A Saturday Morning ‘Stroll’ With Your Toddler in Downtown Rockford

The long, humid summer is gone and if you’re anything like me, you’re in desperate need of a change of scenery. You’ve done a lot this summer: walks at Fredrick Meijer Gardens, visited your local splash pad, enjoyed the beach at Millennium Park and I’m guessing indulged in an ice cream cone (or two!) at Jersey Junction in Gaslight Village!

But now it’s time for something new and Team GRKIDS is doing some recon for you. First stop: downtown Rockford.

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A look at how to spend a morning in downtown Rockford with your toddler in tow:

*** Note: the schedule we followed below meant skipping morning nap time.***

9am – Sweetland Chocolates and Coffee – I buckled Natalie, my one-and-a-half-year-old, in the stroller and headed to Sweetland Coffee to meet my mother-in-law for our morning pick me up: caffeine and chocolate! They serve local Madcap Coffee and Nantucket baked goods. Be warned, leaving there without a bag full of their homemade famous turtles would deserve a gold medal of some sort. Good luck!

Downtown Rockford sweetland-coffee-3

The store is large enough to bring your stroller right in and order and even to park up next to a table for a bit if you’d like to sit and enjoy your coffee.

Downtown Rockford sweetland-coffee-2

9:30am – Rockford Farmers Market – After getting our to-go coffees and splitting a cranberry scone we headed to the farmers market just a block away. Living near Eastown, we frequent the Fulton Street Farmers Market often and love it. In comparison, Rockford does a lovely job! Their set up was much easier to maneuver with a stroller (it’s wider and more spread out with less of a crowd) and they had multiple vendors offering a plethora of fresh produce, baked goods and other items.

If you’re a fan of sweet corn, be sure to hit up the vendor who weekly sets up on the northern-most spot of the market lot this fall– so tasty! You can also find fresh popcorn (Natalie started snacking on it immediately) and I found some excellent locally made beef jerky sticks that I packed in lunches later that week. You’ll likely walk away with fresh flowers, squash, and apples given the time of year.

Downtown Rockford farmers-market-2

Don’t forget your cash to for payment! Some vendors do take card, but cash is quicker.

10:30am – Rockford Dam Overlook – After you get through the farmers market, be sure to stroll through the Rockford Dam Overlook. Natalie loved the view of the Rogue River. If you’ve got a restless kiddo, this is a good opportunity to let them run around a bit. Maybe give them a little nibble of that Zestar Apple you picked up at the market moments ago. But don’t rest too long, there’s more!

10:45am – Shopping – Rockford has a good handful of adorable shops that are stroller friendly including second hand clothing and furniture stores, children’s boutiques and even food retail such as Old World Olive Press. Some of our favorites include:

Bailey and James Boutique – Full of unique little gifts and trinkets including handmade towels, candles, framed prints, wrapping paper and there are even great baby items like homemade dolls, receiving blankets, and clothes. This shop is perfect for finding that unique gift for your best friends birthday.

Downtown Rockford bailey-and-james-2

Sassy Pants – Thee CUTEST kids clothing shop (and more) I have ever seen. This place is chalked full of frilly dresses for little girls, adorable overalls for your little man and other items like kids books, toys and even jewelry. I picked up a great book for Natalie’s Grandpa as a gift for his upcoming birthday: 99 Reasons Why I Love Grandpa.

Downtown Rockford sassy-pants

Aunt Candy’s Toy Company – I thought we had ALL the toys, and then we visited Candy’s Toy Company. They have everything from books to blocks to tea sets. There are stuffed animals, dolls, Legos and more. The store is sectioned off into ages appropriate items which is extremely helpful and the staff is willing to assist you with anything you are looking for.

Also, a giant bonus… they have a kids play area in the store! So don’t worry about your kiddo taking off like a kid in a ‘candy’ store, there’s a spot for them while you shop for Christmas gifts!

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11:30am – Lunch! – at The Dam Dogs, The Corner Bar (both serve hot dogs) or Arnie’s Bakery. All are located in the main block of the downtown area and all are kid friendly. Also within walking distance is Uccellos and Vitale’s Pizza.

We picked Arnie’s Bakery because… well, cupcakes, of course! At this point Natalie was starving and honestly so were we. Sitting down at 11:30am instead of noon allowed for us to skip the usual lunch rush which was ideal for our grumbling stomachs. But if you’re looking for a quick in and out, The Dam Dogs is a better choice, and an even easier option if you’re looking to enjoy the weather before it turns cold?… Pack a picnic and eat at the Rockford Dam Overlook!

12:30p – Head home for nap time and enjoy yourself while your tuckered out kiddo (and your feet!) take a rest.

If there are other locations you’re interested in us scoping out for you, leave us a message! Looking forward to exploring Greater Grand Rapids for you!

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About the Author:

Nichole Kladder
Nichole is a social instigator and a huge advocate for the city of Grand Rapids. She’s a full-time working mom who manages video production in house at Steelcase. Her past work includes ArtPrize, 5x5Night, and Start Garden. You can most often find Nichole strolling with her husband and daughter in Eastown. Find out more about the Kladders on her blog, MidCityLove.com.

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