Explore America's Campgrounds
Janesville, located in Rock County, 41 miles south of Madison, offers four seasons of fun for families with children. Here, you'll find lots for your family to do both indoors and out. Whether you live in this midsized Wisconsin city or are just visiting, you'll find activities galore to keep your kids happy and busy dawn until dusk.
Explore the beauty of nature with your kids at the Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville. This award-winning, nonprofit botanic center offers 20 acres of themed gardens, a visitor center and gift shop. The outdoor gardens are decorated with lights for an unforgettable experience in the month of December. The rest of the year, visitors can visit the gardens for self-guided or docent-led tours. Look for special events for children, such as the Story & Stroll on the first Wednesday of the month, February through October. When you are done strolling, challenge your child to a game of disc golf at Lustig Park. A layer of snow is no reason to stay indoors when in Janesville. Grab some sleds and try out the sledding hill in the 4-acre Ardon Park.
Take a break on those hot afternoons at the Palmer Wading Pool in Riverside Park. Children ages 8 and under are invited to splash for free in this expansive wading pool with spouts and slides. More serious swimmers can take a dip in the Olympic-size Rockport Pool. For a modest entrance fee, children can swim, splash and dive from June to August. Kids swim for free with a paying adult during the Happy Kid’s Day special event.
See a Show
Sit back with the kids enjoy a show at the Wildwood Movies in Janesville. See first-run movies while enjoying hot popcorn from the concession stand. For families on a budget, enjoy a free, family-friendly outdoor movie at Optimist Park the fourth Friday of the month all summer long. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to enjoy a show under the stars. If your family prefers a live show, head to the Rock River to watch the Rock Aqua Jays water ski team perform at Traxler Park. The kids will love watching champion skiers jump, twirl and fly over the water in a family-friendly show.
Grab some poles and dig for worms for family fishing in Janesville. Catch walleye and pike in the Rock River. Boat launches are available at Riverside and Traxler parks. No boat? No problem. Fish are plentiful from the fishing pier in Kiwanis Pond, a 5-acre, spring-fed lake in Lions Park. On the first Saturday in June, the Blackhawk Musky Club and Leisure Services sponsors an annual “Take a Kid Fishing” day event for children ages 3 to 14 to learn fishing skills and participate in fishing contests.
Your kids can play indoors at the Janesville Ice Arena. The ice arena offers open-skate times all year long or stay to watch the Janesville Jets tear up the ice in a hockey game. Children can bounce and play at indoor playgrounds at the ever-popular Chuck E. Cheese located in the Janesville Mall. Visit CSA Kids during one of their open gym times for some gymnastic fun. Here, your children can tumble, jump and roll on mats to practice their gymnastic skills and get little bodies moving. Call ahead for times and fees.
Alice Drinkworth has been a writer and journalist since 1995. She has written for community newspapers, college magazines and Salon.com. Drinkworth earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Wisconsin and won a media award for her in-depth coverage of local politics. She is also a certified master gardener.