Blake Walsh

30 Best Things to Do in Janesville, WI

  • Published 2022/12/13

Geographically gifted with acres of parkland, Janesville holds the title “Wisconsin’s Park Place.”

The lush greenery and paved, off-trail tracks are feasts for the eyes.

There’s definitely something for everybody at Janesville: parks that feature kid-friendly activities, a wading pool that opens during summer, trails that allow pets to join you hike, and abundant green grass for golf devotees.

If you think that’s about it, you’re wrong!

Here’s a list of to-do things when you visit Janesville, Wisconsin:

Hike at Ice Age National Scenic Trail

Signage of Ice Age National Scenic Trail

dcwcreations /

As the name of the trail implies, it features the landscape created by the glacier that blanketed some parts of Wisconsin about 12,000 years ago.

Janesville’s portion of the ‘thousand-mile trail’ is at the southern-most point of the trail.

As most of the trails are paved, you could do more than just hike.

People at Ice Age National Scenic Trail

EA Given /

The roads are perfect for biking, walking, and running.

Janesville even allows your pet to accompany you on certain months on the condition that they are on a leash.

On top of all these, admission is for free.

Have Your Kids Zipline at Palmer Park

Who said fun is only for the adults?

At Palmer Park, your kids can get to enjoy the child-friendly zipline while you’re under the shade of trees on your picnic mats.

If you happen to visit in summer, a pool opens for a nominal fee.

Palmer has pavilions and picnic groves ideal for family gatherings and reunions.

Its large parking space is a total plus too!

Go to Lincoln-Tallman House

Exterior of the Lincoln-Tallman House

Sa magnuson33, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Another historic site in the name of Lincoln-Tallman House will amplify your historic quest at Janesville.

The Italian-style mansion built in 1857 was owned by a lawyer and abolitionist, William Morrison Tallman.

Just a year before the 1860 Presidential Elections, Sir Abraham Lincoln stayed in the mansion on October 1859.

Facade of the Lincoln-Tallman House

Sa magnuson33, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You might not have met President Lincoln, but at least when you drop a visit at this mansion, you get to experience how must have he felt during his stay.

Another goal to cross off your bucket list, perhaps?

Take Instagram-Worthy Pictures at Downtown Murals

These incredible murals located in downtown Janesville are just about what you need to spice up your Instagram feed.

There are over 20 wall paintings created during the annual Janesville Art Infusion event.

The Janesville Area Convention & Visitor Bureau initiated this event, which started in 2020.

The murals haven’t only brought artists to downtown Janesville but also drawn tourists from all over the state.

More than a form of self-expression, some murals showcase the area’s history.

For instance, one mural of Harriet Tubman, who played a vital role in releasing slaves during the Black Hawk War, honors the sacrifices made in the past.

Aside from learning about historical happenings in Janesville in museums and landmarks, these murals contribute to making history known artistically.

You can use an interactive Google Map to help you navigate through all of the city’s public art.

Pay Tribute at 9/11 Memorial

You can offer up your prayers to all the victims of the 9/11 terror attack.

At Firehouse Park in Janesville stands a concrete obelisk that represents the World Trade Center.

Attached to the concrete is a steel beam from one of the twin towers that came down after the buildings collapsed.

This memorial honors the firefighters, police officers, and paramedics who lost their lives due to the horrible event.

See a Home Game at the Janesville Ice Arena

Could Janesville be more exciting?

Yes, you can watch live ice hockey games on select weekends from September through April.

Get a chance to feel like a local by engaging in such a community event.

The hockey team is called Janesville Jets in the North Division of the North American Hockey League.

Watch Rock Aqua Jays Free Ski Shows

Home to one of the most successful water ski show teams, Janesville holds free shows on Wednesday and Sunday evenings.

For sports spectators like yourself, you get a chance to see the performance of Rock Aqua Jays, who won more than 60 tournaments, including 21 U.S. National Championships.

The water ski show team provides a platform for the general public about the importance of safe-boating and water-skiing techniques.

Sounds like a dream come true, right?

Fish at Rock River

The waters of Rock River

Suzanne Tucker /

Don’t forget to pack your fishing rods, as Janesville has some great fishing options in store for you.

In order to fish at the Rock River, you are required to have a fishing license.

“Isn’t that a bit of a hassle?” you may ask.

