Peoria Has Plenty of Places to Play, and Root for the Home Team

By Hollie Deese on June 22, 2011 at 9:57 pm EST

With outdoor opportunities abounding, Peoria attracts anyone with an enthusiasm for activity and a penchant for nature.

Nature lovers can burn off some energy on the area’s many trails. Rock Island Trail spans 27 miles and two counties, pleasing hikers and bikers alike. A local movement advocates opening the 8-mile Kellar Branch, a former rail line, which would connect to the Rock Island Trail State Park trailhead.

The Forest Park Nature Center has seven miles of hiking trails over the 500-acre Illinois Nature Preserve. The center also features a natural history museum, concert series, wildflower walks for active seniors and a variety of other programs and classes.

For even more activities, head over to Glen Oak Park. The extensive fields of this 117-acre recreational area include baseball diamonds, 10 hard tennis courts (four of which are lighted for nighttime play), shuffleboard, a fishing lagoon and three playgrounds. You could spend all Saturday there and still have areas yet to explore.

Kids can cool off at the Logan Water Playground, a splash pad with all sorts of sprayers. For those who want to swim a few laps, several pools and family aquatic centers are open in the summertime, while the AquaPlex at RiverPlex Recreation and Wellness Center can be enjoyed throughout the year.

Grab some peanuts and Cracker Jacks, and take the family to watch the minor-league Peoria Chiefs, a farm team for the Chicago Cubs whose former roster includes Greg Maddux and Kerry Wood. They play games at O’Brien Field, located right in downtown.

In the winter, hockey is king, represented by the Peoria Rivermen, part of the American Hockey League. Follow the puck rush across the rink at Carver Arena in the Peoria Civic Center.

The arena itself is home to all sorts of action any time of year, hosting Peoria Pirates arena football, Bradley University men’s basketball, wrestling matches and the Illinois high school basketball state finals.

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