13 Can’t-Miss Things to Do in Rockford, Illinois

By jhenr | Updated October 27th, 2022

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There are many things to do in Rockford, Illinois, whether you’re visiting the city or living here. From its history as an industrial powerhouse through its transition into a vibrant retail and restaurant hub, there’s always something happening in this cool city of nearly 150,000 residents (about 300,000 if you include its entire metro area). Here are the 12 can’t-miss things to do in Rockford, Illinois

Blackhawk Park

Blackhawk County Forest Preserve with autumn colors in South Elgin Town of Illinois

One of the best things you can do at Blackhawk Park is go canoeing. You’ll need a car to drive the seven miles up to the park’s entrance and then take your canoe out onto one of the many lakes. The park offers everything from fishing and hiking trails to camping spots.

Charles Lindbergh/Rockford Airport Historical Society Aviation Museum

travel by plane

Stop by the Charles Lindbergh/Rockford Airport Historical Society Aviation Museum where you’ll find over 200 years of aviation history on display. What’s more, the museum is located right next to Rockford International Airport (which has a direct flight from O’Hare International Airport).

The Coronado Theatre

Rockford, Illinois United States – January 13th, 2021: The historic “Coronado Theater” in downtown Rockford.

Chicago’s Coronado Theatre is the destination for live performances of dance and theatre. It is most well known for its long association with Chicago Opera Theater, which has been presenting operas at the theatre since 1979. The Coronado also offers a wide variety of musical performances from rock concerts to world music.

The Discovery Center Museum & Planetarium

A breathtaking fulldome digital projection at the planetarium

This museum is a science haven for kids and adults alike with its interactive exhibits and planetarium. It’s also great for parents who want their children to be exposed to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) concepts at an early age.

Located at the corner of 5th and State streets, The Federalist Arts Gallery is a non-profit organization that seeks to bring art education and appreciation to the community through exhibitions and educational programs.

Henry Lemke Field

A visit to Henry Lemke Field is a must for any baseball fan. The field has served as the home of the Grand Rapids Blacksox for over 50 years and it has seen some of the game’s best players pass through its gates.

The Loves Park Antique Mall

This is one of the largest antique malls in the Midwest. It’s over 60,000 square feet and houses over 150 dealers. You’ll find a wide range of items here including jewelry, furniture, home décor, books, vintage clothing, and more!

Martin’s Super Market

I love this grocery store. It is always clean and well-stocked with a good variety of groceries. There are also plenty of places to sit down and eat if you don’t have time to go home before you get hungry. The produce section is the best I’ve seen anywhere – they have everything from local, organic options to bananas.

This beautiful museum features a wide variety of exhibits and collections. From pieces by Picasso and Matisse to the works of local artists, there is plenty for people of all ages to enjoy. There are also some great family programs offered throughout the year that are perfect for school breaks and summer vacations.

Uptown Plaza in Downtown Rockford, Illinois

Rockford Uptown Plaza is a downtown shopping center that combines retail shops with entertainment and dining. The plaza includes a family fun center with laser tag, arcade games, and bowling as well as an outdoor ice skating rink that is open year-round. Visitors can also find a variety of restaurants including sushi and pizza to sit down for lunch or dinner.

Woodstock Opera House – Oldest continuously operating Opera House in America

When you visit the Woodstock Opera House, don’t forget to take a tour. Tours are offered from 11 am – 3 pm Wednesday through Sunday and the tour is free with admission. You will be able to see an original performance stage, backstage areas, and dressing rooms from the 1800s and learn about the history of this historic building.

Woodstock Opera House is one of 12 things you won’t want to miss in Rockford.

Discovery Center Museum

The Discovery Center Museum is a must-see for anyone who is interested in natural sciences and engineering. The museum offers hands-on exhibits and interactive displays that are guaranteed to captivate kids of all ages. Visitors can also explore the museum’s two floors of rotating exhibits.

Anderson Japanese Gardens

Anderson Japanese Gardens is a stunning oasis located in Rockford, Illinois. Tucked away on the shores of Lake Michigan, these carefully manicured gardens feature a wide variety of lush, vibrant plant life. From serene ponds and koi-filled streams to meticulously-crafted topiary sculptures, there is no shortage of beautiful sights to behold at Anderson Japanese Gardens.


Rockford is a great city with a lot to offer. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re looking for history, outdoor activities, or nightlife. With so much to see and do, you’ll want to come back again and again. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Rockford today!