Now that the days are longer and there’s sunshine to spare, it’s time to think about heading out on the road for some fun. For the next few months we’ll be highlighting some road-trip possibilities to jump start your trip planning! Here are a few more to consider.
1. Rockford, Ill. Looking for a variety of options for people of all ages? Then Rockford is for you. There’s more than 10,000 acres of parks and forest preserves, where you can hike, in-line skate, swim, boat, sail, picnic, camp, fish, bird-watch, ride horses and play miniature golf. The Rockford area has 25 miles of interconnecting trails and 12 golf courses. Kids of all ages (and adults!) can enjoy the 35-acre Magic Waters Waterpark and car and motorcycle races at Rockford Speedway and Blackhawk Farms Raceway.
If you are interested in a little culture with your fresh air, swing by the Anderson Japanese Gardens, ranked the top Japanese garden in North America. Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens at Sinnissippi Gardens, a linear park on the Rock River, brings the tropics to the Midwest. Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden has so many rare and unusual trees and shrubs, botanists say there’s only one comparable site─and it’s in France.
Rockford Art Museum is Illinois’ largest art museum outside of Chicago and features 1,500 works of art plus dynamic and changing exhibits featuring regional and national artists. The Burpee Museum of Natural History offers the award-winning exhibit, Jane: Diary of a Dinosaur, which explores the history of the young T. rex skeleton found by Burpee Museum researchers in the badlands of Montana.
2. Wisconsin Dells. This area bills itself as the waterpark capital of the world. And with more than 15.7 million gallons of water in the area’s more than 20 waterparks, that sounds about right. There’s something for everyone at the Dells, from spraygrounds and zero-depth-entry pools for the tykes to surf machines, loop and plunge slides for older kids and adults. There’s even a 1,000 square foot indoor/outdoor hot tub and swim-up bar.
You have to get out of the water sometimes, but fortunately there are a ton of other attractions to help you pass the time. How does a 360-degree, upside-down wooden roller coaster sound? There’s also a lumberjack show that features 11 different events including log rolling and pole climbing; two illusionists. Timbavati Wildlife Park offers up-close encounters and interaction with giraffe, zebra, kangaroo, ostrich, leopard, white tiger, impala, lion, camel, antelope, tortoises and more, while the petting zoo features exotic baby animals. There’s even a nighttime boat adventure on the Wisconsin River.
Wisconsin Dells has more than 8,000 hotel rooms (more than any other city in Wisconsin), along with 19 campgrounds with nearly 3,200 campsites, so if you want to spend a few days you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
3. Harbor Country, Mich. Love art? Then this area that comprises eight communities along a stretch of about 15 miles along Lake Michigan is a must-visit spot. It’s home to close to 20 art galleries offering large-scale marble, granite and bronze sculptures, to watercolor dune scenes, to fine glasswork and handcrafted jewelry. There’s also a thriving theater and performing arts scene and a number of museums, including the New Buffalo Railroad Museum and the Three Oaks Bicycle Museum.
If you need a little more noise and excitement, you can head over to Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, and test your luck. There’s also fine dining and entertainment on hand at Four Winds. Adults can continue the grown-up activities at the region’s many wineries, distilleries and breweries.
If you’re in the mood for a little shopping, you’ll find everything from high fashion and casual clothing boutiques to home decor and decorating emporiums, gifts, mementos and keepsakes in Harbor Country.
Tell us─did you try out any of the suggestions from last month? How was the trip?