Designed by course architect Dick Nugent, the acclaimed Aldeen Golf Course ushers club-toting clientele into a 7,131-yard grassy valhalla stretching across bucolic fairways and exceptionally maintained greens. Five sets of tees temper the difficulty of this lengthy and relatively challenging course, which requires astute club selection to adjust for subtle elevation changes, sound course management to cope with 62 treacherous sand bunkers, and one philologist to converse with the hillpeople living amid the well-mounded rough. Encroaching water hazards rear their hydraulic heads on a dozen holes including the signature par 3 eighth, where duffers clamber over a replica of the storied Swilcan Bridge of St. Andrews lore to access an island green that would make even the boldest of John Daly impressionists nostalgic for the predictability of putt-putt windmills. Loop the verdant links the old-fashioned, foot-intensive way with today’s first option, or enlist a trustworthy cart to tote a bag and golf mate with today’s second option.
Like most 6-year olds, Jack O'Neil enjoyed playing with toys; unlike a typical 6-year-old, though, he played with his toys in the hospital. Jack was gearing up for corrective limb-lengthening surgery, a process that affected him long after his successful recovery. Once he was healthy, Jack wanted to make sure other hospital-bound kids had toys to play with. Jack began holding charitable lemonade stands, using the proceeds to buy toys. Over time, his pastime morphed into his current charity, Little Hands Make A Big Difference. Powered by fundraisers such as an annual 5K, the kid-run organization delivers Build-A-Bears and other toys to sick tots, fueling their play and filling their imaginations with geometric shapes. For more information, see the organization’s blog.
From nearly a mile above the ground, the sailplane’s wraparound windows open onto sweeping views of the Wisconsin countryside. Rolling hills and forests, streams, and lakes dot the landscape, and on a clear day, the Chicago skyline peeks out from the horizon. Sylvania Soaring Adventures’s FAA-certified flight instructors pilot guests over these vistas in a fleet of Schweizer SGS 1-26E, Schweizer 2-33, and Grob 103 sailplanes. Towed by a traditional airplane, the gliders reach altitudes of up to 5,000 feet, well above the habitat of endangered birthday balloons. Once released, professional pilots demonstrate basic flight principles, point out landmarks of interest, and sometimes hand over the controls. They also helm training programs to certify students who want to fly solo or pilot gliders for their friends and family.
Created in 1936 to bolster fine-arts exposure, the Rockford Coronado Concert Association brings box-office lurkers five classical, semiclassical, and dance performances each season at the architecturally stunning Coronado Performing Arts Center.
At Brooklyn Deli, owners Mark Anderson and Don Bothem slice premium meats and julienne subway passes for authentic New York-style sandwiches. Along with their menu of Brooklyn classics, the duo and their staff whip up custom creations, layering breads with meats, toppings, dressings, and cheeses. Meanwhile, freshly cut potatoes simmer in the fryer, and Otis Spunkmeyer cookies rise in the ovens. Out in the dining area, cheerful red booths and stools line up beneath photographs of New York.
After traveling to Japan in 1966 and to the Portland Japanese Garden soon thereafter, John Anderson found himself inspired by the country's lush landscape and tranquil gardens. In 1978, after returning to his home in Rockford, he partnered with expert designer Hoichi Kurisu to begin constructing Anderson Japanese Gardens—12 acres of paths, plants, and streams, as soothing as those John visited in Japan.
The gardens still encourage a sense of calm and thoughtful reflection, as guided and self-guided tours stroll past undulating waterfalls, trickling across colorful flowers, beneath arched bridges, and over lily pads. Fruit blossoms on trees and bushes, sculptures stand very still, and koi fish flit about in a pond. On Thursdays, participants read from scripture, listen to music, and meditate during worship services, and a series of classes held onsite, such as origami and tai chi, impart Japanese traditions.