Stroll on State, presented by Illinois Bank & Trust, is here again! Before we know it, downtown will be decked out in decorations, the smell of hot cocoa and s'mores will fill the air, and people will start flocking downtown for this annual kick-off to the holiday season. When it comes to going on trips (or outings even in my own town), I like to be prepared and plan everything out. Planning especially comes in handy for Stroll on State just because there is so much to see...and you want to make sure you can see all of it!

One of the best aspects about Stroll on State is that it's an event usually attended with a group, whether it be your significant other, friends or family. It's not every day this group is all together, so what better time to snap some pictures! Since I love to plan, I'm going to help you plan your Stroll by sharing some of the top places for photo ops! Scope out these fun spots at Stroll and say cheese!

Large Stars at Rever's Marina

large stars at Stroll on State

Stroll on State is filled with hidden pockets of fun, interactive decorations! You want Christmas lights? Stroll on State has it. You want gigantic presents? Check! One of the more unique pieces of decoration is the large light-up stars located at Rever's Marina (the north end of Water Street right next to the river). These stars are perfect for that more relaxed photo op you're looking for. Sit right in front of the stars with your family or friends and it will make the perfect, cozy backdrop.

Lighted Path & Butterscotch

light tunnel at Stroll on State

Speaking of fun decorations you might not know about, while you're over getting your pictures at the large stars, head just a little more north to find the larger-than-life snow globe and a tunnel of lights! New this year at Stroll is Butterscotch, the inflatable elf that lives in a gigantic snow globe. Not only is Butterscotch a whimsical backdrop for photos, but it's also right next to the lighted tunnel leading toward the horse & wagon rides and indoor ice skating! I discovered this fun piece of decoration while on my way to Riverview Ice House at Stroll on State and was blown away at how beautiful it looked. Something so simple as a tunnel of lights can be so magical once the sun goes down. Get that camera ready!

Merry & Bright Trees

tree at Stroll on State

THE picture to get at Stroll on State would have to be by the official City of Rockford Christmas tree. The tree is huge, and the lights and ornaments make it look absolutely stunning. Problem might be that 4 other families have the same idea to take a photo at the same time! If you're looking for that classic Christmas tree photo, opt for the two equally beautiful (just slightly shorter) Merry & Bright Trees! These two trees are located at the corner of N. Main Street & Mulberry Street on the west side of the river, and at the corner of E. State Street & 1st Street on the east side of the river. (Bonus picture if you go to E. State Street & 1st Street! The new Kelsey Montague mural is perfect for interactive, fun photos!)
The Merry & Bright Trees are sponsored by River District Association and Landstar System, Inc.

Ice Sculpting

ice sculpting at Stroll on State

One of the top attractions of Stroll on State every year is Randy Finch Ice Brigades ice sculpting! It's amazing to watch these blocks of ice transform into pieces of art. What makes this ice sculpting attraction even more fun is the ice sculptures you can pose with! The ice sculptures vary each year. Sometimes there are sculptures where you can stick your face in a hole and be turned into an ice elf, and other times there are pieces that make more of a a few years ago when they made a carousel out of ice. And yes, it moved! You'll have to stop by the ice sculpting area at Stroll on State to see what the Ice Brigades have up their sleeves this year.
Randy Finch Ice Brigades is sponsored by OSF HealthCare.

Rockford's River Lights

Rockford's River Lights

If you're on the hunt for that photo op spot with lots of Christmas lights, then Rockford's River Lights is your location! The west bank of the Rock River is transformed into a Christmas wonderland with dozens of lighted trees lining the path. These lighted trees are the perfect backdrop for selfies and family photos alike! While you're taking your pics in this location, stick around to watch the River Lights show! There are countless lights and effects that are timed to holiday music and will be playing every 15 minutes during Stroll on State starting at 5 p.m.
Rockford's River Lights is sponsored by Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 23.

City Christmas Tree Bench

Stroll on State tree bench

The official City of Rockford Christmas tree in 2016 was transformed into a one-of-a-kind bench and was on display at Stroll on State last year. The bench is back and ready for photo ops this year! Check out the bench at the corner of W. State Street & Wyman Street and get ready to post a photo using #strollonstate! Not only will the bench be a great photo spot, but the City of Rockford Christmas tree will also be in the background of the photo!

These are just a few suggestions for great photo op spots at Stroll on State, but there are plenty more decorations, attractions, and lights that make great backdrops for photos too! In order to find them all, you'll have to come to Stroll on State on November 24 and experience it for yourself! For more information about Stroll on State, visit