National Parks / Natural World in ROCKFORD with kids

The world has some incredible natural wonders, and luckily for you, Rockford has some incredible places to visit with kids right on your doorstep….and you won’t want to forget your camera!

The national and state parks in and around Rockford, Illinois offer an incredible variety of experiences for children.  Some parks protect a unique and diverse wilderness, teeming with wildlife which is always a thrill for kids!

Some parks protect incredible fascinating and significant historical sites, where the family can go back in time through American history…who says the learning as to stop on a family day out!

Even the city of Rockford itself has smaller parks perfect for a quick trip into nature.  You don’t even need to leave the city to have that park experience - and kids LOVE them!

Shut those televisions off and put those computer games away….the great outdoors is calling and it’s calling YOU!

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  • Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden

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    (2 miles) Rockford

    Come and get back to nature by exploring a beautiful botanical garden at Klehm Arboretum in Illinois!

  • Olbrich Botanical Gardens

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    (58 miles) Madison

    16 acres of outdoor natural beauty and gardens for the family to explore, with exotic plants, birds, and even a waterfall - all for FREE!

  • Morton Arboretum

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    (61 miles) Lisle

    Enormous open air facility offering global plant life, storytelling tree-houses, children's garden interactive play zone, open air tram ride and miles of nature trails.

  • Ice Age National Scenic Trail

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    (65 miles) Cross Plains

    An incredible 1,200 miles of trail that traces the glaciers edge which existed 15,000 years ago! A great historical family adventure in Wisconsin!

  • Garfield Park

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    (76 miles) Chicago

    Nearly 200 acres of park space in Chicago with tennis courts, playgrounds, a fishing lagoon and even baseball fields...just to name a few!

  • Lincoln Park

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    (78 miles) Chicago

    A huge park in Chicago filled playgrounds, sports, nature, wildlife, and even a zoo!

  • Marquette Park

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    (79 miles) Chicago

    Over 300 acres of Chicago park fun with gardens, sports activities, playgrounds and programs for kids!

  • Grant Park

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    (80 miles) Chicago

    Visit one of the first parks in Chicago with Grant Park, filled with museums, planetariums, festivals, events and park fun!

  • Burnham Park

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    (84 miles) Chicago

    600 acres of park fun on Chicago's lakefront with playgrounds, a bird sanctuary, and prairies!

  • Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

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    (87 miles) Milwaukee

    185 acres of wetlands, forests, ravines and shores in this beautiful Milwaukee Nature Center for the whole family to explore

  • Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary

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    (97 miles) West Bend

    Take a 'buck buggie' ride and see elk, deer,buffalo and other wildlife. Lots of fun for the whole family!

  • Check out other fun things to do below...

  • Discovery Center Museum

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    Rockford

    The amazing Discovery Center Museum is full of over 250 exciting hands-on exhibits spread over a two-floor area. Out in the museum's backyard, visitors can explore Rock River Discovery Park, a giant, ...

  • Burpee Museum of Natural History

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    (1 miles) Rockford

    Welcome! Burpee Museum is a natural history museum specializing in paleontology, geology, biology, and Native American life. We have three floors of exhibits.

  • Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum

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    (1 miles) Rockford

    A step back in time at one of only a handful of Swiss-style homes remaining in the USA from the 1800s. Filled with Victorian Era furnishings and artifacts, it also has a fascinating Indian Burial ...

  • Midway Village Museum

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    (6 miles) Rockford

    Interpreters in authentic period clothing bring Northern Illinois history to life in authentic Midway Village and engage students through a variety of hands-on activities--from rope making to ...

  • Illinois Railway Museum

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    (29 miles) Union

    The Illinois Railway Museum, as you see it today, is the result of decades of effort by a dynamic group of dedicated volunteers. All of the buildings, track, locomotives and cars were assembled here ...

  • Firehouse Ministries Fire Museum

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    (46 miles) Rock Falls

    Take a look into the history of Rock Falls Firefighting at this fun fire museum in Illinois - great for kids who love big trucks and learning!

  • Volo Auto Museum

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    (47 miles) Volo

    30 acres of automobile fun in Illinois, with Hollywood cars, classic cars and a Kids Zone!

  • Lake County Discovery Museum

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    (50 miles) Wauconda

    Showcases aspects of local history using intriguing exhibits and hands on features to keep learning fun. Permanent and travelling exhibitions.

  • SciTech Museum

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    (53 miles) Aurora

    SciTech "hands-on" museum boasts over 200 interative exhibits, daily shows, special events and activities. Hours of fun for kids in Aurora!

  • UW Geology Museum

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    (57 miles) Madison

    Take a journey into the deep history of Wisconsin at this fascinating Geology Museum, with hands-on learning for kids!

  • Madison Childrens Museum

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    (58 miles) Madison

    Features include art studio, interactive gear and water exhibits, restored log cabin with period activities, and two unique and highly imaginative eco play areas with one for under 5s and one for ...

  • DuPage Childrens Museum

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    (59 miles) Naperville

    DuPage Children’s Museum is more than a Museum…we’re a force for early learning! Via interactive exhibits and programs that make learning fun for children and adults playing together, DuPage ...

  • Kohl Childrens Museum of Greater Chicago

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    (66 miles) Glenview

    - of Greater Chicago is a hands-on learning laboratory for children ages birth to 8. Our 17 hands-on, interactive exhibits are designed to make learning fun for young children. One of the many fun ...

  • Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum

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    (78 miles) Chicago

    offers children (ages 4-12) and families the opportunity to learn about art and culture through our weekend, after-school and summer classes.

  • The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

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    (78 miles) Chicago

    An amazing experience in the heart of Chicago, where the family can have a nature and science filled family day out at this Nature Museum.

  • MacKenzie Environmental Education Center

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    (79 miles) Poynette

    Feaures include hands on in and outdoor live wildlife exhibits, self guided nature trails, museums, a fire tower and large picnic area.

  • Museum of Contemporary Art

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    (80 miles) Chicago

    Explore the world of art as it has been since 1945, with paintings, sculptures and even performance! A very cultural day out for kids in Chicago!

  • Milwaukee Public Museum

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    (80 miles) Milwaukee

    From dinosaurs to the hall of shells this is a fascinating and child friendly stop covering a vast range of specialist topics with an ever changing selection of exhibitions.

  • Chicago Childrens Museum

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    (81 miles) Chicago

    Chicago Children's Museum's mission is to create a community where play and learning connect. One of the family places to visit if you're looking for fun things to do in Chicago with kids.

  • Betty Brinn Children's Museum

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    (81 miles) Milwaukee

    Active and creative kids up to 10 years can learn through play at this Milwaukee children's museum!

  • The Field Museum

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    (81 miles) Chicago

    Travel back in time across 4.6 billion years, where kids can come face to face with a T-Rex, explore an Egyptian Tomb and shrink down to the size of a bug! Great Chicago fun!

  • Adler Planeterium

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    (81 miles) Chicago

    Great fun in Chicago - and space! - at the Adler Planetarium, with three theatres and a number of fascinating exhibits.

  • National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium

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    (81 miles) Dubuque

    Fun and learning flow together along the Mississippi River! Hands-on features and interactive exhibits ready for kids to explore in both indoor and outdoor spaces!

  • DuSable Museum of African American History

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    (83 miles) Chicago

    The DuSable Museum of African American History is the first museum of its type in the country and is the only major independent institution in Chicago established to preserve and interpret the ...