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[Must Try] 12 Exciting Things To Do In Rockford For 2022

The Rockford region is Real. Original. City of Gardens and rivers, and a wonderful place to spend a life – or a weekend. The Rockford Calendar of Events is full of plenty of things to do and see. Explore one of its museums, visit some unique shops, grab a bite to eat at one of its many restaurants, take in some arts and culture, or relax at one of our hotels.

Introduce about Rockford

Nicknamed the Forest City, Rockford is presently known for various venues of cultural or historical significance, including Anderson Japanese Gardens, Klehm Arboretum, Rockford Art Museum, Tinker Swiss Cottage, the BMO Harris Bank Center, the Coronado Theatre, the Laurent House, and the Burpee Museum of Natural History. Its contributions to music are noted in the Mendelssohn Club, the oldest music club in the nation, and performers such as Phantom Regiment and Cheap Trick. Notable outdoor or recreational spots near Rockford are Rock Cut State Park, Atwood Homestead County Forest Preserve, and Lowden State Park.

What are the 12 best things to do in Rockford in 2022?

Recent rejuvenation projects have, however, had a lot of success with Riverfront Museum Park now boasting top-class cultural institutions and picturesque waterside walks. While there are some amazing historic things to do in Rockford and scintillating shows to see at the charming Coronado Performing Arts Center, the city remains an outdoor destination for a lot of people.

Back to nature at Anderson Japanese Gardens

While Rockford is awash with stunning natural sights, the undoubted star of the show has to be the Anderson Japanese Gardens. Often rated the finest garden of its kind in North America, its scenic landscapes and wonderful water features make it an absolute treat to stroll around peacefully.

Inspired by his trips to Japan, John R. Anderson set about designing the idyllic garden alongside the renowned landscape architect Hoichi Kurisu in 1978. Its meandering paths take you past twinkling streams, waterfalls, and koi fish ponds with a traditional tea house, stone lanterns, and rock features also dotted about.

The gardens hold a variety of events throughout the spring, summer, and fall, including a Japanese Summer Festival and Tuesday Evenings in the Gardens. Guided tours are available, though individuals are encouraged to explore the scenic space on their own. Dining is available at the on-site Fresco at the Gardens.

In addition to taking in all the spellbinding scenery and snapping pics of the plants and pagodas, you can also attend ikebana and calligraphy demonstrations, tea ceremonies, and bonsai displays.

Admire artworks at Rockford Art Museum

Abutting the Rock River at the heart of the city, this century-old art collection focuses primarily on regional displays. With more than 1,900 pieces of art within its collection, the Rockford Art Museum highlights work from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. The collection ranges from Impressionist paintings to a wide mix of multi-media productions.

The collection at the museum includes modern and contemporary works, photography, and an “American Masters” collection, sometimes an abundance of work made predominately by local and regional artists can also be found on rotating display.

As part of the larger Riverfront Museum Park, the building that houses the art collection is also home to other family-friendly attractions. Sharing the same entrance with the Art Museum, the Discovery Center Museum caters to younger explorers with hands-on activities and play areas.

Learn about dinosaurs at the Burpee Museum of Natural History

As part of the Riverfront Museum Park, the Burpee Museum of Natural History has been attracting interest since 1942. Permanent showcases at the museum include fully restored dinosaur skeletons, an immersive Carboniferous Coal Forest, and displays relating to the native people and wildlife of the region.

The museum also dives deep into the Rock River Valley environment with their Windows to Wilderness permanent exhibit. The unique Jay and Barbara Brost PaleoLab at Burpee offers insight into the laboratories that prepare the museum’s fossil displays.

Programs and events at Burpee cater to every member of the family, including a massive Easter egg hunt in the spring and lecture series throughout the year. The museum also hosts the Music on The Rock summer concert series.

Guided tours are available to provide even more insight into the fascinating exhibits.

Enjoy the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens Editor’s Pick

Encompassing more than 11,000 square feet of botanical space, this garden center is the third largest conservatory in Illinois. Tropical and colorful plants are in bloom within the sunlit conservatory throughout the year, including an annual orchid exhibit in the winter. Walking through this verdant space is always a colorful and fun thing to do.

In the gardens outside, pedestrian paths link together sculptures, patio spaces, and scenic areas including the Eclipse Lagoon. The conservatory is home to many special events and programs, including Tunes on the Terrace, a spring butterfly exhibit, and the annual “All Aglow” event featuring thousands of holiday lights.

Went back in time to Midway Village Museum

For those more interested in the human history of Rockford, the Midway Village Museum is simply a must. This is because its gorgeous grounds and old historic structures highlight what life was like back in the Midwest during the early 1900s.

Its sprawling site and Victorian-era village lie fifteen minutes’ drive directly east of the center on the outskirts of the Guilford County Forest Preserve. Its 26 historical buildings include a police station, schoolhouse, and general store with innumerable artifacts and exhibits lying within all of them.

The museum center and costumed interpreters provide more information on the various cultures and communities that have so shaped the history of the city. A fantastic time to visit is during the annual WWII days or Oregon Trail re-enactments which see all kinds of immersive events take place.

Hike the Rock Cut State Park

Encompassing more than 3,000 wooded acres and two massive lakes, Rock Cut State Park provides the city’s largest natural playground. The state park is accessible from Rockford with less than a 10-mile drive from downtown.

Mountain bikers, hikers, and equestrians all have trails to explore at Rock Cut, and boaters, shoreline anglers, and bird-watchers also have plenty of fun things to do.

