There’s so much to do in our region! Here are some exciting recreation events happening this season.
Sinnissippi Station Model Railroad
Through Feb. 2, Tue.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat-Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Visitors are transported to a magical miniature world as G-scale trains and trolleys run down, around and above the lush tropical setting of the conservatory garden, past Rockford landmarks such as the Sinnissippi Music Shell and floral clock, and the Nicholas Conservatory. Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, 1354 N. 2nd St., Rockford, (815) 987-8858, rockfordparkdistrict.org/ncg.
Fri. through March, 1 p.m. Also Feb. 22, 8 p.m. Head out to the trails; skis, boots, poles and a guide provided. Ages 10 and up. Reg. online. Jarrett Prairie Center, Byron Forest Preserve, 7993 N. River Road, Byron, Ill., (815) 234-8535, byronforestpreserve.com.
Eagle Trolley Tour
Through Feb. 29, Mon., Wed. & Sat. 11 a.m. Take a short trolley ride to the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center for eagle viewing from the observation deck and an educational presentation all about eagles. Includes lunch. Dress warmly. Res. online. Starved Rock Lodge, 2688 E. 873rd Road, Oglesby, Ill., (815) 220-7386, starvedrocklodge.com.
Guided Winter Hikes
Through March 29, Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m. Discover the winter beauty at Starved Rock State Park on a guided 3-mile hike; experience majestic, frozen waterfalls or perhaps see a bald eagle. Dress for the weather, with footwear such as Yaktrax. Includes a backpack, granola bar and bottled water, as well as a hot chocolate or coffee. Reg. online. Starved Rock Lodge, Oglesby, Ill., (815) 220-7386, starvedrocklodge.com.
Through April 24, Fri. 8-10 p.m. Enjoy indoor ice skating with family and friends; discounted packages available. Carlson Ice Arena, 4150 N. Perryville Road, Loves Park, Ill., (815) 969-4069, rockfordparkdistrict.org.
Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition
Jan. 22-25, sunrise-10:30 p.m. Teams from around the state compete for the right to represent Illinois in the national snow sculpting competition. Rockford Park District, Sinnissippi Park, 1401 N. 2nd St., Rockford, (815) 987-8800, ilsnowsculpting.com.
Sycamore’s Eat Week
Jan. 24-Feb. 1. Culinary excellence as well as family fun; offering discounted dining and treats at participating restaurants. Misc. locations in Sycamore, Ill., discoversycamore.com.
Eagle Watch Weekend
Jan. 25, 9 a.m. Birds of prey shows and family activities at the Starved Rock Visitor Center, Lodge and Illinois Waterway Visitor Center. Join the park naturalist for a guided eagle-viewing tour or take a short hike to the top of Starved Rock for live eagle viewing. Full schedule of events at illinoisaudubon.org. Starved Rock Lodge, Oglesby, Ill., (815) 220-7386, starvedrocklodge.com.
Makerspace for Kids
Jan. 25, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Kids ages 5-14 program an Ozobot, fly a mini-drone, make Shrinky Dinks, try pour painting or make a catapult; also take a turn in an escape room just for kids and families. Reg. online. Jarrett Prairie Center, Byron Forest Preserve, Byron, Ill., (815) 234-8535, byronforestpreserve.com.
Jan. 25, 11 a.m. Learn about the Scottish tradition of Candlemas by experiencing the bagpipe music and rituals of this celebration. Rockford Public Library (RPL), Hart Interim Library, 214 N. Church St., Rockford, (815) 965-7606, rockfordpubliclibrary.org.
Jan. 26, 1-4 p.m. Feel the power of the (magnetic) force as you aid an embattled princess and find a suitable planet for a new rebel base. Hone your knightly skills, evade Imperial peril and help destroy a deadly space station. Galactic attire encouraged. Discovery Center Museum, 711 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 963-6769, discoverycentermuseum.org.
