Peoria (Arizona) is a major suburb of Phoenix and, as of 2010, home to a population of approximately 154,000. The town sits within a very picturesque setting of a flat sloping desert terrain on the one side in the Salt River Valley and extending into the mountain foothills on the other.
Talking of ups and downs, the town has experienced a few of its own when, in 1917, a fire in the local pool hall managed to destroy most of the business district. In fact, the damage done to the buildings was so extensive it almost finished off the town for good.
But an ill wind and all that; a new era of sturdy and attractive constructions grew up in their place and, coupled with the eagerness to reestablish businesses and WWI new enterprises, Peoria began to thrive once again. Let’s explore the best things to do in Peoria!
1. Family Fun at Rio Vista Recreation Center
The Rio Vista Community Park is a center that keeps everybody busy and entertained! Within its grounds, the family friendly facility is home to indoor racquetball courts, a gym with a generous amount of equipment including weight machines of various loads, and a rather impressive rock climbing wall.
Popular too with the younger members, are water sprinkler swings and monkey bars for the little monkeys in your family to swing from. The center is clean and very well maintained with attentive staff to answer any questions.
2. Let’s (watch them) play ball at Peoria Sports Complex!
During spring training, the Peoria Sports Complex is home stadium to both the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres, who play in the spring training Cactus League.
Though it consists of a main baseball stadium (Peoria Stadium) together with 12 practice fields, the stadium is fairly small, which is great for the fans who therefore sit a lot closer to the play action.
The grass seating is perfect for the family to park themselves and relax, while watching the kids running and playing all around them. There are also entertaining activities between innings for everyone to enjoy.
3. Arizona Broadway Theatre
A great outlet for theater lovers everywhere; a trip to the Arizona Broadway Theatre would make for a wonderful jaunt for those in the family who appreciate Broadway shows – at Arizona prices!
The theater offers a regular and excellent choice of plays, delivered to you in an elegant setting. It is popular too as a dinner theater, offering outstanding cuisine.
Dinner before the show is an option but drinks and/or dessert can be served to you at intermission if required. This really is a super way to enjoy an outing a little bit out of the ordinary when visiting Peoria.
4. New River Trail
The New River Trail is a super place for the family to hike and see nature. It is a vehicle free zone, having been designed to accommodate joggers, walkers, strollers, roller bladders, bicyclists and even equestrians.
The 18 mile trail also aligns parallel to some of Peoria’s shopping, dining and entertainment spots and is completely paved throughout, as well as being very well maintained. There are some gradual inclines taking you from the river bottom to the top of the banks with the chance to view some wildlife.
One word of caution, however; you are in a desert environment so make sure the family hydrate well before starting out, and bring lots of water as well!
5. Quintero Golf Club, Lake Pleasant
The Quintero Golf Club is a little ways out of Peoria, situated just under an hour northwest of Phoenix, but for those in the family who love to golf, it’s definitely worth the trip!
The location itself is a sight for sore eyes, sitting in the Sonoran Desert near Lake Pleasant in the stunning Hieroglyphic Mountains. The golf course has been named by Golfweek Magazine as one of America’s Top 100 Golf Courses every year since 2002.
Elevated between 1,986 and 2,670 feet, the course has 18 holes with a sweeping desert landscape as backdrop, and surrounded by awesome collections of native cacti.
6. Ape Index
At the Ape Index Rock Climbing, instructors are fondly referred to as “apes”. They are there to assist climbers of all fitness levels to scale walls that stand at a height of approximately 32 feet.
With a gym that includes over 75 top ropes, a bouldering tunnel, and a 3-D globe with rounded façade and active volcanoes, it is a wonderful location helping to challenge family members of various ages and levels of experience.
Both adults and kids have fun scaling differently shaped climbing walls and everyone is bound to enjoy this wonderful family bonding experience.
7. Take One Small Step to the Challenger Space Center
When in Peoria try your best to include a visit to the Challenger Space Center, where the whole family – and especially the kids! – will have great fun flying simulated space flight missions and learning all about the wonders of space!
