12 Things To Do in Peoria, Arizona

Last Updated on February 9, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Peoria is a vibrant city located in the Phoenix metropolitan area of Arizona. With its beautiful landscapes, thriving arts scene, and abundance of outdoor activities, Peoria has something to offer every type of traveler. From hiking through lush desert trails to learning about the history and culture of Arizona at local museums, Peoria provides visitors with endless opportunities to explore the very best of the state.

This article details the top 12 things to do on your next trip to Peoria, helping you plan an unforgettable itinerary whether you’ll be spending a few days or a few weeks in this southwestern destination.

Explore the Outdoors at Lake Pleasant Regional Park

If you’re looking to spend some time immersed in Peoria’s beautiful natural landscapes, head to Lake Pleasant Regional Park. Spanning over 10,000 acres, this park is centered around the glistening Lake Pleasant which offers opportunities for boating, kayaking, paddleboarding and more. Miles of desert hiking trails wind through the park, leading visitors through areas filled with cacti, wildflowers and native wildlife.

Pack a lunch and enjoy it on one of Lake Pleasant’s secluded beaches. At night, stick around to stargaze under the clear southwestern skies that remain brightly lit even well after sunset. With so much natural beauty both in and around the lake itself, Lake Pleasant Regional Park is undoubtedly one of the top attractions for nature lovers visiting Peoria.

Discover the Past at Challenger Space Center Arizona

For almost 30 years, Challenger Space Center Arizona has been inspiring a passion for science and space travel in visitors across generations. This one-of-a-kind attraction features the Historic Spaceflight Museum which documents the history of space exploration, from early rocket science to the Space Race and beyond. Guests can view artifacts like Moon rocks collected during NASA missions along with spacesuits worn by astronauts on journeys to outer space.

The space center also houses cutting-edge flight simulators designed by NASA engineers that allow visitors to experience what it feels like to walk on Mars or pilot a spacecraft. From hands-on educational programs perfect for kids to immersive experiences made for adults, Challenger Space Center brings the wonders of astronomy and intergalactic travel down to Earth for visitors in Peoria.

See the Sights by Hot Air Balloon

For unparalleled views of Peoria’s desert landscape, climb aboard a hot air balloon operated by one of the city’s reputable companies like Peoria Balloon Rides. Float gently over sandstone rock formations, lush cactus gardens and rolling hills as your experienced pilot points out landmarks and wildlife below. Most hot air balloon tours launch at sunrise or sunset when temps are cooler and you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular colorful sky as a backdrop.

You’ll lift off from launch sites throughout the area including Lake Pleasant for a truly memorable bird’s-eye perspective. After your ride concludes with a traditional champagne toast, you’ll receive photos of your balloon adventure to bring home as a souvenir. A hot air balloon ride might just be the most scenic way to take in Peoria’s natural beauty during your stay.

Hike the Trails at White Tank Mountain Regional Park

Covering over 29,000 acres just west of Peoria lies White Tank Mountain Regional Park, one of the most popular outdoor recreation destinations for both residents and visitors. The park gets its name from the white granite formations that make up the many jagged peaks visible from miles around. Over 50 miles of multi-use trails suitable for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding wind through the park and range from easy nature walks to advanced treks with steep inclines.

Popular routes include the Ford Canyon Trail which passes by a historic dam along with ancient petroglyphs while the Waterfall Trail leads to a scenic 25-foot cascade. Keep your eyes peeled for diverse wildlife from golden eagles and great horned owls to javelina and coyotes that call White Tank home. With awe-inspiring city panoramas, a wide diversity of desert flora and fauna and trails for all levels, White Tank Mountain Regional Park is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise.

Tee Off at Wigwam Golf Club

Regarded as one of Arizona’s top golf destinations, Wigwam Golf Club is comprised of three championship courses nestled at the base of the Litchfield Mountains. The Gold Course is a Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed classic built in 1965 that weaves through palm trees, water features and bunkers for a timeless test of skill. The Patriot Course opened ahead of the 2015 Super Bowl in Phoenix which it hosted as part of the NFL’s high-profile tournament.

And the brand-new Heritage Course by renowned architect Tom Lehman features wide fairways that are approachable for all golfers. Before or after your round, enjoy casual fare and a cocktail at the Blue Bar while looking over the stunning links-style greens. With 54 holes of world-class golf, first-rate amenities and outstanding service, it’s easy to see why Wigwam has been one of Arizona’s premier golf destinations since its opening in 1930.

Explore Peoria Sports Complex

As the spring training facility of both the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners baseball franchises, Peoria Sports Complex provides big league facilities for athletes and endless entertainment for spectators. Baseball fans visiting in March can catch a game and cheer for their favorite MLB stars playing during the preseason.

When games aren’t scheduled, explore the Complex Commons outdoor space anchored by a playground, splash pads, gardens and walking trails that pay homage to the baseball teams. Sports enthusiasts can rent batting cages or one of several athletic fields for some hometown competition. With programming and events scheduled year-round, Peoria Sports Complex is an ideal spot to have some fun while discovering why baseball remains so hugely popular in Arizona.

See a Concert at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts

Whether you enjoy live music, theater, dance or comedy, the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts has something to suit your taste. Built in 2005, this multi-use space serves as the cornerstone for Peoria’s growing arts scene. Musical acts range from Arizona’s best jazz and blues groups to nationally-touring pop, country and rock bands.

