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Artesian Well at Paradise Cove
Nestled along Indian Creek is a natural artesian well where thousands of gallons of pure water flow each day - as it has since 1927. A ten foot water wheel is turned continually by the flowing water. The site, which is accessed by Stephenson County's only covered bridge, includes a waterfall, large flower beds and gazebo to enjoy while sipping the bubbling water. Open: 7 am - 8 pm.
Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center - Willow Springs
Forest preserve nature center designed to educate the public about the importance of wildlife and our environment.
This 500-acre park offers vast formal gardens, picnic grounds, a top-ranked public golf course and two museums: Robert R. McCormick Museum and First Division Museum. Enjoy a wide variety of programs and events throughout the year, such as festivals, lectures, concerts and workshops.
Set among mature oak and hickory trees, lakes and streams, this full-service event facility with 27 holes offers both 18-hole and 9-hole play, and is recognized as one of the best public courses in America.
Located across from the Statehouse in Vandalia, the park features a life-size, bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln. This is a favorite spot for photos with the 16th president.
Wandell Sculpture Garden
The Wandell Sculpture Garden was established in honor of Willett and Celia Wandell in 1998. This unique, free outdoor sculpture garden sits among 22 acres of recreated Illinois tallgrass prairie in 130-acre Meadowbrook Park. While walking the looped paths, one can encounter bikers, joggers and other sculpture lovers as the park serves both recreational and educational purposes. Works from local artists with ties to the University of Illinois grace the garden, as well as pieces from artists who reside in New York, California and New Mexico. The garden has both permanent sculptures and some that are rotated every second or third year, keeping it fresh for visitors. Open daily from dawn to dusk.
University of Illinois Arboretum
The University of Illinois Arboretum is a living laboratory, including plant collections and facilities that support the teaching, research and public service programs of several units throughout campus. Central to the Arboretum was the development of the "All American Selection Trial Gardens" established by a bequest from Miles C. Hartley in the early 90s. Other highlights of the Arboretum include the Welcome Garden, Hosta Garden, Kari Walkway and native ponds plantings, the Idea Garden, sponsored by Champaign County Master Gardeners, and the Japanese Tea and Dry Gardens at the Japan House.
The University of Illinois Pollinitarium is the first free-standing science center in the nation devoted to flowering plants and their pollinators. Its location in the midst of the Arboretum brings together flowers and pollinators physically and conceptually. Changing exhibits relate to world events and ongoing research on pollinators. Guests can explore beekeeping equipment, see live demonstrations and play interactive games. Because so much depends on pollination, the UI Pollinatarium is dedicated to increasing awareness and appreciation of pollination as a remarkable ecological partnership and an essential ecosystem service.
Melvin Price Memorial Park
The 24-acre park has a pavilion, walking trails, and many other amenities. It is also the site of the Veterans of All Wars Memorial and the September 11 Memorial.
Buxton's Garden Farm
Open year-round and offering annual and perennial flowers, mums, fall decor, pumpkins, squash, and fall treats. Known also for the 7 acre corn maze, haunted maze and mind twisted maze. School tours and groups welcome. Christmas trees and wreaths offered in winter months.
Weber House and Garden
Long associated with the rich and famous, Weber House sits in an English garden of meandering paths, hollyhocks and old oaks. Inside cozy candlelit rooms reflect the 18th century.
Washington Park Botanical Garden
20 Acre site with Rose Garden, Rockery, and Fountain Beds, perennial border along with domed conservatory.
Lincoln Memorial Garden Nature Center
Located on the shores of Lake Springfield and designed by landscape architect, Jens Jensen, five miles of wooded trails lead you on a journey through the Illinois landscape Lincoln walked.
With special attention to individuals with cognitive and physical needs, this state-of-the-art park is both peaceful and accessible. Check the treeless treehouse for a towering view of the park.
