Saturday, July 5, 2014

Cheap Summer Fun in Central IL

If you're like me, you are always looking for fun and entertainment on the cheap.  With summer in full swing, I thought it might be helpful to assemble a list of resources and things to do in Central IL, mainly the Peoria area, this summer.  Feel free to comment and share any additional ideas you have!

Fondulac Farm Park- East Peoria

This is one of my family's favorites because of the small size and availability to pet the animals.  They have goats, chickens, horses, donkeys, rabbits, ducks, geese, and other farm animals.  It's one of my faves because Tuesdays are free in the summer!  Additionally, you can pick up an animal feed cone for $.50 each.  We like to pack a lunch and eat at the little park across the parking lot and then play on the playground.  The Farm Park itself has a strict no food/beverage rule but they also have a small snack bar if you don't want to pack a lunch. 

Hours-  Tuesday- Sunday 9:00-3:00  (Closed Monday)
Tuesday- Free
Children (ages 1 to 15) $2.50/child
Adults (ages 16 & older)  $3.00/adult

Willow Knolls 14 Theater- Peoria

Kids Summer Movies begin Monday, June 16! See movies for $1 each, Monday through Friday at 10:00am.
Photo from
Peoria Park District-  Forest Park Nature Center

You and your family can enjoy the splendor of the outdoors on the trails at Forest Park Nature Center. With seven miles of hiking trails, the Trails Head Nature store and bird observation room you are sure to find something for everyone.  The trails are open daily dawn until dusk.  Check their website for additional musical or educational programs.

FPNC A Frame in summer
Chillicothe Park District: Santa Fe Park

Situated in Historic Chillicothe, Santa Fe Park offers an abundance of activities for kids.  The recently renovated park boasts a 1/4 mile walking trail, a splash pad, pavilion, baseball diamond, train themed playground and 30 foot tall twisty slide.

Peoria Riverfront Farmer's Market

The best kept secret in the Peoria area happens every Saturday morning 8-12 on the Peoria Riverfront.  Situated in the parking lot next to the Historic River Station building, the Peoria Riverfront Market offers live music, demonstrations, fresh. local produce, meat, eggs, art, jewelry and more. 

This is one of my favorite weekly activities with the kids.  We love to cruise down to the Market to buy our produce, grab a muffin or sweet roll and sit along the river to people watch.  Check out their Facebook page for up-to-date information for this week!  Also check out an older post about my experience at the Market here and here

Peoria Riverfront Market
Saturdays 8am-noon
Photo from Riverfront Market's Facebook page

Wildlife Prairie Park- Hanna City

Just a short drive from Peoria lies a hidden jewel...Wildlife Prairie Park.  The park is home to many native Illinois animals and offers fishing, educational programs, lodging, a train ride and more!  Check out their website for all the details! 

Seniors 65+  $7
Adults 13 and up $8
Children ages 3-12 $6
Children 2 and under FREE

Open 7 days a week through the summer 9:00am-6:30pm

While the admission prices aren't that expensive, if you plan on visiting more than once in a summer, I highly recommend opting for the family membership that starts at $75.  We purchased the family membership and love it!  Read more here and here about our experiences at WPP. 

Peoria Public Library

I wouldn't be a good teacher if I didn't mention that the Peoria Public Library offers tons of free programming for kids and adults!  Avoid the "summer slide" in your kid's reading and pick up a few books to read! 

Visit their website and you can download kid events by month. 

They have so many things going on, I can't possibly list it all here.  Just to highlight:  Book clubs, summer reading program, toddler storytime, Lego building club, music, crafts, art, and many, many more! 

Bicycle Safety Town- Peoria Park District

If you have never been to Bicycle Safety Town, you can't waste anymore time!  This is the best bike course for kids.  It teaches them safety, being a responsible bike rider and the rules of the road.  Riders are required to wear a helmet.  Bring your own bike and helmet. 

Open dawn until dusk.
Free admission. 

Bicycle Safety Town track

Spirit of Peoria

Spend an afternoon cruising the Illinois River on the Historic Spirit of Peoria Riverboat.  Your kids will certainly be impressed with the old fashion paddlewheel and tall fluted stacks.  The sightseeing tour allows for an hour and half cruise up and down the Illinois River. Right now they are running a $3 off coupon when you order online. 

Sightseeing Tours: 
Wed. Fri. Sat. and Sunday June through Sept.

Boarding at 1:30  cruising 2:00-3:30
Adult $16
Seniors $14
Kids 4-12 $10
3 and under FREE

The Spirit of Peoria in the narrows

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