Galena Whiskey Weekend
Jan. 26, 1:30-3:30 p.m. & 5-7:30 p.m. Sip some of 175 whiskey offerings and enjoy hors d’oeuvres. Turner Hall, 105 S. Bench St., Galena, Ill., (815) 777-9129, turnerhall.com.
Lake Geneva Winterfest
Jan. 26-Feb. 2, daily. Watch 15 teams of sculptors and artists create works of art out of huge snow blocks in the national snow sculpting competition, enjoy live music, food, a human dog sled race, live magic and illusion show, helicopter rides, a chili cook-off and the Cocoa Crawl in downtown Lake Geneva. Lake Geneva, visitlakegeneva.com/winterfest.
Rockton Yeti Fest
Jan. 29-Feb. 1, during the day. Enjoy watching snow sculptures being carved and a giant community snow fort being built, yeti hunting, ice skating, dog sled mushing, drinking and shopping. Vote for your favorite snow sculpture on Fri. and Sat. Downtown Rockton; Settlers Park, 150 E. Hawick St.; Village Green Park, 100 E. Chapel St.; Rockton, Ill., (815) 624-0935.
Feb. 1, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. A day of skiing, snowboarding and activities, including a toboggan race, rail jam competition, kayak race, candle scramble and games including fast ball, strike out and mega wire. Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, 7036 Grand Geneva Way, Lake Geneva, (800) 558-3417, grandgeneva.com.
Feb. 7 & first Friday monthly, 5 p.m.-midnight. Various art galleries, shops and music venues stay open late. Downtown Rockford, (779) 537-5319.
Chocolate Sundae Sunday
Feb. 9, 2-4 p.m. Scoop up a scrumptious treat, vote for your favorite candy and delight in toe-tapping music from local ensembles. Then come to the craft corner to design a dazzling Valentine! Museum admission is not required and not included. Discovery Center Museum, Rockford, (815) 963-6769, discoverycentermuseum.org.
Galena Winter Carnival
Feb. 14-17, see website. Watch the hot air balloon glow and ice carving, play snow games, sled, cross-country ski and more. Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, 444 Eagle Ridge Dr., Galena, Ill., (800) 892-2269, eagleridge.com.
Sky Circus on Ice
Feb. 14-16, see website for details. This three-day event promises family fun with a blizzard run snow slide, expert ice and snow sculptors, hands-on snow carving and kite-making workshops, kite flying lessons, and gigantic kite displays over Delavan Lake; evening entertainment. Lake Lawn Resort, 2400 E. Geneva St., Delavan, Wis., (262) 728-7950, lakelawnresort.com.
Java, Chocolate & Champagne Stroll
Feb. 15-16, noon-4 p.m. Enjoy special treats as you stroll along Main Street; lots of events and specials at shops. Main Street, Galena, Ill., visitgalena.org.
Brews & Views
Feb. 19 & March 18, doors open 6:30 p.m., movie 7:30 p.m. Retro-classic films: Feb. 19, “The Princess Bride”; March 18, “Revenge of the Nerds.” Prairie Street Brewing Co., 200 Prairie St., Rockford, (815) 227-9427, psbrewingco.com.
Chicago Auto Show Bus Trip
Feb. 20, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. McCormick Place is filled with over a million square feet of exhibits showcasing the latest vehicles, plus experimental and concept cars. Reg. online. Freeport Park District, 1122 S. Burchard Ave., Freeport, (815) 235-6114, freeportparksfoundation.org.
Mardi Gras Weekend
Feb. 21-22, see website for times. The celebration begins with a pub crawl Friday evening, a throwing of beads ceremony and a Mardi Gras masquerade ball on Saturday evening; featuring food and drinks, including glitter beer. Galena Main Street, Galena Brewing Co., 227 N. Main St., Galena, Ill., visitgalena.org.
Rockford Home Show
Feb. 21-23, Fri. 3-8 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. See what’s new in products, services and ideas for interior and exterior design, remodeling and building ideas; cooking and product demonstrations; entertainment for kids and adults. Mercyhealth Sportscore Two, 8800 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park, Ill., (815) 987-8890, showtimeproduction.net.
