Timeless Peoria Staples


Rachel Mangiapane, Guest Writer


We’ve consolidated the “classic” Greater Peoria experiences that have entertained residents for decades. It’s easy to become a regular at these businesses who value quality and consistency while making you feel right at home. 

Agatucci’s  {Peoria}   //  One family, one location since 1926. Agatucci’s business began as a grocery story, but the cravings of soldiers returning from service in Italy led to the introduction of pizza. Not much has changed in Agatucci’s decor or thin crust pizza over the years, making it a necessary stop for many returning to Peoria. Good thing the addictive tiger sauce (seasoned oil + vinegar) is available by the bottle! 

Avanti’s Italian Restaurants  {Peoria, East Peoria, Pekin}   //  The famous Gondola sandwich—ham, salami, cheese and lettuce on fresh baked bread—has been feeding happy customers since 1966. Beyond sandwiches, the affordable quality of Avanti’s pizza and pasta has earned them many loyal customers. With a name that means “forward” in Italian, it’s likely Avanti’s will continue to offer dine-in, carry out, delivery and catering for years to come. 

Carl’s Bakery + Restaurant  {East Peoria}   //  Carl’s made from scratch donuts melt in your mouth. So do the apple fritters, cinnamon rolls and danish. If you prefer savory over sweet, try the tenderloin or fried chicken. Look for the giant rooster to find your way to Carl’s. 

George’s Shoeshine and Hatters  {Peoria}   // At 92 years of age, George is still shining shoes as he has for the past 7 decades. Sitting in one of George’s chairs and looking at all his memorabilia is like taking a step back in time. George is a beloved local legend who humbly serves all who walk into his shop from downtown workers to U.S. presidents. 

Par-A-Dice Casino  {East Peoria}   //  Complete your river city experience by stepping aboard the Par-A-Dice riverboat casino. Try your luck on table games, slots or the latest in sports betting. Stay late, stay for dinner or stay the night! 

Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette  {Peoria}   //  Many Peoria residents have special occasion memories that include a stay at the Pere. The hotel has been a destination for parties and weddings since it opened as a luxury hotel in 1927. Today the hotel offers all the modern luxuries you’d expect from the Marriott brand while retaining historic features throughout. 

Presleys Outdoors  {Bartonville}   //  One of the biggest outdoor supply stores in the Midwest has humble beginnings selling worms to local fishermen. Presleys South Side Worm Ranch opened in 1946 and has since changed locations and expanded to supply hunters and campers. Many local children get their first fishing experience at Presleys’ non-profit Hooked on Fishing Park  {East Peoria}. 

Trefzger’s Bakery  {Peoria Heights}   //  When a bakery has been in business since 1861, you know it has to be good. From classic breads to elaborate tiered cakes, Trefzger’s can satisfy all your carbohydrate and sugar cravings. Trefzger’s thumbprint cookies and coffee cakes are so popular they ship them.

Don’t forget these must do seasonal experiences! 

Festival of Lights  {East Peoria}   //  Add a leisurely drive through Folepi’s Winter Wonderland to your list of holiday traditions. Since 1984, the glistening floats have been bringing holiday magic to children and adults alike. The festival has grown far beyond the original one-time parade to include numerous displays and activities throughout the season. 

Hoerr Nursery  {Peoria}   //  When the sun comes back out and you want to brighten up your yard, Hoerr’s has everything you need. The Hoerr family has been helping add beauty to local landscapes since 1926. Whether you need a complete landscape design or just annual flowers, the selection at Hoerr’s is hard to beat.

Emo’s Dairy Mart  {Peoria}   //  Emo’s clown sign is as iconic as any other Peoria landmark. The big red nose has been drawing in seasonal crowds for over 50 years. Cones, shakes, malts, banana splits, sundaes… they have all your favorite treats! 

Tanners Orchard  {Speer}   //  The Tanner family has welcomed visitors to their apple orchard for four generations. From 1947 to today, visiting Tanners for apple picking, treats and cider has been a must do fall activity. If you aren’t sure what to do with all your apples, Grandma Tanner readily shares her recipes on Tanners’ social media sites.

Rachel Mangiapane, Guest Writer
Rachel Mangiapane, Guest Writer

Rachel Mangiapane moved to Peoria to attend Bradley University and never left thanks to her Caterpillar career. Growing up in a very small town, the Peoria area feels like a metropolis to her! With a home in Mapleton, work in Peoria, family in Washington and property in Cuba, she’s regularly exploring the region. You’re most likely to find her at a local coffee shop, antique store or yoga studio.

Discover Peoria, IL