria is also a microcosm of America itself. Home to Native Americans for more than 12,000 years, Peoria became the first European settlement in Illinois and was one of the earliest in Middle America. The Illinois River was used as a main branch of transportation during the steamboat days, until the 1854 arrival of the railroad made Peoria the fourth-largest regional hub in the country for many years. Peoria's cultural scene flourished in the 1920s vaudeville days, when live acts and stage shows would come to Peoria to test their reception (as Peoria was viewed as a typical American town).

Today, Peoria is home to Caterpillar Inc. World Headquarters, Komatsu America Corp., Maui Jim, and Bosch. One of the city's most popular attractions is the Caterpillar Visitors Center, which welcomes visitors to engage in interactive displays that tell of the history and people behind the company's sustainable progress around the world.

Peoria is also a flourishing arts and culture scene, complete with several theaters, galleries, a ballet company and symphony orchestra. Visitors can view and take part in glass blowing at Toraason Glass, a contemporary hand-blown glass studio and gallery that offers classes and team-building activities. The city's cultural and academic strength is bolstered by its resident schools, which include Illinois Central College, Bradley University, Eureka College and the University of Illinois College of Medicine. Residents and visitors alike delight in the city's variety of shopping areas, including Shoppes at Grand Prairie, an outdoor mall featuring over 70 stores.

When it's time to get out and play, Peoria offers a number of recreation opportunities, including hunting, fishing, birding, canoeing, hiking, biking and golfing. Many of Peoria's attractions, including Tanners Orchard, celebrate the outdoors. Family-owned and farmed since 1947, Tanners Orchard welcomes guests to pick their own apples and pumpkins, interact with farm animals, navigate a seasonal corn maze and more. Soak up the sunshine from O'Brien Field, home to the Class A minor league Peoria Chiefs baseball team (affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals). The American Hockey League affiliate of the St. Louis Blues, the Peoria Rivermen, play at the Peoria Civic Center.

Beyond its strong economic, academic, cultural and outdoor recreation scenes, Peoria is home to an variety of fine and casual restaurants. Alexander's Steakhouse welcomes guests to select their own steaks from a locker and then cook it their own way over a live charcoal grill, while Biaggi's serves traditional Italian fare complemented by an extensive wine list and craft cocktails. Avanti's has graced the Peoria area with its Italian specialties since 1966, while Burger Barge is a fun eatery with a number of burger specialties, topped with such selections as onion rings, pastrami and nacho cheese. For fresh fish flown in daily, hungry visitors head to Jonah's Seafood House & 2601 Oyster House, which prints its menu twice daily.

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