Hidden In Plain Sight

Column: Finding the Good
by Caitlin Ludwig 

I would consider myself a knowledgeable Rockford girl.  I frequently dine in local restaurants and try to avoid the chains; I love a good show at the Coronado Theatre or a good laugh at Sullivan Theatre; I’ve even been to an IceHogs and River Hawks game or two.  I can travel the back roads to avoid E. State at all costs and I can usually understand where something is when people give me directions filled with statements like “next to the Old Venture” or “behind the Ground Round.”  But, this Rockford-loving girl had no idea what to expect when her boyfriend suggested they go paddle boating in Rock Cut State Park this past Sunday.  That’s right, this Rockford girl had never even BEEN to Rock Cut let alone knew there were paddle boats ready and waiting for her!!

Needless to say, I was completely thrilled with a sparkly red paddle boat, a huge lake and the gorgeous summer sun to keep my occupied on what has been the most beautiful summer day to date in 2011.  But what baffles me is that I’ve been living here as an adult for almost 4 years (never mind the 18 years I spent growing up in the area…) and had never ever given second thought to the State Park right in my own backyard.  Boy, was I missing out.

Now, I can rattle on and on for this entire blog post about how much fun I had, how beautiful the lake was and how it felt like a vacation far away from the hussle and bussle of my every day life because all those things are true.  But, my loyal blog readers, that’s not my point – not my main point anyways.  My point is, it’s amazing in life what’s hidden right there in plain sight.  For me, this past weekend it was a giant lake inviting me to get away from it all but other times it’s something even more simple staring us down as we blindly go about our business.

We’re lucky we live in Rockford because this city is full of hidden gems.  Sure, we may not be the flashy and loud type of city but we are definitely a subdued type of awesome.  Ever corner of this city boasts a great gem of it’s very own.  From the award-winning Coronado to the nationally renowned Anderson Gardens, Rockford is one pretty awesome city.

But, alas, I will be the first to admit – there are places here I have not explored.  It’s absolutely ridiculous that I’ve been here as long as I have and I had never been to Rock Cut until this past weekend.  I’m ashamed to admit, but I’ve still never toured Anderson Gardens but merely admired the view from the old restaurant’s windows.  This Rockford girl has missed all sorts of great gems in our awesome city just because I haven’t opened my eyes to see them.

Let me tell you this, I will be back to Rock Cut.  There are plenty more paddle boat rides in this girl.  Now that I’ve found what I’ve been missing, my curiosity is peaked and I’m excited to see more of this great city that I’ve apparently been missing.  So, open your eyes people!!  There are gems everywhere!  Which ones are your favorites?



~ by caitlinludwig on June 28, 2011.

7 Responses to “Hidden In Plain Sight”

  1. I was recently introduced to a new-to-me location in Rockford. It was through http://www.hideawayinrockford.com/ that advertised :
    Come out and taste the one and only Rockford Original, “Unusual”; a combination of ice cream and Italian Ice.
    Mention Hideaway between June 24-30 and enjoy 10% off the price of a super-sized “Unusual”.
    So, very old food service location that I’d not even heard of. And then I noticed their vendor-table at the Rockford City Market! Anyways, I did stop by their location after I’d left the Market, and tried out their “Unusual”. It was even better than I’d expected, and I would recommend the Cherry with Lemon ice cream “Unusual”. That ice cream was soooooo good with it… (If you do get the Super-Sized, definitely be prepared to share it with somebody!)

    • The Hideaway in Rockford Campaign is a great tool for finding local gems AND coupons! I’ll have to look up this “unusual” because it sounds delicious!

  2. Rockford Ski Broncs, Sinnissippi Bike Path (The Rock Guardians are really cool), Der Rathskeller (German Restaurant), Any of the Nature Trails hidden in the Forest Preserves all around Rockford and surrounding areas, The Brick Cafe in Belvidere, Rock River Queen Boat Ride. I am excited to see if anyone else has places or things. I am always looking for something fun and cheap or free to do! Great article!!

    • The SkiBroncs are most definitely on my “to-do” list this summer. I think I went as a little girl but I don’t remember it that well. Sinnissippi Bike Path (and those Rock Guardians) is totally awesome. Did you know they have exercise stations all throughout the path??

      Der Rathskeller has really good rubans and a really cool patio. The Brick Cafe is a cool little place that I was at simply because I had a meeting there, otherwise, I never would have known it existed! And I will ride that Rock River Queen. I just have the find the perfect sunny afternoon to do so!! 🙂 Great suggestions!!

  3. I found a hidden gem two weeks ago when I attended a wedding reception at Brigg’s Mansion. It’s there, across from Swedish American Hospital on E. State St. and I had NEVER noticed this gorgeous place before. Check in out next time you drive down State St.

    • Brigg’s Mansion is absolutely gorgeous! I’ve been there for a few functions and it definitely qualifies as a gem! You would never notice it if you didn’t know it was there. I bet the wedding reception was gorgeous!

  4. I hate to admit I’ve never been to Anderson Gardens (the actual garden part), Tinker Swiss, and Midway Museum. Hoping I can cross them off my list this summer! I also want to go to Volcano Falls and play a mean game of miniature golf 😉

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