Exploring Washington Square: Side Trip from Peoria

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.

Washington Square - fountain

Don’t miss a Midwest Wanderer post.  For a FREE subscription, enter your e-mail address in the Subscribe2 box to the right and click Subscribe.

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.

Washington Square monuments

Footprint plaques up the walkway not only recall where Abraham Lincoln walked, but also where his horses stood!

Washington Square - Lincoln footprints

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Editor’s note: Denhart Baking Co. and Restaurant has been replaced by Faire Coffee, which offers light fare in addition to beverages.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.

Denhart Baking Co and Restaurant

Denhart Baking Co and Restaurant lunch

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.

Washington Square antiques shops

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.

Loris Kitchen Store and Peddlers Way Quilt Co- Washington Square

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.

Hollands Mercantile - Washington Square

We did splurge on candy at Holland’s Mercantile.

Washington Square - Holland's Mercantile

We also bought gourmet cheese popcorn and ice cream cones at Holland’s Caramelcorn.

Washington Square - Holland's Caramel Corn

Cornerstone Inn

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.

Pin It!

Washington Illinois Historic Downtown Square


Disclosures:  The Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted our visit to Washington Square. However, any opinions expressed in this post are strictly mine.

Thank you for reading Midwest Wanderer. Don’t miss a post. Enter your e-mail address below and click Subscribe to be notified whenever I publish another post. Subscription is FREE. After subscribing, be sure to click the link when you get the e-mail asking you to confirm.   – Connie


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *