At Art & Soul Tattoo and Gallery, artists decorate more than bodies. They also adorn the walls. In addition to its staff of talented tattoo, piercing, and permanent-makeup artists, the business also welcomes local painters and sculptors to showcase their work in the gallery. So on their way to commission some fresh ink, customers can peruse and purchase a slightly less permanent form of art.
Café Belwah’s chefs augment the flavors of classic American dishes by adding contemporary flourishes and inventive culinary flair. Meal forewords such as Belwah crab cakes ($11) anointed with a chipotle tartar sauce and crowned with onion crisps demonstrate that crowns of onion crisps are not restricted to the pates of monarchs of agricultural countries. The kitchen team prepares shrimp and lobster bisque ($4/cup) and amplifies its flavor with a creamy sherry finish. Pork chops ($22) arrive on the back of butternut-squash risotto and tempt fussbudgety palates with caramelized shallots and apples, and lamb chops ($34) tease the tongue with cohorts of potatoes and asparagus beneath a layer of mint balsamic reduction. Walleye almondine ($22) rounds out the café's seafood roster and allows diners to sample the bounty of the ocean without having to pry open clams for their walleye reserves.
Established in 1968, Midway Village Museum embodies a sprawling, 137-acre time capsule. Within the museum’s 27 fully functioning, Victorian buildings, exhibits tell the story of Rockford since its incorporation in the early 19th century. Throughout the years, the town has made history as the progenitor of the sock monkey, the launching point for aviator Bert Hassell, and home of the Rockford Peaches—an all-female baseball team fictionalized in the film A League of Their Own, though the real squad neither played in the 1943 championship nor battled a CGI dragon. Other attractions amid the barns, blacksmiths, and general stores include a dollhouse museum and a meticulous archive of Rockford’s long, proud history in the furniture industry.
On June 30, 1904 Col. William and Anna Vilas donated a tract of land to become a public park and free recreational space in memory of their son, Henry, who died due to complications from diabetes at a young age. They added numerous improvements over the decade and in 1911, the Henry Vilas Zoo gained its first animal exhibits. Today, the zoo covers 30 acres and features a number of creatures from around the world, ranging from the vanishing chimpanzee and endangered red panda to locals such as the great horned owl and american alligator. The zoo also remains one of the few free AZA-accredited zoos across the country.
Leading up to and following the zoo's centennial, the ReZOOvenation project has expanded the visitor areas, replacing the entrance and gift shop and adding a tropical-rainforest aviary and big-cat complex. A variety of annual events are scheduled, including Halloween at the Zoo, with costumes and stops for sustainable palm-oil candy, and earth day, when children can plant trees to help lower the global temperature just enough for icicles to form. The zoo’s many conservation projects also engage the public in protecting the environment and its inhabitants by installing solar-energy panels, sponsoring trips to save endangered orangutans, and collecting old cell phones.
The eclectic organizers at Red Frog Events take a lighthearted and fun-focused approach to building their adventurous events, such as obstacle courses, scavenger hunts, and themed bar crawls, to connect city dwellers with local neighborhoods. Their creative, interactive offerings include regularly occurring competitions such as the Warrior Dash, Great Urban Race, and Beach Dash, the proceeds from which usually benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Like the idea of having a pet rock, their events have grown more popular annually, and frequently spring up in cities across the United States.
The Waldvogel family has been planting pumpkins without incident each fall for the past 25 years. This year, however, something peculiar happened. Their 10-acre pumpkin patch yielded pink pumpkins. Before you blame the supernatural or last spring's pink-lemonade spill, know that the Waldvogels grew the pumpkins to promote awareness of breast cancer and raise money for breast-cancer research.
Once you've taken the complimentary hayride out to the pumpkin patch and picked a pumpkin—pink or orange—there's still plenty to do around the farm. Youngsters can sample the 16 attractions, including a 6-acre corn maze, a train ride, and a miniature golf course. Older visitors can browse the market's squash and jams, the bakery's apple pies, and the apple kitchen's fixings for creating your own caramel apple.