Winter in the Rockford region is a great place to discover annual lights displays, adorned with vibrant colors and festive charm. In addition, our off-the-beaten-paths, parks and preserves are filled with acres of natural beauty to uncover. There’s no doubt you’ll want to grab for your phone and take a picture-perfect selfie to time stamp these special memories in our winter wonderland.
1. Anderson Japanese Gardens
Photo Credit: @boylanchoir
📍Location: 318 Spring Creek Rd., Rockford, IL
Visit the award-winning Anderson Japanese Gardens where you can wander through 12-acres of carefully designed and meticulously pruned gardens. This attraction is the place to be if you are looking to find tranquility and peacefulness. During the winter months, Anderson Japanese Gardens hosts the Illuminated lights display featuring dramatic up-lighting and thousands of white string lights woven throughout the landscape and canopy of the garden. Illuminated is perfect for a family or date night photo opp.
2. Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens
Photo Credit: @malachibrick
📍Location: 1354 N. 2nd St., Rockford, IL
Escape the winter chill and step into an indoor tropical conservatory filled with lush greenery and colorful foliage. Then, head over to the All Aglow exhibit in the outdoor gardens featuring 300,000 lights, elegant, illuminated stars and 50 jumbo lit candy canes, all hand-made by conservatory staff. Pose in front of these displays to add a touch of sparkle to your photos with all the glistening lights surrounding you.
3. Downtown Rockford
Photo Credit: Alvin N LaToya White
📍Location: Downtown area
Downtown Rockford has been transformed into a holiday postcard for Stroll on State, thanks to the help from the community and volunteers. The streets are adorned with decorations, from the trees and landscapes to storefront windows. Don't miss the opportunity to capture the vibrant and festive atmosphere in photos. Throughout downtown, you'll also find bustling local businesses to support and incredible public art along the Rockford Public Art Trail. It's the perfect place to feel cheer all season long.
4. Williams Tree Farm
Photo Credit: mzsuarez09
📍Location: 4661 Yale Bridge, Rd., Rockton, IL
Visit Williams Tree Farm for a traditional winter experience in the Midwest. With over 70 years of creating family memories, this charming farm offers horse rides, Santa visits, a cozy cabin café, a gift shop, fun activities for kids, and, of course, the opportunity to pick your own Christmas tree. Capture gorgeous winter-themed photos against the beautiful backdrop of the farm. If you haven’t, we encourage you to come and enjoy all that Williams Tree Farm has to offer.
5. Rock Cut State Park
Photo Credit: eickhoff_family_adventures
📍Location: 7223 West Lane Rd., Loves Park, IL
Rock Cut’s Forest preserve, situated conveniently off I90, is a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers. With its impressive landscapes, lakes and trails, this park provides a haven for nature lovers during the colder months. Rock Cut offers abundant opportunities for winter activities like hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing. A great place to take in the beauty, snap a pic and test your skills this season.
6. Festival of Lights
Photo Credit: b103rockford
📍Location: 1401 N 2nd St., Rockford, IL (Sinnissippi Park)
The Festival of Lights illuminates the winter nights with cheerful holiday displays and festive scenes as you watch from the comfort of your vehicle. Be sure to flip the camera and take a selfie with your favorite display and you may even catch Santa waving in the background.
7. Ambrose Christmas Store
Photo Credit: Jerm30
📍Location: 6715 N 2nd St., Loves Park, IL
Step inside a literal wonderland at this cheerful Christmas Store. Ambrose has everything you could possibly need to make your holidays glisten. From wreathes and garland, to specialty lights, a large assortment of trees and other décor items, this is a one-stop-shop with an endless supply of goodies. While you’re visiting be sure to take a selfie with the iconic Santa outside or next to one of their intricately decorated trees inside.
8. Alpine Hills Adventure Park
Photo Credit: riley_and_kalani
📍Location: 4402 Larson Ave., Rockford, IL
Experience the thrill of Alpine Hills Adventure Park, where you will have a mountain of fun in the heart of the city. You can enjoy snow tubing, skiing and other exciting outdoor activities. Get ready for a day filled with fun and laughter as you ride down the “slopes”, hike the trails and most importantly - create memories together.
9. Carlson Ice Arena
Photo Credit: stateline kids
📍Location: 4150 N. Perryville Rd., Loves Park, IL
Get your skates on and capture the fun-filled moments at Carlson Ice Arena. Whether it’s action shots or candid moments with friends, this spot is perfect for showcasing winter activities and your skills gliding on the ice.
10. Hidden Creek Estates
Photo Credit: rosiepatterson_
📍Location: 13276 White School Rd., Roscoe, IL
A hidden gem amidst a winter landscape holds 185 years of history and 2 miles of manicured trails on the entire property. Hidden Creek Estates is a peaceful oasis in Roscoe that has been preserved and transformed into a wonderful wedding and events venue. You can wine and dine in the comfort of their “snow globe” igloo experiences. Don’t forget to share a pic on social…or did it ever even happen?!
Rockford during the winter provides a refreshing opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts, adventure-seekers, nature lovers or anyone simply looking for a peaceful winter getaway. Make sure to share your very own adventures and selfies by tagging @gorockford and using the hashtags #gorockford + #winterinrockford for a chance to have your photos featured on our social media pages. We hope to see you this winter in the Rockford region!
*Be sure to check all local listings and seasonal activities for hours of operation.