I’ve had Janesville, Wisconsin on my radar for a while and this summer we finally visited. True to its name as The Great Outside, our family found a plethora of outdoor activities: hike the Ice Age Trail, kayak, view public art, admire the gardens, challenge each other to a round of foot golf, play at parks and playgrounds, and more. Our family loved our time here — read all about our time here.
Disclosure: A big thanks to Janesville Area CVB and their partners for hosting us.I was not required to express a particular point of view. All opinions are my own. Some links may be affiliate links.
WHERE TO PLAY IN Janesville Wisconsin
HIKE the Ice Age Trail
Wisconsin is home to the Ice Age Trail (IAT), an 1800-mile trail. Janesville has a segment can be found right in Janesville running along the Rock River, the Devil’s Staircase. Don’t let the ominous name fool you! It was a beautiful hike perfect for my not-so-little adventurers. With towering bluffs and the Rock River on one side, hiking the Devil’s Staircase seemed like a world away.
PLAY TIME AT Camden Playground in Palmer Park
This all-accessible playground in Palmer Park is one not to miss. In fact, if you’re looking for a playground as a road trip stop off I-39/90W this is totally worth it. The castle-themed playground has lots of fun features including a rotating see saw. So cool!
Murals and Sculptures
I love murals and sculptures and one of the reasons I was drawn to visit Janesville was because of their affection for public art. As a matter of fact, every year they hold an Art Infusion Event where artists help paint the town. Read this post for ALL of our favorite murals that we saw!
Tip: Pick up a Janesville Public Art Trail brochure to help plan your adventure.
Get on the water
Kayaking is always an adventure we opt for in a new destination. Just outside Janesville in Edgerton we took a 3-hour guided tour with husband and wife duo, Ken and Chelsea of Paddle Time LLC on the Yahara River. It was truly a family affair as they brought their 6 and 3 year olds along for the ride. This may have been the most scenic river we kayaked – hardly any noise pollution, clear waters, just nature at its best. As we floated along, we saw turtles sunbathing, a fawn eating, as well as an eagle’s nest. In fact, both Ken and Chelsea claim they usually see eagles on their trips. Awesome, right? Overall, kayaking with Paddle Time is guaranteed fun time for the family.
Stop and smell the flowers
Rotary Botanical Gardens is just gorgeous. Although we visited during a hot and steamy day in the high 80s, we found plenty of shade to keep us cool. (There’s even a shade garden!) My favorite area by far was the Japanese Garden. I found many spots to sit and relax and just take in the beauty.One of the highlights of the Japanese Garden is the red bridge but honestly there are so many areas to call your favorite.
Tip: When you’re at the Gift Shop, make sure to buy koi food. Best $1 you’ll spend!
Play foot golf
Have you ever heard of foot golf before? Think soccer meets golf and instead of a hitting a golf ball, you’re kicking a soccer ball into a hole. I’ve been trying to find a foot golf location and was happy to see that Janesville’s Blackhawk Golf Course also had a foot golf course. We all had a blast playing 9 holes. A super fun activity for the whole family.
Tip: Definitely opt for a golf cart to haul you around the course.
Eat your heart out
As you know, our family loves our food. The food scene in Janesville did not disappoint. Stay tuned for a post on where we ate.
WHERE TO STAY IN Janesville, Wisconsin
Conveniently located off the highway, the AmericInn had all the basics that we needed – a TV, free WIFI, fridge, and microwave – plus all the things we wanted – free breakfast and a pool! Happy to report that the AmericInn’s breakfast was better than a cold continental breakfast. We stuffed ourselves with scrambled eggs, sausage, hash browns but the kids’ absolute favorite was the pancake machine. They could watch from start to finish how the pancakes were made and in 60 seconds voila! Pancakes.
The main highlight of the hotel was definitely the spacious indoor atrium overlooking the pool. Plenty of seating and sunlight pouring through. On our first night the pool was getting fixed which was a bummer. The manager must have seen my kids’ heartbroken faces and remedied the situation with gifts – popcorn, candy, snacks. They even contacted a hotel across the street to see if we’d be able to swim in it. Talk about customer service! It was so nice to see management go above and beyond to fix the situation. But the best gift was that they had fixed the pool on our second night. Needless to say, the kids swam the night away (and the next morning too). The water temperature of the pool was warm and the hot tub was welcomed after a long day of adventuring around Janesville. Ending the day swimming was the perfect way to cap off our nights.
Although there was a fitness center, I opted for a walk outside. Another great plus of the hotel was how close it was to the Ice Age Trail, a 1000-mile scenic trail. Along the way I saw pretty wildflowers and even passed by a playground the kids would have loved. It was lovely, scenic, and a wonderful way to spend the morning. On the way back, I saw prairie dogs burrowing on the lawn of the hotel. What an amazing surprise!
Final Thoughts of Janesville Wisconsin
If you love spending time outdoors Janesville Wisconsin is the spot for you. From scenic hiking to gardens and public art to amazing playgrounds, Janesville makes for a great family destination.