Like a Local: Peoria

Like a Local: Peoria

Posted 04/01/2016

We simply can’t get enough of Peoria. Once a small farming community, this fast-growing suburb has stolen the hearts of many Arizonans – ourselves included – and has proven to be one of the best cities in the state to live. But don’t take our word for it, we’ve got proof.

Recently, Wallethub compared some of the most populated cities in the U.S. and ranked the best of them, taking into consideration family activities and fun, health and safety, education and child care, affordability and more. Peoria ranked #34 on the list.

To get a better glimpse of this seemingly-perfect paradise, we thought we’d let the locals share a few of their best-loved things to do and see in Peoria, from entertainment to dining. Here are a few of the favorites:

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Lucidi Distilling Co.

What was once Peoria’s first movie theater in 1920, later became Peoria’s first fire station in 1954. Today, the Historic Fire Station No. 1 in downtown Peoria houses Lucidi Distilling Company, Arizona’s 8th and newest distillery, featuring various craft-liquors from vodka, gin and whiskey, to tequila, bourbon and moonshine. Stop by its tasting room to sample the crafted concoctions and signature drinks, or schedule a tour of the facility – offered three days a week – to ask questions and see the craft distillery in progress, (did we mention you also get three samples of your choice of spirits and a custom made cocktail?).

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Challenger Space Center

Be an astronaut for a day at the Challenger Space Center Arizona, the state’s only museum dedicated to space and space exploration, and one of only three Smithsonian Institution Affiliates in the Valley. View hundreds of artifacts and exhibits from America’s past NASA launches and missions, or assume the role of mission control specialists aboard the center’s $1 million simulated International Space Station. The center is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and offers monthly themed activities, from stargazing and family fun days to guest speakers and kids’ summer camps.

Leo's Island BBQ

Get a taste of island life in the desert at Leo’s Island BBQ. Just a 10-minute drive from The Reserve at Plaza Del Rio community, Leo’s serves up authentic Hawaiian plates – which date back to the 1880s – and, according to Phoenix New Times, Hawaiians say, “tastes like the islands." Local tip? Arrive at Leo’s with an empty stomach.

Lake Pleasant

Less than a half-hour’s drive from our Northlands neighborhood, Lake Pleasant gives Arizonans an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With over 114-miles of shoreline, visitors can camp, fish, hike, bike, off-road and take part in a plethora of fun watersports like wakeboarding, water skiing, jet skis and wakesurfing – don’t worry, recreation rentals and lessons are available on-site.

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Java Grounds

Coffee makes a difference to your morning, but at Java Grounds Coffee shop, it can make a difference to a kid’s life. Owned and operated by Heart for the City, a non-profit organization committed to the workforce-development of high school and college-age teens in the community, Java Grounds serves up delicious lattes, smoothies, lunch (and brunch) and baked goods, all while providing real-life, on-the-job-training for low-income teens. The shop also offers tasty gluten-free and dairy-alternative options, great prices and friendly atmosphere, according to its multitude of four and five-star reviews on Yelp.

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Arizona Broadway Theatre 

Celebrating its 10th year since its grand opening in 2006, the Arizona Broadway Theatre offers a one-of-a-kind venue for date night or family-fun night, combining fine dining and professional theatre. Each show is complemented with a specially designed menu, professional wait staff and Arizona’s most talented performers on stage. As one of the largest producers of live theatre in the state, Arizona Broadway Theatre is sure to not disappoint!