Regarded as Wisconsin’s Park Place – for good reason – Janesville is a total gem of a city. I think travelers have overlooked Rock County’s largest community but I know firsthand that Janesville has plenty to offer its visitors, whether you’re into enjoying the great outdoors or trekking the shops of the community’s downtown district. Join me on a journey to this south-central Wisconsin destination:
- Beautiful Parks
Let’s begin with what Janesville is perhaps best known for: its 56 parks. For a very modest admission fee, you’ll want to tour the magnificent Rotary Botanical Gardens. Quick tip for you: Keep an eye on the Gardens’ upcoming events. They’ve always got something fun going on such as Music in the Gardens. Right next door to Rotary Botanical Gardens is Palmer Park and Camden Playground. From a hoppin’ kiddie pool to a “castle-like” playground, this place is a kids’ paradise. Rounding out our parks adventure is Traxler Park, home to Janesville’s legendary Rock Aqua Jays Water Ski Show Team.
- A Vibrant History
Janesville has a ton of history. One of my all-time favorite spots in town is the Lincoln-Tallman House. This is where the Abraham Lincoln stayed for a couple of nights while he was in Janesville. Not too far from the Lincoln Tallman House is the Janesville Performing Arts Center. This gorgeous, 633-seat theater was actually once a high school and now hosts live music, comedy and plays.
- Tons of Recreation
Janesville really lends itself to folks who are looking to have some fun outdoors. One of my favorite spots is a bit off the beaten path. It’s called Devil’s Staircase and it can be found when you begin your hike at Riverside Park along the National Ice Age Scenic Trail, which runs right through Janesville. There’s also the Rock County Barn Quilt Tour, where you’ll enjoy the junction of quilting and agriculture when you chase more than 200 barn quilts scattered all across the county.
- Year-Round Events
Those Janesvillians are always down for a good party…this city celebrates just about everything! Make your way to the annual Rock County Dairy Breakfast for delicious pancakes, music, games, a farm tour and fun ‘n’ games for the whole family. Or check out Art Infusion, a two-day chalk art competition held every September at Firehouse Park. The event is located along Janesville’s lovely river walk downtown and features a chalk art creation drawn by a professional street artist plus a competition for all ages.
Looking for more in Janesville? Might I add: a trip to the Janesville Ice Arena to cheer on the Janesville Jets, a stop at Skelly’s Farm Market for fresh produce and homemade treats or a night in at the Guardian Angel Bed & Breakfast.
I reckon it’s time for a trip to the south…of Wisconsin, that is! For more on Janesville, don’t miss Evansville & Janesville – A Slice of Americana Feb. 18-19 on Discover Wisconsin.
Mariah Haberman hosts the nation’s longest-running tourism TV show, Discover Wisconsin. Watch the show Saturdays at 10 a.m. on FSN Wisconsin’s outdoor block or online at DiscoverWisconsin.com. (Instagram//Snapchat/Twitter: @MariahHaberman)