Worry no more!

You can easily obtain your license at the DNR Service Center (2514 Morse St.) and stores, such as Walmart.

Riverfront in Janesville

Suzanne Tucker /

Head to Hedberg Public Library

If you happen to love books, then this place is just perfect for your visit!

Hedberg library is part of a consortium of public libraries in Rock County named Arrowhead Library System.

This place has a massive collection of books, from resources for children and teens to tools for thorough researches.

More than that, it could turn into a community space when the situation calls for it.

Just outside the library is a walkway that follows the Rock River, lined with benches and trees.

You can check the library’s website for instructions and verify their hours before visiting.

Get Entertained at Janesville Performing Arts Center

Janesville’s very own 600-seat theatre holds both private and public events, ranging from orchestra, child programs, and dance concerts.

This majestic place is the face of 1920’s architecture.

The theatre is adorned with Praire stained glass and ornate plaster.

Above the center are original enormous light fixtures.

This performing center was originally the Janesville High School.

Today, it provides an opportunity for people of all ages to perform onstage.

There is definitely something for everyone!

Be Mesmerized at Raven’s Wish Gallery

Get captivated with the creations of local and national painters, photographers, jewelers, and mixed media artists at Raven’s Wish Gallery.

This locally-owned gallery showroom is an artful haven.

It hosts art exhibitions and unique events, as well as classes year-round for aspirants.

Rediscover the artist in you by visiting Raven’s.

Bike at Rockport Park

Whether you go solo or with your family, it won’t matter because, in Janesville, you’ll be just fine in their bike-friendly community.

As a matter of fact, the City of Janesville has been awarded a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community.

You can take a leisurely bike ride on the paved trails that connect several parks within Janesville or explore miles of biking trails through Rockport Park.

During winter, Rockport Park transforms itself, almost magically, into a perfect spot for cross-country skiing alongside with Riverside Golf Course.

The park has over 6 miles of trails color-coded to ease the navigation of skiers and snowshoers, which can be open in an interactive Global Positioning System (GPS) map.

Birdwatch at Robert O. Cook Memorial Arboretum

If you consider observing birds for recreational reasons or for scientific passion, you might want to visit this arboretum.

The Robert O. Cook Memorial Arboretum is city-owned and is managed by Janesville Public School District.

This botanical garden consists mainly of forest and marsh, making it excellent for birding.

As a matter of fact, Janesville was acknowledged as Bird Designation 2013 from Bird City Wisconsin.

You can observe various species of trees, plants, birds, and wildlife animals in this garden when walking its trail.

Yes, it is not only a botanical garden but also has hand-curated trails for visitors to walk, hike, or run by!

Play at Blackhawk Golf Course

Here at Blackhawk Golf Course, you will certainly have fun.

This nine-hole course is dotted with trees down its rolling terrain.

Its finely-manicured turf grass is fit for playing conditions.

The course has a classic layout that is amateur-friendly but still offers enough challenges for casual golfers.

Whether you’re still a rookie or a pro, Blackhawk is the perfect course to test your golf skills.

Throw Disc at Riverside Park

Just when you thought you had enough golf, Riverside Park offers you a slightly different golf course from what you usually know.

Yeah, it is called disc golf, y’all!

Instead of using balls, you use a disc that you throw at a target; it is played using rules similar to golf.

Riverside Park runs along the Rock River with an 18 hole disc golf course.

What’s more, admission is free.

Knock Down Pins at El-Ra Bowl

Showcase your natural talent at bowling in this family-owned alley called El-Ra Bowl.

This center offers sixteen lanes complete with all the modern conveniences, such as automatic bumpers and auto-scoring.

El-Ra caters to both amateur and seasoned bowlers.

For beginners and casual bowlers, open bowling is available throughout the week.

A league match is available for seasoned players to match their skill level.

To bring excitement to your weekend, Spark Bowling is offered.

Grab your family and friends and experience a night you won’t forget! Don’t forget to make reservations!

Enroll at Glass Garden

Who knows, you might have it in you to make art out of glasses?

The only way to find out is by enrolling at Glass Garden.

Glass Garden teaches glass art classes, creates custom designs and construction of stained glass and carving, and offers an array of finished glass art, glass panels, jewelry, and other unique gifts.

