ROCKFORD, ILL. (WTVO) — Sunday was National Children’s Day, and parents in Rockford had a big range of activities to choose from if they were looking to spend the day with their little ones.

Find a list below of the top five best things to with with kids in Rockford, according to TripAdvisor.

  • Anderson Japanese Gardens, 318 Spring Creek Rd: With construction beginning in 1978, the Anderson Japanese Gardens has given Rockfordians an escape to nature for close to 45 years. The placement of every rock and alignment of every tree has been carefully thought out by Hoichi Kurisu, a renowned Master Craftsman and designer. It has a longstanding reputation as one of the highest quality Japanese gardens in the country. In their review of the gardens, TripAdvisor user DIG said that “my wife and I spent an enjoyable several hours walking around the gardens enjoying the plantings, bridges and waterfalls. It was relaxing and peaceful. The staff was available to take photos of us and tell interesting things about the gardens.”
  • Discovery Center Museum, 711 N. Main St: Built with children in mind, the Discovery Center Museum is a hands-on experience with over 300 interactive exhibits stretching across the 23,000 building. All of the exhibits relate to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) as well as other areas such as the human body, electricity, space travel and many others. The museum was awarded TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Award in 2020. Mrs. Schmid said in here review that it was a “great hands on museum, plenty to do for several hours. Kids and 1-13 would have a lot to do here for hours on end.”
  • Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens, 1354 N. 2nd St: The third largest conservatory in Illinois, Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens gives residents 11,000 square feet of plant exhibition area. Visitors can view various water features and sculptures in a tropical plant setting, in addition to special exhibits that are put on throughout the year. It is also the home of “Food Truck Tuesdays,” where residents can get a tasty meal from local food trucks. Previa1994 said in a review that “a visit to the awesome Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens is well worth the effort, even if one misses going inside the Conservatory. Many nice places to take pictures and neat paths for strolling leisurely.”
  • Midway Village & Museum Center, 6799 Guilford Rd: For those looking to learn about Midwestern life in the early 1900s, Midway Village & Museum is the place to do it. Sitting on 13 acres, the grounds include 26 structures that create the Village and heritage gardens, all representing a rural community at the turn of the 20th century. Interpreters in authentic clothing lead tours and depict life at the time. It is also a great place to learn about the history of the Rockford region. In their review, Maitreyi L said that “events at Midway are always fun and educational at the same time. Everything is well planned and enjoyable for all age groups. Midway is a wonderful place to visit.”
  • Burpee Museum of Natural History, 737 N. Main St: Another blast from the past, the Burpee Museum of Natural History goes a little farther back than the 20th century. Like, 66 million years further back. Opened in 1942, Burpee strives to remain an active contributor to both scientific research as well as scientific education. The museum offers many hands-on programs for kids to feel like scientists, such as a rocks and minerals camp, dinosaur labs where kids can work with specimens and an opportunity for little ones to work with live animals to learn about zoology and behavioral science. Burpee also features the most complete and best preserved juvenile T. rex ever discovered. Cindy S said in a review that “we were totally surprised by the quality and depth of the displays in this museum. Their knowledge and work with dinosaurs make this a step above other museums of this type. Kids will love the first and third floors. If pressed for time, skip the second floor although the information on rocks and soil is informative for adults.”