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The Top 10 Things To Do And See In Rockford
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The Top 10 Things To Do And See In Rockford

Picture of Shay Lee
Updated: 9 February 2017
Rockford, Illinois, has come a long way since its birth in 1835. Before obtaining the name Rockford, the town was called Midway. Early settlers changed the name to pay homage to the large ford across Rock River. As the years progressed, Rockford became a place known for its baseball circles. Other than being a popular baseball city, Rockford has many other attractions – we have listed the top ten things to do and see when you visit.
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Anderson Japanese Gardens

In 1978, businessman John Anderson decided to build a place where people could sit and relax in nature. He visited Oregon’s Japanese Garden and contacted designer Hoichi Kurisu to assist with the construction. In 1998, Anderson and his wife donated their garden to Rockford Rotary Charitable Association, which led to the Garden becoming a non-profit organization. Many festivities are held in Anderson Japanese Gardens, such as weddings, local tours and private parties.

Address & Telephone Number: 318 Spring Creek Rd, Rockford, IL, USA +1 815 229 9390

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Discovery Center Museum

This museum is perfect for parents who wish to instill a passion for knowledge into their children’s heart. Each day, from 10am to 5pm, the Discovery Center Museum is open to Rockford’s community. Its mission is to provide educational and recreational activities to the Rock River region. This is more than a children’s museum, it is a place where family can rejoice and connect on an intellectual level. The museum houses over 250 hands-on exhibits. In the backyard, children can enjoy Rock River Discovery Park, a giant hands-on science exhibit.

Address & Telephone Number: 711 N Main St, Rockford, IL, USA +1 815 963 6769

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Coronado Performing Arts Center

In 1927 Coronado Performing Arts Center opened its doors. The auditorium is decorated with Spanish castles, Italian villas, oriental dragons, starlit skies and a grand organ. Since its opening, it has welcome famous people like Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Sammy Davis Jr. Other than welcoming celebrities, Coronado is the place many couples go for their first dates. Children come to watch movies and cartoons in the big auditorium. Graduation ceremonies are also held in the theater. In 2001, the antique building received an $18.5 million restoration.

Address & Telephone Number: 314 N Main St, Rockford, IL, USA +1 815 968 2722

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Rock Cut State Park

Rock Cut State Park is home to the rich wildlife of Rockford. Some animals that can be found here are waterfowl, deer, fox, muskrat, woodchuck, opossum, raccoons and squirrels. Visitors can see these creatures living in their natural habitat. The Park offers other amenities for tourists, such as biking and horseback riding trails, boating, fishing, swimming and hunting. Nature enthusiasts love to frequent this place to enjoy the beautiful sounds and sights of the various ecosystems.

Address & Telephone Number: 7318 Harlem Rd, Loves Park, IL, USA +1 815 885 3311

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BMO Harris Bank Center

BMO Harris Bank Center is located in downtown. In 1981 it opened its doors to The Rolling Stones while they were doing their 1981 North American tour. Throughout its history, it served as the home of several minor sports leagues: the Rockford Lightning basketball team, Rock River Raptors indoor football team and Rockford Rampage indoor soccer team. Currently, the Rockford IceHogs hockey team plays at the arena. Each year, WWE hosts an event in the Center.

Address & Telephone Number: 300 Elm St, Rockford, IL, USA +1 815 968 5222

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Burpee Museum of Natural History

Burpee Museum’s history goes back to 1935, when Harry Burpee, a furniture maker and undertaker brought a mansion to use as a funeral parlor. His neighbors didn’t think it was a good idea, which made him turn it into an art gallery called Harry and Della Burpee Art Gallery. In 1986, the name was changed to Rockford Art Museum. As years progressed, the name was changed again to its current name. Burpee Museum is more than a museum, it is a place where folks can reflect upon world history. In addition, the venue is also used for weddings and private parties.

Address & Telephone Number: 737 N Main St, Rockford, IL, USA +1 815 965 3433

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Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden

In 1910, Klehm Arboretum was established as Rockford Nursery by William Lincoln Taylor, an architect. Taylor helped plant some of the arboretum’s trees. In 1968, the Klehm family purchased the nursery and donated it to the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District. While walking through the arboretum, visitors will notice a world of natural richness. The place is home to plenty of trees, plants and gardens. The various famous gardens are butterfly, daylily, fountain and grass. Once they enter, tourists may never want to leave.

Address & Telephone Number: 2715 S Main St, Rockford, IL, USA +1 815 965 8146

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Abreo Restaurant

Abreo is located in downtown Rockford and was established in 2005 by head chef and owner Paul Sletten. Before opening the restaurant, Sletten was a private chef who spent time serving meals in various homes. He believes each plate of food should be treated with care, which is the philosophy of his restaurant. He pays special attention to the food and the preferences of his guests. Abreo’s menu features wonderfully presented meat, seafood, vegetarian meals and desserts. The wines are selected from 80 locations around the world.

Price: Fine dining

Hours: 5pm – 12am (Mon – Sat)

Address & Telephone Number: 515 E State St, Rockford, IL, USA +1 815 968 9463

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Social Urban Bar & Restaurant

Social is a fairly new restaurant in downtown Rockford, its doors opened in 2010. The menu consists of meats and produce harvested by local producers and growers in Rockford. Social has some of the most skilled bartenders in town. There is a spirits and absinthe bar which also features carefully selected wines, micro-brews and crafted cocktails. The service style includes communal dining tables, and the tables connect the guests to the kitchen and bar. This allows visitors to have an unique and interactive experience.

Price: Fine dining

Hours: 4pm – 12am (Tues – Thu), 4pm – 2am (Fri – Sat), 4pm – 10pm (Sun)

Address & Telephone Number: 509 E State St, Rockford, IL, USA +1 815 708 0877

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Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum & Gardens

In 1865, Robert Tinker decided to build a Swiss cottage overlooking Kent Creek. The inspiration for the structure came from his journey to Switzerland in 1862. He fell in love with the architecture of the country and decided to replicate it in America. The cottage is surrounded by 27 acres of trees, gardens and flowerbeds. The barn houses cows, chickens and horses. A mansion is connected to the side of the cottage. The mansion belonged to his wife, Mary Dory Manny Tinker. After maintaining the cottage for 75 years, the Tinker family sold it to trustees. In 1943, the cottage opened as a museum and is supported by the Rockford Park District.

Address & Telephone Number: 411 Kent St, Rockford, IL, USA +1 815 964 2424