Rockford, embrace your quirk
The other day I came across a travel blog of this guy who recently visited Rockford, and he just raved about his time here. He wrote this fantastic line I can't get out of my head: “Rockford was just a one-night stopover during my Illinois road trip, but it was one of the top highlights on my one-week trip. Mostly because all of the city’s attractions were so random and quirky and surprisingly cool.”
Random. Quirky. Surprisingly Cool. Rockford. I can already picture it on an Art Deli T-shirt. And you know what? He’s right. If you think of what Rockford has to offer for a small city, it’s kinda funny how long and wide-ranging the list is.
Thinking like a tourist for the moment, Rockford is home to: one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America, the most complete juvenile T-Rex ever found, a top 5 children’s museum, the sock monkey, the world's oldest Harley dealer, an award-winning symphony orchestra, Broadway in Chicago shows, one of the most diverse arboretums in the world, the 3rd largest conservatory in the state, one of only two remaining Grand Barton Theater Organs, Frank Lloyd Wright’s 'little gem’, and so much more.
I mean how many other small cities can compete with this collection? And I’ve barely scratched the surface! You don’t believe me? Oh, okay here’s 10 more:
An art museum, a dance company, multiple award-winning golf courses, Tinker Swiss Cottage, a city market, three breweries, a top drum-and-bugle corps, a cable-tow wakeboard park, the oldest music club in the country, and the Chicago Blackhawks’ top minor league affiliate.
Oh, you’re still not satisfied? Fine:
A river’s edge trolley, the most glorious Swedish pancakes, one of the few mixed-voice all boys choirs in the country, a refurbished 10,000 seat arena, an historic Victorian village, a 65-ft. high zip-line, a new women’s baseball team, downtown kid-splash-fountains, an ethnic heritage museum, and a nationally-renowned regatta.
You may still not believe me, but this list isn’t finished. And I haven’t even mentioned any of the phenomenal attractions our suburbs provide. But I think you get my point.
When we allow our critics to showcase Rockford, we forget what really makes this city special.
Play tourist in your city. You may find out some really neat stuff.