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Best Fall Colors And U-Pick Farms In Rockford, Illinois And Rock River Valley

Updated on April 04, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish offers 25+ years successful work history in Medicine; Health- and I/O Psychology; STEM courses, and Aerospace Education.

Anderson Japanese Garden in Rockford.
Anderson Japanese Garden in Rockford. | Source

Rockford's Nickname Is "The Forest City"

The counties of Northern Illinois, including Rockford's Winnebago County, are centers for Fall Foliage Tours accessible by driving or hiking, although some Fall Foliage Train Tours extend over a period of days and are popular around Illinois as well.One of the most popular trees in this area is the fast growing American Beech or Fagus grandiflora, whose leaves turn bright orange in this part of the country in autumn and may not fall to the ground at all during the fall and winter.

The fall colors are brilliant from September through the end of October in Northern Illinois, but intensely so in the botanical gardens and state parks of Rockford, a far suburb of Chicago to the southeast on Lake Michigan. The entire area is good for travel. Along the foliage routes are many large U-Pick and pre-picked farmers' markets with indoor and outdoor venues.

The farmers' wares include anything from free range chickens and eggs to home raised honey, apples, berries, vegetables, cheeses, pumpkins, and gifts from attached shops. Hayrides and other autumn activities are prominent and make for a good vacation or weekend getaway in which travelers come away with fresh foods grown with sustainable methods. All this makes the fall season more enjoyable than if travelers stayed indoors when temperatures begin to drop and did not discover these places.

The Rock River Valley

show route and directions
A markerRockford, Illinois -
Rockford, IL, USA
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B markerRock River Valley -
Rock River, Illinois, USA
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The Rock River is a tributary of the Mississippi River.

C markerRockford Museum Campus - 711 North Main Street - Rockford IL 61103 -
Discovery Center Museum, 711 N Main St, Rockford, IL 61103, USA
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Three museums on one site.

American Beech


Foliage Tours

The best sites for a driving tour through the fall foliage of the Rock River Valley lie on a diagonal through Rockford, Illinois. Beginning in the southwestern part of the community, there is the Severson Dells Forest Preserve, part of the reason that Rockford is known as "The Forest City." Driving to the northeast, visitors will find Kehlm Arboretum and Botanical Park, Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens, Sinnissippi Gardens, Sinnissippi Park, and Rock Cut State Park.

The Great Gardens of Rockford:

A series of botanical gardens called the Great Gardens in Rockford include six sites that welcome visitors. These are the

  • Anderson Japanese Garden,
  • Heritage Gardens and Midway Museum,
  • The Kehlm,
  • La Paloma Gardens,
  • The Sinnissippi, and
  • Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens.

Best Fall Foliage Sites

show route and directions
A markerKlehm, Illinois -
Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden, 2715 S Main St, Rockford, IL 61102, USA
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B markerRock Cut State Park, Illinois -
Rock Cut State Park, 7318 Harlem Rd, Loves Park, IL 61011, USA
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C markerSinnissippi Park, Illinois -
Sinnissippi Park, Rockford, IL 61107, USA
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D markerSeverson Dells Forest Preserve -
Severson Dells Nature Preserve, Rockford, IL 61102, USA
get directions

  • Sports:
  • Rockford Foresters Baseball
  • Rockford IceHogs Ice hockey, AHL
  • Rockford RiverHawks Basball
  • Rockford Rage Women's Roller Derby
  • Rockford Raptors Arena Football
  • Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps since 1956. -- This is an international award winning group and my favorite among many corps.

The Phantom Regiment

City Market in Rockford

A markerWater Street, Rockford IL -
N Water St, Rockford, IL, USA
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Farms and Farmers Markets

Winnebago County, Including Rockford

CITY MARKET - City Market in Rockford is open Fridays from 3 PM - 8 PM from June through October. In conjunction with this market, the city offers Forest City Queen Riverboat and Trolley Car36 rides to market from the downtown trolley station. Longer riverboat cruises are offered on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and sign language interpreters are offered for cruises. Call 815-987-1685. The market operates on Water Street in Downtown Rockford between State and Jefferson Streets.

Bethkes’ Farm Apples and Raspberries
Location: 6587 Cherry Valley Road, Cherry Valley, IL. Royal Gala, Big Jon, Ozark Gold and spple cider. June – October, 10 AM to 6 PM 7 days a week. Phone: 815-522-2215.

Curran’s Orchard - Tart cherries, apples, raspberries, autumn/Halloween straw maze, hayrides, pumpkins. Open June through November for various U-Pick/pre-pick and farm, store. 9-6 Monday through Saturday; open in December until 5pm. Petting farm and a cutaway bee hive are great attractions. The shop had jams, jellies, apple butter, salad dressings, real maple syrup.

Location: 6385 Kilburn Ave/Route 70 in Rockford. Phone: 815-963-7848.

Edgebrook Farmers Market - Every Wednesday morning through lunchtime from June through October. Fresh-picked produce, free range meats and poultry, roasted nuts, baked goods, cheeses, plants, fresh flowers, and hanging baskets.

Location: Edgebrook Shopping Center at the corner of North Alpine and Highcrest Roads in Rockford.

