Combine a botanical garden and a child’s book collection and you get a creatively wonderful destination for families located in Sheboygan, an hour north of Milwaukee. Bookworm Gardens is a collection of seven literary-themed gardens that feature more than 60 children’s books.

In summer, the gardens are in full bloom, offering space for kids to run, play and explore. Each garden features hands-on, experiential learning opportunities.

Within each garden visitors will find a number of smaller spaces featuring popular children’s books. for example, the “Animal Garden,” to the left of the main gate, is a big hit with my twin toddler boys. They love the dinosaur bones garden, where they pose for pictures on dinosaur eggs and dig in the sand for bones. Just a short walk on a stone path and they find themselves exploring the sticks, straw and brick houses of the Three Little Pigs and searching through the Playhouse for Monster.

On the way back, everyone stops to give Harry the Dirty Dog a bath! Kids love water, and on the other side of the secret garden, a large waterfall overlooks a musical garden, with a variety of instruments set among tall trees.

When we get to the “Farm Garden,” children are greeted by a life-size cow they can actually sit on. The typewriter at the desk in the barn brings us to a favorite book of my boys: Click Clack Moo. Enter Farmer McGregor’s barn, guarded by a scarecrow and imagine The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

After the farm, my boys relax on the wooden bridge at McElligot’s Pool pond, looking for frogs and fish.

In the “Woodlands Garden,” each child takes their turn to climb aboard a covered wagon and serve food in the log cabin, imagining they are living in the time of Little House in the Big Woods. We move past Winnie the Pooh’s house and the boys rake stones at a Japanese teahouse and garden, while older children stop to read the laminated One Leaf Rides the Wind.


Bookworm Gardens is open May 1 through Oct. 31. Admission is free of charge. For a list of hours, go to

This article originally appeared in the 2015 spring/summer issue of Experience Wisconsin magazine. The contents of this article were checked for accuracy when it was published; however, it’s possible some of the information has changed. We recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the destinations, attractions or restaurants mentioned in this article. 

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