The city of Janesville combines the beauty of Wisconsin's natural splendor with a thriving, close-knit community. It provides as an ideal place for new families looking for a safe and secure community with ample professional opportunities and all the modern amenities of a much larger city. Located in Rock County, almost midway between Madison and Rockford, Illinois, Janesville possesses the true agricultural spirit of the dairy state, blending the slower-paced lifestyle fostered by its wide open spaces with the high-energy drive of a modern metropolis.
With a racially diverse population of established families and young professionals, Janesville remains as a pre-eminent small American city. From its acclaimed Janesville School District to carefully cultivated real estate and expansive outdoors opportunities, this city ensures its residents a high quality of life without a high cost of living.
Restaurants & Nightlife
While Janesville has its share of popular chain restaurants, local establishments serving hearty fare, high-end romantic restaurants and classic Americana eateries truly characterize the area's rural Wisconsin charm. Voted the best restaurant and fish fry in Janesville several years in a row, Milwaukee Grill takes a fresh approach to classic American dishes. Combining a rustic atmosphere with a vintage supper club feel, this warm and inviting restaurant draws big crowds for the fish on Friday and the Saturday Night Prime Rib specials. Stop in for breakfast on the weekend and enjoy a Denver omelet or the famed house scramble.
For a quick bite or a relaxing afternoon out on the patio, try Luke's Deli on Mount Zion Avenue, the quintessential neighborhood delicatessen. At Luke's, the term "fast food" applies to just the service, not the quality. The deli uses farm-to-table ingredients and thin-cut meats for its acclaimed wraps and sandwiches. The crunchy Chinese chicken wrap earns rave reviews, but you can't go wrong with a classic hot dog and french fries.
Every small city in Wisconsin has its go-to breakfast place that reflects the state's commitment to sustainable agriculture. For Janesville residents, Citrus Cafe remains the city's most well-known breakfast nook. Open from 6:00 am to 3:00 pm year-round, this charming restaurant emphasizes locally-produced breakfast staples such as a omelets and skillets and 100-percent fresh-squeezed orange juice. Stop in before 9:00 am for the daily early bird breakfast specials, and make sure to try the bacon, cut earlier that same morning from a nearby butcher.
A wide selection of both trendy and conventional bars in the downtown area let you choose between high-octane nights and low-key evenings. One of Janesville's most popular entertainment centers, The Armory, caters to a discerning crowd of mature customers with nationally touring comedians every Friday night as well as live music in a stunning historical building. For a younger vibe, head to The Back Bar, which features live rock and hip-hop acts every Thursday accompanied by a late night food menu.
History & Culture
Immigrants from New England first settled the area in and around Janesville in the 1830s, though it had previously been home to Native Americans including the Ho-Chunk and Potawatomi. The city experienced moderate growth throughout the 19th century, but in 1919, a new General Motors plant attracted thousands of workers to the area. Rapid city planning and a population boom soon followed.
Janesville's rich agricultural history remains rooted in Wisconsin's heritage and identity. The Rock County Historical Society captures this spirit in its five historic museums on the Lincoln-Tallman grounds. Visit the Breadbasket exhibit for an interactive tour of local culinary traditions, or take a tour of the award-winning Lincoln-Tallman House.
The Janesville Performing Arts Center presents a diverse range of cultural events, hosting more than a dozen resident groups including Bower City Theatre, the Beloit Janesville Symphony and Dance Attitudes. And the many residents of German and Irish ancestry have always helped with the annual Fall Fest-of-Ale grow into a premier craft beer tasting event.
Access to a car remains something of a necessity to get around in the area, and most residents use one for daily errands as well as longer trips. Scenic Interstate 90 and State Highway 51 cut through the heart of Janesville, connecting residents to Beloit to the south and Madison to the northwest. Beloit can be reached in about 25 minutes, while Madison is closer to 45 minutes away, but during either trip you often experience clear and spacious roads through idyllic rural Wisconsin. Business Highway 14 provides quick access to I-90, while State Highway 11 heads west toward Monroe and Dubuque. Free public parking is available throughout the city.
The relatively flat terrain and well kept roads allow local residents to use bicycles when the weather permits, and you can often find local streets packed with bikes. Janesville is also quite safe for walking, though you should avoid biking or walking along Highway 51 at night due to low visibility and the lack of biking lanes.
Janesville City Taxi and Yellow Cab of Beloit provide service in the area. Make sure to call ahead for your ride, though, as you generally cannot hail a cab from the curb. Ride sharing services such as Uber are not available in the city.
The JTS Bus transit offers regular bus services between Monday and Saturday in Janesville, with six routes and 90 stops across the city. Tickets for these buses are available at all public buildings in the service area, including the Transfer Center in Downtown Janesville. The Beloit-Janesville Express operates weekdays between the two cities, and the Dial-A-Ride van service provides transportation for people with disabilities.
Life in Janesville carries a fairly low cost of living compared to the rest of Wisconsin. A typical one-bedroom apartment near the city center runs about $750 a month. More economical housing is available along East Racine Street near Palmer Park, where multi-bedroom apartments rent for around $500.
The regular one-way cash fare for a ride within the city costs $1.75. The one-way fare for a bus to Beloit is $3.50. Gas prices sit at about 5 percent lower than the national average. You can expect to pay around $4 for a pint of beer at local pubs.
Janesville Mall on Milton Avenue features a wide range of national retailers and well known brands. But if you're looking for something with more of a local flavor, head to Milwaukee Street in downtown Janesville for an eclectic selection of one-of-a-kind, regional and boutique stores.
Modern Charm features mid-century gear and stylish accessories for your home. Local artisans and antiques hunters provide patrons with everything from original pieces of art to actual vintage items reminiscent of 1950s interior design. Fill your living space with the soothing charm of a classic dinette table, or chat with the owners themselves to discover what vintage piece suits you best.
Carousel Consignments carries everything and anything, from home decor to board games. This consignment store has inexpensive and moderately priced used and pre-owned treasures. Expect clean and organized shelves packed with books and trinkets, and if you need something specific, the friendly and knowledgeable staff are always happy to help.
Janesville residents have several stores to choose from that carry not just typical groceries but also organic vegetables and farm-fresh meats. Woodman's Markets on Lexington Drive remains the most popular local supermarket for reasonably priced kitchen staples. Daniels Sentry Food Store is a small regional grocer that has been serving the community since 1979.
For specialty foods, try Basics Cooperative Natural Foods, a non-profit food co-op with a broad selection of high-quality natural and organic foods and supplements. Every Saturday morning from May to October, the Janesville Farmers Market in Downtown Janesville features locally-produced goods and culinary delights you can't find anywhere else.
With miles of open, scenic countryside and the Rock River cutting through the city, Janesville has what serious nature lovers crave. Community parks, neighborhood parks and green belts cater to visitors of all ages, while several boat launches on the Rock River allow residents to fish and water ski along the beautiful Rock River.
Traxler Park provides an especially beautiful example of the aesthetic splendor of this area, with panoramic views of the Rock River and large open spaces ideal for off-leash dogs to get some fresh air, run around or jump in the lake. Make sure to catch the famous Rock Aqua Jays Water Ski Show Team in the summer months, and especially the National Show Ski and World Show Ski tournaments held in at the park in mid-September.
The Ice Age National Scenic Trail follows along the Rock River through downtown Janesville and remains as an iconic and historic paved trail representative of the last ice age, which shaped the area. Ideal for jogging, biking or enjoying a peaceful walk, the friendly environment along this trail encourages a naturally active lifestyle. You do not need a National Park Pass to enjoy this trail, though you must pay for camping registration if you're spending the night.