It was Rockford’s Swedish heritage that initially put the town on the map, and a handful of destinations continue to celebrate that history.
The Erlander Museum, an 1871 mansion built by immigrants, showcases traditional Swedish woodwork, furniture and decor.
For lunch, Stockholm Inn serves kroppkakor (potato dumplings filled with onions and pork) and Swedish pancakes.
The Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum preserves three founding families’ diaries, furniture and artwork in a chalet-style home.
Make friends with the locals at the Social Urban Bar and Restaurant, where communal tables foster conversation over pork belly tacos and edamame hummus.
Unwind at the Copperstone Inn, a gracious 1858 limestone mansion on a farm in nearby Rockton (from $178).
After breakfast at the inn, it’s time to explore. Sculptures and exotic flowers fill Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens’ glass houses, and a gorgeous mural depicts history along Rock River.
Peace and quiet infuse Anderson Japanese Gardens, where sculpted rock gardens and a 6th-century teahouse re-create traditional Japanese gardens.
Carlyle Brewing Co. makes 12 brews and serves pub grub.
Three excellent museums stand in Riverfront Museum Park and can fill the rest of a day: Burpee Museum of Natural History (check out the T. rex skeleton), Discovery Center (hands-on activities for kids) and Rockford Art Museum (black walls make a dramatic showcase for traveling exhibits).
More Information: (800) 521-0849; gorockford.com