Update: Largely gone, converted into the Aikman Wildlife Adventure.
No matter how long you think about it, you will probably never find a connection between tic-tac-toe playing chickens and Amish communities in Illinois. Luckily, you don’t need an answer to that bizarre question to enjoy the pleasures of a simpler life when visiting Rockome Gardens, one of the only Amish themeparks in the world.
Rockome Gardens was built in 1937 and is operated by members of the nearby Old Order Amish Community. Though the development of the gardens has been ongoing for 80 years, ownership of Rockome has changed hands many times throughout the park’s history, changing its features. Due to neglect, the park is now somewhat worn and dingy and many of the attractions have long since been torn down and abandoned.
However, Rockome is still home to many classic Amish-influenced attractions, both educational and occasionally bizarre. The main sights include typical Amish houses and a fairly accurate recreation of an Amish town with a blacksmith’s shop as well. For those that would like to use the Amish experience to escape the modern world for a while, buggy rides can transport you across the gardens, between the cheese shop on the grounds and Rockome’s very own horse-drawn buzz saw.
In January 2011, Rockome Gardens was sold once again to a couple that had visited the site for many years. They noticed the gardens were in severe need of repair and were set on bringing warmth and beauty back to Rockome.
In September of 2015, the Rockome Gardens property was purchased by a local developer and has been since converted into Aikman Wildlife Adventure, a drive through wildlife park featuring nearly 100 exotic animals, which officially relaunched in March of 2016. Many of the original installations have been torn down and auctioned off, but a small portion of the park and some of its buildings have been preserved for usage as a venue for wedding ceremonies, and the Rockome Gardens Foods store remains open.
Know Before You Go
Located in central Illinois just 5 miles west of Interstate 57