Lost in the Garden

Escape to Rockford’s Anderson Japanese Gardens, one of the state’s unexpected oases. 

Reflective water features, winding paths, and tucked-away benches and structures ensure there's always a spot to find solitude in the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford. 

Anderson Japanese Gardens presents a study in contrasts. It’s a space for losing yourself in yoga or a peaceful garden stroll. It’s also a summer rock ’n’ roll party—complete with food and drink—featuring regional bands and fun for the family. Somehow, the two personalities just work.

As it celebrates its 40th year, the gardens (less than two hours northwest of Chicago) have blossomed into a community space with a full social calendar. In addition to tours of the lush 12-acre formal Japanese landscape just minutes from downtown, the gardens host classes and cultural events nearly every day.

Special events such as tea ceremonies and July’s Japanese Summer Festival offer authentic cultural experiences, no passport required. There’s also a gift shop where you can buy saki cups, rice bowls and Japanese-inspired decor, plus an airy restaurant, Fresco, serving seasonal cuisine made from fresh, local ingredients.

The gardens brim with waterfalls, benches, bridges and verdant backdrops, creating ideal spots to sit and savor or ignite a new interest.

Designed by master landscape architect Hoichi Kurisu, Anderson Japanese Gardens features a classic 12th-century pond, rock gardens, and serene views framed by sculptural gates and bridges handcrafted by Japanese craftsmen. The site provides a peaceful setting for classes in arts.

 

While you're in Rockford

Check out the Riverfront Museum Park downtown, which features the Discovery Center Museum, the Rockford Art Museum and the Burpee Museum of Natural History. The city’s symphony orchestra and dance company also perform on the museum campus. About a mile from Anderson Gardens, find Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens and its 85-year-old rose garden. 

3 more Illinois Gardens to tour
  • Washington Park Botanical Garden, Springfield 
    Open year-round, the free garden features a conservatory with exotic tropicals, plus greenhouses with plants from Africa, Asia and South America. Outside, themed gardens focus on shade perennials, peonies and roses.
  • Quad City Botanical Center, Rock Island
    This center caters to kids (adults welcome), complete with a child-size version of the Mississippi River, a cottage garden with a playhouse and a pollinator garden. Inside, discover a sun garden and tropical atrium with coconut and cocoa trees.
  • Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe
    Stroll through 100-acre woodlands and past lakes around 27 themed gardens, including native endangered species plantings. See planters created by Illinois artists Charlotte and Daniel Ward of Longshadow Gardens in Pomona.
Related Reads:

Water Sports & Beach Life

Water Sports & Beach Life
in Family FunActivities

Get wet and wild with five of our favorite water sports activities in Illinois.

Chicago’s Second Shoreline

Chicago’s Second Shoreline
in ChicagoActivities

With restaurants, recreation and more than a mile of uninterrupted walking path,...

Dog-Friendly Hotels & Activities in Illinois

Dog-Friendly Hotels & Activities in Illinois
in Regional GetawaysRoad TripsActivities

Bring Fido on vacation thanks to these dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, and thi...

Enjoy Illinois Magazine

Enjoy Illinois Magazine

Find unexpected ways to enjoy Illinois in this biannual magazine that explores every corner of the state. Each issue offers a mix of travel stories, stunning photography and timely trip ideas that make the most of each season.

Order a Copy

Order a copy of Enjoy Illinois and also receive the Illinois State Park Guide and an Official Highway Map.

Order Print Version
Grab a Digital Copy

Read Enjoy Illinois magazine online or download the PDF and start exploring trip ideas around Illinois.

View it Online Download PDF

Send me Enjoy Illinois Magazine

Get inspired by top travel stories, and discover even more reasons to #EnjoyIllinois.

Order a Copy!