Fun Things To Do in Janesville – Getaway to Wisconsin’s Great Outside

Fun things to do in Janesville - Adirondack chair overlooking a lake at Rotary Botanical Janesville Wi

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Janesville, Wisconsin, may be a small town, but it offers an abundance of outdoor adventures and exciting things to do for visitors to enjoy. Janesville is a small-town American success story.

When Big Auto pulled out, they looked for a new identity and found it with a vibrant art scene and culinary surprises. This “New Janesville,” paired with its rich history and well-preserved nature, creates something for everybody who likes to explore the outdoors and find a hidden gem or two. Come along with us as we show you the fun things to do in Janesville and how to have a memorable getaway to Wisconsin’s great outside.

Bike or Hike Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail

Wisconsin's Ice Age Trail Janesville, Wi
Lake on Ice Age Trail Janesville, Wi
Bridge over Ice Age Trail Janesville, Wi

For nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail offers the perfect opportunity to explore the state’s breathtaking scenery. Grab your bike or hiking boots and hit the trails, immersing yourself in the beauty of the glacial landscapes and lush forests.

The literature says this 1,200-mile-long trail roughly follows the location of the terminal moraine from the last Ice Age, which is to say it’s the farthest extent of the glaciers. You’ll find unique geology along the region, like kettle lakes left behind from the retreating ice. The City of Janesville’s extensive paved trail system links their many parks together to create an urban greenbelt along this section of the Ice Age Trail, which, even in midsummer, was still rich with wildflowers.

Pro-Tip – Didn’t bring a bike? No worries! Velocity Multi-Sport has 2 locations in Janesville and a wide variety of bike rentals including hybrids and e-bikes!

Hike The Devil’s Staircase Trail

Devils Staircase Janesville Wisconsin
Photo Credit: Full Spectrum Photography_Nicodemas Nimmo via Explore Janesville.

If you’re up for a challenge, The Devil’s Staircase Trail is a must-visit destination. As the name suggests, this trail boasts steep inclines and rocky terrain, rewarding hikers with stunning panoramic views at the top.

The Devil’s Staircase Trail travels along and up the side of the bluffs by the Rock River in Riverside Park. In the spring, native wildflowers blanket the area; in the fall, you’re greeted by a wave of amber color as the leaves change color.

Pro tip: Download AllTrails+ for a one-stop shop app for planning all of your hiking, biking, and camping adventures.

Paddle the Yahara River with Drift Away Paddle

Yahara River with Drift Away Paddle Janesville, Wi
Kayaking on the Yahara River with Drift Away Paddle Co Janesville, Wi

Take to the waters and experience the tranquility of paddling along the Yahara River with Drift Away Paddle Co. You’ll love spotting local wildlife and soaking in the serenity of the river as you drift downstream.

See also
What Do You Do on a Rainy Day in the Catskills?

Drift Away supports several local locations, including Gibbs Lake and Lake Koshkonong, but their primary route is a 6-mile section on the lower Yahara River. The rental includes the shuttle, and you can expect to find a mostly wooded bank along much of the run.

Rent a Jet Ski or SUP on Lake Koshkonong

Storrs Lake Milton
Photo Credit: Full Spectrum Photography via Explore Janesville.

For water sports enthusiasts, Lake Koshkonong is the place to be. Rent a jet ski or stand-up paddleboard (SUP) to have a thrilling time on the water while admiring the lake’s scenic beauty.

Lake Koshkonong is a naturally occurring body of water, but the dams have increased the water level. Even still, it’s very shallow, with an average depth of only 6′, but there are four boat landings around the lake and two beaches.

Picnic in Murwin Park (or one of Janesville’s other Parks)

1 Edgerton Hospital Healing Garden
Photo Credit: Full Spectrum Photography via Explore Janesville.

Pack a delicious picnic and head to Murwin Park or any of Janesville’s other well-maintained parks. These green havens offer the perfect setting for relaxation and quality time with family and friends.

Janesville takes pride in its extensive park system, providing locals and visitors with ample recreational opportunities. With 64 improved parks spread across 2,609 acres, there’s always a new spot to explore.

See the 21-Time U.S. National Champion Rock Aqua Jays Water Ski Team

Rock Aqua Jays
Photo Credit: Kim Hoholek via Explore Janesville.

