If you’re a music or movie buff then you already know Rockford, Illinois is home to the famous American Rock Band, Cheap Trick. And that the Rockford Peaches; a 1940’s All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was the inspiration for the 1992 movie, A League of Their Own, starring Tom Hanks, Madonna, Geena Davis and Rosie O’Donnell. 

But, do you know what other gems Rockford is hiding? If you are visiting the area, check out these things to do. 

 Top Attractions:

koi fish swimming in dark green point at Anderson Japanese Gardens

Surround yourself with sweet serenity and natural beauty at the Anderson Japanese GardensIt is filled with koi fish ponds, waterfalls and 16th century styled gazebos. Enjoy hot tea and a fresh meal, before getting lost in your thoughts during a guided tour.

How about a show at the Coronado Performing Arts Center? Initially built in 1927 and renovated in 2001, “Rockford’s Wonder Theatre” is a must-see. It’s the perfect spot for a little history, a bite to eat and entertainment all rolled into one. 

Are you traveling with kids and looking for a day of family fun? Drop by the Discovery Center Museum for interactive learning with crafts, experiments, and over 200 hands-on exhibits. Or if dinosaurs are your thing, head to the Burpee Museum of National History. It’s a working museum, which means that while you are there, you can watch real researchers as they work on newly discovered dinosaur bones. 

How does hand-picking a bushel of apples sound? Or sinking your teeth into some fresh apple cider donuts and homemade jam? Spend time with your family doing exactly that and more, like hayrides, apple slingshots, and petting corrals at these orchards: Curran’s OrchardEdward’s Apple Orchard West or Valley Orchard. Call ahead to find out what activities each one offers. 

 Free Things to Do: 

Child wearing red rain boots jumping into a puddle. Close up

If your plans get rained out, don’t fret. Grab an umbrella and visit the Rockford Rain Art display at 22 different locations around the downtown River District, Midtown District, Swedish American Hospital campus and the Miracle Mile. The art is only visible on the sidewalks when it’s wet outside. 

Escape the buzz of the city with a walk around Rock River. It’s an especially good spot for fishing, so bring your pole!

Admission is free at the Rockford City Market. But, good luck not spending any money once you’re in there. There are plenty of food trucks, craft beer, fresh produce, and local art. 

Places to Eat: 

close up of two women smiling at s fast food table

Enjoy a pour-over coffee at this locally owned and operated brew bar, Rockford’s Roasting Company

Have breakfast all day long at Johnny Pamcakes. Try the Stuffed French Toast with cream cheese, maple syrup, and ripe strawberries. Or, homemade biscuits and gravy. 

 If you’re feeling extra hungry- and adventurous – ask about the 9 Patty Hamburger Challenge over at Buddy’s Burgers

You can’t visit Rockford without stopping at Beef-A-Rooa casual, fast-food restaurant chain. It’s been a Rockford staple for 50 years with seven different locations for you to choose. Cheeseburgers, bacon burgers, double bacon burgers, hot dogs, crispy chicken, onion rings and cheese fries. 

Potato Shak has the potatoes you’ve been craving. Order American fries or homestyle with your choice of toppings: cheese, peppers, onions, and mushrooms.  

Drink a cold one at Prairie Street Brewing Company. Order Rockford’s original beer, the Nikolob.