Flannel Fest Craft Beer Experience
Feb. 22, noon-4:30 p.m. Featuring craft beer sampling, a home-brewing competition and games such as giant Jenga, corn hole, sack races and giant pong. Food vendors on-site. Tickets at Rock County Brewing Co., 10 N. Parker Dr., Ste. 160, Janesville. Downtown Janesville, River and Dodge Streets, Janesville, downtownjanesville.com.
Family Fun Day at Young Auditorium
Feb. 22, 2 p.m. Enjoy carnival games, face painting, hands-on activities, yoga and mindfulness activities, STEM kits, a Fort Health Care railroad obstacle course and dramatic play area. Young Auditorium, UW-Whitewater, 930 W. Main St., Whitewater, Wis., (262) 472- 2222, uww.edu.
Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live
Feb. 29-March 1, Sat. 12:30 & 7:30 p.m., Sun. 1:30 p.m. Hot Wheels truck toys come to life in a kid-focused performance. BMO Harris Bank Center, 300 Elm St., Rockford, (815) 968-5222, thebmoharrisbankcenter.com.
March 1, noon-3 p.m. Following the 73rd annual pioneer dinner, a brief historical program celebrates the anniversary of Milton’s founding. Milton Historical Society, Milton House Museum, 18 S. Janesville St., Milton, Wis., (608) 868-7772, miltonhouse.org.
Galena Goes ’50s
March 6-7, see website. Live music and dancing Friday evening at the Galena Brewing Co., dance workshops during the day Saturday, then a sock hop Saturday evening from 6-10 p.m. at Turner Hall, 115 S. Bench St., Galena, Ill., (815) 777-1050, turnerhall.com.
Sock Monkey Madness Festival
March 7, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Rockford is the birthplace of the timeless Sock Monkey, created as a folk-art toy during the Depression. Make your own monkey or monkey buddy, then get your passport stamped by completing games and crafts. Have your Sock Monkey repaired. Midway Village Museum, 6799 Guilford Road, Rockford, (815) 397-9112, midwayvillage.com.
Ag All Around Us
March 7, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Explore the many ways agriculture makes use of science, technology, engineering and math as you join the Farm Bureau for hands-on projects. Meet farmers and fill up on snacks. Discovery Center Museum, Rockford, (815) 963-6769, discoverycentermuseum.org.
March 7-8, see website for times. Mingle with some of the top paleontologists in the field, enjoy family paleo art workshops and activities throughout the museum, hear lectures and immerse yourself in all things paleontology. Burpee Museum of Natural History, 737 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 965-3433, burpee.org.
Nature Sprouts: Marvelous Mud
March 10, 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Kids 3-6 years old learn about this squishy substance, meet some of the creatures that live in our pond muck and make mud pies. Reg. online. Severson Dells Nature Center, 8502 Montague Road, Winnebago, Ill., (815) 335-2915, seversondells.com.
St. Patrick’s Weekend
March 13-14, see website. Pub crawl Friday evening, Shamrock Shimmy 5K race and a St. Patrick’s Day parade on Sat. Galena Elks Lodge, 123 N. Main St., Galena, Ill., (815) 777-1050, visitgalena.org.
Abominable Snow Race
March 14-15. Follow a 4-6 mile course that includes 20 or more obstacles at the Mountain Top ski hill. Kids 4-11 can take on the “lil-yeti” course with scaled-down obstacles. After the race, head into the lodge for fun, food and music. Devil’s Head Ski Resort, S6330 Bluff Road, Merrimac, Wis., (608) 493-2251, abominablesnowrace.com.
RV, Camping and Travel Show
March 20-21, Fri. 2-8 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. to 4 p.m. See the latest in RV and camping innovations to enhance your travel experiences. Indoor Sports Center at Mercyhealth Sportscore Two, 8800 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park, Ill., (815) 997-1744, rkfdrvshow.com.