Spring is almost here, and you know what that means: road trip time! But you don’t have to go very far to score a successful family getaway. Rockford, Chicago’s friendly neighbor to the west, is an easy two-hour drive–and this month, it’s got three awesome festivals that are more than worth a little time in the car.
You might have had a sock monkey in your childhood bedroom, but did you know that they originated right here in Illinois? Celebrate the beloved toy at the Sock Monkey Madness Festival. This year’s theme is “Safari Adventure,” and activities include a Treasure Hunt Safari and the Yarn Jungle Trail, not to mention the Dance of the Sock Monkeys. Plus, try safari-themed games and crafts, take a photo with a 7-foot-tall sock monkey, and make your own sock monkey to take to the zoo you call “home.” $8, $5 kids 3-17, free kids under 3. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. March 5-6.
Midway Village Museum, 6799 Guilford Road, Rockford. (815) 397-9112.
Jurassic World may have alerted a whole new generation to the awesomeness that is paleontology, but PaleoFest takes it to a whole new level. Kids (and some dino-obsessed parents) can try PaleoPassport activities and interact with famous paleontologists, as well as the museum’s resident Triceratops, Homer, and T. rex, Jane. Plus, for all the truthers out there, there’s a session on The “Real” Jurassic Park. $10 general admission. 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. March 12, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. March 13.
Burpee Museum of Natural History, 737 N. Main St., Rockford. (815) 965-3433.
Put down your dish soap and check out these bubbles, which are (naturally) the stars of the Bubble Festival. Magician and “bubbleologist” Geoff Akins Hannah shows he knows his way around a bubble at his Bubble Wonders show, which includes such tricks as a bubble caterpillar, bubble volcano and bubbles inside of bubbles. Kids are invited to test their own soapy skills in the Bubble-Palooza Playground. Caution: You might want to hide the Dawn when you get home. $5, $4 members, plus admission (prices increase at door).
Discovery Center Museum, 711 N. Main St., Rockford. (815) 963-6769.