In Janesville, Wisconsin, it’s easy to break free of boring meeting spaces. The city of 66,000, less than an hour west of Madison and Milwaukee and about two hours north of Chicago, prides itself in venues with “depth and breadth,” says Christine Rebout, executive director of the Janesville CVB. “Our strength is these beautiful and nontraditional venues.”
Beautiful Backdrops for Meetings
For beauty and an inspiring origin story, there’s Rotary Botanical Gardens. Decades ago, two local Rotary Clubs transformed an old rock quarry into 20 acres of gardens, many with international themes. The extraordinary result reminds those who meet in the garden’s 2,540 square feet of divisible meeting space of teamwork’s power. At the gardens, the outdoors is in the spotlight, as meeting rooms in the visitors center open to a roomy patio and the gardens beyond. Garden tours and horticulture talks are easy add-ons; a sunny 2,400-square-foot atrium welcomes dinners and receptions.
The gardens are far from the only beauty spot in a region known for outdoor activities. At The Celtic House at Glen Erin Golf Course, 12,000 square feet of banquet space is adjoined by a large deck that overlooks the emerald golf course. Next to the course, Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport serves private aircraft and also has conference spaces and airplane hangars for larger events.
Also outside of town, Fermenting Cellars Winery has added to its outdoor event options with a large, open-air pavilion; smaller groups can cluster around an outdoor fireplace as they sip wines made on site.
Downtown, the Rock River provides a soothing backdrop for several bars and restaurants, including Genisa, an Italian wine bar in a restored Italianate building. During the day, it offers small meeting spaces including a sunny patio above the river. A new downtown event space, The Venue, was once a church. High ceilings and large windows make its largest space, the church’s former sanctuary, feel peaceful and spacious. Another roomy venue, the Janesville Performing Arts Center, has a 633-seat theater for opening sessions and three 50-person meeting rooms.
On the edge of downtown near the river, big doors slide open for fresh air in a carriage house-turned-meeting space on the 3.5-acre campus of the Rock County Historical Society. The handsome three-story building has been outfitted with an elevator and meeting equipment.
Of course, Janesville does have its share of traditional meeting spaces, including the 142-room Holiday Inn Express off I-90/I-39, which has its own 15,000-square-foot conference center. And funding is expected to be finalized soon so work can begin on Janesville’s newest conference space. The project will turn a former Sears at Uptown Janesville mall into three venues: a 20,000-square-foot conference center, a year-round hockey rink and another arena that will be ice half the year and available for other sports and conferences the other half. It will be a convenient conference facility, close to the interstate, with ample free parking, dining, entertainment and hotels nearby.
For more information, please contact:
Janesville Convention & Visitors Bureau
Lori Johnson, director of meeting & group sales