Rockford, population 150,115, sits along the Rock River. The city, the third largest in the state, mixes a love of sports and nature with performance art venues and museums.
A very sporty city, Rockford has top-rate golf courses and sports teams. Magic Waters, the state's largest water theme park, and Don Carter Bowling Lanes, the area's largest bowling arena, call the city home. Road racing, car racing and BMX tracks are located throughout the area.
The Rock River provides space for water skiing, boating, canoeing, fishing and biking. West of Rockford, the Pecatonica Prairie Path and Bike Trail connects to Freeport. Nearby Rock Cut State Park offers camping, small lakes, hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails. Winnebago County Forest Preserve provides more than 8,500 acres for outdoor recreation. Rockford is a city of flowers with three gardens, the top-rated Anderson Japanese Gardens, Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden and Sinnissippi Gardens and Greenhouse.
The city's top festival, On the Waterfront, is also the state's largest music festival. Held in downtown Rockford during Labor Day weekend, the festival features multiple musical acts, food and fireworks along the Rock River. National acts perform year round at MetroCentre, Coronado Theatre and David Park at Founders Landing. Rockford's own dance, symphony and theater groups provide additional entertainment. In Haight Village, a National Historic District, the Swedish-built Erlander Home showcases 19th century furniture and architecture.
Burpee Museum of Natural History features the JANE dinosaur exhibit and Discover Center Museum caters to the science-minded. The Ethnic Heritage Museum has gathered artifacts from many of the area's diverse ethnic groups. Other museums devoted to art and area history are located throughout the city.
Rockford is 88 miles northwest of Chicago and 135 miles north of Bloomington. It is accessible via Interstate Highways 39 and 90, U.S. Highway 20, and State Highways 2, 70 and 251. Lodging options include: national hotels/motels, camping and bed and breakfasts.