Activities for Youth in the Rockford, Illlinois Area

Activities for Youth in the Rockford, Illlinois Area
The Rockford area offers visitors many museums, parks, sports programs, theaters and other activities for all ages. Families who love the outdoors will find abundant activities for grade school aged children at nearby forest preserves, parks and nature centers. If the weather is too cold or rainy to spend time outside, a visit to Rockford's natural history museum will keep kids entertained while learning about area glaciers, wildlife and geology.

Canoeing the Kishwaukee River

The gentle Kishwaukee River has an average depth of 4 feet, making it ideal for beginners or parents who want to teach their kids how to paddle. Blue herons, beavers, river otters, a variety of waterfowl, wild turkeys, turtles and even hawks are often visible from the river. There are several forest preserves and parks along the river where you can stop to picnic or swim. Larsen's Landing Outfitters offers a family-friendly canoe rental package that includes all equipment for three people, basic instructions and transportation to the launch site for $75, as of March 2010. Box lunches and overnight camping at their campsite are also available for an additional charge.

Larsen's Landing Outfitters
1951 New Milford School Road
Rockford, IL 61109

Hiking at Colored Sands Forest Preserve

Colored Sands Forest Preserve, 25 miles northwest of Rockford, features an easy two-mile marked path winding through a restored dry sand prairie. If you are hiking during spring or fall weekends stop by the Sand Bluff Bird Observatory at the northwest side of the preserve. Volunteer bird watchers and banders will show you and your children how to identify the many colorful birds found within the forest preserve. Children can learn about hawks at the trapping station on the southeast side of the preserve. The preserve is open every day until a half hour after sunset.

Colored Sands Forest Preserve
10602 Haas Road
Durand, IL 61024

Horseback Riding at Lockwood Park Trailside Equestrian Centre

A favorite of local families, this 94-acre farm gives kids a chance to explore nature on horseback. Gertrude the Guernsey, a 19 foot cow statue, stands near the entrance to the park. The center offers 45-minute guided rides through the park's trails for children over age 8 and adults. Hayrides are available on Saturdays. Visitors can also hike or bike the farm's trails, or bring a lunch and enjoy it in the picnic area.

Lockwood Park Trailside Equestrian Centre and Children's Farm
5201 Safford Road
Rockford, IL 61101

Burpee Museum of Natural History

The Burpee Museum of Natural History features JANE, a fully restored 21-foot dinosaur skeleton found in Montana. The Carboniferous Coal Forest allows visitors to experience a 300-million-year-old coal forest during a tropical rainstorm complete with thunder and lightning. The First People exhibit includes dioramas of daily life for Native Americans with a life-size tepee and wigwam. Kids can also see a 10-foot model of a glacier in the geoscience area or learn about Rockford area wildlife in the Windows to Wilderness exhibit.

Burpee Museum of Natural History
737 N. Main St.
Rockford, IL 61103

Article Written By Cheryl Schroeder Basile

With three decades of experience, Cheryl Schroeder Basile has been a writer, editor, public relations specialist and marketing professional in finance, education, travel, government and nonprofit organizations. She has written for more than 100 print and online publications, and holds a journalism degree from the University of Minnesota.

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