Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Rochelle, IL

  • Published 2022/04/08

The best things to do in Rochelle, Illinois, have something to offer everyone—from leisure to adventure—while maintaining a sense of community.

Rochelle, previously known as Hickory Grove, is part of Ogle County.

The town was an essential rail connection for farmers since it had many granaries that stored maize, wheat, and other products that could be shipped east.

While meatpacking and canned vegetable industries thrived in Rochelle after World War II.

Rochelle is also known as “Hub City,” a term now used by hundreds of enterprises, including furniture shops, retail malls, real estate agencies, laundromats, etc.

Even the neighborhood high school sports teams are called “Hubs.”

The city of Rochelle is brimming with outdoor activities like the farmer’s market, concerts, outdoor cinema at the parks, golf, and swimming.

Find out what enjoyable activities await you in Rochelle by reading on.

See Vintage Trains at Rochelle Railroad Park

People at Rochelle Railroad Park

Ben Jacobson (Kranar Drogin), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This city park situated in Rochelle is home to various vintage trains.

Due to a large number of people that came to see the trains, a railroad park was constructed in 1995.

A child who enjoys trains is a good candidate for a toy train. If so, here is the ideal place for you to begin your journey.

For families visiting Rochelle, the Railroad Park is a must-do.

Whitecomb locomotive at Rochelle Railroad Park

Ben Jacobson (Kranar Drogin), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Look at various locomotives from train companies passing through Rochelle as they travel on the Union Pacific and the BNSF lines.

The original 1854 Steel Strap Rail reproduction may be seen at the Rochelle Railroad Park along with the 7- and 50-ton Whitcomb locomotives.

If you’re a kid at heart, you’ll be delighted by visiting this train park.

A bathtub gondola at Rochelle Railroad Park

The original uploader was Slambo at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Step Back in Time at Flagg Township Museum

The Flagg Township Museum in Rochelle, Illinois, which dates back to 1884, is home to more than 20,000 ancient and historical objects that bear witness to life in the Flagg Township region.

The Flagg Township Museum is a great place to learn about Flagg Township’s history.

Locals have donated various items, from vehicles to Lin-o-Type machines to visitors.

Check out the Flagg Township Museum for a good 15 to 30 minutes, and you’ll see just about every tiny thing there is about the community.

Make a stop at the ancient, fascinating prison to say hello to Santa Claus during the holidays.

Admire the Architecture of William H. Holcomb House

Exterior of William H. Holcomb House

Andy McMurray, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The William H. Holcomb House is a historical landmark.

In this house, William H. Holcomb lived for many years.

The Oregon Railway and Navigation Company hired Holcomb in 1880 as General Manager.

He also served as the World’s Columbian Exposition’s Director of Transportation in 1893, held in Chicago.

Entrance door of William H. Holcomb House

Andy McMurray, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Additionally, he served as Union Pacific’s vice president and general manager.

The William H. Holcomb Home is a wood-framed brick structure with a limestone foundation.

An important example of Italianate architecture, the home was constructed in 1872.

The National Register of Historic Places recognized it on October 25, 1973, for its architectural importance.

Appreciate Unique Artworks at Faux Pas Gallery

It was established in 2017 by Faux Pas Gallery, located along Lincoln Highway, and features work by artists that push the frontiers of creativity in an unusual yet original way.

Do you still plan to visit the town, despite the bad weather?

When it’s chilly or rainy, a trip to Faux Pas Gallery is a fun way to spend some time indoors.

You may be inspired to create your own piece of art by looking at some of the more unusual works of art created by local artists.

Faux Pas Gallery is a must-see in Rochelle if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary to do.

It’s a good idea to check out the gallery and pick out your favorite artwork to decorate your home.

Get Extreme Chicagoland Skydiving Center

Skydivers returning from a jump at Chicagoland Skydiving Center

Helene Woodbine /

Chicagoland Skydiving Center has been operating since 1968.

An airstrip on 200 acres in Rochelle hosts their award-winning 20,000 square foot complex.

Chicagoland Skydiving is easily accessible from anyone in the Midwest because of its central location halfway between Chicago and the Quad Cities, IL.

