Everything You Need To Know About Peoria, Arizona
In recent years, the greater Phoenix area has become one of the fastest-growing markets in the U.S. That’s certainly the case with nearby Peoria, which in 1980 had just over 12,000 residents.
There are now more than 160,000 living in Peoria, and the city is a growing destination for those looking for warmer weather during the cold winter months. Just a 25-minute drive from downtown Phoenix, Peoria offers the feel of a historic small town with the convenience of nearby activities you’d expect from any major U.S. city.
Whether you live in Arizona or are just visiting, here’s a look at can’t-miss sites, activities and events to check out in Peoria.
Getting to and Around Peoria
If you’re from out of town, you’ll probably fly in through Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the largest airport in the state and among the largest in the U.S. There are a handful of other local and regional airports in the area you can use to get to Peoria as well, including:
- Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport
- Phoenix Goodyear Airport
- Phoenix Deer Valley Airport
- Scottsdale Airport
- Glendale Municipal Airport
Once you’re actually in the Peoria area, you’ll want to figure out how you’d like to get around. One option is to use a car rental service. All the major players have a presence in the Peoria and Phoenix area, including:
If public transportation is more your thing, be sure to use Valley Metro, which has useful bus routes throughout the city. The service can take you to and from the airport, as well as to any of the most popular areas and attractions in the city.
Places to Stay
Once you make it to town and figure out your preferred method of transportation, you’ll need a place to stay. There are varied options for where to stay in Peoria, whether you’d like a straightforward hotel situation or maybe a more adventurous camping stay.
If you’d like a luxurious and upscale experience, be sure to check out Cibola Vista Resort and Spa. The resort features two pools, tennis and basketball courts, a fitness center, meeting and event space and free daily Internet access. Also, the spa offers all the services you would expect, including hair treatments, facials, manicures, pedicures and massages.
If a more traditional hotel is more your speed, there are eight main options within the city of Peoria itself:
- Comfort Suites
- Days Hotel
- Extended Stay America
- Hampton Inn
- Holiday Inn Express
- La Quinta Inn & Suites
- Residence Inn
- Value Place
If you’d like to do some camping, or if Peoria is one stop on your Western U.S. road trip, Peoria has a good number of camping and RV parks to choose from. Options include:
- Apollo Village
- Casa Del Sol Resort
- Desert Edge RV Village
- Grand RV Park
- Palm Shadows
- Paradise RV Resort
- Pleasant Harbor RV Resort
- Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort and Country Club
- Sundial Mobile & RV Park
- Turf Soaring RV Park
- Valley of the Sun RV Park
If this is the route you’d like to take, it pays to do a bit of research on each camping and RV park to see what’s best for you based on location and amenities.
Now that you’re settled in, you’ll want to find things to do — and there are plenty. When it comes to a mix of entertainment, dining and shopping, one can’t-miss area of the city is Peoria 83, or the P83 Entertainment District. As the name indicates, the district is on 83rd Avenue, just south of Bell Road.
Just like other areas around the country, the popular entertainment district had a bit of a tough time following the Great Recession. In recent years, however, the city of Peoria has invested millions of dollars in the area to revitalize it and bring in a bit more diversity.
Some of the P83 entertainment options include:
- Arizona Broadway Theatre. As you would expect, this is a Broadway-style theater perfect for taking in a musical. Current and future performances include “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” “Saturday Night Fever” and “Hands on a Hard Body,” as well as classics such as “Man of La Mancha,” “South Pacific,” “Hair” and “Mary Poppins.”
- Arrowhead Fountains 18. This 18-screen Harkins Theatre movie facility features all the latest movies and amenities including 3D projections, comfortable rocking seats, an extensive snack bar and stadium seating.
- AZ Ice. An ice rink in the desert? Why not? This indoor ice-skating arena is great for an open skate or special event. For beginners, the facility offers free skating lessons on Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings.
- Rollerplex Roller Skating Rink. Feel like a kid again at this roller-skating facility that features open skating, as well as roller hockey and roller derby.
- Modern Round. This unique attraction is half virtual shooting range, half upscale lounge. The space features recoil pistols and rifles to “shoot,” although no live ammo is used, guaranteeing a safe environment.
The P83 district is also a great place to eat, offering a wide variety of restaurant types, such as:
There are also plenty of shopping options at P83, including clothing stores, shoe stores, gift shops, hair and nail salons, home goods stores and hobby stores. In short, make P83 your first stop if you’re looking for variety in entertainment, dining and shopping.
Outdoors/Adventure in Peoria
The Peoria area is home to many outdoor attractions for activities such as hiking and boating, as well as some for more adventurous types. Here is a sampling of outdoor and adventure activities in Peoria for you to check out.
- Lake Pleasant Regional Park. This huge park surrounds Lake Pleasant, a 10,000-acre reservoir created by the Waddell Dam. The lake is a haven for all sorts of water sports, such as jet skiing, scuba diving, sailing, water skiing and wind surfing. The lake itself is also a popular fishing destination, while the park offers incredible views and challenging terrain for hiking and mountain biking.
