3 Days | 20 Miles | in From Local Experts
Discover the real, original Rockford region. Explore museums, visit unique shops, find outdoor adventures, grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants, take in some arts and culture, or relax at one of our hotels. There’s no wonder visitors from all over the world choose Rockford. You're always in good company with locals who are passionate about their city and want you to love it as much as they do.
Make sure to check with attractions ahead of time for up-to-date operating hours, travel policies and health and safety information.
Join us in the Rockford region and stay at the brand new Embassy Suites by Hilton Rockford Riverfront & Rockford Conference Center, located in downtown Rockford near the Main Street District. This luxurious hotel is built within the former Amerock Building, a 104-year-old factory constructed by William Ziock Jr. Once settled in, head just a short distance away to the family owned Woodfire Brick Oven Pizza where high quality pizza (and other delicious food items) are handmade from scratch with a variety of locally sourced ingredients.
After lunch, head just south to the newly established Barnstormer Distillery where a group of small growers in our community produce the finest ingredients from their 22-acre plot. They are committed to serving up unique-tasting spirits and other specialty items. After a private tour and tasting, it’s time to explore downtown Rockford’s River District. Shops like Minglewood, 510threads and Rockford Art Deli are situated along the corridor with one-of-a-kind incubator businesses, like Crust & Crumbles bakery. Be sure to take a selfie next to one of the 13 sculptures and 9 murals throughout the area. Complete your first day with a bite to eat at Social Urban Bar & Restaurant, featuring a menu that showcases local meats, produce and features a premium spirits and absinthe bar, offering carefully selected wines, micro-brews and crafted cocktails.
Start off your second day at Mary's Market for a well-rounded breakfast. This fast and casual café features made-from-scratch foods with top quality ingredients. After breakfast, it’s time to be inspired by history at Frank Lloyd Wright's Laurent House in Rockford. This home is the only building ever designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for a person with a disability. The Laurents commissioned and lived in the home from 1952 until early 2012, when it was acquired by a private foundation and added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Midway Village Museum campus consists of a Victorian village with 26 historical buildings filled with artifacts of the era from 1890 to 1910. The main museum building holds several permanent exhibits reflecting Rockford's history and culture. This historical gem collects, preserves and interprets the history of the Rockford Region and is committed to educating and enriching the community. Now it’s time for lunch at GreenFire Restaurant, Bar and Bakery. This natural and organic American restaurant serves wood fire pizzas, burgers, steaks, seafood, cakes, pies and cupcakes. Many are surprised to learn that there are no microwaves, grill tops, stoves or deep fryers at GreenFire, instead everything is prepared in their state-of-the-art brick fire Woodstone ovens.
A trip to the Rockford region would not be complete without a stop at the fascinating Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens. This historic house museum is accompanied by their barn, and carriage house from the Tinker family. Filled with original furnishings, artwork, diaries, clothing and household items, the Cottage is a rich time capsule of life during the Victorian Era. The Cottage is also one of only a handful of Swiss-style homes remaining in the United States.
Prairie Street Brewing Co., along the beautiful Rock River, serves up world-class beer, handcrafted locally in a range of styles and with a delicious menu to match. Then venture to Axe Marks the Spot, a fun attraction for first-timers looking to give axe throwing a try, or for lumberjack or lumberjill veterans who want to practice their skills. Axe Marks the Spot is the place to wrap up your day.
Fresco at the Gardens, located at Anderson Japanese Gardens, is a great way to kick start the day. This restaurant features organic, locally grown foods and juices. Once breakfast is finished make your way through the gardens, named one of the highest quality Japanese gardens in North America. Inspired by calm and tranquility, this 12-acre award-winning landscape is comprised of koi-filled ponds, winding paths, gentle streams, cascading waterfalls, raked gravel gardens, beautifully trained pines, and more.
Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens is next up on the itinerary and is situated along the banks of the beautiful Rock River in Sinnissippi Gardens. The entire facility is the third largest conservatory in Illinois with a total of 22,000 square feet, the highest point standing 52 feet. A tropical setting includes an 11,000 square foot plant exhibition area complete with water features, seating areas and sculptures. Lunch is next up so it’s time to venture over to The Norwegian. Their menu features a mix of Scandinavian and soul foods - Akvavit-cured gravlax, organic salads, smoky mac and cheese, locally roasted coffee, elderberry mimosas and old-time cocktails.
Next, try your hand at cable wakeboarding and waterskiing at West Rock Wake Park. This park at Levings Lake features Sesitec’s revolutionary cable system. Head back to the hotel to rest, clean up and enjoy a delicious meal at The Top Restaurant on the 12th floor, overlooking outstanding views of downtown Rockford and the Rock River. Here you can reminisce about the last few days and talk about what places you’ll want to put on your Rockford region itinerary for your next visit with us.