Goebbert's Pumpkin Farm and Garden Center
Fall: festival with haunted house, corn maze, farm animals, and more. Spring/Summer: large selection of annuals, perennials, vegetable plants, trees, shrubs, aquatic plants, roses, planters, and gourmet food items. Admission is free - cost for some activities.
Memorial Sunken Gardens
Started in 1932, the sunken gardens were developed inside Forest Park. The lush garden and its scenic surroundings are open to the public and is available for weddings, reunions, and more.
Forest Park is a municipal park with the Chautauqua Auditorium, Vietnam Memorial, Family Aquatic Center, picnic areas, pavilions, baseball & softball diamonds, fishing lagoon (Crystal Lake), skateboard park, soccer fields, a youth athletic center, and more. There is an entrance to the General Dacey trail at the back of the park and the Memorial Sunken Gardens have been revitalized. The park is also home to the Festival of Lights.
Spring Valley Nature Center/ Volkening Heritage Farm
135 acres, natural history museum, handicapped-accessible trails, 1880's living history farm and pioneer cooking demos. Cost for some programs.
Nygren Wetland Preserve
Nygren Wetland Preserve is a 721-acre tract near the confluence of the Rock River and Pecatonica River, making it an important stopover and nesting spot for many species of birds including Sandhill Cranes. The Natural Land Institute, a private, not-for-profit land conservation organization, owns the preserve and began restoration of prairies, wetlands and woodlands to the area in 2000.
Anderson Japanese Gardens
Anderson Japanese Gardens has been named one of the highest quality Japanese gardens in North America by Sukiya Living Magazine since 2004. Inspired by calm and tranquility, this 12 acre award winning landscape is comprised of koi-filled ponds, winding paths, gentle streams, cascading waterfalls, raked gravel gardens, beautifully trained pines, and more. Master craftsmanship and 16th century traditional architecture is found throughout the garden.
Trolley Car #36
Trolley Car #36 is a turn-of-the-century, open-air trolley, the kind your grandparents might have taken to work, except you don't have to go to work. Board the Trolley at the Trolley Station in Riverview Park (on Thursdays, board at Nicholas Conservatory), ride along Madison Street beside the scenic Rock River Recreation Path, stop for a brief visit to the Eclipse Lagoon and Gardens, travel to the Symbol, then turn around and return to the Trolley Station. Trolley Car #36 is wheelchair accessible; however, the trolley is limited to 2 wheelchairs per ride.
Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden
Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden is a 155-acre living museum filled with spectacular gardens and rare trees. There’s beauty in every season from fragrant magnolia trees in spring and a butterfly garden in summer to the brilliant colors of fall and snow-capped evergreens in winter, when trails are cleared for walkers, cross-country skiers and snowshoeing. A 1.8 mile, handicapped-accessible paved path winds through the arboretum plus many secondary, chipped trails. Kids will have fun navigating the maze in the Children’s Garden. Klehm is dog-friendly and any leashed dog is welcome. Filled with four season beauty, Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden is waiting for you to explore.
Midway Village Museum
The museum campus consists of a Victorian village with 26 historical buildings filled with artifacts of the era as well as several beautiful 19th century gardens that depict life in northern Illinois from 1890 to 1910. Interpreters in authentic period dress are available seasonally for guided tours. The main museum building holds large group meeting rooms and exhibit space with a number of permanent exhibits reflecting Rockford's history and culture. Special events throughout the year include a World War II re-enatment, Sock Monkey and Scarecrow Harvest Festivals, and more. Free recreational path located on property.
Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens
Situated along the banks of the beautiful Rock River in Sinnissippi Gardens, the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens brings the tropics to the Midwest. The entire facility is the third largest conservatory in Illinois with a total of 22,000 square feet, and at the highest point stands 52 feet. A tropical setting includes an 11,000 square foot plant exhibition area complete with water features, seating areas, and sculptures, all in a tropical plant setting. Changing seasonal floral displays, a gift shop and special events; educational programs where children can learn the importance of plants; special workshops and lecture series for adults; the perfect place to host your event--small weddings, receptions, business meetings.