Janesville, Wisconsin, is known as the Park Palace of Wisconsin, with over 2,500 acres of parkland and nature trails. It also has 500 acres of land which has been set aside as greenbelt land, allowing an area for the runoff of surface water and for the protection of the city’s wildlife. The top attractions in the area include Rotary Botanical Gardens, Riverside Park, and Gibbs Lake County Park. Visitors also have access to a number of shops at the Janesville Mall and numerous unique dining options in the city.
1.Rotary Botanical Gardens
© Rotary Botanical Gardens
As a non-profit organization which is funded solely by donations, Rotary Botanical Gardens offers an award winning display to the public which attracts over 100,000 visitors every year. Originally an abandoned sand and gravel quarry, the garden has been lovingly tended to and restored thanks to the donations it has received and teams of local volunteers over the past thirty years so that it is now a majestic 20-acre estate with over 4,000 varieties of beautiful plants. The displays are themed, based on international cultures and styles, and make an excellent choice for wedding venues, community gatherings, family-friendly events and educational programs.
Rotary Botanical Gardens, 1455 Palmer Drive, Janesville, WI 53545, Phone: 608-752-3885
© Camden Playground
Camden Playground was erected in May 1993 by a team of more than 3,000 passionate and dedicated volunteers. As an accessible playground, it provides a safe space for relaxation and play for the children and young people of Janesville, and has gone on to inspire the creation of more than 200 similar projects worldwide. It has been thrilling families for years, and the recent renovation and upgrade in June 2017 means that it can continue to do so for decades to come. Over its years of service, Camden Playground has seen more than 1.3 million visitors.
The Castle Playground, Palmer Park, Janesville, WI, Phone: 608-755-3025
Located away from the noise and bustle of the city, Riverside Park was purchased with the sole intention of creating a centerpiece park for the city of Janesville back in 1922. Since then it has grown into the city’s go-to outdoor recreational center. The park offers numerous attractions, including an eighteen hole golf course, shuffleboard and tennis courts, ball diamonds, a wading pool, playgrounds and artesian wells. The park has a rich history and offers a range of special events, including wildflower walks and pickle ball tournaments.
Friends of Riverside Park, Inc. 1163 N Parker Dr. Janesville, WI 53545, Phone: 608-757-3080
4.Wisconsin Wagon Company
© Wisconsin Wagon Company
Traditionally, the Wisconsin Carriage Company had always traded in the highest quality of carriages, sleighs and other horse-drawn contraptions, but with the rising popularity of automobiles in the early 20th century, their focus shifted instead to the production of “skudder” cars, sidewalk toys and coaster wagons under the name of the Janesville Products Company. With the arrival of the Great Depression, they finally had to close their production factory in 1940. Luckily, the old coaster wagon was restored to its former glory in 1978 when a grandfather who had fond memories of his own wagon discovered, to his dismay, that production had long since ceased. He made it his goal to produce a replica of the wagon, and nowadays, the Wisconsin Wagon Company welcomes visitors to see their operations.
507 Laurel Avenue, Janesville, WI 53548, Phone: 608-754-0026
5.Gibbs Lake County Park
© Flamingo Images/stock.adobe.com
Sitting on 287 acres of forests, prairies and swamp lands, the Gibbs Lake County Park offers a little of everything. The smaller lake is cut off by surrounding red elderberry swampland. The larger lake is shallow and ideal for pan fishing. Walleye and bass fish are frequently seen lazing around in the warm waters. The park offers an exceptional nature trail which is ideal for equestrians, hikers and skiers thanks to the flat terrain with gentle hills. There is also the opportunity to have a cooling swim in the allocated swimming area, and those individuals who enjoy a spot of boating can make use of the private boat launch.
3715 Newville Road, Janesville, WI 53545, Phone: 608-757-5451
© Janesville Mall
With over 68 tenants, the Janesville Mall has been one of the ultimate shopping experiences in Janesville since it opened in 1973. Originally it had been planned as a Strip Mall, but when the plot of land was purchased, the plans were changed to make it an enclosed mall, particularly beneficial in the chilly climate of Wisconsin. Opening its doors to mall walkers and shoppers alike, the mall offers an extensive range of stores, and food and beverage providers. The mall also hosts a number of events and offers a community room for organizations that need somewhere to hold group meetings.
