I was looking for someplace not too far to go for a last-minute trip. I had never been to Rockford, Illinois, and a quick look at the tourism website showed me there was a lot to do there.
After getting in touch with Andrea Cook, the CVB’s Associate Director of Marketing & Communications, I found out there was more than I ever imagined.
Andrea put together a great itinerary for Brittany, Amanda, and me. It had the right amount of adventure for them and accessible and enjoyable things for me. We also had a big selection of restaurants to try out together.
Our home for the weekend was the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center. The location was central to the places we were visiting, and our room was big for a standard hotel room.
We had lunch at Mary’s Market Café & Bakery. The description is in the name as there was plenty to chose from. Everything there was made from scratch, including a variety of breads, and used mostly local ingredients.
The sandwiches were very good and Brittany raved about her fish tacos. I really enjoyed the Watermelon Cucumber Mint Fruit Refresher with my turkey sandwich. We had some chocolate chip cookies for dessert.
One of the things that surprised me about Rockford is all the parks and beaches they have. We couldn’t possibly go to all of them. A stop at the 3,000-acre Rock Cut State Park satisfied a kayaking urge for my friends, and Brittany even saved a little girl’s plastic unicorn boat while on one of the lakes.
After a break at the hotel and a chance to change, we took a walk through the Downtown City Market, which is open Fridays, from June 5th through September 25. The market has some hot food, but also products from nearby vendors such as Raines Honey Farm, Rockford Art Deli, and Bear Moon Soap.
We then went a few blocks to the very popular restaurant, Octane InterLounge, which has been in Rockford for 20 years. This would be the first of many Cheap Trick related stops in Rockford, the place the band got started.
Robin Zander’s son, Ian, worked here for a while. They are also well-known for the Budokon Burger. I concur that the concoction of a beef burger with pineapple, roasted onion, and white cheddar, with teriyaki aioli, was delicious.
We also loved the Pork Dumpling appetizer, which we paired with some of their specialty cocktails, including the Espresso Martini and Ginger Pineapple.
Brittany and Amanda liked their flank steak and seafood pasta choices too.
When it came time for dessert, the choices made it tough, so we decided to get three different ones and share.
The Chocolate Crepe Cake, Nutella Peanut Butter Bao, and Chocolate Nachos (Do you note a theme?!) were all fantastic.
We were pretty tired and had a very full day coming up, so we headed right back to the Radisson Hotel in Rockford for a good night’s sleep.