Rockford's Discovery Center welcomed visitors from all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and several foreign countries, with two-thirds of non-member visitors coming from outside the city of Rockford.

It's a good feeling when something that we have right here in Rockford becomes a favorite of folks from all over the United States.

So many people are so fond of the Discovery Center that it was another record setting year. More than 275,000 people experienced Discovery Center via exhibits, classes, camps, special events, after-school programs, and outreach. That's a 4.5% increase over a record-breaking year in 2017. Of that 275,000, almost 133,000 visited the museum itself (a 5% increase over the previous record-breaking year), and close to 30,000 more people visited on field trips or attended classes and workshops.

“We are extremely proud of our museum,” explains Mike Rathbun, associate director of Discovery Center Museum. “Our dedicated staff work very hard to provide quality exhibits and programs to children and families, whether they visit our museum or enjoy one of our outreach programs,” Rathbun adds. Discovery Center education staff frequently travel to school and libraries in suburban Chicago, southern Wisconsin and as far south as Interstate 80.

Here's some of the national recognition that Discovery Center has received:

  • 2018: Trip Advisor awards a “Hall of Fame Distinction” for high visitor ratings for the past 5 years.
  • 2018: A Reader’s Digest mention in the article the “These are the 15 Best Places to Move to in the U.S. (Before They Get Too Crowded)”. Rockford, IL was named one of the top cities and in the description they credit Discovery Center: “…it’s home to nearly a dozen museums, including the top-ranked family Discovery Center”.
  • 2018: Family Vacation Critic named Discovery Center one of the “15 Best Museums for Toddlers in the U.S.”.
  • 2014-2017: Awarded a Trip Advisor “Certificate of Excellence” distinction.
  • 2014: Earned 5th place in the USA Today/ Readers’ Choice contest for “Best Museum for Families” and was included in a list of “Nation’s Best Children’s Museums” in
  • 2012: Named one of’s “12 Best Children’s Museums in the Nation.”
  • 2009: Included in the book, The Ten Best of Everything: Families in the category of children’s museums.
  • 2002: Ranked 4th by Child magazine in the first-ever survey to identify the 10 best children’s museums in the nation.

Closer to home, Discovery Center has been named the “Best Child-friendly Place” in the region in Rockford Register Star’s “What Rocks” contest for many years.

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