Witness the jaw-dropping performances of the Rock Aqua Jays Water Ski Team, 21-time U.S. National Champion. Prepare to be amazed by their daring stunts and incredible skills on the water. Weather permitting, they perform every Sunday and Wednesday from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Take In a Performance From the Janesville Performing Arts Center

Performance From the Janesville Performing Arts Center Janesville, Wi

If you appreciate arts and culture, visiting the Janesville Performing Arts Center is a must. Catch a live performance, be it a play, concert, or dance show, and immerse yourself in the local arts scene.

I had a chance to see Tempest while I was in Janesville at the Rock County Historical Society. It was a fun way to spend a summer evening and an excellent excuse for a picnic or at least a bottle of wine.

Tour the Town with Roaming Rich of Roam Around Tours

Roaming Rich_Roam Around Tours
2nd Chinese Restaurant in the USA
Roam Around Tours Janesville, Wi

Explore Janesville’s history, architecture, and hidden gems with Roaming Rich of Roam Around Tours. This guided tour offers a unique and informative way to experience the town’s charm.

Roaming Rich offers walking tours of Janesville’s historic downtown and neighborhoods. With over 20 years of tour experience, Rich offers a perfectly paced introduction to the history and heritage of Janesville and Rock County.

Explore Public Art

The Explorer Public Art (Murals) Janesville, Wi
Janesville Namesake Mural Public Art (Murals) Janesville, Wi
Janesville Icon mural
Farmer Mural Janesville, Wi
Native American Mural Public Art (Murals) Janesville, Wi
Native American Woman Mural Public Art (Murals) Janesville, Wi

Janesville takes pride in its vibrant art scene, and you can discover captivating public art installations throughout the town. Take a leisurely stroll and appreciate the creativity on display. Downtown Janesville is home to over 20 incredible murals, many created during the annual Art Infusion event.

Find Local Fare at the Saturday Farmers Market

Saturday Farmers Market Janesville, Wi
Saturday Farmers Market Janesville, Wi

Savor the flavors of Janesville by visiting the Saturday Farmers Market. Sample locally grown produce, artisanal treats, and unique handcrafted goods from friendly vendors every Saturday from May through October in Janesville’s beautiful Town Square. This is a Wisconsin producer-only retail market with live music and children’s activities most weeks.

See also
Greensboro Bike Trails - The Concierge Guide

Visit the Rotary Botanic Gardens

Rotary Botanic Gardens Janesville, Wi
Rotary Botanic Gardens Janesville, Wi
Inscribed bench Rotary Botanic Gardens Janesville, Wi
Rotary Botanic Gardens Janesville, Wi

For a serene escape, visit the Rotary Botanic Gardens, where you can stroll through meticulously designed landscapes, lush gardens, and tranquil ponds. This 20-acre garden packs the plant punch with surprises around every corner. It’s been called the most romantic spot in Rock County, the best place for a wedding, and one of America’s top 20 public gardens.

Examine History at the Milton House Museum

Beginning of tour Milton House Museum Janesville, Wi
Hotel accommodations Milton House Museum Janesville, Wi
Milton House Museum Janesville, Wi
Heading down to the tunnel Milton House Museum Janesville, Wi_
The tunnel Milton House Museum Janesville, Wi_
Nondescript entrance and exit Milton House Museum Janesville, Wi_

Step back in time and explore the rich history of Janesville at the Milton House Museum. Milton House Museum is the last certified Underground Railroad Station in Wisconsin that’s open for tours. It offers fascinating insights into the town’s past and the Underground Railroad. Each tour lasts approximately 1 hour in length and is fully guided.

Go Wine Tasting

Northleaf Winery Janesville, Wi
Northleaf Winery Janesville, Wi
Fermenting Cellars Winery Janesville, Wi
Fermenting Cellars Winery Janesville, Wi

Indulge in the local flavors by embarking on a wine-tasting tour at Northleaf Winery, Fermenting Cellars Winery, or Timber Hill Winery. Savor a variety of wines amidst charming settings. Wisconsin is part of the Upper Mississippi Valley AVA, America’s largest Viticultural Area, which includes southwest Wisconsin, southeast Minnesota, northeast Iowa, and northwest Illinois.

