When I visited Rockford, Illinois last fall, I learned that the city is full of incredible outdoor spaces. From the riverside Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens to the rustic Rock Cut State Park, there are all sorts of places in Rockford to connect with nature, and Anderson Japanese Gardens is another of them. This serene space is the perfect place to step away from the stress of your day-to-day and find some peace.
The beautiful 12-acre garden is an incredible outdoor oasis tucked into one of the city’s residential neighborhoods. The traditional Japanese garden is the perfect place to reconnect with the outdoors and enjoy some solitude. The next time you’re in the Rockford region, take some time away to experience this truly tranquil outdoor space.
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A Bit of History About Anderson Japanese Gardens
Inspired by a visit to the Portland Japanese Garden, Rockford businessman John Anderson began constructing his own garden in 1978. Built on his private property, the garden was created by Hoichi Kurisu, the same designer who built the garden that inspired Mr. Anderson in Oregon. Kurisu helped transform the Anderson’s backyard along the city’s Rock Creek into a traditional Japanese landscape.
In 1998 the Andersons donated their gardens to the Rockford Rotary Charitable Association so it would be accessible to the public for years to come.
The Elements of a Japanese Garden
In all Japanese gardens, there are three main elements—stone, water, and plants. At the Anderson Japanese Gardens, all of these elements blend together beautifully around Rockford’s Rock Creek to create an experience like no other. Secondary elements like pagodas, stone lanterns, basins, and bridges are also prominent in Japanese garden design.
One of my favorite aspects of the Anderson Japanese Gardens was its beautiful central pond. Not only were there lots of serene spaces t0 sit along the shore, but the pond was also home to some of the friendliest koi I’ve ever seen.
If You Visit Anderson Japanese Gardens
Anderson Japanese Gardens is open to visitors daily from late April through October. Opt to explore on your own, or join a docent-led tour of the gardens.
Public docent-led tours of the gardens are held Monday through Friday at 10:30 am and 1:15 pm. Tours cost $2 per person in addition to garden admission, and its recommended you reserve your spot ahead of time online.
In addition to its educational programming, the gardens also host yoga classes, summer concerts, and children’s story time under its outdoor pavilion.
If you visit the gardens in the morning or during the lunch hour, don’t miss out on a meal at Fresco at the Gardens. With an expansive menu that changes seasonally, Fresco offers a wonderful array of light and healthy options. Enjoy a meal before or after your visit and continue to soak in the gardens’ serenity.
Admission: $9 Adults / $8 Seniors / $7 Students
Anderson Japanese Gardens, 318 Spring Creek Road in Rockford, Illinois
Share Your Thoughts
I would love to hear from you! How do you enjoy the outdoors when you travel? Have you ever been to Anderson Japanese Gardens?
Looking for more things to do in the Rockford region? Check out the other places I visited on my road trip.