As April showers begin to bring May flowers, we need to remind ourselves to stop and smell the roses – literally! At Verve, we’re all about energy and enthusiasm. Breathing in the fresh air (and enchanting floral scents) gives us a new spring in our step and we thought you might enjoy a little change in scenery too. That’s why we’ve curated a list of beautiful outdoor gardens (within driving distance) to visit this spring. Whether you’re seeking a moment of serenity or a fun-filled day with friends or family soaking up the great outdoors, we’ve got you covered. And who knows, you may even be inspired to start your own home garden!
*Disclaimer: You are not required to have a green thumb or degree in horticulture to enjoy a garden getaway
For our Northeast Wisconsin Members
- Sheboygan — Bookworm Gardens Let your imagination run wild as you wander through whimsical gardens inspired by popular children’s books. A magical experience for kids young and old. Pre-registration is required for all visits. Reservations for May and June are now available.
- Green Bay — Green Bay Botanical Garden Known as one of the most beautiful venues in Northeast Wisconsin, this botanical paradise features lush green lawns, vibrant flowers, Wisconsin-hardy plants, forested areas and unique architectural structures. Sit under a Grecian Gazebo, catch a glimpse of multi-colored Koi swimming in the pond, climb a treehouse and so much more!
- Appleton — Scheig Center Gardens Tucked away inside Appleton Memorial Park, you’ll find a native rose garden, serenity butterfly garden, native wildflower garden, fragrance garden and Veterans Memorial Garden. Admission is free.
- Manitowoc — West of the Lake Gardens A must-see hidden gem located in the backyard of Jonathan and Ruth West’s former estate. Spanning six acres and set against the backdrop of Lake Michigan, these meticulously manicured gardens offer an eye-catching blend of roses, tulips, annuals and perennials in pink, blue, purple, yellow, red and white hues.
- Oshkosh — The Paine Art Center and Gardens Escape to this lavish historic mansion with gardens reminiscent of the English countryside. Walk across the expansive front lawn or through the meandering pathways to discover a wide array of trees, shrubs, bulbs, wildflowers, stone sculptures and fountains. Reservations are required.
- Madison — Olbrich Botantical Gardens Stroll through 16 sprawling acres of outdoor gardens situated on the shores of Lake Monona in Madison’s beautiful Olbrich Park. Don’t miss the golden Thai Pavillion – one of just four such pavilions in the U.S. Take a peek inside the Bolz Conservatory, where exotic plants, flowers, orchids, birds and a waterfall reside. Outdoor Gardens are free and open daily. The Bolz Conservatory has an admission fee.
For our Western Wisconsin Members
- Lacrosse — Riverside International Friendship Gardens Located where the Mississippi, Black and La Crosse rivers converge, these international-themed gardens take you on a journey around the world and unique cultures of China, Germany, France, Russia, Norway and Ireland. There is no admission fee, but donations are welcomed.
For our Illinois (Chicago) Members
- Garfield Park Observatory — Recently ranked the No. 1 Garden on Yelp, this Conservatory is a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of city life. Enjoy more than 10 acres of outdoor gardens, nature play areas for children, a water lily pond and more. Head indoors to a “landscape under glass,” where you’ll be transported to a tropical jungle with plant species from all over the world. Admission is free.
- Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool — A real-life secret garden in Lincoln Park replete with floating lily pads and a cascading waterfall. Originally designed to resemble a creek running through a Midwestern prairie, the pool is home to native plants, woodland wildflowers and a variety of wildlife including birds, dragonflies, butterflies, frogs and turtles. The Lily Pool is open daily; free guided tours are held Fridays and weekends, late April through October.