Rockford is a city in Winnebago County in Northern Illinois. With a population of over 150,000 it is the third largest city in the state.

Get in

By air

Rockford International Airport (IATA: RFD) is served by Allegiant Air with service to four destinations.

Chicago O'Hare International Airport (IATA: ORD) is the nearest full-service airport and is directly connected to Rockford by Interstate 90.

Dane County Regional Airport (IATA: MSN) in Madison, Wisconsin, is about an hour and 20 minutes north of Rockford in Interstate 39/90 and is served by six airlines.

By car

Rockford is located at the intersection of US Route 20 and Interstates 90 and 39, just 95 miles east of Dubuque, Iowa, 20 miles south of the Wisconsin border, 60 miles west of Chicago O'Hare International Airport, and 130 miles north of Bloomington.

By bus

Get around

By car

Rockford is relatively easy to navigate by car and has little traffic congestion compared to other larger cities. Taxicab services are also available.

The three most important roads in Rockford are State Street, which runs from east to west as part of US Highway 20; Main Street, which runs south from downtown to the airport as part of Illinois State Route 2; and Second Street, which runs north from downtown to the Wisconsin border as part of Illinois State Route 251.

By transit

The Rockford Mass Transit District offers bus service in Rockford, Loves Park and Machesney Park.


When traveling in the Rockford Region, you will see the rolling hills of Northern Illinois, the Rock River and many trees and forests (Rockford is known as The Forest City). Although Rockford has the population of a larger city, it has a small-town feel.


There are many original restaurants, sites, attractions and events that can only be found in Rockford.

Family Fun

The Riverfront Museum Park houses three distinct museums: The Burpee Museum of Natural History, home to Jane, the world's most complete juvenile T. rex skeleton; the Discovery Center Children's Museum, ranked fourth in the nation by Child magazine; and Rockford Art Museum, the largest art museum in Illinois outside of Chicago. Other museums in the area include: Midway Village and Museum Center, Tinker Swiss Cottage, Historic Auto Attractions, Erlander Home Museum and Ethnic Heritage Museum. During the summer, Magic Waters Waterpark, operated by the Rockford Park District, offers families a fun way to cool down in the summer heat. The Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League offer an excellent family entertainment option.

Arts & Culture

The Coronado Performing Arts Center is a historic "atmospheric" style theatre that was built in 1927 and fully restored in 2001. The Coronado offers a full season of Broadway shows, concerts and other performances. The MetroCentre, Rockford's downtown 10,000-seat arena, is home to music, athletic and exposition events. In the summer months, Starlight Theatre on the campus of Rock Valley College features classical and contemporary musical productions. The theatre has a unique mechanical roof that opens out like a blooming flower on clear nights. Rockford also has a symphony orchestra, dance company and several theatre companies.

Outdoor Fun

Anderson Japanese Gardens is open May through October and was rated the finest Japanese Garden in North America, according to the Roth Journal. Rock Cut State Park is one of the largest state parks in Illinois and features camping, hiking, biking, birding, fishing, horseback riding and kayaking. Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden has over 500 different species of trees, shrubs and vines. Rockford also has a large variety of low-cost public and private golf courses. In the fall and winter, locals and visitors enjoy many apple orchards and Christmas tree farms.

Established in 2011, the Nicholas Conservatory is home to many exotic plants and ecosystems. Check their website for monthly free days and other events. You may be lucky enough to get licked by a butterfly on butterfly month.


During March, the Midway Village & Museum Center hosts the Sock Monkey Madness Festival featuring vendors, crafts, make-your-own-monkeys, activities, and information on sock monkey history.

Relatively new to the area, the Screw City Beer Festival occurs every September. Come and eat food, hangout, hug a stranger, and most importantly try some delicious craft beer.


JMK Nippon has decently high quality, reasonably priced sushi. The teppan-yaki is much better than that of such chain restaurants as Benihana, and they even offer traditional Japanese dishes such as sukiyaki and shabu-shabu. This is a must-eat restaurant if business or pleasure brings you to Rockford. The owner Mas, while shy, is very friendly, as is his son John.

GreenFire Restaurant Bar & Bakery. 6795 East Riverside Blvd. Wood Fire Pizza-Burger-Steaks-Seafood-Cakes-Pies-Cupcakes. Kitchen is open until midnight every day. Natural & organic cuisine. The owner, chef Philippe is a Rockford institution when it comes to food. Try the famous chicken crepe. The bakery also puts out tasty items.

Go to the Potato Shak in near-by Loves Park, IL, for cheap, cheap, cheap breakfast and lunch options. Breakfast is simple to order: choose option A, B, or C. It'll only run you a couple bucks. And the best bus-boy in the city -Ace- will give you some friendly conversation.

The Illinois Machine Shed offers reasonably priced perfectly done basic farm cooking, with huge portions.

The Olympic Tavern, @ 2327 N. Main St., has been in business since 1945. They have a world class beer selection, and family-friendly casual fine dining, in a Frank Lloyd Wright architecturally award winning atmosphere, as well as the fine patio in the warmer months. The Olympic is a long standing Rockford tradition.


Carlyle Brewing Co. at 215 East State Street has a wonderful selection of freshly brewed beers and root beer. Food selection is great for an area bar. Known for their signature Vanilla Cream ale. Their signature thin crust pizza is their highest ordered food item.

Pig Minds Brewery in Machesney Park (northern suburb) has the same style of a brewpub but offers a vegan menu.

Oasis Micro-Pub is located on the corner of East State and 5th St across from Uncle Nicks. Although they do not brew their own beer, they are the home of a constantly changing beer menu with dozens of craft beers and wine. Not only are the bartenders both friendly and sassy, but if you are lucky you may even see Uncle Nick (owner) in all of his suspender-ific glory.


Go next

Routes through Rockford

Madison Beloit  N  S  Rochelle Normal
Madison Beloit  W  E  Elgin Chicago
Dubuque Freeport  W  E  Elgin Chicago
END ← Beloit becomes  N  S  Dixon Sterling

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, December 20, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.