It’s easy to extend any adventure at Rock Cut State Park, many thanks to the hundreds of campsites to choose from in the shady campground. Though spring, fall, and summer are the most popular seasons to visit, with cross-country ski and snowshoe trails in the winter, this state park is a year-round recreation destination.

Aside from kayaking and boating about its tranquil waters, you can venture off along its leafy trails and stay overnight at its cozy campgrounds. Sandy volleyball courts and picnic areas are also found along the long, indented lakeshore.

Wander around the Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden

Often described as a living museum, the enormous Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden is home to all kinds of colorful plants, flowers, trees, and shrubs. A great place to immerse yourself in nature, its shady trails and landscaped gardens lie just down the Rock River from downtown.

Established in 1910, it now boasts more than 500 local and exotic species with some towering trees reckoned to be over 300 years old. While some parts of the park are left wild and untouched, most are immaculately maintained with gorgeous prehistoric and fountain gardens lying next to Azalea and Rhododendron dells.

In the gardens outside, pedestrian paths link together sculptures, patio spaces, and scenic areas including the Eclipse Lagoon. The conservatory is home to many special events and programs, including Tunes on the Terrace, a spring butterfly exhibit, and the annual “All Aglow” event featuring thousands of holiday lights.

Strolling amidst its fantastic floral displays and water features really is a treat with plenty of park benches, picnic areas, and public art installations dotted here and there.

Watch Broadway-quality shows at Coronado Performing Arts Center

For some great evening entertainment, the Coronado Performing Arts Center, or Coronado Theatre, features a wide variety of performances. Originally constructed in 1927 as an atmospheric theater and movie palace, the Coronado received a massive restoration at the turn of the century to revive its original glamour.

Very decadently decorated, the atmospheric old theater first welcomed spectators to its shows back in 1927. Adorning the walls of its elegant auditorium are the glittering facades of gilded Italian and Spanish-style buildings with glowing lanterns and Japanese dragons also featuring.

Due to its ornate interior, the center is sometimes referred to as ‘Rockford’s Wonder Theater’ with all its performances making for an unforgettable spectacle. During its heyday, big names such as Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland performed on its hallowed stage which now puts on Broadway musicals, concerts, and specialty shows.

Discover history at Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens

A hugely interesting place to visit, the Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and its lovely gardens can be found just a short distance south of the center, overlooking Kent Creek. Once the private residence of one of the city’s most influential families, it has lots of exquisite architecture, original furnishings, and impressive artworks for visitors to check out.

Perched atop a prominent bluff, the striking Swiss-style house was built between 1865 and 1870 for Robert and Mary Tinker. Wonderfully well-preserved, its 27 rooms are now open for tours with period pieces, family portraits, and personal belongings all on show.

The Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum is far from a stationary exhibit. The event calendar contains plenty of fun activities, including paranormal investigations and variously themed murder mystery parties.

Perform a nice swing at Sinnissippi Park and Golf Course

Just up the river from the market downtown is the scenic and serene Sinnissippi Park. Covering a humongous area, its wide-open spaces, well-equipped playgrounds, and wonderful gardens offer up a whole host of exciting outdoor activities.

Set atop a bluff overlooking the river, the public park has loads of winding paths to walk, run, jog or cycle along. These take you past verdant woodlands and lush lawns with flower displays, ponds and sculptures dotted amidst pristine nature.

Since the seventies, its magnificent old Music Shell has hosted the loud and lively Music in the Park Summer Concert Series and the calmer and quieter Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition. Other than this, you can make use of its picnic areas and park shelters.

Within the eyesight of the Music Shell, the Sinnissippi Golf Course provides nine holes of challenging play open to the public. Established in 1912, Sinnissippi Golf Course is the oldest public course in Rockford and is best known for its rolling fairways and big trees lining the rough.

The Sinnissippi Gardens can be found across the street adjoining the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens. These flowering destinations feature an All-American Rose Garden with more than 60 varieties.

Go have some fun at Volcano Falls Adventure Park

South of Rock Cut State Park on the northeast edge of the city, Volcano Falls Adventure Park appeals to the younger members of the family. With plenty of adventure to be had, Volcano Falls also tends to be fun for the adults who visit.

The most eye-catching attraction at Volcano Falls is the lava-inspired mini-golf course that is universally accessible. The facility also offers a variety of laser games (including a Lazer Maze), as well as multiple go-kart tracks, batting cages, and more than 50 arcade games to choose from.

Open on weekdays from 3 pm to 9 pm, with extended hours on the weekends, this is a family-friendly attraction that is great for a planned afternoon or impromptu visit. For many, it’s a destination to visit after spending the day exploring the woodlands of the nearby Rock Cut State Park.

Learn about the Swedes at Erlander Home Museum

The Erlander Home Museum is a cultural centerpiece of Rockford’s Swedish ancestry community and a major asset of the Society. The Museum is located within the home which was built for John Erlander and his family in 1871, within the historic Haight Village of Rockford.

Once home to Swedish immigrant John Erlander and his family, this historic residence was first built in 1871. Patrons can still see many of the original artifacts and furnishings within the home on a guided tour.

Besides antiques and memorabilia of the 19th century, the house museum also tells the story of Swedish culture and heritage and how it has become integrated into Rockford today. Touring the home is by appointment only, and reservations should be booked a week in advance.

The abundance of preserves and parks makes the Forest city Rockford popular with people who enjoy cycling, walking trails, and relaxing days of exploration. HyannisHoliday hopes you will have the time of your life while traveling here. Share with us your wonderful experience in the comment section down below. Have a nice Holiday!

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