Kids Activities in Southwest

Select Local Merchants

Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum is a Victorian-era time capsule, containing within its Swiss-style architecture more than 10,000 objects representing the furniture, artwork, and clothing of the Tinker family. Between the main estate, the barn, the carriage house, and 27 acres of rolling gardens, the museum possesses enough history to attract locals, tourists, and even the producers of Syfy's Ghost Hunters, who recently filmed a segment at the house. Daily guided tours sweep through the grounds, which include a pre-Columbian Native American conical mound, as well as the site where Rockford was founded 4,000 years ago.

411 Kent St
Rockford,
IL
US

While strolling through the 155 acres of woods and gardens at Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden, visitors may notice a few odd specimens. Many of these experimental plants have been growing since 1910 and stand as the legacy of founder and landscape architect William Lincoln Taylor. Budding botanists will find speciality gardens dedicated to Peonies, Hostas, and Rhododendrons, as well as, woodland wildflowers and unique grasses. The Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden welcomes members and guests to explore these gardens but also learn about the environment during tours and educational programs. Members help to keep the arboretum thriving with annual contributions, which they are rewarded for with benefits such as reciprocal membership with almost 300 gardens nationwide.

2715 S Main St
Rockford,
IL
US

It always started with a whisper: "It's glass, get up!" Dan Jerritt's father would pull him from a peaceful slumber and take him out on a nearby lake for water skiing or wakeboarding adventures. Over the years, Dan's love of wakeboarding turned into a passion and eventually a career.

Now, alongside his wife Amy, Dan owns West Rock Wake Park, a wakeboarding park at Levings Lake. This park eschews the traditional boat-drawn board in favor of a more environmentally-friendly approach?two towers with cables that move wakeboards across the lake's glassy surface. After you steady yourself on the board, hang on tight because the cables will send you soaring over the water. The most extreme wakeboarders can even request obstacles to raise the difficulty level on their ride.

1420 South Pierpont Avenue
Rockford,
IL
US

  • 16: how many hours it takes to set up The Greatest Show on Earth
  • 10: how many hours it takes to tear it down
  • 2,500: average pounds of popcorn consumed in between
  • 100: the number of performers, including a nine-piece band
  • 500: the number of costumes
  • 3,140,000: the number of rhinestones and sequins on those costumes
  • 85: the number of animals, which include Asian elephants, tigers, lions, leopards, and llamas; all receive superlative animal care
  • 61: the number of cars in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus train that carries the show from city to city; that?s more than a mile long
  • 20,000: the number of miles that train will cover in one year
  • 3: the miles the train master walks each day as he tends to the animals (all seated at the front of the train for the smoothest ride) and gives them regular water and exercise stops

300 Elm Street
Rockford,
Illinois
US

Swim-N-More transforms dog paddlers into water wolves via fun, personalized swim instruction. Certified as lifeguards, Swim-N-More's wave wizards guide schools of three to six tadpoles from basic skills, such as how to break down the molecular structure of water, through more advanced kicks and strokes. Small fries, aged 6 months through 3 years, can tow their guardians to the Bubble Club, where parents utilize pool games to give their spawn the support necessary to eventually swim free.

220 South Madison Street
Rockford,
IL
US

What do kids love more than outer space? Nothing, except maybe learning more about it at Discovery Center Museum, named one of the 10 best museums in the country for families by USA Today readers. The slew of interactive exhibits include a planetarium, where youngsters can learn more about the night sky, and an exhibit on Rockford astronaut Dr. Janice Voss, who went on an impressive grand total of five space missions with NASA. The museum covers more than space, though?those are just two of the more than 250 hands-on exhibits that explain concepts as diverse as how agriculture touches our everyday lives and how airplanes fly without flapping their wings.

711 N Main St.
Rockford,
IL
US