Growing up in Rockford, I have explored many parts of the city including restaurants, dessert spots, activities, and events. When thinking about the highlights of Rockford, it wasn't easy to narrow it down to a handful because there are so many different things to explore. Even after 21 years of living here, I am still finding out even more about what Rockford has to offer. I believe there is something for everyone in Rockford! Below is my intern’s guide to Rockford made up of five of my current Rockford favorites. 

Rock Cut State Park 7223 West Lane Rd, Caledonia, IL

In my opinion, Rock Cut State Park is one of the greatest gems the Rockford region has to offer. Over the years, I have made many fond memories while being at Rock Cut including walking and running on the trails, visiting their ice cream shop, taking part in their water sports, and having picnics. When I was younger, my family and I would get food and bring it out to Rock Cut. There is a little cabin on the hill that if no one was staying at we would eat at as it overlooks Pierce Lake. Rock Cut was and still is a wonderful place for people to take in nature together. Not only is Rock Cut a great place to visit with others it also is a fun place to explore solo. Rock Cut can be a place for one to take a break from the outside world. Overall, I think Rock Cut is a place to go to escape city life and be immersed in nature. 

rock cut

Willyums Dari Fair 2813 Kilburn Ave, Rockford, IL 61104

For many summers whenever my family or I are in the mood for a sweet treat, Dari Fair is the place we go. I think the Dair Fair has an excellent ice cream menu as there are so many options to choose from. As far as their ice creams are concerned, I love the peanut butter malts and strawberry sundaes. It also has excellent flurries that are specially named Coolers. Whenever I am at the Dari Fair, it is hard to choose what to order because the entire menu is so good! Not only is the ice cream great, but I also love the atmosphere at Dari Fair. The building is painted with red and white stripes that scream ice cream shop. There are outdoor tables to sit and enjoy the ice cream while taking in the summer days/nights. Wanting a summer treat?  Dari Fair is the place to go!

dari fair

Music in the Park at Sinnissippi Park Music Shell 1401 N 2nd St, Rockford, IL 61107

A fun summer event that I enjoy going to is Music in the Park at the Sinnissippi Music Shell. I love concerts and live music, so I enjoy being able to attend music events in Rockford. I think it is cool to see other people from Rockford come out to support the musicians, especially those local to the Rockford area. Over the years, I have seen a few different performances, but one that sticks out the most to me is The Rockford Concert Band. If you are looking for a nice evening activity, check out the Sounds of Summer Guide to see when musicians are playing at the Sinnissippi Music Shell or other locations in Rockford. 

Woodfire Pizza 408 E State St, Rockford, IL 61104

Woodfire, conveniently located in downtown Rockford, is one of my go-to restaurants. Whenever I have the choice to pick a restaurant Woodfire is always at the top of my list. Their menu is filled with a multitude of pizzas and other Italian foods. My personal favorite is BBQ Chicken pizza and of course for dessert the S'mores pizza. Not only is their food great, but the restaurant also has a great ambiance. Woodfire is a must-try in Rockford!

All Aglow at Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens 1354 N 2nd St, Rockford, IL 61107

During the Holiday season, All Aglow at the Nicholas Conservatory is a must-see. Every year I go to see these lights either with my family or friends. Seeing the lights is a great way to get out of the house during the winter. It is so fun to see tons of people walking through the lights as well and often see a familiar face or two. Additionally, the lights also make for great photo opportunities. Even if you don’t have time to walk through the lights a drive across the Auburn Street Bridge is also a great way to see the bright lights illuminating the Rock River. 

all aglow

As you can see Rockford has a lot to offer between its events, nature spots, restaurants, dessert shops, and activities. If you are planning a trip to the 815 or even a local, I hope this guide has given you some ideas on what to do while spending your time in this great city!