2500 Milton Ave, Janesville, WI 53545, Phone: 608-752-7845
7.O' Riley and Conway Irish Pub
© O' Riley and Conway Irish Pub
A wonderful slice of Ireland in the heart of Janesville, O' Riley and Conway Irish Pub was created as the reincarnation of its predecessor, Quaerna’s Tavern. Featuring many of the original features, with a little Irish charm thrown in, the pub offers 54 beers on tap alongside the traditionally Irish menu. The pub is warm and welcoming, especially in the cold winter months. The new owners of the pub have the perfect heritage to run it. Both are descendants of Quaerna’s s founder, Oscar Quaerna, and both men boast of an Irish heritage.
O'Riley & Conway's Irish Pub, 214 W Milwaukee St, Janesville, WI, 53548, Phone: 608-752-6099
© The Armory
The Armory is a unique event space in downtown Janesville, offering both indoor and outdoor event space for weddings, meetings and gatherings with friends. With its incredible brickwork and terrazzo flooring, and the breathtaking decorative iron pieces, the Armory is rich in wartime history. Prior to the Second World War, the ‘Janesville 99’ battalion trained there and it later served as a gathering post for the infamous 1941 Bataan Death March in the Philippines. After a period of vacancy, the Armory’s historically significant exterior was preserved to ensure that it will last for generations to come the event spaces available for public hire include The Drill Hall, The Bunker Lounge, The Lieutenant’s Quarters and The Patio.
10 S. High Street, Janesville, WI 53548, Phone: 608-741-7400
9.Barkley’s Burgers, Brews and Dawgs
© Barkley’s Burgers, Brews and Dawgs
Al Meehan had always dreamed of owning his own restaurant in his home town of Janesville, and his dream come true in 2015. Alongside his long-time friend and now business partner, Greg Hughes, the Barkley’s brand was founded. They aim to provide a unique dining experience and believe that they can fill the gap in the market for quality, freshly-prepared food. They cater for all of the family and provide a large selection of delicious dishes, and best of all, dog owners can bring their pets along for the feast as well.
2710 West Court Street, Janesville, WI 53548, Phone: 608-563-4481
© Potbelly Sandwich
Originally an antique shop, the Potbelly Sandwich story began when the owners began offering sandwiches to their customers. As time went on and the shop’s popularity rose, it quickly became better known for its food than its collectibles. Then, in 1996, the quaint little shop was purchased by Bryant Keil, and he set about sharing the sandwich love with the rest of the United States. They understand that you don’t want to waste your precious time waiting in a line; that is why they have the philosophy of “Fresh, Fast and Friendly” and deliver on it every time.
3330 Milton Avenue, Janesville, WI 53545, Phone: 608-305-0063
© El-Ra Bowl
Combining good food (pizza and grill menus available), a wonderful bar and bowling, El-Ra Bowl offers an all-in-one entertainment and dining service, and has been doing so since their opening in 1959. They use the highest quality of modern bowling technology in the industry, the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else in Rock County. El-Ra Bowl also offer special bowling events, including glow bowling and league bowling for all ages, from youth right up to seniors.
1942 Center Ave. Janesville, WI 53546, Phone: 608-757-3020
11 Best Things to do in Janesville, WI
- Rotary Botanical Gardens, Photo: Rotary Botanical Gardens
- Camden Playground, Photo: Camden Playground
- Riverside Park, Photo: mangpor2004/stock.adobe.com
- Wisconsin Wagon Company, Photo: Wisconsin Wagon Company
- Gibbs Lake County Park, Photo: Flamingo Images/stock.adobe.com
- Janesville Mall, Photo: Janesville Mall
- O' Riley and Conway Irish Pub, Photo: O' Riley and Conway Irish Pub
- The Armory, Photo: The Armory
- Barkley’s Burgers, Brews and Dawgs, Photo: Barkley’s Burgers, Brews and Dawgs
- Potbelly Sandwich, Photo: Potbelly Sandwich
- El-Ra Bowl, Photo: El-Ra Bowl
- Cover Photo: soupstock/stock.adobe.com