Though Larsen's Landing Outfitters has always been family owned, the stretch of wilderness under its care has two additional overseers: a pair of eagles. The birds patrol 30 acres of sheltered trails, two open fields, and miles of marshes, watching visitors as they paddle rental canoes and kayaks down the pristine Kishwaukee River, which has been rated as one of the three cleanest rivers in the state. Visitors aren't alone, though. Beavers, turtles, otters, and sandhill cranes make their homes on the bank, sharing the shore with endangered black terns and mulberry wing butterflies. They move amidst towering trees, including the sycamores that gave the river its name, a Potawatomi word for river of the sycamore.
Like a grumpy scorpion, the river's flourishing ecosystem benefits from minimal and respectful human contact. Larsen's Landing Outfitters preserves this status while still permitting visitors to explore the environment. The staff plans canoe, kayak, and camping trips with package options, from tutorials on steering a boat to picnic buffets. Travelers can park their vessels at any point to indulge in a swim, go fishing, or relax on a sandbar—and at overnight sites, campfires and pig roasts imbue the air with nostalgic, smoky aromas.
Since 1972, Spare Time Clubs has evolved into a 10-club, full-service family sports club company that includes programs for both adults and children. Each location varies in size—some boasting multiple complexes—and houses amenities such as lighted tennis courts, pools, kids’ play areas, and fitness centers. At the Diamond Hills and El Dorado Hills locations, members can shine up in the onsite European spas, and the jewel of the Gold River club is a lighted stadium court encircled by a 5,000 square-foot observation deck. In the event of inclement weather or courts being overrun by ball-chasing dogs, players can schedule time at the dedicated indoor-tennis center, where eight fully sectioned-off, championship courts glow under the power of tournament-level lighting. World-class coaches develop kids’ court skills at the junior tennis academy, students of which can practice with an unlimited number of sessions at any of Spare Time’s other clubs.
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.
Whether yearning for a picnic, a game of football, or a trip to a museum, visitors of all tastes can find the fun they’re looking for at a Rockford Park District facility. Throughout the Rockford area, residents and guests can find parks that host a bevy of engaging activities, such as boating and fishing, year-round ice skating , and rounds of golf. The Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens surround visitors with colorful flowers and lush greenery, and the city’s three dog parks give pets and their parents the space they need to play fetch and re-enact scenes from The Sound of Music. The numerous parks and buildings also host special events throughout the year, including outdoor concerts and horticulture seminars.
Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens transports visitors into the verdant heart of the tropics when they enter the 11,000-square-foot greenhouse, which bristles with leafy ferns and towering palm trees amid the flagstone walkways, wooden benches, and rippling ponds. Within these serene confines, the conservatory's staff seeks to educate the public by hosting workshops and lecture series for all ages, as well as hands-on activities that change with the seasons. These events espouse the importance of plant life across the world while teaching visitors how to identify the edible parts of a corsage.
Landro Productions’ will be hosting the Rockford Boat, Vacation, and Fishing Show at the Indoor Sports Center complex, kicking off Friday, February 14, and lasting until Sunday, February 16. Visitors have the opportunity to take a gander at several brands, including fishing boats from Lund and pontoons from Bentley, each of which help owners traverse the wilderness without lassoing a migrating salmon. The show will also feature hall of fame and fishing legend Roland Martin as a speaker.