Washington’s square was once the bustling hub of this Illinois city’s commerce. However, as Washington grew, its services and main shopping areas moved elsewhere. Although no longer the city center, Washington Square thrives today with antiques and specialty shops, restaurants, and a newly renovated seven-room inn.
Just 12 miles east of Peoria, Washington’s historic downtown square makes a great Peoria side trip, as we discovered during our visit to the area.
Center of Washington Square
A small, neatly manicured park stands on the square’s center. Park benches surrounding a fountain make a welcome resting spot.
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Several monuments in the park commemorate historic local events. Cannon balls represent area Civil War soldiers, and a bell commemorates the city’s 1975 sesquicentennial celebration. A plaque on the side of the bell structure recalls a humorous President Ronald Reagan anecdote.
Footprint plaques up the walkway not only recall where Abraham Lincoln walked, but also where his horses stood!
Denhart Baking Co. and Restaurant
We ate lunch at Denhart Baking Co. and Restaurant Housed in an 1800s bank building, the vault is still intact. The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch. I enjoyed a hot ham and cheese sandwich. Skip had one of the specials. I don’t recall exactly what it was other than it had crab in it and he loved it.
Editor’s note: Denhart Baking Co. and Restaurant has been replaced by Faire Coffee, which offers light fare in addition to beverages. We haven’t had the opportunity to try it yet.
Washington Square Shops
After lunch we made our rounds of the shops. We spent a good hour just in Trinkets and Treasures and Step Back in Time browsing through antiques and crafts.
Lori’s Kitchen Store inspired me to hone my culinary skills, and Peddler’s Way Quilt Co. made me lament never having learned to quilt.
Remember when it was discovered that adding a Mentos candy to a 2-liter bottle of soda would create a geyser? Holland’s Mercantile sells Geyser Tubes, which act as a trigger for the Mentos-soda geysers. I was tempted to buy them for all of my grandkids, but didn’t think our daughters would appreciate it.
We did splurge on candy at Holland’s Mercantile.
We also bought gourmet cheese popcorn and ice cream cones at Holland’s Caramelcorn.
We spent the night at the Cornerstone Inn. The inn had been reopened only one week, following ownership change and extensive renovation. Located in the same building as the Denhart Baking Co. and Restaurant, the Cornerstone Inn offers seven ultra-modern rooms. Space in our room was plentiful and offered a great view overlooking the square.
If you visit Washington Square
Washington Square is located on Main Street just north of Route 24 in Washington, Illinois. Note that most shops close at 5 p.m., and some are closed on Sundays. Check individual store links for exact hours.
Disclosures: The Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted our visit to Washington Square. However, any opinions expressed in this post are strictly mine.
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