- Guided fishing. You can take a fishing trip on your own, but you might benefit from a guided fishing excursion using services such as The Hook Up Outfitters. The company offers trips of various lengths, from half a day to multiple days. It also handles corporate and group outings, as well as fly-casting lessons.
- Scuba diving. Arizona may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about scuba diving, but the Scuba Professionals of Arizona have programs for all levels, from beginners to experts. You can either take lessons in the group’s 13-foot dive pool, or enjoy a day trip to Lake Pleasant.
- Rock climbing. To get your rock-climbing fix, visit Ape Index, which has an indoor climbing facility and also takes climbers on guided outdoor expeditions.
- There are hiking options throughout the Peoria area, but New River Trail is among the best. In Peoria, the trail meets Rio Vista Community Park, where it branches off to the Skunk Creek Trail.
Kid-Friendly Family Activities
If you’re traveling with the family, there are a handful of attractions in Peoria that will be fun for both you and the kids.
- Challenger Space Center. Affiliated with Challenger National, the Challenger Space Center of Arizona is part of an organization created to honor the memory of the seven astronauts who died in the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. The center features exhibits such as life-sized satellite models, a real tire from space shuttle landing gear, a gravity game and a Shuttle Atlantis display. There is also memorabilia autographed by former astronauts, and authentic patches worn by astronauts during space missions.
- Historic tours. The Peoria Historical Society offers tours of many sites and houses around town, including the Historic Old Town district. Other themed tours available include a new Monuments and Landmarks tour, Grandview Drive and Springdale Cemetery, Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, Roll Out the Barrel and River City.
- Sky Zone Peoria. Sky Zone is a trampoline park that offers activities including freestyle jumping, “sky-slam” trampoline basketball, ultimate dodge ball and a foam pit to dive into. There is also an after-dark “Glow” session that features black lights, lasers and music. Trampoline isn’t just fun, it’s also a serious workout!
- Pump It Up. Tailored specifically toward younger kids, Pump It Up is an indoor playground featuring inflatable high-bounce houses, games and slides that will keep the kids busy for hours. It’s a great venue to host birthday parties.
- Wazee’s World. Wazee’s World is an entertainment complex that features laser tag, mini golf, arcade games and pizza. There are also bounce houses on site to keep the younger kids entertained.
Festivals in Peoria
There are a handful of special events and festivals that take place in Peoria throughout the calendar year. Here are three of the most popular:
- All-American Festival. The annual All-American Festival is a Fourth of July event at the Peoria Sports Complex that features a Kids Zone, a Water Zone play area, a cornhole tournament, eating contests, live entertainment, food and drinks, and of course fireworks. This year’s eating competitions will feature tater tots, slushy drinks and foot-long hot dogs.
- Halloween Monster Bash. Also at the Peoria Sports Complex, the Halloween Monster Bash typically takes place the Saturday before Halloween. It’s a great event for kids and families and includes attractions such as a haunted scare walk, a costume parade, trick-or-treating, inflatable jumping, rock climbing wall, carnival games and live entertainment.
- Old Town Holiday Festival. The Peoria Old Town Holiday Festival is held the first Friday of December in the city’s Old Town district, between Peoria and Grand Avenues. Activities include Santa Claus visits, a choral competition, live music and entertainment, a craft market, a gingerbread house competition and about 20 tons of snow.
The Peoria-Phoenix area is home to teams in five of the major sports leagues in the U.S., including the NFL, NBA, NHL, WNBA and Major League Baseball. There are also minor-league teams in the Indoor Football League, American Basketball Association and United Soccer League.
The city of Peoria itself also has a few main sporting attractions:
- Spring training baseball. The Peoria Sports Complex is the Cactus League spring training home to two Major League Baseball teams, giving attendees the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of their favorite MLB stars. Games begin in late February and typically run throughout March.
- Fall League baseball. The Peoria Sports Complex is also home to the Peoria Javelinas, who participate in the Arizona Fall League.
- Quintero Golf Club. Arizona is known as a must-visit locale for golf lovers, and it doesn’t get much better than Quintero Golf Club in Peoria. Designed by famed golf architect Rees Jones, the course at Quintero Golf Club was voted “Best Public Course” for 2016 by both Golfweek and Golf Digest It’s commonly listed among the best public courses in the U.S., thanks in large part to its beautiful use of Arizona’s unique desert topography.
While Quintero Golf Club is the crown jewel golf course of the area, there are a handful of other solid courses in Peoria as well:
- Blackstone Country Club
- Peoria Pines Golf Club
- Trilogy Golf Club at Vistancia
- The Vistas Course
- Westbrook Village Golf Club
Golf is a huge component of the sports culture in Arizona, so be sure to bring your clubs and check out one or more of the top-ranked courses in the area.
