The fifth-largest city of Illinois, Rockford, is a lovely picturesque city nestled by the Rock River. Rockford is often dubbed as the City of Gardens, and rightfully so, it has numerous beautiful and delightful gardens that always have something or the other blooming. The city is a haven for tourists, especially for the visitors who love to enjoy lush nature and outdoor adventures. Rockford has about 20,000 acres of green spaces and boasts several golf courses, adventure parks, botanical gardens,  hiking trails, nature centres, parks, and much more. Along with impressive outdoor spaces, the city also has many cultural places such as museums, theatres, music clubs, and so much more. Rockford has a fantastic food scene and amazing bars that will satisfy your inner gastronome. Here are some of the best things to explore and do in the lovely city of Rockford.

Stroll Around The City

Rockford, Illinois
Jacob Boomsma / Shutterstock.com

Rockford is a wonderfully picturesque town with lots to explore and see. Rockford has tonnes of magnificent all around the city for you to witness. This lovely city is worth exploring on foot. Stroll around the town and its different neighbourhoods and streets to experience the beauty and essence of Rockford. You will come across less famous and more amazing places known to only locals. Don't forget to carry your camera with yourself to click beautiful pictures of the architecture and streets. Long walks in the charming streets of Rockford will make you fall in love with this city.

The Impressive Anderson Japanese Gardens

Anderson Japanese Gardens
Ana S. Chao / Shutterstock.com

Often named the highest quality and most beautiful Japanese gardens in North America, Anderson Japanese Gardens is a seasonal 12 acre Japenese garden in Rockford, Illinois. Established in 1978, this impressive Japenese garden has stunning scenery. The garden has many remarkable features of Japenese gardens that include ponds with koi fish, gravel gardens, waterfalls, and much more. There is a restaurant on the premises that serves delightful food overlooking the beautiful scenery of the garden and a gift shop. Make sure to visit the impressive Anderson Japanese Gardens to enjoy a tranquil and serene environment with gorgeous views of the garden away from the city's hustle and bustle.

Rockford City Market

Visit the  Rockford City Market to see the wholesome local produce and local vendors selling it. You can buy fresh organic fruits, vegetables, cheese, flowers, baked products, and more. The market also has live music for visitors to enjoy while shopping.

Visit the Impressive Klehm Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Klehm Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Brian Kapp / Shutterstock.com

Klehm Arboretum and Botanical Garden is best known as the living museum and has tonnes of greenery with rare plants and trees all year round. It covers an expansive area of about 155 acres covered with lush greenery. The garden is equally impressive in all the seasons; in the spring season, you can see the fragrant magnolia trees, in summer the butterfly garden, and in winters, you can see the snow-capped evergreens. This green space also has trails for walkers and hikers. In winter, visitors can enjoy skiing or snowshoeing in the stunning landscape. You can take guided tours that you can book to explore the Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden, or you can explore it on your own; either way, this delightful living museum is worth visiting.

Stop by the Rockford Art Museum

Founded in 1913, Rockford Art Museum is located in the heart of Rockford by the Rock River. The museum features a diverse assortment of contemporary and modern art. It has been an essential part of Rockford's community for ages. The museum features several permanent as well as temporary exhibitions and displays. Their collection consists of more than 1900 pieces of work that expand from ancient art to modern art and include sculptures, paintings, and photography. The temporary exhibitions mainly showcase the works of local artists. There is an outdoor sculpture garden where you can admire the sculptures while enjoying the river's impressive view. The museum also has a gift shop on the premises where you can gifts and souvenirs to remember Rockford by. If you love modern art installations and local artists Rockford Art Museum is the place to be in Rockford.

Buy Vintage and Antique Items at Main Street Antique Mall

Main Street Antique Mall
Cheri Alguire / Shutterstock.com

Main Street Antique Mall is a perfect place for you to pick up unusual souvenirs to remember the lovely town of Rockford. It consists of over 15 antique shops specializing in vintage Hattie Carnegie jewellery, primitives, English antiques, flow blue china, sterling silver, furniture,  and so much more. You will find something or the other that you will love.  Spend a few hours at the Main Street Antique Mall to discover and buy cool antique and vintage items.

Learn About Dinos At Burpee Museum of Natural History

Located along the Rock River, Burpee Museum of Natural History is the perfect place to explore and learn about Illinois' geology excitingly and fascinatingly. The museum consists of award-winning exhibits and displays that have been attracting visitors since 1942. The exhibitions such as The Diary of a Dinosaur exhibit will take you through the journey of Jane and one of the most important dinosaur discoveries, the T-Rex skeleton, among other such exhibits and displays. As it is a working museum, researchers and palaeontologists work on newly discovered specimens. The museum also has a rooftop garden that also contains an exhibit dedicated to flora and fauna of the Rock River. Visit the Burpee Museum of Natural History to learn about the prehistoric reptiles while enjoying the magnificent view of the Rock River.

Impressive Views from Forest City Queen Riverboat

Forest City Queen Riverboat
Nejdet Duzen / Shutterstock.com

The magnificent River Rock situates Rockford. You have to take in the impressive views of the water and the city while riding the iconic 1979 Forest City Queen Riverboat. A ride on this antique and legendary motorboat will win your heart. You will learn about this charming town's history while seeing all the landmarks located on the bank of the river. If you are in the city, you have to ride this boat to experience the true beauty of the town and the splendid waterways on which the town lies.

