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Bucket list suggestions: New book helps readers discover (or re-discover) the unique things about Peoria

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Tim Shelley
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WCBU
Molly Crusen Bishop is the author of the new book, 100 Things to Do in Peoria Before You Die.

Think there's nothing to do in Peoria? A new book says otherwise.

Molly Crusen Bishop is the author of the new book, 100 Things to Do in Peoria Before You Die. The West Bluff native is a local history enthusiast and writer. She contracted with St. Louis-based Reedy Press Publishing for the book.

"I'm really happy to have had this opportunity to because it's so nice to have something that's nothing but positive about Peoria," Bishop said.

The book is divided into four categories: culture, outdoors, shopping, and dining and drinks.

For Bishop, choosing just 100 things to highlight was a challenge. She crowdsourced some ideas from social media, and ended up with a list of over 300 items.

"Some I have, some were just my favorite. Some I thought, 'Okay, this defines Peoria,'" she said.

For example, one category highlights the best coffee shop in the Peoria area. That's no easy task, with a number of high-caliber local establishments offering a quality cup of joe.

Bishop ultimately chose Cafe Santa Rosa in Junction City because of the business' unique farm to cup model, but other favorites are mentioned in a lengthy "honorable mentions" list.

The outdoors are a big item in Peoria, with more than 9,000 acres of public parkland in the Peoria Park District alone.

"It's one of the biggest park systems in the Midwest. So that really sets us apart. It's a metropolitan city with a small town feel and lots of green space. And that is very desirable right now," she said.

Bishop also highlights natural sites a little further afield, such as Wildlife Prairie Park, Emiquon Nature Preserve, and Banner Marsh.

Some of the area's larger seasonal attractions are also featured. That includes events like East Peoria's award-winning Festival of Lights, or the annual Moss Avenue Sale.

The book has a lot of appeal for visitors or newcomers, but Bishop said she believes 100 Things to Do in Peoria Before You Die also offers long-time Peoria-area residents a chance to discover (or re-discover) something new.

"Maybe you grew up here and you're like, 'what is there to do here?' You've never been taken your grandkids to the Children's PlayHouse Museum. Or maybe you haven't been to Bradley Park since you were a kid, or in high school. So there's lots of opportunities for rediscovery. I think it'll help people have an appreciation for what we do have here," Bishop said.

100 Things to Do in Peoria Before You Die is available through Reedy Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Moondancer, Relics, Urban Artifacts, the Little Shop of Hoarders in Chillicothe, and other local stores.

You can also visit Bishop's Facebook page for more information and a list of upcoming book signing events.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.