The Wanderwood Gardens Immersive Play Experience -  Breaking Ground in Dubuque in Summer 2023

The Wanderwood Gardens, an immersive woodland playground for day-dreamers of all ages was announced to the public at the Fundraiser Gala at the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens on Thursday. The four-acre children’s garden is inspired by Debi and Andy Butler and features a variety of different outdoor play spaces to explore, awakening visitors’ connection to nature and delight for the world around them.

“We created The Wanderwood Gardens as a place where people of all ages could come to connect with nature and each other,” said Debi Butler, the imagination behind The Wanderwood Gardens. “We hope that our visitors will leave feeling inspired and refreshed, with a renewed sense of wonder for the world around them.”

The Wanderwood Gardens was designed by Jeri Deneen and Jon Powell of Deneen Powell Atelier, an Immersive Experiential Design Firm based out of San Diego, who have designed works like The San Diego Botanical Gardens and the award-winning Conservation Gardens in Salt Lake City.

“Our inspiration has been years of studying children’s behavior through the lens of children’s garden design. For our futures, our children’s futures, our children’s children futures and so on we desperately need to create places where we can engage in outdoor exploration, discovery and physical nature play, not only to properly develop bodies and minds but to gain an appreciation and love of nature, to preserve what we have and rebuild natural spaces for the future.

Therefore as a counterpoint to over-used electronics, we push hard for better outdoor opportunities for all our futures. In this effort we strive to create amazing experiences, incorporate educational value as well as historical significance in children’s gardens which results in a unique sense of place that’s all it’s own.”, Deneen Powell Atelier, Inc. says of their inspiration behind this project.

The Wanderwood Gardens features a variety of different areas to explore, including but not limited to:

    Wandering Waters
    - Snail & Wading Pond
    - An interactive water adventure with a waterfall, spitting animal fountains, a wading stream and a misty fog bank.
    Dendy Village

    - Miniature home garden
    - Magical homes designed to stimulate all of the senses, with fragrant flowers, colorful plants, and textured surfaces.
    The Enchanted Trail

    - Trail Challenge Course
    - This 100± yard course winds through the woods, in and among the trees with dappled sunlight sparkling through.
    The Dubuque Mine Camp

    - Explore Imagination
    - Adventurous visitors can dig for treasure, fill mine carts with sand, or duck into a cool tunnel.
    The Canopy

    - Tree House Decks
    - A whimsical tree playset with climbing structures, slides, and interactive features.
    Spinning Bird Plaza

    - Interactive sculptures
    - Walk through towering trees to operate the interactive birds spinning in dizzying circles overhead.

    [See full attraction map]

    The Wanderwood Gardens

    Inspiring Lives
    through Creative
    Outdoor Play.SM


    Summer 2025