Harrison Market Gardens - Asparagus, beans, beets, blackberries, broccoli, carrots, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, flowers, herbs and spices, various melons, onions, peas, peppers, red raspberries, rhubarb, summer and winter squash, strawberries, tomatoes, others. At various times they have potatoes, sweet potatoes, lettuce, spinach, turnips, tomatillos, okra, pumpkins, kale, Swiss chard, edamame, and gourds.

Location: 9024 Harrison Road, Winnebago IL. Phone: 815-629-2126. 7 miles northwest of Rockford.

Hazzard Free Farm - All-natural agriculture. Beans, beets, broccoli, carrots, sweet corn, cukes, eggplant, flowers, herbs and spices, melons, onions, peppers, summer and winter squash, tomatoes, others. Picnic area available. Fine place for weddings and receptions, school tours, buirthdays and special events.

Location: 5111 Ahrens Road, Pecatonica IL. Phone: 815-289-1431.
Open May through October, 7 days a week.

Valley Orchard - Apples, beans, blackberries, blueberries, corn, pumpkins, red raspberries, yellow raspberries, rhubarb, winter squash. An on-site Cider Mill presses cider daily. U-pick and pre-picked produce, large farm market, gift shop, picnic area.

Location: 911 East State Street, Cherry Valley IL. Phone: 815-332-9696.

Location Of Markets

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A markerCherry Valley IL -
Cherry Valley, IL, USA
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B markerWinnebago IL -
Winnebago, IL 61088, USA
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C markerPecatonica IL -
Pecatonica, IL 61063, USA
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D markerCity Market Rockford IL -
Market St, Rockford, IL, USA
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Market Street runs into Water Street at the City Market sites.

Rockford Company Maintains the ISS

Expedition 33 of the ISS, September - November 2012: Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko, the 2nd female ISS Commander Sunita Williams, and Flight Engineer Akihiko Hoshide.
Expedition 33 of the ISS, September - November 2012: Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko, the 2nd female ISS Commander Sunita Williams, and Flight Engineer Akihiko Hoshide. | Source

Local Economy and Jobs

During the Autumn of 2012, September job listings reached 7,300 openings for Rockford, Illinois. This included over 1,000 Engineering Jobs, consistent with the fact that Rockford is home to the company that is maintaining the International Space Station (see information below). Listings also included 0ver 1,700 openings for Trucker Drivers and Owner Operators.

This firm, Hamilton Sundstrand, will likely capture several additional aerospace manufacturing/service contracts as the privatizing of this business spreads in the USA and NASA engages additional members for its private-company Commercial Crew. The decades of the 2010s, 2020s, and 2030s will be very exciting.Virgin Galactic boss Richard Branson has already planned a private business backed colony on Mars!

Other major industries in Rockford and its metro area are involved in Education, Healthcare, IT, and Government.

The Illinois Department of Commerce finds that the following are the companies that maintain the largest employee pools in Rockford:

  • Rockford School District #205
  • Rockford Health Systems
  • HAMILTON SUNDSTRAND CORP. 2,300 - This is a major aerospace manufacturing and services company that has contracts for services to maintain the International Space Station (ISS) through 2020. The company will likely become more active in space exploration and the manufacture of space suits and space habitats in the coming decades. See more information at Midwestern Aerospace Expansion and the workings of NASA's Commercial Crew in those states.
  • Swedish American Health System
  • Anderson Packaging - Pharmaceutical packaging.
  • UPS - United Parcel Service
  • St. Anthony's Medical Center
  • Winnebago County Government
  • Woodward Governor - Aerospace and Energy Manufacturing.
  • NCO Group - Data centers.

Three more aboard in October 2012: Flight Engineers Kevin Ford, Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin arrive via Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft. Ford will command Expedition 34.
Three more aboard in October 2012: Flight Engineers Kevin Ford, Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin arrive via Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft. Ford will command Expedition 34. | Source

Expedition 33 ISS Patch

Local Job Trends

From 2009 - 2012, job listings for the Rockford area have consistently included these high demand positions:

  1. Truck Drivers & Owner Operators
  2. Engineers
  3. Sales Representatives
  4. Store Managers and Assistants
  5. Physical Therapists
  6. Occupational Therapists
  7. General Dentists
  8. Dental Assistants
  9. Physicians
  10. Manufacturing Production Supervisors


© 2012 Patty Inglish


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    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      This is another great resource! I'd love to take an autumn foliage tour, stop at a few farmer's markets and the botanical gardens, too. You chose beautiful photos. Now I'm homesick! : ( Thanks for another interesting hub.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      Writing about Rockford, Illinois brought back some old memories. When my first husband was in Dental school at Northwestern we were invited there. We stayed on a farm for the weekend and went skiing nearby. It was a lovely place. Love your photos and information. UP.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from North America

      @vespawoolf - I had a friend that lived there for several years and she loved it , too. I hope you are able to return to visit soon and wish the markets could last all year round!

      @carol7777 - How wonderful to be able to stay on a farm as you did! Thanks for reading my Hub; I'm ready to go back and visit.

    • SommerDalton profile image

      Sommer Dalton 4 years ago

      Voted up and more! Very educational and looking forward to fall now!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from North America

      Me, too! I'll be driving around this weekend.

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