Top Things to Do in Rockford, Illinois | Midwest Living

Top Things to Do in Rockford, Illinois

Just 90 minutes northwest of Chicago, Rockford is reinventing itself as a weekend-worthy destination, with attractions such as the Anderson Japanese Gardens, Discovery Center Museum and Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens.

What to do

Anderson Japanese Gardens Classes and tea ceremonies enhance a visit to the 12 acres of tranquil gardens, where meditation sessions take place.

Anderson Japanese Gardens

Anderson Japanese Gardens

Burpee Museum of Natural History Check out exhibits such as Jane: Diary of a Dinosaur, exploring the discovery and the restoration of a juvenile T.rex staffers unearthed in Montana.

Coronado Performing Arts Center The 1927 movie theater and vaudeville palace hosts a resident symphony and a dance company.

Discovery Center Museum Kids can touch a tornado or learn how pulleys work.

Erlander Home Museum The restored 1871 Italianate home preserves Rockford’s Swedish immigration history through original furniture and decor.

Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden A glass visitors center is the gateway to 155 acres of gardens, a labyrinth, a butterfly garden and mature woodlands laced with walking paths.

Laurent House Tour the only wheelchair-accessible home Frank Lloyd Wright designed (for a WWII vet).

Midway Village Museum Twenty-six historical buildings filled with artifacts take visitors back in time to a farm town of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens Exotic plants, sculptures and a mural depicting town history fill this conservatory in Sinnissippi Park.

Rockford Art Museum The collection emphasizes regional artists at the location in the Riverfront Museum Park.

Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens A time capsule of Rockford history, the 1865 Swiss chalet-style home preserves furnishings, diaries and

Where to eat

Abreo Restaurant Dine small-plates-style in an upscale setting.

Carlyle Brewing Company A European-style alehouse features pub grub and 10-plus house beers.

Carlyle Brewing Company

Carlyle Brewing Company

Josef-Barbados Restaurant and Oyster Bar An all-white dining room showcases an international art collection, including a piece by Salvador Dali.

Mary’s Market Made-with-care goodness shines in every cookie, pie and bread loaf at this favorite for hearty sandwiches, soups and sweets in Edgebrook.

Octane InterLounge The owners’ album collection gives this funky downtown hot spot a cool vibe; try the homemade soups and vegetarian fare.

Social Urban Bar and Restaurant The food is locally sourced, but the 50 cocktails go global.

Roma Bakeries Inc. Cannoli and other Italian treats attract multitudes to this bakery at the south end of Main Street. (815) 964-6737

Stockholm Inn They claim to serve 2,500 breakfasts on weekends. Don’t miss the Swedish pancakes.

Where to stay

Cliffbreakers Riverside Resort Overlooking the Rock River, this hotel resembles an old hunting lodge—the type of place Teddy Roosevelt might have stayed.

For information: Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau


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