Awake in Awesome Accommodations

Cobblestone
Photo Credit: Full Spectrum Photography via Explore Janesville.
Hampton Inn Janesville, Wi
Photo Credit: Jenn Coleman.

When it’s time to rest after a day of excitement, Janesville has you covered with comfortable accommodations. Our favorites are the Cobblestone Hotel and Suites, the Midwest’s fastest-growing hotel chain, and the Hampton Inn by Hilton which upheld brand standards.

Cruising for Coffee

Breakfast in Janesville is so much more than instant coffee and pop-tarts to start your day. It’s a celebration of yum, from the first taste of delicious scones to the last drop of coffee. Here are some of my favorite places for breakfast in Janesville

29 South Cafe Janesville, Wi
29 South Cafe Janesville, Wi
Havana Coffee Janesville, Wi
Havana Coffee Janesville, Wi
  • 29 South Cafe– everything is made fresh in-house — OMG, you have to try the scones.
  • Citrus Cafe – named the Reader’s Choice “Best Breakfast Restaurant in Janesville” for ten consecutive years!
  • Havana Coffee – An adorable store with delicious coffee and an expansive menu.

Looking for Lunch

Sandwich Bar - Janesville, Wi
Sandwich Bar Janesville, Wi
Milwaukee Grill Janesville, Wi
Brushetta at Milwaukee Grill Janesville, Wi

Some people say lunch is the most important meal of the day. It’s hard to argue that logic with the lunch lineup in Janesville.

  • Sandwich Bar – A rotating gourmet sandwich menu with a fun foodie flair.
  • The Milwaukee Grill – A local favorite with traditional American food
  • The Bodacious Cafe – More than just a cafe, it’s a collection of distinct shops, all under one roof The Sugar Exchange – They say they have something for every sweet tooth, but fudge you have to try the fudge!

Dinner Perfection

Genisa Wine Bar Janesville, Wi
Pad Thai Sandee's Thai Fusion Janesville, Wi
Exterior Buckhorn Supper Club Janesville, Wi
Steak Appetizer Buckhorn Supper Club Janesville, Wi

Dinner is the perfect way to end your day, especially with a well-paired wine and housemade dessert. While that’s generally true, Janesville punches above its weight class with a strong farm-to-table scene, traditional favorites, and surprising foreign flavors.

Fun Things To Do in Janesville FAQs

What is Janesville famous for?

Due to its 2,000 acres of parkland, Janesville has been given the nickname “Wisconsin’s Park Place.”

See also
Best Things to do on a St Pete Beach Getaway

What is a fun fact about Janesville WI?

Janesville has nearly 2,500 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Concluding Fun Things To Do in Janesville – Why Getaway to Wisconsin’s Great Outside

Buckhorn Supper Club Janesville Wi

Janesville may be a hidden gem, but it offers a plethora of fun activities and breathtaking experiences for all to enjoy. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, cultural delights, or a relaxing getaway, Janesville has it all. So, pack your bags and head to Wisconsin’s Great Outside for a getaway you’ll cherish forever.

Happy Exploring!

Disclosure: A big thank you to the Janesville CVB for hosting me and setting up a fantastic itinerary! For more Janesville travel inspiration, check out their InstagramFacebookTwitter, and YouTube accounts.

As always, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own, and we only recommend brands and destinations that we 100% stand behind.

Where to Stay in Janesville

Ready to Book Your Trip? These Links Will Make It Easy:

Airfare:

Car Rental:

Lodging:

  • We loved staying and the beautiful all-inclusive Sandals Royal Curacao and we think you will too! Book your Sandals getaway now!

Attractions/Activities:

  • Save on tickets to attractions, sightseeing tours, and more with Tiqets
  • Get Your Guide and Viator for guided tours/excursions, day trips, and activities
  • Want to learn a city from the ground up? Take a small group walking tour with Walks – 5-star rated with a Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence
  • Want to book an epic adventure experience with top-notch companies like Intrepid Travel, G-Adventures, or Backroads? Check out Travelstride
  • Find information on local trails with the All Trails App.
  • Need something else to plan your perfect trip? Visit our Resources Page for more trusted partners

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Cyclist riding along a canal on the Great American Rail Trail
Cyclist standing under bridge awning on Great American Rail Trail
Bike trail Bridge
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