A great weekend’s journey isn’t so far from home. Here are some excellent places to visit.
In Full Bloom: The Orchid Exhibit
Through March 17, Tu.-Th. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Hundreds of colorful, tropical orchids are on display in the warm tropical exhibition area. Presentations, workshops and orchid sales. Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, 1354 N. 2nd St., Rockford, (815) 987-8858, rockfordparkdistrict.org/ncg.
A Victorian Childhood
Through March 18, Tue.-Sun. 1-3 p.m. Get a glimpse of children’s lives during the Victorian era when you visit this exhibit showcasing original Tinker pieces from board games to dolls, rocking chairs to clothing. Tinker Swiss Cottage, 411 Kent St., Rockford, (815) 964-2424, tinkercottage.com.
RAM Pop-up Restaurant Series
Feb. 27, March 27 & April 24, 6-9:30 p.m. Have dinner in the galleries as chefs from local restaurants prepare a multiple-course, prix-fixe menu to enjoy alongside the museum’s current feature exhibition. Cash bar. Res. at eventbrite.com. February: Abreo, March: Rockford Country Club, April: Greenfire. Rockford Art Museum (RAM), 711 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 968-2787, rockfordartmuseum.org.
Feb. 28, 10:30 a.m. Get cozy and enjoy an animal story and craft as you listen to “The Mitten” by Jan Brett. Midwest Museum of Natural History, 425 W. State St., Sycamore, Ill., (815) 895-9777, mmnh.org.
Feb. 28, 1 p.m. Bundle up and cross-country ski through the woods and prairie. Skis, instruction, guide and hot chocolate included. Ages 6 and up. Reg. online. Byron Forest Preserve, 7993 N. River Road, Byron, Ill., (815) 234-8535, byronforestpreserve.com.
March 1, 5 p.m. Enjoy art, music, food and shopping each month in downtown Rockford when galleries, shops, and music and theater venues stay open late. Info: (779) 537-5319, facebook.com/firstfridaysrockford.
Sock Monkey Madness Festival
March 2, 10 a.m.-4 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.
Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program
March 2, 1-3 p.m. A representative of the Natural Land Institute shares information about how to create a natural habitat around your home that is beneficial for wildlife. Learn how and why you should create a healthy ecosystem in your yard. Welty Environmental Center, 1201 Big Hill Court, Beloit, (608) 361-1377, weltycenter.org.
March 2-3, 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.
RV, Camping and Travel Show
March 8-10, Fri. 2-8 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. See the latest in RV and camping innovations to enhance your travel experiences. Indoor Sports Center, 8800 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park, Ill., (815) 871-7469, showtimeproduction.net.
Bus Trip to Orchid Show
March 9, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Hop on the bus for an excursion to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Ill., to visit the “Into the Tropics” show, featuring over 10,000 orchids in bloom, along with bromeliads and birds of paradise. Included is the Illinois Orchid Society’s Spring show and sale of orchids, cut flowers, books and potting soil. Reg. online. Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden, 2715 S. Main St., Rockford, (815) 965-8146, klehm.org.
Ag All Around Us
March 9, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Meet a local farmer, climb aboard a tractor, get the scoop on soil and explore the ways agriculture makes use of science, technology, engineering and math. Discovery Center Museum, 711 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 963-6769, discoverycentermuseum.org.
The Secret Life of Paleo-Indians
March 10, 2 p.m. Dr. Thomas Loebel presents his research on Paleo-Indians in Illinois and Wisconsin, debunking their stereotype as nomadic hunters who just produced stone spears for hunting. He shows how this group adapted at the end of the last Ice Age. Byron Forest Preserve, Byron, Ill., (815) 234-8535, byronforestpreserve.com.
All Things St. Patrick’s
March 16, 2:30-4 p.m. Learn about rainbows, search for a leprechaun’s lost gold, make St. Patrick’s Day cookies, play leprechaun games and make a leprechaun home. Reg. online. Welty Environmental Center, Beloit, (608) 361-1377, weltycenter.org.
WWE Live – Road to WrestleMania
March 18, 7:30 p.m. Superstars include AJ Styles and Randy Orton; also matches to determine the SmackDown Women’s championship. BMO Harris Bank Center, 300 Elm St., Rockford, (815) 968-5222, thebmoharrisbankcenter.com.
Signs of Spring
March 19, 3:30-5 p.m. Celebrate the Spring Equinox with a hike, looking for signs that winter is over; make a spring craft. Reg. online or by phone. Welty Environmental Center, Nature at the Confluence, 306 Dickop St., South Beloit, Ill., (608) 362-6212, weltycenter.org.