The Lovely Sinnissippi Park and Golf Course

Sinnissippi Park is a lovely park with a delightful setting of beautiful natural spaces perfect for a pleasant stroll around the park or a picnic. The park also has a 9-hole golf course that was opened in 1912. It was Rockford's first public course at the time. The golf course is pretty challenging and provides a fun way to spend an afternoon with a scenic backdrop and a peaceful environment.

The Stunning Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens

Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens
Jw5 Photography / Shutterstock.com

The third-largest conservatory in the state of Illinois, Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, is an 11,000 square feet botanical garden with indoor tropical and vibrant plants. It also has sculptures as well as fountains, patios, and landscaped lagoon. This conservatory is located by the bank of the River Rock, and it serves sweeping views of the stunning surroundings. It also hosts several programs and events throughout the year, such as Tunes on the Terrace (a butterfly exhibition), All Aglow (features various holiday lights),  Lorikeet exhibit (an up-close interaction with birds), and much more). Make sure to visit the incredible Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens when you visit Rockford.

Fresh Organic Apples at Curran's Orchard

Located in northern Illinois' rolling hills, Curran's Orchard is a family-run destination orchard famous for its organic chemical-free apples, baked goods, and award-winning cider. The orchard has about a dozen varieties of different apples- Jonagold, Red Delicious, Rome Beauty, Gala, McIntosh, Blushing Gold, Cortland, Jonathan, Empire, Yellow Delicious, Northern Spy, Honeycrisp, and Granny Smith. Along with several types of fresh apples, the orchard also has a fantastic bakery where you can have scrumptious apple pies, apple doughnuts, apple butter, fresh cider, and more. It also offers different activities for the visitors to participate in, such as hay wagon rides, straw bale mini-maze, apple launcher, farm animal corral, and climbing bales. So make sure to stop by the Curran's Orchard to enjoy delicious apples and other fun activities.

Stay at Hilton Garden Inn Rockford

Hilton Garden Inn Rockford is the perfect play to stay while visiting Rockford. It is located near the top-rated attractions of the city and has top-notch amenities to make your stay comforting and worthwhile.

Eat the World-Famous Swedish Pancakes at Stockholm Inn

Stockholm Inn is a Swedish-American restaurant popular among tourists and locals for its delicious food and Swedish hospitality. It also has vegan options, gluten-free options, and vegetarian-friendly options to cater to diverse needs. Don't forget to try the Swedish meatballs over noodles and Swedish pancakes with imported lingonberries when you dine at the Stockholm Inn.

Catch a Show at Coronado Performing Arts Center

Built in 1927 and restored in 2000, Coronado Performing Arts Center is a theatre in Rockford. It is designed as an "atmospheric-style" theatre and can seat 2,400 people at once. The theatre is absolutely gorgeous, and its grand interior is worth noticing. It hosts various travelling shows and other art groups. Make sure to catch at least one show at this splendid theatre.

Visit the  Discovery Center Museum

Discovery Center Museum is a kid's science museum that consists of workshops, crafts, exhibits, and experiments for the little ones to dive in. The museum features more than 250 exhibits to educate the younger explorers about science and art fascinatingly and intriguingly. The Discovery Center also has the country's first outdoor science park built by the community with about 8,000 square feet of area with dinosaur fossil dig pit, two-story maze, Secret Garden, and water play area. Visit the award-winning Discovery Center Museum to enjoy and educate yourself or your little ones with an interactive experience.

Stop by the Ethnic Heritage Museum

Built in 1850, Ethnic Heritage Museum is located in the heart of the old water power district and showcases the Irish, Hispanic, Lithuanian, Italian, Polish, and African-American heritage. The museum has a room that contains the history of the mentioned local immigrant groups. It is an integral part of the community and displays how Rockford became what it is today because of the unity and contribution of different communities represented in the museum.

Drink and Enjoy Music at Mary's Place

Mary's Place is the oldest bar in Rockford and a staple for locals. It serves affordable drinks and provides entertainment with eclectic music by local and professional artists. Visit Mary's Place to experience the town's staple bar like a townie.

Visit the Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens

Located in the heart of Rockford, Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens is a renowned house museum, and it consists of the house,  carriage house, and barn from the Tinkers. The museum is dedicated to the 1875 mayor of Rockford, Robert Hall Tinker. He played an important role in the early development of Rockford. The elaborate garden outside the Victorian house is incredible and provides a tranquil environment with gorgeous views. The museum has quite a few fun activities and events where you can participate, such as murder mystery parties, paranormal investigations, and much more.

Learn about Swedish Influence at Erlander Home Museum

Erlander Home Museum showcases the significant Swedish culture that can still be found in Rockford in its food, buildings, and culture. The museum portrays how Swedish culture influenced the city of Rockford and contains many artefacts and memorabilia. You can take guided tours of the museum; however, they have to be booked in advance.

Lino's Restaurant

Lino's Restaurant has been serving the people of Rockford for more than 40 years. It is the most famous restaurant in the city, and it serves comforting Italian food. Make sure to try their speciality pizzas, toasted ravioli, tortellini, and gnocchi when you eat at Lino's Restaurant.

What are you waiting for? Visit Rockford, and do not forget to tell us your favourite thing from the list and make sure to do all these things and visit all these places when you visit this beautiful city.

More Illinois

Best Things to Do in Chicago

Best Things to Do in Naperville

Best Things to Do in Galena

Best Things to Do in Schaumburg