A skydiver midair over Chicagoland Skydiving Center

Helene Woodbine /

You won’t find a better training program, bar and restaurant on campus, or ultra-modern facilities anywhere else in the United States.

Its outdoor terrace offers dropzone views from the Flight Deck Bar & Grill, which features a bar menu and a grill.

Other amenities include volleyball courts and campfire pits.

Regardless of whether or not you plan to skydive, take a tour of its entertainment facility and see what it offers.

A skydiver with a colorful parachute over Chicagoland Skydiving Center

Helene Woodbine /

Go Fishing Lake Sule

Located at the intersection of I39 and I88 southeast of Rochelle, Lake Sule is a 76.6-acre body of water.

The lake is 15 feet deep; it is only around 8.5 feet on average.

In 1982, the Flagg-Rochelle Park District was given this property as a prospective fishing lake and leisure facility by Mike Sule and Lyle Kundy.

The ceremony for the dedication of Lake Sule at Lyle Kundy Recreation Area in October 1996 was well-attended.

Crappies, bluegill, largemouth bass, redear sunfish, and a variety of others may all be found in this body of water.

Just remember to follow the local fishing regulations.

Have a Picnic at Skare Park

Norm Skare resided in Rochelle, Wisconsin, from July 22, 1904, until April 22, 1988, and was a significant figure in the town.

Skare had a piece of land and used to allow the neighborhood kids to come to play in the brook or run through the woods.

Aside from honey and cider production, he was also a well-known land conservationist.

Skare Park was established in 1972 due to a property donation made by Skare to the Rochelle Park District in July of that year.

This 320-acre park has horse paths, ball fields, hiking and biking trails, grilling and picnic spaces, horseshoe pits, playgrounds, and shelters, among other things.

Historic Skare Homestead Museum is also included. Skare Park is home to a scenic nine-hole disc golf course.

Disks can be obtained from the Park District’s administrative office.

Stroll along with Rochelle Downtown Historic District

Buildings along Rochelle Downtown Historic District

TheCatalyst31, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a look at a variety of American architectural styles and historical contexts. Rochelle’s Downtown Historic District is an excellent place to walkabout.

Most of the 56 structures in Rochelle’s downtown National Historic District are businesses.

The first commercial buildings in Rochelle were destroyed by fire in the 1850s.

Thus, what is considered the oldest surviving structures in the region were constructed in 1871.

Midway through the twentieth century, construction in the area was still going on.

Even though the part is home to many architectural styles, the vernacular commercial and Italianate styles predominate.

The Town and City Hall, Post Office, Chicago & North Western Railway terminal, and Masonic Temple are among the district’s notable non-commercial structures.

National Register of Historic Places recognized the district on December 31, 2018.

Sample Spirits at Kennay Farms Distilling

An Illinois distillery that has been in the family for six generations is Kennay Farms Distilling, located on Lincoln Highway near Rochelle.

Check out our list of romantic activities for couples in Rochelle.

Take your lover to Kennay Farms for a spirit or beer tasting session.

The bartender will impress you with his knowledge and incredible selection as you settle into his spacious and rustic tasting area.

Try Kennay Farms’ homemade vodka, beer, rye whiskey, and gin as you go along Lincoln Highway.

When you’re out and about, hand sanitizer is an excellent option for keeping germs at bay.

Buy Something to Bring Home at The Cypress House

Krista Stewart, the current owner of The Cypress House, is happy to continue the flower shop’s 90-year heritage.

One block west of Highway 251 is the Cypress House in a quiet residential area.

This florist and greenhouse specialize in high-quality fresh flower designs.

An espresso bar serves up organic coffee and tea, and there’s also a cute baby department and a wide range of fashionable handbags and jewelry in the store’s other departments.

Sip an organic latte from the espresso bar while you shop in a peaceful setting with helpful employees.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Catch a Stunning Performance at Egyptian Theatre

Front exterior of the beautiful Egyptian Theatre

Nicola Patterson /

Around 23 minutes away from Rochelle, this Egyptian revival theater is part of the National Register of Historic Places list.

It was created in 1928 and 1929 as part of a more extraordinary wave of interest in Ancient Egypt in the United States, sparked by the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922.

