It’s officially Spring! Let’s say hello to the promise of some much-welcomed warmer weather, sunshine and time spent outdoors in nature. As you emerge from your winter’s hibernation, here are a few places that are sure to help you make the most of this beautiful springtime in the Rockford region!

A Color Explosion at Nicholas Conservatory

Even when it’s looking brown and rainy outside, it’s always colorful inside Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, where a tropical breeze blows through a lush indoor landscape.

Visit this spring and you’ll be greeted by swarms of butterflies, some native to the Midwest and some hailing from tropical climes. Watch the butterflies through their life cycle as they emerge this spring from their chrysalises. Plan your visit early – weekend tickets to the butterfly house often sell out by lunchtime.

Take a Hike

No, literally – strap on your hiking gear and hit the trails to see the spring colors popping up all around you. There are many places to explore nature around the Rockford area.

Visit Severson Dells Nature Center and explore some 2.5 miles of self-guided nature trails, accessible year-round. Pick the right day to visit and you can explore in the company of a specially trained guide. On April 19, tour the trails by the light of a full moon. On May 7, join the first of this season’s Wildflower Walkabout tours.

For a unique spin, help the team at Nygren Wetland Preserve, in Rockton, during a Stewardship Day. You’ll have a chance to restore precious habitat while collecting and planting seeds – your very own way to Transform Rockford!

Shop Till You Drop

Rockford has an amazing concentration of fun, locally owned shops that are a destination for locals and visitors alike. Grab the girlfriends, get out of the house, and enjoy a day shopping the best of Rockford.

Head downtown and explore a variety of women’s boutiques and other homegrown favorites. Pick up sweet-smelling indulgences at Bath & Body Fusion, and explore vintage finds at Salvaged by Sonya. Pick up a fun Rockford T-shirt at Rockford Art Deli, some authentic sports collectibles at The Collector’s Bench, and some athletic gear at Runner’s Image or Rocktown Adventures. 

While you’re at it, swing by Rockford Roasting Co. or Wired Café for a warm drink, and stay for lunch at one of downtown’s many dining destinations.

Add Some Color to Your House

Spruce up your home with some fresh, locally crafted fine art, which you’ll find aplenty when you visit Spring ArtScene on April 12 and 13. During this annual event, local artists display their handcrafted work at more than 40 “pop-up” art galleries set up across the city.

These artists work in a variety of mediums and all array of styles, from traditional fine arts to contemporary creations and fine handcrafts.

You’ll find the greatest concentration of displays around downtown Rockford, but you’ll also find them in unexpected places like Katie’s Cup on 7th Street, The Norwegian on Main Street, and Rockford University, off East State Street. For a full map, visit springartscene.com.

Play Ball!

Once the weather turns, area golfers begin counting the days until they can return to the course, and around the Rockford area there are plenty of ways to get your fix. Visit any of the Rockford Park District’s five public courses, or any of the other numerous courses nearby – places like Swanhills Golf in Caledonia; Timber Pointe Golf Club in Poplar Grove; or Macktown, Ledges and Atwood, all in the Rockton/Roscoe area. And that’s just the start.

Forgot your clubs? Stop at Aldeen Golf Club and enjoy a meal at the clubhouse while overlooking the rolling hills and the 18th green. The menu at Graystone Grill is just the sort of elevated pub food you’d expect from the team behind Giovanni’s Restaurant & Conference Center, which manages the property.

So what are you waiting for? Go and make the most of this exciting new season!