Family Fun Itinerary
Family Fun in Downtown’s River District
Kids and adults alike will have a blast exploring the sites of downtown.
Rockford’s downtown River District is a wonderful mix of shops, restaurants, museums, unique residential buildings, architecture and performing arts. It’s easy to fill an entire day or weekend with the family.
First stop—dinosaurs! Grab the kids and head to Burpee Museum of Natural History, for a visit with “Jane," a member of the tyrannosaur family that lived 65-67million years ago during the late Cretaceous Period, the twilight of the dinosaurs' time on Earth. Other exhibits at Burpee include: two full scale, two-story, skeletal casts of an adult T. rex dinosaur; a two-story tall prehistoric coal forest; and the newest exhibit GeoScience, where you can learn how our earth was formed. Next, take a walk next door to the Discovery Center Museum, where you can experience a world of hands-on investigation and fun-filled exploration at this children's museum with 200+ hands-on art and science exhibits, planetarium, TV studio, and outdoor science park. The museum is recognized as one of the top 10 (weighing in at #4) children's museums in the country by Child Magazine. Parking is free at both museums, and the buildings housing Burpee Museum of Natural History, Discovery Center Museum and Rockford Art Museum are connected by a tunnel to protect your family from the weather.
By now your stomach must be growling. You can grab a sandwich, soup and salad at Kiwi's Cafe & Bar on the mall. Just across the river on State Street you’ll find the Capri Restaurant & Pizza, where you can enjoy a lunch or dinner of pasta or share a pizza pie or, a bit further east on State, enjoy Asian fusion Kuma’s Asian Bistro.
Now, back to your discovery of downtown. How about a tour of our beautiful Rock River by boat? Just north of State Street a few blocks you can grab hold of polished brass rails and climb aboard the Forest City Queen for a narrated history of the river. Or try the Ski Broncs water ski show cruises on Wednesday and Friday evenings showcasing our very own world-class water ski team. Upon your return of either, you’re only a short jaunt from the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, with an 11,000 square foot plant exhibition area complete with water features, seating areas, and sculptures, all in a tropical plant setting, and Sinnissippi Gardens and Recreation Trail, a cheerful riverside garden spot whose attractions include an annual garden meticulously planted with colorful bedding plants, a floral clock planted each year with thousands of annuals, an accredited rose garden. All this is adjacent to a beautiful 10-mile walking path along the Rock River. Benches line the path so you can walk as much or as little as you'd like. No charge,
After a long day of walking and exploring, you’ll want to rest your head on a soft pillow and put your feet up. Rockford’s hotels include everything from full-service resorts to budget lodging. For a complete listing visit our accommodations page.