3 Days | 45 Miles | in From Local Experts
If you’re looking for a family trip experience filled with just the right amount of adventure, thrill, learning and all-around fun, then you’ve come to the right place. The Rockford region is filled with exciting attractions, parks and preserves, playgrounds and delicious eateries the whole family can enjoy.
Make sure to check with attractions ahead of time for up-to-date operating hours, travel policies and health and safety information.
Start your family adventure at the Riverfront Museum Park, home to the award- winning Discovery Center Museum and Burpee Museum of Natural History museums. The Discovery Center Museum features more than 300 interactive exhibits indoors, and an exterior playpark on the banks of the Rock River. Burpee Museum of Natural History includes exhibits such as Jane, a young T. rex skeleton, and Homer, a sub-adult or “teen-age” Triceratops! Visitors can view his skull and see Burpee staff members working on his bones in the lab. In addition to Jane and Homer, families can also experience four floors of engaging exhibits.
Replenish at Lucha Cantina for flavorful Mexican and American foods before heading over to where the indoor fun continues at the Carlson Ice Arena, one of the Rockford Park District’s many recreational offerings throughout the region. The Ice House features two sheets of ice surfaces, including a full size rink and the studio rink—or the dinky rink, as the locals call it. The facility’s spacious lobby with a concession counter and community meeting room makes for a great place to reconvene. After you skate, discover several walking paths and parks to entertain every age level. Wrap up your day with a bite to eat at JMK Nippon restaurant, a Teppan experience that is fun for the whole family. After a long day, unpack your bags at the beautiful Embassy Suites by Hilton Rockford Riverfront and Rockford Conference Center, where there is something for everyone, from an indoor pool to delicious eateries and exceptional views of downtown Rockford.
Start your day by grabbing breakfast scones, pastries or cruffins at Crust & Crumbles, and then just down the way you’ll find the Rockford Art Museum. This museum offers 17,000 square feet of space for feature exhibitions and permanent collections, making it one of the largest art museums in Illinois outside of Chicago.
Looking for a different kind of art, the natural gardenscape at Anderson Japanese Gardens is equally inspiring as a classic painting or photograph. Anderson Japanese Gardens is continually ranked as one of the top Japanese gardens in the United States and is designed so that the visitor becomes one with the garden—and it also embodies why Rockford is known as the Forest City. You will want to feast at Fresco at the Gardens to enjoy delicious lunch with exceptional views while you’re there.
Drive over to Midway Village Museum campus, which consists of a Victorian village with 26 historical buildings that are filled with artifacts from the era. It also includes several beautiful 19th century gardens that depict life in northern Illinois from 1890 to 1910. Interpreters in authentic period dress are available seasonally for guided tours. Then head inside to the main museum building featuring a number of permanent exhibits reflecting Rockford’s history and culture that include “The Girls of Summer: Rockford Peaches of the AAGPBL,” “Queen City of the Prairies: Rockford’s First 20 Years,” “The Missing Links: Socks, Monkeys and Rockford’s Industrial Past,” and “Many Faces: One Community.”
Round out your visit up in Roscoe, where you’ll find a true hidden gem at Historic Auto Attractions, including the world’s largest collection of presidential and world leaders’ limousines, John Dillinger’s getaway car, Elvis Presley’s personal car, Indy cars, vehicles from classic movies like Batman and Back to the Future, and so much more! Then, stop by Dairyhaus, located in Rockton, for some delicious homemade ice cream and waffle cones before ending your fun-filled day.
Wake up and go smell the lingonberries at Stockholm Inn, known for their world-famous signature Swedish pancakes. They offer a wide variety of handcrafted dishes made from the freshest ingredients and the unique dining experience to go with it. Then, you’ll be ready to use that brain power in another area staple, 815 Escape. The 815 Escape Room features a variety of thematic elements and suspenseful mystery all geared towards teamwork, creativity and critical thinking—perfect for family competition and pride! You’ll work up a huge appetite so get ready for some cheeseburgers, milkshakes and cheddar fries at Beefaroo.
Once lunch is done, take a quick drive to Volcano Falls Adventure Park in Loves Park. This is a fun attraction where all ages are sure to find their game. Think go-karts, batting cages, laser tag, arcade games, mini-golf and much more! Once you’ve spent hours of fun there with the family you will be ready for those Mary’s Market sweet treats on your way back home.