We love summertime in the Rockford region! There’s just SO much to do that it’s hard to name them all! With only few weeks left before school starts, make sure you make the most of your summer and cross off this entire list before the season ends.
- Achieve wakeboard status
No boat is needed! Head to West Rock Wake Park to wakeboard or waterski with a rapid cable-tow system. Whether you’re a first-time rider, an old school water skier or a seasoned pro, West Rock has everything you need for a great day on the water. Book a two-hour “Learn to Ride” session or “Cable Park” session.
- Tube down the Sugar River
It’s hot in Northern Illinois. Relax and cool off by tubing down the Sugar River. Bring plenty of sunscreen, snacks and a cooler and rent a tube or kayak through Sugar River Adventures in Rockton, IL. For weekend and holiday tubing, the shuttle will transport designated vehicle drivers from Sugar River Forest Preserve to Colored Sands Forest Preserve. Shuttle times estimated every 20 minutes.
- Get inspired and hop on the Art Trail
Discover all the wonderous public art Winnebago County has to offer! Sign up for the Rockford Public Art Trail for FREE and check in at various iconic murals and sculptures throughout the region. Each check-in will earn you points towards fun prizes. Make sure to share your adventures using #rockfordpublicarttrail on social media.
- Spend the day at Klehm Arboretum
Start the day exploring 10 larger than life sculptures made of reclaimed forest wood and other natural materials. David Roger’s Big Bugs: The Pollinators is FREE for Klehm members and included with daily admission. Afterwards cool off in the Nancy Olson Children’s Garden. Let the kids explore the Kid’s Creek for interactive stream play and frolic through the splash pad. Bring a lunch and take a break under the covered gazebo.
- Cheer on the Rockford Rivets
With a name unique to Rockford and strongly tied to the city’s manufacturing history, the Rockford Rivets is playing baseball all summer long at the Rivets Stadium located in Loves Park. Put your black and gold on and cheer on the Rivets in a fun and family-friendly environment. You may even get an autograph or two.
- Cool off with ice cream
There is nothing better than cold ice cream on a hot summer day! Luckily, there is no lack of options in the Rockford region. Head over to Dairyhaus in Rockton for a sweet treat. You could also try local favorites like Dairy Depot and Dairy Fair. Take a short drive to Winnebago and check out The Scoop, or head to Pecatonica and try Third Street Station. Don’t forget about granita from Zammuto's and gelato from Gelato Joes at Lino’s.
- Take a bike ride on an old railroad line
Take a 29.5 mile bike ride and through farmland, woods, remnant prairies, wetlands and scenic meadows. The trail, which sits on an old railroad line, not only is a fantastic recreational resource but a functional, safe and scenic transportation alternative connecting the cities of Freeport and Rockford, while passing through the villages of Pecatonica and Winnebago.
Now you can also rent e-bikes from The Bicycle Hub in downtown Pecatonica. They offer hourly and daily rental rates.
- Listen to live music (and lots of it!)
As the Summer nights begin to cool down, Rockford outdoor live music heats up. Not sure where to start? Don’t worry! We’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite outdoor concert series in the area to kickstart your summer playlist! Read our latest blog here: Top 10(ish) Music Series in the 815 (gorockford.com).
- Spend an entire weekend at Rock Cut State Park
Rock Cut State Park is one of northern Illinois’ larger state parks offering camping, hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, horse and bike trails, concessions and more! Plan a Rockford getaway and get ready to ride a row boat, go fishing, swim, play beach volleyball, roast smores and make so many memories. Book your stay here!
- Embrace your inner wine connoisseur
Transport yourself to Tuscany… Even though you’re in South Beloit. DC Estate Winery’s picturesque park like setting will make you think you’re in romantic Tuscany with quality wine, beauty scenery and warm hospitality. With a beautiful outdoor pavilion and welcoming tasting room, DC Estates is the perfect to spend a relaxing summer day. You and your guests will enjoy delicious wine and you will savor the views of the tranquil pond and vineyard.
- Drink local libations
Cool off with a cold cocktail in some of those most beautiful settings in Rockford! Barnstormer Distillery is not your typical Distillery. They are a “Farm Distillery” on a 22-acre property that grows veggies, fruits, berries and herbs used primarily in its Distillery and Tasting room. Relax in the “park-like” setting, enjoy live music and delicious food trucks. Prairie Street Brewing Co. is also a great spot to cool down with a local craft beer. With world-class beer, food that reflects the change of the seasons and a gorgeous dock that sits right on the beautiful Rock River, Prairie Street is a must-stop (whether by boat or car) this summer.
- Stay at the Embassy & Eat a meal on a rooftop patio
Experience panoramic views of historic downtown Rockford and the Rock River from 12 stories aloft! Meet us at The Top Rooftop Bar + Lounge, on top of the Embassy Suites in downtown Rockford. Featuring an inviting and modern atmosphere with an indoor lounge and seasonal two-tiered outdoor deck, The Top is the only one of its kind in Rockford. Enjoy a hand-crafted signature cocktail, an extensive wine list, craft beers and shareable dishes inspired by cuisine around the world. Book your stay here!
- Slide down a waterslide
What’s summer without a water park? Checking out Six Flags Hurricane Harbor is a must, especially during the hot summer days in Rockford.
- Catch the ski broncs making waves
Spend an evening outside on the beautiful Rock River watching the Ski Broncs every Wednesday and Friday at 7 PM, Memorial Day to Labor Day.
- Have some fun at a festival
Go on a carnival ride, indulge in an elephant ear, play games, listen to live music and have some fun! Festa Italiana takes place August 4-6 on the grounds of Boylan Catholic High School. The Winnebago County Fair is a fan favorite with rides, food, music, animals, tractor pulls, rodeos, demo derby and more, taking place August 16-20.
We dare you to check off all of these items! And don’t forget to take plenty of pictures and tag us on Instagram using #gorockford
West Rock Wake Park, Klehm Arboretum, Sugar River Tubing Adventures, Mindy Joy Photography, Rockford Rivets, Dairyhaus, Mike Newcomer at Pec Prairie Path, Barnstormer Distillery