Arts in Peoria
Peoria is a relatively small city — by population, it ranks No. 156 in the U.S, ahead of Frisco, Texas, and just behind Fort Collins, Colo. Still, that doesn’t mean there’s no room for the arts in Peoria. Here are some of the city’s best options:
- Peoria Contemporary Art Center. As its name indicates, the Contemporary Art Center in Peoria features modern art from living artists. The CAC also hosts several other events, such as the Live at the Five Spot music showcase on Friday evenings, salsa dancing and open-mic poetry nights.
- West Valley Art Museum. The West Valley Art Museum specializes more in global art and traditions, including costumes from more than 60 countries around the world. The museum also often features local artists and photographers, and it offers art workshops throughout the year.
- Peoria City Hall Art Gallery. The Art Gallery at Peoria City Hall is unique due to its location within a piece of art itself — the historic City Hall building. The art gallery holds events throughout the year and always features a rotating roster of exhibitions encompassing many styles of art. If you’re an art lover visiting Peoria, City Hall is a must-see destination.
Where to Eat
Peoria has no shortage of dining options, no matter your taste or budget. Here are some of our favorites:
- Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. As its name suggests, this upscale restaurant has earned its reputation for both excellent steak and an extensive wine list. Fleming’s has eight hand-cut steak options and an abundance of add-ons and sides, as well as 100 different wines you can order by the glass.
- Dillon’s KC BBQ Bayou. Peoria is a long way from Kansas City, but you can get the flavor of that city right here with a visit to Dillon’s. This new location is at Lake Pleasant and near Pleasant Harbor Marina, where you can take part in flyboarding, sailing, paddle yoga and other water sports. But make no mistake — it’s all about the BBQ here, with must-try dishes including beef brisket, quarter smoked bone-in chicken and KC burnt ends.
- The Haymaker. The Haymaker has two specialties — breakfast and burgers. In the morning, the restaurant serves a wide variety of omelets, benedicts, egg dishes and griddle options to choose from, and for lunch or dinner, you’ll want to try one of their signature burgers. Our favorite is the Arizona, which includes grilled onions, green chilies and a generous amount of pepper jack cheese.
- Waldo’s Tacos. This being Arizona and the Southwest, there’s no shortage of tasty options for Mexican food. One of the most popular for tacos specifically is Waldo’s, on 91st Avenue. Other solid Mexican options in town include Carolina’s Mexican Food, Caminero Mexican Restaurant and Don Lencho’s Mexican & Seafood Restaurant.
Best Pizza in Town
Yes, we may be a bit biased, but Giordano’s has the best Chicago-style pizza in Phoenix and the surrounding area. Located on 83rd Avenue in Peoria, we offer many varieties of our famous stuffed pizzas and other Italian classics just as we’ve done since 1974. If you want to make a night of it, we’re in the P83 entertainment district near the Peoria Sports Complex, so there’s plenty to do and see in the area before and after your meal.
Or, you can let us come to you. Whether you’re born and raised in Peoria or just visiting, we can deliver to your home or hotel, and we make ordering easy online.
While we specialize in Chicago-style stuffed deep-dish pizza, we also feature other varieties, including hand-stretched thin crust and our crispy extra-thin crust. We also have salads and signature sandwiches, such as our Italian-style beef on a toasted garlic Italian roll, or our Mama’s Meatball Sub, featuring all-beef meatballs smothered in provolone cheese and our house-made marinara.
Or, if you’re more in the mood for classic Italian fare, we have you covered there as well, with menu options including spaghetti, lasagna, chicken parmesan and fettuccine Alfredo. We also offer many starters and snacks, such as loaded potato fritters, buffalo or barbecue chicken wings, fried mozzarella triangles and cheesy garlic bread.
Finally, finish things off with one of our tasty desserts, such as tiramisu, cannoli and triple-layer chocolate cake.
Even though we have plenty of options, it always comes back to our stuffed deep-dish pizzas. No matter your flavor, we have the pie for you:
- Great for vegetarians, or as the base of a personalized pizza.
- The Special. Includes sausage, mushrooms, green peppers and onions.
- Chicago Classic. This pie features pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers and onions.
- Meat & More Meat. This one is for the meat lovers and includes pepperoni, sausage, salami and bacon.
- Fresh Spinach. A great veggie option featuring layers of fresh spinach.
- Super Veggie. A loaded vegetarian version that includes mushrooms, green peppers, onions, broccoli, spinach and black olives.
- Bacon BBQ Chicken. This pie includes BBQ-basted chicken, bacon and balsamic onions, as well as BBQ sauce rather than traditional tomato sauce.
- Chicken Sausage Deluxe. Includes our chicken sausage with mushrooms and spinach.
Whether you’re in the mood for one of our famous stuffed deep-dish pies or anything else on our extensive menu, be sure to stop in or give us a call while you’re in Peoria for a truly authentic Chicago-style experience.