Family-favorite stage plays and musicals run throughout the year, especially around the holidays. And vocal powerhouses and dance troupes regularly hold performances at the Center. On select nights, major comedy stars headline shows at the Center’s intimate theater-style venue. With a diverse lineup of high-quality entertainment, Peoria Center for the Performing Arts provides an evening out like no other during your visit to Peoria.

Attend a Concert or Festival at the Peoria Sports Complex

In addition to its world-class athletic facilities, Peoria Sports Complex frequently transforms into an outdoor entertainment venue capable of accommodating up to 15,000 fans. Throughout the year, A-list musical artists like Rascal Flatts, NYSNC and Steely Dan have all headlined concerts under the stars – country music acts especially love performing at the Complex during the warmer spring and fall months.

Food, art and music festivals are also held on the expansive grounds featuring local Arizona bands, vendors plus beer and wine gardens. If the timing is right during your stay, check the schedule to see if Peoria Sports Complex might be hosting your next concert or festival outing – it promises to be an evening filled with top-notch entertainment matched by an equally enjoyable atmosphere.

Satisfy Your Taste Buds on a Peoria Food Tour

The best way to experience the diversity of cuisine in Peoria is to embark on a dedicated food tour across this dynamic food city. Companies like Taste It Tours offer half and full day walking adventures that take you to locally-owned eateries that collectively represent the cultural fabric and flavors of the region. You’ll nosh on Sonoran classics like tamales and tacos as your guide shares tales about Peoria’s vibrant history.

For lighter fare, stops may include juice bars, bakeries and even an olive oil tasting. At the end, you’ll leave happy, full and hopefully vowing to return soon to Peoria to continue your foodie education. It’s no wonder Peoria has developed a reputation as an underrated food destination – small food tours like these truly connect you to the city’s culinary scene.

Ride the Rails at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

All aboard! At McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, both kids and adults delight at climbing into the engineer’s seat of an authentic locomotive or vintage caboose to ignite imaginations. Operated by the non-profit Arizona Railway Museum, the Park is situated on 10-pristine acres housing over 100 railroad artifacts chronicling the critical role trains have played connecting communities across America.

Visitors can hop on for a leisurely ride behind an early 20th century steam engine hauling passenger cars around the mile-long track – coal powered trains run on select days for an extra special treat.

Inside the museum, exhibits tell tales ranging from the perils of building the Transcontinental Railroad to the glamour of luxury dining cars. Whether you have a mini train conductor or simply want to reconnect with your own inner child, McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park delivers plenty of wholesome fun during your time in Peoria.

Marvel at Butterfly Magic at OdySea Aquarium

Within OdySea Aquarium, the Cooper Family Foundation Butterfly Magic exhibit provides a tranquil environment to observe gorgeous butterflies up-close during every stage of metamorphosis. Paths wind through mesh tents overflowing with native plant species and trees which draw in hundreds of American butterflies plus exotic species from around the globe.

In the Emergence area, visitors can stand mesmerized by the Aliens-like chrysalis through glass observation windows where butterflies slowly break free and pump fluid into newly formed wings. Interactive elements allow kids to identify different butterflies and learn about their unique attributes and behaviors.

And the flight aviary filled with bush lantana and buddleia gives butterflies ample room to flutter freely and land gently on shoulders or outstretched hands if they choose. Far more than your average atrium or conservatory, the magical habitat at OdySea Aquarium gives adults and children the rare chance to seek beauty while gaining immense respect for these delicate winged creatures.

Test Your Nerves at Fear Farm

Ranked among the best haunted house attractions in Arizona, Fear Farm utilizes nearly 30 horror-centric sets spread across three separate haunted houses plus a haunted corn maze to maximize screams. Located on 80 acres just outside Peoria, Fear Farm’s isolated locale ensures that blood-curdling noises emanating from within won’t bother neighbors or draw police as has happened at similar attractions set within cities.

Creepy sets range from creepy hospitals, deranged circus acts and zombie cannibals to an increasingly real-feeling alien invasion abduction sequence. Fear Farm ensures repeat visits from extreme haunt thrillseekers by constantly evolving themes and scare tactics year after year rather than growing stale or predictable.

They also creatively promote community engagement, from special lights-on tours allowing families a peek behind the terror to their annual Fear Farm 5K and Harvest Festival. Brave souls looking to test nerves and fuel nightmares need look no further for a chillingly good time than Fear Farm during the Halloween season.

Conclusion

From outdoor excursions through stunning desert landscapes to cultural attractions chronicling Peoria’s dynamic history, this Arizona destination provides visitors with a full slate of things to experience. Foodies indulge in the city’s fusion of native Sonoran flavors and outside influences brought by recent growth and diversity. Sports fans find community around spring baseball while outdoor enthusiasts hike, bike and horseback ride through wide open regional parks.

At night, catch a chart-topping concert under the stars or screening of a classic film projected at an outdoor cinema. When visitation spans mealtimes, peel off into local restaurants where chef-driven Southwestern fare satisfies any craving. Whether traveling solo, as a couple or bringing the whole family, Peoria offers memorable adventures and rich sensory experiences that invite repeated visits to continue uncovering this southwest gem just outside bustling Phoenix.

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