Spring break is a highly anticipated time of year for people of all ages. As the weather warms up, many take advantage of the break from school or work to travel, explore new places, and create unforgettable memories. Here are five ways to make the most of your time off and explore the many outdoor “hidden gems” of Winnebago County.
Visit Your Forest Preserves
Spring is the perfect time to explore the forest preserves in search of early occurring wildflowers and wildlife! Ride your bicycle on the paved paths at Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve and Headquarters Forest Preserve or set up camp at Sugar River Campground, Seward Bluffs Campground, and Hononegah Campground.
The forest preserves of Winnebago County has 44 forest preserves, covering 11,543 acres throughout the heart of northern Illinois. There are over 100 miles of hiking trails with terrains varying from prairie to woodlands and savannahs to wetlands. Find your perfect forest preserve here!
Learn more about all of the activities in the forest preserves by clicking the “activities” tab on the Forest Preserves of Winnebago County website.
Klehm Arboretum & Botanical Garden
As the largest public garden in Winnebago County, Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden comprises of 155 acres of woodlands and botanic gardens, 1.4 miles of paved handicap-accessible path, and 3 miles of wooded trails. With eleven specialty gardens, including the Nancy Olson Children’s Garden and the prehistoric garden, there is no shortage of beautiful flora to be found.
Looking for something more hands on? Klehm Arboretum offers many workshops, classes, and other events for all ages! Plan your visit and learn more about Klehm Arboretum & Botanical garden on their website.
Macktown Living History
Take a step back in time and visit Macktown Living History, Winnebago County’s earliest settlement! Some of the buildings at Macktown Living History include the 1846 Whiteman’s Trading Post, the 1839 Stephen Mack residence, and the first schoolhouse in Winnebago County.
Enjoy a self-guided tour and explore what life was like for the early residents of Winnebago County. The grounds are open during regular Macktown Forest Preserve hours. The Macktown Living History Visitor’s Center and the historic village are open for special events throughout the year and for tours by appointment.
Learn more about Macktown Living History and their family-friendly Second Sunday events here.
Severson Dells Nature Center
Severson Dells Nature Center provides many educational programs and events for students and families. Interactive programs are offered weekly to people of all ages and interests. The nature center contains nature exhibits, library, and bookstore for the general public. The environmental education staff also provides school field trips at the nature center and in-school programs on a wide variety of natural science topics.
Don’t miss The Grove, a nature playscape built primarily of natural materials that provides children with free play opportunities to climb, build, hide, perform, and make music. The Grove is the only recreational facility of its kind in the Rockford area!
Learn more about the Severson Dells Nature Center on their website.
Sand Bluff Bird Observatory
Located within Colored Sands Forest Preserve, Sand Bluff Bird Observatory is one of the largest small-bird banding operations in the country that is open to the public. During the spring banding season, Sand Bluff Bird Observatory is open to visitors on Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 to 12:00 pm. Visitors are welcome to come watch the operation and share in the learning process.
Enjoy seeing migrant birds, large or small, up close and personal! This is a great opportunity to see the birds that reside and move through Winnebago County and to learn about the bird banding process.
Learn more about the Sand Bluff Bird Observatory here.
There are countless fun and exciting activities to enjoy during spring break in Winnebago County. Whether you prefer hiking the trails, learning about history and nature, or trying new adventures, there is something for everyone right here in our community. Make the most of your break and create memorable memories with friends and family!