The venue is a real tribute to the Space Shuttle Program and will enthrall kids who are keen on space and science subjects, and maybe even spark off interest in these disciplines to the as yet uninitiated. It’s a good idea to take a guided tour with one of the enthusiastic and knowledgeable assistants, who will explain all about the various exhibits on display.
8. Wigwam Stables at Cowtown
Ever dreamed of being a cowboy? Well, you can be one at Wigwam Stables! Located on the outskirts of Peoria, Cowtown’s Wigwam Stables will help you and your family feel as if you were back in the good old days.
Ride down the dusty streets of an old western town as you’re guided by trail bosses dressed in real 1880s costume. You can even book for a simulated Arizona shoot out! Watch old time blacksmiths at work, join a hay ride, or even try your hand at some gold panning. A fun day out for everyone!
9. Harkins Theaters
Harkins Theaters was founded in Arizona in 1933 and has since grown into having a presence in 30 locations within five States.
This family owned and operated business has a theater with stadium seating situated near the Peoria Sports Complex and offers a clean and comfortable environment with fresh popcorn and refreshing soda – a winner every time!
The theater’s staff is attentive and courteous, and parking is conveniently close by. If you opt for some exercise instead, restaurants are within walking distance. A nice evening out for the family in a relaxed setting.
10. Wind Therapy Rides
Enjoy being a backseat driver! Wind Therapy Rides offer a unique type of sightseeing without having to do any of the work yourself.
The company provides interesting motorcycle rides taking you through stunning desert scenery, which you will be able to relax and admire from your comfortable passenger seat.
There are several scenic rides to choose from, with the company providing safe and experienced drivers happy to show you the best of this beautiful part of Southwestern America. If you’re unsure over what to wear for the ride, owners Shana and Pat can tell you everything you need to know.
11. Polar Ice Peoria
The kids will enjoy cooling off at Polar Ice, made up of two rinks of solid ice, one of Olympic size, and one a little smaller.
It might sound a bit of a strange concept, ice in the desert, but this is a very popular venue and it has certainly caught on in Arizona!
Parents will appreciate the comfortable and clean location which provides good viewing in bleacher style seats.
There is also a very pleasant bar area, shop and restaurant, and even an ice cream in a vending machine! And best of all, every Saturday at 11am and Wednesday at 5pm (check times) your kids can try a free skating lesson!
12. Wazees World Laser Tag
Wazees World Laser Zone offers an amazing environment for both adult and kids! With the venue’s 43,000 sq ft entertainment center that includes a multi-level
Laser Tag arena, inflatable jumping area and nine-hole Cosmic Golf as well as home to air hockey and the latest video games, this is certainly the place to go when you’re looking for somewhere that the whole family will enjoy!
There are also inflatables for the smaller member of the family and plenty of mouth watering refreshments at very reasonable prices.
13. Theater Works
The acting company Theater Works has been busy bringing theater to all Peoria locals at the town’s Center for the Performing Arts.
The intimate setting is perfect for enjoying productions of every niche, and, in 2008, had already received an award by the Phoenix New Times for being the Best New Playhouse.
There is a small concession stand within the theater with refreshments that are sold at a very reasonable price and a generous amount of handicapped seating as well. Plenty of free parking can be found nearby.
14. Jumping high at Sky Zone!
Sky Zone is a chain of indoor trampoline parks offering freestyle bouncing, fitness programs, dodge ball & more. The company is the world’s first indoor trampoline park and prides themselves on their contribution to “fun fitness” and the makers of trampolines “as far as eye can see”!
Completed in 2011, the venue now offers SkyRobics fitness classes, Ultimate Dodgeball and a SkySlam court. Whatever age, fitness, or size, time out at the Zone is a great family attraction, giving you all a great work out at the same time as lots of fun for everyone!
15. Sky Cafe
Sky Café is worth a mention in its own right! After your busy workout or even if you’re just taking it easy, Sky Café, attached to Sky Zone, is a great spot to relax.
The whole family will be able to enjoy choosing from an impressive mix of refreshments such as hot dogs, pizza, pretzels, nachos, thirst quenching cold drinks, smoothies, ices, and lots more!
There is a generous amount of seating and five TVs to keep all the non jumpers of the family entertained.