The Forest City; The Screw Capital of the world; The Reaper City. Known across the United States for many different things, Rockford, Illinois has many aliases. However, no one nickname can truly encapsulate the city’s rich history and depth. That’s where I come in. I’m Jack Larson – a summer intern at Go Rockford, but more importantly, a lifelong native of the area. In this blog, I’ll walk you through Winnebago County’s wide variety of attractions, providing something of everything, from places to observe art, grab a cup of coffee with a friend, or even play a quick round of golf.

Prairie Street Brewing Co.

Prairie Street

With so many things to do in Rockford, it’s difficult to find a place to start. However, if you have just one night to spend in the city, it’s difficult to beat dinner at Prairie Street Brewing Co. during the summer. Prairie Street is known for its large menu of craft beers brewed in-house. While I haven’t tried any of Prairie Street’s renowned beverages (I am not 21), the restaurant provides some of the best pub food in Rockford, but most prominently, a terrific atmosphere. The biggest attraction of this restaurant is its dock on the Rock River. On a nice 70-degree night in June, the view of the river with Rockford’s skyline in the backdrop, paired with live music on Thursdays, creates a simply unbeatable dining experience.

Rockford Roasting Company

Any world-class city has great coffee shops, and Rockford is no exception to that rule. Frankly, there’s so many great coffee places in the area that it can be hard to choose one. Wired Café, Inzombia Coffee, Meg’s Daily Grind and Mary’s Market are all excellent options to quench your coffee thirst, but if I must land on one place, it’d have to be Rockford Roasting Company. I drink black coffee, and if that’s what you’re looking for, it’s hard to go wrong here. Rockford Roasting Co. offers seven delicious varieties of beans to try in-store or purchase in-person or online. I recommend the Solstice blend, a dark roast featuring Honduran beans. Are you looking for something besides black coffee? No problem! RRC has an expansive menu featuring specialty coffee, espresso, tea, and more.

Aldeen Golf Club


As an avid golfer, I often think of how fortunate I am to live so close to a state-of-the-art facility such as Aldeen Golf Club. This 18-hole course is the best public golf club in the area, and easily one of the nicest in the entire state of Illinois. The course’s combination of challenging putting greens, multiple water hazards, 62 sand bunkers and trees all along fairways make for a difficult, but enjoyable round of golf. If you’re not wanting to play a full round, you can also head over to the Aldeen Practice Centre located just across the street from the clubhouse. Here, you can work on any aspect of your game, as the center offers a driving range, chipping area, practice green and practice bunkers. If you’re looking to improve your game with some guidance, you can also book lessons through the Rockford Park District.

Anderson Japanese Gardens

Anderson japanese gardens

I strongly recommend you make a trip out to Anderson Japanese Gardens. If you’ve spent time in Rockford, but have never been here, you are simply missing out. Deservingly ranked as the city’s no. 1 attraction on TripAdvisor, the 12-acre landscape is one of the most beautiful and peaceful settings you will find not only state of Illinois, but in all North America. There is no better place to enjoy the outdoors. Take in the serenity of the garden while sitting beside a pond and watching ducks swim around as leaves trickle onto their backs from the trees above. Besides the gorgeous variety of wildflowers, trees, and waterfalls, the garden is also known for its Japanese architecture dispersed throughout the property. Bridges, gateways, and houses feature beautiful woodwork and design that truly adds to the overall feeling of the garden.

Rockford City Market

Nothing screams “summertime” quite like the vibes of the weekly Rockford City Market. Live music, approximately 80 local vendors and massive crowds are what you’ll find when walking up to Water and Market streets on Friday evenings by the river. Tens of thousands of people from the community fill up the grounds throughout the season, and for good reason; there’s something for everyone here. Food trucks, beer on draft, clothing and miscellaneous items like hand soap are available for purchase from vendors at the market. Not looking to spend money? That’s okay. Stop by and enjoy the nice weather, absorb the atmosphere, and listen to live music.

Whether you’re heading to Anderson Gardens, Aldeen Golf Club or Prairie Street Brewing Co. for Dinner on the Dock, it’s hard to go wrong with a trip to Rockford, Illinois. While I wanted to share four of my favorite attractions in the city, there’s so much to do in this town that you could spend weeks here without getting anywhere close to boredom. If you’re looking to pass time in nature, grab a bite to eat, learn about the city’s history, or anything else, you can find further information on, where we have an extensive list featuring all that Rockford has to offer.