Attend Workshops at Quilt Central Academy

You might want to join the workshop at Quilt Central Academy and do something you’ve never done before.

Who knows, you might end up liking this one?

This academy is owned by an internationally renowned quilter, Janie Donaldson Mullen, who offers classes on quilt piecing, machine embroidery, machine operation, and log-arm quilting.

You could also buy quilting and sewing supplies from them, so if you have a loved one back home who loves quilts, then here’s the perfect place to do that.

Wine Tasting at Fermenting Cellars Winery

Located in a lovely log cabin home at the Southern Part of Wisconsin lies Fermenting Cellars Winery.

This classic stop on your wine tasting tour offers a variety of dry and sweet, red and white wine, and a dessert coffee wine.

Whether you are a wine expert or a casual sipper, you will find something you’ll like in their collection of wine.

Throughout summer, Fermenting Cellars also host regular live music events.

Drink Beers at Gray Brewing Company

Well, if you prefer “cerveza” over “vino,” then here’s the place for you.

Gray’s Brewing Company was founded in 1856 and is one of the nation’s oldest family-owned beverage companies; it offers a flavorful line of beers, root beers, and sodas.

Their brewing tasting room is open from 4:30 pm to 9 pm on Fridays and 2 pm and 7 pm on Saturdays.

Ownery Brewery Tours are also offered on the second Saturday of each month at 3 pm.

Explore the Lovely Blooms at Rotary Botanical Gardens

Trail lined with flowers at Rotary Botanical Gardens

James Steakley, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

See a showcase of stunning garden landscapes at Rotary Botanical Gardens.

This lovely 20-acre attraction is located at Palmer Drive and features prized garden styles and thousands of plant varieties.

Take a relaxing stroll at the different internationally themed gardens like the Italian and English Cottage Gardens, the Scottish, French Formal, and the Japanese Gardens; likewise, appreciate some of the water features and serene nooks.

You can book a two-hour guided tour and learn about the various floral varieties.

Take photos of the colorful blooms, the garden sites, or the animals roaming around the gardens.

Bright flowers at Rotary Botanical Gardens

James Steakley, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can bring your food or get light snacks and refreshments at the Cottage Garden Gallery, then eat al fresco at the Terrace Garden.

You can also shop for local handicrafts at the Cottage Garden Gallery Gift Shop for your mementos.

If you want to commemorate special people or remember events and memories, you can avail of the Tribute Gift or a Dedicated Memorial with your option of a donation, tree planting, engraved bricks, planters, and installed plaques.

Rotary Botanical Gardens also holds adult, youth, and family classes and programs you can join.

Close view of Rotary Botanical Garden blooms

Tracy Immordino /

Check Out Classic Pieces at the Wisconsin Wagon Company

You’ll feel a bit of nostalgia when you visit the Wisconsin Wagon Company on North River Street.

If you played with wooden wagons when you were still little, you’ll be excited to find these classic toys at this shop.

See the original designs under the Janeville label crafted with the finest quality materials.

The company was originally in the business of building buggies, sleighs, carriages, and cutters but was greatly affected by the rise of the automobile industry.

This led them to start manufacturing “skudder” cars, coaster wagons, and wooden toys which eventually became a great success.

Today, their products feature designs that are close to the original pieces, with the trademark ball-bearing wheels and a numbered nameplate that tells the age of the heirloom.

You can choose from four different wagon sizes from the small Tag-a-long to the sturdy Islander Goods wagon.

You can also purchase other Wisconsin Wagon Company products like wooden Doll Bunk Beds, Doll Cradles, Wine Wheelbarrows, Rocking Airplanes, and sleds.

Enjoy Shopping at Uptown Janesville

For your shopping needs, head off to Uptown Janesville on Milton Avenue.

You’ll find plenty of retail outlets from your favorite brands like American Eagle, Bath & Body Works, C&Y Sports, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Spencer’s, Kohl’s, and many more.

There’s a wide variety of apparel from women, men, and kids’ clothing, an array of services, and fun things to do with the family at this shopping center.

Bring your kids to Chuck E. Cheese and enjoy games and food.

You can also find food varieties like Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Luchador Tacos, and RonMar Tasty Popcorn.

If you need to buy goods, drop by Three Square Self Pay Market.

You can also catch fun events and get special deals and discounts at Uptown Janesville.

