Would you benefit from being able to spend some time outdoors right now in a beautiful space that was designed to help visitors feel more relaxed and refreshed when they leave than when they arrived? Do you enjoy learning more about Japanese culture?
If you answered yes to either of those questions, consider spending a day (or at least a couple of hours) at Anderson Japanese Gardens. Located at 318 Spring Creek Road in Rockford, Illinois, this well-manicured, tranquil property is just 87 miles northwest of Chicago. So, families residing in the Chicago area could get to it in just over an hour.
My husband, daughters and I recently visited the Gardens and discovered four reasons we think it could serve as the perfect backdrop for a special summer family outing for Chicagoans of all ages. Considering all of the current pandemic-related restrictions that are in place throughout the city and surrounding suburbs, Anderson Japanese Gardens will provide a perfect escape for adults and children who would benefit from some fresh air therapy right now.
For starters, beauty can be found throughout Anderson Japanese Gardens. Such elements as perfectly-placed stones, lush plants, vibrant flowers, and interesting sculptures all work together to create an environment that is aesthetically pleasing. It’s award-winning designer took special care to include specific features that are typically present in traditional Japanese gardens and docents at the Gardens would be happy to share details about them with you. Just make sure you wear a mask when chatting with them.
Second, the property is home to cute residents that will capture the attention and admiration of adults and children alike. For example, during our visit, we saw colorful koi fish swimming in ponds and stopped to watch them interact with one another whenever we saw them. We also saw adorable ducks and were fascinated by the fact that some of them hopped right up onto a deck to look for food while we were there taking a break during our time of exploration. My girls even spotted saw a chipmunk at one point, but none of us managed to get a photo of it before it scurried off to hide under a shrub.
Third, if you enjoy gazing out at bodies of water or find listening to moving water relaxing, you will appreciate the waterfalls, streams and ponds found in different areas of Anderson Japanese Gardens. They all seem to invite onlookers to pause from what they’re doing to appreciate them. We did this during our visit and I’m fairly certain that this simple, and slightly meditative activity, is one of the reasons that I returned from our visit feeling more carefree and serene than I’ve felt in a while.
Finally, the gift shop is a must-see. It is stocked with beautiful chopstick sets, tea sets, t-shirts and accessories, books and toys, among other items. So, everyone in your family could end up finding something they want to buy for themselves, a loved one, or a friend while you’re in there. And, while we didn’t buy any of the above-mentioned items, we did purchase several yummy Japanese snacks and beverages that we enjoyed as soon as we got back to our car. I’ve shared a few images of items for sale in the gift shop below. But, you can see more photos in the video about our visit that I shared on YouTube and in my IGTV on Instagram. By the way, you’ll also need to wear your mask when you’re in the gift shop.
The cost of admission at Anderson Japanese Gardens is $11 for adults under 62; $10 for seniors 62 years old and older; and $9 for children and students. Children five and younger get in free. If you’re a member of the Gardens you do not need to make a reservation to visit the property, which is open this summer from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. However, non-members must visit the website prior to coming and make an advance online reservation. (Feel free to click the above link to easily access the website.) Please have your credit or debit card ready since you’ll also need to pay for your reservation when it is made.
By the way, if you schedule your visit to the Gardens earlier in the day, you could also make a separate reservation to eat at the Fresco At The Gardens restaurant on the property. It is open for breakfast and lunch and offers outdoor patio seating, as well as socially-distanced indoor dining.