We love getting outdoors and enjoying nature! There’s no better way to do that than walking through a beautiful garden. Luckily, the Stateline region has several breathtaking gardens on both the Illinois side and the Wisconsin side of the border.

Here’s a list of the best gardens to visit in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin, why you should visit them, and when you should go!

Photo credit: Anderson Japanese Gardens

Anderson Japanese Gardens

318 Spring Creek Rd., Rockford, IL

Monday through Friday from 9 am – 6 pm 

Saturday and Sunday from 9 am – 5 pm

Open from mid-May through early October

Admission: $11 per adult 

$10 per senior (62 and up)

$9 per student and military member

Kids 5 and under are free

Donation Day is the third Thursday of every month.

Anderson Japanese Gardens was built in 1978 after John Anderson was inspired by a visit to the Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon. The garden, which was once Anderson’s backyard, was designed with assistance from Master Craftsman Hoichi Kurisu. The gardens were donated and turned into a non-profit entity in 1998.

Why you should visit:

Anderson Gardens is an award winning Japanese garden which is recognized as one of the best in North America. The gardens were meticulously planned to take advantage of the 12 acres available and make them look much larger. The gardens are a place of tranquility and beauty that all ages can enjoy.

While there, you can enjoy breakfast or lunch at Fresco at the Gardens which offers indoor and outdoor seating. You can also have tea.

When you should visit:

In the summer, Anderson Gardens has a variety of events catered to families including Garden Explorers and Tuesday Night concerts. They also celebrate the Japanese Summer Festival each July with tea ceremonies, special guests, performances and demonstrations.

In the fall, the gardens display magnificent colors as the leaves change on the trees.

Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden

2715 S. Main St., Rockford, IL

Open daily from 9 am – 7:30 pm

Last entry at 7 pm

Open from mid-May through early October

Admission: $8 per adult
$5 per senior (62 and up)
$5 per student (18+ with ID)
$5 per child

Kids 3 and under are free

Free to SNAP benefits holders. Bring your EBT, LINK, or WIC card to get free entry.

Klehm Arboretum began as the Rockford Nursery in 1910 before being sold to the Klehm family in 1968. In 1985, the family donated the land to the Winnebago County Forest Preserve. Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden is a 155-acre woodland and botanical garden located on the far south side of Rockford, Illinois. It includes 1.4 miles of paved handicap accessible paths and 3 miles of wooded trails. 

Why you should visit:

Klehm has a variety of plant life not seen in any other natural area in the United States. There are many unique plants here due to experimental planting in the early 1900s. There are also an abundance of evergreen trees on site. In the past few years, there have been several additions and improvements to the gardens including the man-made Kids’ Creek and Splash Pad in the Nancy Olson Children’s Garden.

When you should visit:

In the summer, Klehm is a great place for families to enjoy nature and the kids’ creek and splash pad. Kids can spend hours walking through the creek, sitting in the 12-14 inch water and playing in the splash pad fountains.

In the fall, the trees burst with reds, yellows, and oranges, making it a premiere place to leaf peep in the Stateline. There are many paths to walk and enjoy.

Throughout the year, special events and classes are held on campus in the main building.

Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens

1354 N. 2nd St., Rockford, IL

Closed on Mondays
Tuesdays – Fridays from 10 am –  4 pm
Saturdays – Sundays from 10 am – 3 pm

Open year-round

Admission: $8 per adult resident / $10 per adult non-resident

$6 per senior (62 and up) resident / $8 per non-resident

$6 per veteran resident / $8 per non-resident

$6 per kid resident ages 5-17 / $8 per non-resident

$4 per kid resident ages 3-4 / $5 per non-resident

Kids 2 and under are free

Tropical Tuesday Special: $4 per resident / $5 per non-resident on Tuesday

Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens opened in 2011 as a place for community to gather on the riverfront. The 22,000 square foot building replaced a 15 foot tall greenhouse that had been built in 1924. Nicholas Conservatory is the third largest conservatory in Illinois.

Why you should visit:

Nicholas Conservatory is home to many unique plants and wildlife. Inside the tropical plant exhibit, there are more than 3,600 plants including many rare and tropical plants. The conservatory is kept between 70-105 degrees all year long so the plants can thrive. There are also many koi fish that call the conservatory home. Outside, you can walk through gardens including a 2,000 plant rose garden, view the two fountains, waterfall, restored 1920s Tea House, and Eclipse lagoon and swans that live there. You can also walk on the 10 mile Riverfront Path while you’re there.

When you should visit:

In the summer, the outdoor gardens are exploding with colors. The beautiful Sinnissippi rose gardens alone are worth a visit. You can also take a trolley ride from Rockford City Market on Fridays past the gardens.

In the fall and winter, you can stay warm inside while looking at falling snow out of the conservatory windows. You can also check out the beautiful Christmas lights at the All Aglow event.

All year long, there are special events and exhibits happening at the conservatory including Food Truck Tuesdays.

Rotary Botanical Gardens

1455 Palmer Dr., Janesville, WI

Open daily from 9 am – 8 pm

Open April through December

Admission: $9 per adult (ages 16 and up)

$7 per senior (65 and up)

$6 per active or retired military with ID

$5 for kids ages 6-15

Free for kids 5 and under

Rotary Botanical Gardens is located in Janesville, Wisconsin. Prior to becoming a garden in 1988, the site was used as a BMX bike racetrack and storage area. Now, it’s an award-winning 20 acre space with 26 different garden styles and more than 4,000 varieties of plants that sees more than 100,000 visitors per year. There are Japanese, Scottish, French Formal, Italian, and English Cottage gardens available to tour. 

Why you should visit:

Visiting Rotary Botanical Gardens is like visiting 26 gardens at the same time. You can walk around the property and enjoy a huge variety of plant life. The Japanese garden is beautiful with several benches to stop and rest. You can also walk over the ornate red bridge, crossing the lagoon, to take a more strenuous hike on the hill.

When you should visit:

In the summer, the gardens are in bloom with many beautiful flowers. There is also an annual storywalk that kids can enjoy each June.

In the fall and winter, you can watch the leaves change color and visit the very popular Holiday Light Show.

All year long, there are special events happening in the gardens, most notably Earth Day activities and a community appreciation day each summer.

What is your favorite garden to visit in the Stateline?

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