Play Hours of Tee Games at Bass Creek Golf Club

Swing those clubs and enjoy hours of tee game at Bass Creek Golf Club on South Murphy Road.

This nine-hole public golf course is par 36 and was opened by the Hoerler Brothers in 2003.

It features more than 3,000 yards of greens with bunkers, elevations, and water hazards for a challenging but great game.

The course is also surrounded by scenic woodlands so there’s a beautiful view to enjoy while you’re playing.

They also have a practice green, a covered driving range, and surfaced cart paths.

Get your golf gear and equipment from quality brands like Adidas, Antigua, TaylorMade, and Titleist at their fully-stocked Golf Shop; you can also have your custom clubs ordered.

Relax and recharge with delectable eats at Willie’s Bar and Grill with Appe”tee”zers like Ace Curds “Ace”adilla, shareable platters, wraps, Sand”wedges”, “Par”fect Burgers on their Pub Menu.

You can also try the Friday Fish Fry Menu which includes Bass Creek Combos, Kids Menu, and Fish Fry and House Favorites like Grilled or Battered Shrimp, and Baked Cod.

Have a great tee-off at Bass Creek Golf Club.

Enjoy Good Eats and Drinks at Havana Coffee

Looking for a quick coffee fix in downtown Janesville? Havana Coffee located on Milton Avenue is a great coffee stop.

They use quality coffee beans so you’ll always get fresh coffee whether you order it hot or cold.

Try their Cafe Classics like Espresso, Cappuccino, and Americano, or sip something sweet like Dulce de Leche Latte, or a unique taste like Masala Chai Latte.

Likewise, they have cold drinks like Pumpkin Spice Cold Brew, Cold Brew Horchata, Summer Gala, and many more.

They have Boba Tea flavors in strawberry, peach, dragon fruit, and much more plus blended drinks like Chai Frappe, Dreamsicle, and Mocha Shake.

If you’re craving smoothies, try the dairy-free Green Hornet, or a refreshing Berry Booster, Tahitian Sunset.

You’ll liven up with Havana’s Summer Drinks like Refreshers and organic teas in different flavors.

Start your day with Havana Coffee’s filling signature breakfast sandwiches like Avocado BLT, Turkey Club, or Roasted Chicken Chipotle; you’ll also enjoy all-day breakfast specials like burritos, waffles, crepes, toasts, and bagels.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Stroll by Beckman Mill

Exterior of Beckman Mill

KBitto /

Another place certified by the National Register of Historic Place is called Beckman Mill.

Situated about 15 miles of Southwest Janesville is Beckman Mill.

It contains a restored grist mill dating from 1868.

Along with the mill are a millpond, a dam, fish ladder, nature trails, a blacksmith shop, a gift shop, and a visitor center.

At present, the place is maintained by friends of Beckman Mill.

Far view of the Beckman Mill

Ronn1 /

Come by the Milton House Museum

Exterior of the Milton House Museum

Eddie J. Rodriquez /

For enriching historical experience, the Milton House is definitely one historical marker.

The building, an architectural marvel on its day, will make you look twice.

This hexagonal-shaped ancient building was opened in 1844 as a stagecoach inn by Joseph Goodrich.

It was made from lime gravel, particularly abundant in the region.

History marker of the Milton House Museum

Eddie J. Rodriquez /

It was a station on the Underground Railroad and has aided the escape of slaves during the Black Hawk War.

To this date, the Milton House is a National Historic Landmark and is preserved as a museum.

Tours are made by appointment only, so don’t forget to make your arrangements before your visits.

Building sign of the Milton House Museum

Eddie J. Rodriquez /

Paddle at Murwin Park

Explore the waters near Janesville in a safe way!

The licensed rental company called Drift Away Paddle offers single and tandem kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards at hourly or daily rates.

Murwin Park is about 11 miles northwest of Janesville.

It is not only an excellent place for family picnics but also canoeing and kayaking.

Whatever your waterway choice, Murwin Park guarantees a scenic view.

Final Thoughts

Since being incorporated in 1853, the City of Janesville has bloomed and still continues to blossom into its full potential.

Take a leave, pack your bags, and check off all the best things to do in Janesville, Wisconsin.

Experience the vacation of a lifetime Janesville has in store for you!

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