March 23, 10 a.m-3 p.m. Younger readers learn about writing and illustrating books about conservation, then enjoy a conservation-minded activity. “Conservation Tales” books available for signing. Midwest Museum of Natural History, Sycamore, Ill., (815) 895-9777, mmnh.org.
Ridin’ the Rails
March 23, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Enjoy songs, stories, history and humor as a local storyteller shares her real-life train adventures; make your own whistle to take home. Performances at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Discovery Center Museum, Rockford, (815) 963-6769, discoverycentermuseum.org.
March 23, 7 p.m. Hear haunting tales from paranormal experts and perhaps have your own paranormal encounter. Tinker Swiss Cottage, Rockford, (815) 964-2424, tinkercottage.com.
Egg Artistry Show & Sale
March 23-24, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Unique pieces created by artists from throughout the Midwest; purchase a one-of-a kind egg or supplies to create your own egg art. Midway Village Museum, Rockford, (815) 397-9112, midwayvillage.com.
Spring into Science
March 25-29, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. See how art and science go hand-in-hand as you create colors from nature, learn about light and explore shapes found outdoors. Discovery Center Museum, Rockford, (815) 963-6769, discoverycentermuseum.org.
Simply Spring Butterfly Exhibit
March 26-June 2, Tue.-Thu. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Celebrate the arrival of spring as you’re surrounded by the magical world of butterflies in the tropical conservatory; see the butterflies’ life cycle in action as they emerge from their chrysalises. Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, Rockford, (815) 987-8858, rockfordparkdistrict.org/ncg.
Family Art Fun Day
March 29 & April 19, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Families enjoy an art activity and create a masterpiece to take home. RAM, Rockford, (815) 968-2787, rockfordartmuseum.org.
March 30, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Meet and play with the new goat kids; feed the animals and learn more about the baby goats and their mothers. Angelic Organics Learning Center, 1547 Rockton Road, Caledonia, Ill., (815) 389-8455, learngrowconnect.org.
March 30, 8-10 p.m. Guests are treated to a behind-the-scenes backstage tour highlighting the haunted history of the theater. Discover secrets and go places the public doesn’t get to see. Bring a flashlight. Tickets online. Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. 2nd St., DeKalb, Ill., (815) 758-1215, egyptiantheatre.org.
Chug Chug Chuggin’ Along
April 6, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Take a turn as an engineer and work the controls of a real model train, shovel some coal, fix some wheels, get your ticket punched, then create your own wooden train to take home. To top it off, climb aboard your favorite blue engine in the Thomas & Friends exhibit. Discovery Center Museum, Rockford, (815) 963-6769, discoverycentermuseum.org.
Bijou Theater Silent Films
April 6, 7 p.m. Experience a 1918 movie house with a showing of Buster Keaton’s “Cops” and Charlie Chaplin’s “The Rink,” silent films with accompaniment by the Rockford Wind Ensemble. Light refreshments served; visitors encouraged to dress in period costume. Midway Village Museum, Rockford, (815) 397-9112, midwayvillage.com.
World War I Re-Enactment
April 6-7, see website for times. Over 225 re-enactors portray soldiers and civilians from the U.S. and Europe; visitors experience encampments, tour a 150-yard trench system and watch large-scale, narrated battle re-enactments. See tanks, airplanes, weapons, equipment and artifacts; performances of songs from the 1910s. Midway Village Museum, Rockford, (815) 397-9112, midwayvillage.com.
Just Kidding Family Weekend
April 12-13, Fri. 5 p.m.-Sat. 3 p.m. The farm is full of baby goat kids who need lots of TLC and play. On this overnight adventure, families care for the goats and maybe see a birth. Angelic Organics Learning Center, 1547 Rockton Road, Caledonia, Ill., (815) 389-8455, learngrowconnect.org.
Future Nurse Academy
April 13, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Learn how to check X-rays and take blood pressure while you test out actual nursing equipment, then study up on human anatomy as you explore what it’s like to be a nurse. Discovery Center Museum, Rockford, (815) 963-6769, discoverycentermuseum.org.
Into the Woods
April 13, 2-3:30 p.m. Learn how to identify trees and discover why they are important for human and ecological health; make tree art and play an interactive game. Welty Environmental Center, Beloit, (608) 361-1377, weltycenter.org.
April 20, 3:30-5 p.m. Learn the basics of how to use a compass, then practice your navigation skills with interactive games. Ages 8 to adult. Reg. online or by phone. Welty Environmental Center, Beloit, (608) 361-1377, weltycenter.org.
Easter Egg Hunt
April 29, 11 a.m. Lots of eggs, prizes and candy for children in preschool through 4th grade. Breakfast with the Easter bunny 7-11 a.m. Byron Forest Preserve, Byron, Ill., (815) 234-8535, byronforestpreserve.com.