Rockford sits in the heart of America – only a 90 minute drive from the world-class city of Chicago. Whether visitors want to explore the rich culture, exquisite gardens, unique restaurants or championship golf courses in this city of 150,000, there is certainly plenty to do! Visit Rockford for a day or two on a fly drive of Illinois or the Great Lakes region, as a stopover on the way to the Mississippi River or as day trip from Chicago.
Take a look at the “City of Gardens” and its 10,000 acres of parks and public gardens. Stroll Anderson Japanese Gardens, a 12-acre treasure featuring waterfalls, ponds, paths, quiet corners and 16th century Sukiya-style structures, including a teahouse and guesthouse. It was voted the best Japanese garden in North America. Explore 150 acres of unusual trees, shrubs and perennials at Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden. Visit historical gardens reflecting those of the late 1800’s at Midway Village Museum and Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum. Don’t miss the Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens, overlooking the Rock River’s nature path, is the third largest conservatory in Illinois.
For outdoor adventure be sure to try the new Zip Rockford, a state of the art zipline tour located in downtown Rockford. Go kayaking along the Rock River with Rocktown Adventures or try wake boarding at the newly opened West Rock Wake Park. You can swim, bike, hike or kayak in Rock Cut State Park’s 3,092 acres.
If you are a golfer then Rockford is a paradise for you. Rockford was proclaimed the best mid-sized golf city in the United States thanks to the quantity and quality of courses available. Aldeen Golf Club received the prestigious ‘Places to Play’ accolade from Golf Digest and is joined by other great courses, including Sinnissippi Golf Course and Alpine Hills.
Jane the T-Rex is the undisputed star of Rockford’s Burpee Museum of Natural History. The many unique exhibits, including Jane and Homer – the “teen-age” Triceratops, have been known to intrigue both young and old onlookers. The Discovery Center Museum has been named one of the top 12 children’s museums in the USA and houses more than 250 hands-on arts and science exhibits. Art fans will love the Rockford Art Museum, Illinois’s largest art museum outside of Chicago with over 1,500 exhibits.
You won’t want to miss one of Rockford’s gems - the Coronado Performing Arts Center, an example of an ‘atmospheric-style’ theatre. The Coronado is worth seeing just for its opulent interior, with Gilded Spanish castles, Italian villas and Chinese dragons with a starry sky above the heads of the audience. You can see a variety of performances from the Rockford Symphony to Broadway musicals.
Be sure to include Frank Lloyd Wright’s Laurent House. Wright called this his “Little Gem” and it is the only building ever designed by Wright for a person with a disability. Recently restored, this single-story Usonian home is a rare mid-century design.
“Come and experience all the Real. Original. attractions that make Rockford a one-of-a-kind destination.”