The 1,430-seat theater, listed on the National Register in 1978, is now the largest in DeKalb County.

Elmer F. Behrns, an architect interested in Egyptology, designed the structure.

Egyptian cultural motifs may be seen throughout the building’s interior and external design.

Name sign of the Egyptian Theatre

Eddie J. Rodriquez /

Ra, the sun deity, and the scarab, a holy emblem, are shown in stained glass work.

Preservation of the Egyptian Theatre (PET) spearheaded a repair project in the 1970s that rescued the facility from demolition.

The DeKalb Egyptian has long been the subject of urban legends alleging the presence of hidden messages and ghostly apparitions in the building’s design.

Despite the theater’s insistence that the structure does not contain any cryptic messages, legends about the theater’s spectral inhabitants continue.

As many as 125 events take place in the Egyptian Theatre each year.

Egyptian design at Egyptian Theatre

Eddie J. Rodriquez /

Go Antique-Hunting at Sweet Revival

Sweet Revival, an antique shop and café located in Kings, IL, is only 11 minutes away from Rochelle.

Visit Sweet Revival in Kings, Illinois, and look at all the lovely antiques they have on display.

If you’re planning to give an antique to a loved one, it’s good to stop by the store.

Go no further than this store if you’re looking for vintage souvenirs.

Drive to Kings to view some fantastic antiques and, while you’re there, get a coffee or a cappuccino.

Wander around Ellwood House Museum

Exterior of Ellwood House Museum's sunroom

I, IvoShandor, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Ellwood House Museum in DeKalb, Illinois, 23 minutes away from Rochelle, is on 10 acres of parkland in the city’s center.

Aside from the mansion, the museum complex includes a display space measuring 6,000 square feet and four gardens.

The winner of Isaac Ellwood's handmade barbed-wire specimen

A. McMurray (A mcmurray), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Ellwood Mansion was built in 1879 for Isaac Ellwood, a barbed-wire industrialist, and served as a family residence for three generations from 1879 until 1965.

Elwood’s wife and three daughters donated the Ellwood Mansion to the DeKalb Park District in 1965.

The entire site is now operated as a museum by the Ellwood House Association and the DeKalb Park District.

A victorian carriage in Ellwood House Museum

A. McMurray (A mcmurray), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Learn about the Life of the Barbed Wire Inventor at Joseph F. Glidden Homestead & Historical Center

Around 21-minute drive from Rochelle will bring you to the 1861 residence of Joseph F. Glidden in De Kalb, IL.

The old barn is presently the subject of an archeological dig as part of the site’s many annual activities.

The barbed wire prototype developed by Joseph Farwell Glidden in 1873 played a significant role in reshaping American history and having a global influence.

A non-profit corporation was created in 1995 to preserve and repair his DeKalb, IL, homestead.

The National Register of Historic Places includes both the house and the barn.

Explore World Civilizations Pick Museum of Anthropology

Just 22 minutes away from Rochelle, the Pick Museum of Anthropology is an award-winning museum.

It showcases the civilizations of New Guinea, Southeast Asia, the American Southwest, and the Plains Indians.

Since its inception in 1964, the Anthropology Museum at Northern Illinois University has been housed in the Anthropology Department.

More than 20,000 artifacts, mostly from ethnography and archaeology, are housed in the museum.

It also has minor collections from Africa, contemporary Greece, and Mesoamerican and South American regions.

The museum’s Native American basket and Indonesian textile collections, each with approximately 600 objects, are among its most prized possessions.

Over 100 different Indonesian shadow puppets, a notable selection of Thai Khon masks, and significant Hmong and Karen relics round out the museum’s offerings.

Modern Mesoamerican artifacts from Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico are regularly added to the museum’s collection.

Visitors who are fortunate enough will have the opportunity to take in presentations, special exhibitions, and other activities as part of their experience at the museum.

Final Thoughts

Just a two-hour drive from Chicago, take advantage of the Hub City’s plethora of restaurants, museums, galleries, historic sites, and more, all within a short distance.

Are you planning for a weekend getaway?

Head to the charming town of Rochelle, Illinois, and try the ones on our list!

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