Stretching across Rockford's south side since 1930, the 18-hole Sandy Hollow Golf Course has fielded fairway-threading drives, pin-seeking approaches, and birdie-sealing putts for more than 80 years. As one of five Park District Courses, the 6,228-yard loop presents lush fairways lined with trees, which aim to swat humans' shots as revenge for turning their friends into paper towels. The course also boasts a significant environmental pedigree, having been certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary and taking top prize in the Public Space category of the 2002 City of Gardens Rockford in Bloom awards.
Course at a Glance:
Be Active Outdoors organizes physical and recreational activities for adults and children of all fitness levels. Regular events challenge locals to break their sedentary habits with 10-mile bike rides, lessons on revitalizing waterways, and group adventure races. An annual river-basin tournament combines a focus on conservation with thrilling paddleboat and shoreline fishing. The Amped Up Adventure race complicates traditional adventure racing with urban elements including biking, running, paddling, and an obstacle course to get people moving in their home environments.
Even with a lot of spare time, it's tough to fit a basketball game, a streetcar race, and an appearance on The Price is Right all into the same day. At Spare Time, however, the harsh realities of a normal schedule doesn't apply—one can fit virtual versions of all three activities into a single afternoon. There, gamers virtually breeze from rounds of Deal or No Deal to the hectic mazes of Ms. Pac-Man or the quiet hunting grounds of Big Buck Hunter. Ensuring a fresh rotation of new experiences, the staff constantly updates the library with new selections of both classic and modern games. Beyond the arcade cabinets and pinball machines, visitors can also play games in pursuit of plush prizes, just like real-life stockbrokers. The arcade also hosts birthday parties and other events in partnership with the attached bowling alley, Don Carter Lanes.
The Rockford Art Museum has more than a century of creativity hanging from the walls in its galleries. It acquired its first piece in 1913 and has since collected more than 1600 pieces from local and international artists. Glass sculptures, 20th century American photography, and impressionist paintings vie for attention alongside the dynamic images of the American southwest from the Taos Society of New Mexico. The collection houses the detailed work of regional artists trained at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Royal Academy of Arts and the earthy, meaningful paintings of outsider art, such as Richard Burnside’s untitled painting of a cat made from paint and pinecone pieces.
Standing apart from the main collection, the museum’s RAM Art Annex houses educational programs and the museum store stocks an inventory of jewelry and glass pieces by local artists. The annual Greenwich Village Art Fair also shares art appreciation with the community. The fair gathers more than 100 artists in an atmosphere filled with live music.
Though deft at trick shots, Tyler Voorhees doesn't expect beginning pool players to immediately master the game's intricate physics and geometry. So he focuses on fundamentals during his private and small group lessons at Rockford Billiard Cafe, even filming his students so they can review their techniques with video feedback. From there, pupils can join one of the café's leagues, vie for the top spot in a tournament, or just play a pickup round on 1 of 17 tables. An in-house pro shop even stocks more than 150 pool cues for purchase, as well as onsite cue repair services.
Not everything at Rockford Billiard Cafe revolves around its namesake sport. Darts hit bullseyes, royal flushes trump other hands on video poker units, and catchy tunes resound from an online jukebox. To reenergize patrons after long stretches of playing or dancing, cooks serve up classic bar snacks such as buffalo wings, mozzarella sticks, and pizza.