Moonlight Cruise on the Spirit of Peoria

On our recent visit to Peoria, Illinois, we enjoyed a moonlight cruise on the Spirit of Peoria paddlewheel riverboat. What a perfect way to spend a late summer evening after a busy day of sightseeing!

Spirit of Peoria - view from the Illinois River

Spirit of Peoria moonlight cruise

You can’t miss the Spirit of Peoria when it’s docked at downtown Peoria’s riverfront. The 160-foot, bright white riverboat, accented in candy-apple red, stands 47-1/2 feet tall. Yet its shallow draft allows the boat to dock in almost any river town. In fact, we were surprised to learn that areas of the Illinois River, in which the Spirit of Peoria is docked, are only a couple feet deep. We were also surprised to learn that the paddlewheel actually propels the boat. There are no props or thrusters. A working paddlewheel is rare on today’s riverboats; most are only for show.

Spirit of Peoria paddlewheel

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We boarded the boat in daylight at about 7 p.m. Because the days were getting shorter, by the time we left the dock a half hour later, it was already dark. What a beautiful view we had of the city’s lights as we cruised upstream!

Spirit of Peoria - time to board

Peoria lights from the Spirit of Peoria

Cathedral of St Mary from the Spirit of Peoria
Cathedral of St. Mary as seen from the Spirit of Peoria

Once we were away from the downtown area, darkness enveloped the riverbanks. There was very little light other than the lights on the boat and the moonlight.

Spirit of Peoria - 2

We stayed on the outdoor decks most of the time, where we could enjoy the cool night air and listen to the soft jazz music through the speaker system.
Spirit of Peoria - deck

Spirit of Peoria - 4

The live entertainers were indoors on the first level, where you could also purchase beverages and snacks, if you wished.

Spirit of Peoria entertainment

Other Spirit of Peoria cruises

The Spirit of Peoria offers several different cruise options, from one-and-a-half hour cruises to multiple-day cruises. Multiple day cruises include trips to St. Louis; Hannibal, Missouri (boyhood home of author Mark Twain); and Starved Rock State Park in Illinois. During these trips, passengers lodge at hotels in cities along the river. They also offers themed cruises, like the Blues & BBQ Dinner cruise, a Dixieland Lunch or Dinner Cruise, and a Murder Mystery Dinner Cruise.

If you cruise on the Spirit of Peoria

The Spirit of Peoria is located at 100 Water Street in Peoria, Illinois. Visit the website to check the cruise schedule and purchase tickets.


We stayed at the Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino in East Peoria. Check rates.

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Spirit of Peoria


Disclosures:  The Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Spirit of Peoria hosted our cruise. Our cruise was complimentary. However, any opinions expressed in this post are strictly mine.
This article contains an affiliate link. If you book a room through the “Check rates” link above, I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you.

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