Our Picture-Perfect Visit to Winter Lights at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Ok, first of all, I know it’s dark and cold at this time of year, but dang, Minnesota has some AMAZING things to help you forget all about that.
Winter Lights at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum are one of the events that will light up your season.
It’s happening now and there are beautiful lights to see on a lighted path around the Arboretum. We went during opening weekend and it’s a winter wonderland! We got so many great pictures I could only include a fraction of them here.
Here is my recap and review, plus tips if you visit.
Winter Lights is an outdoor, walk-through event. In 2020 this was a drive-thru event, but since 2021 it’s been a walk-through event. It doesn’t go far away from the visitor building – so don’t worry about freezing in the middle of nowhere. But you do need to dress warm, even if it’s a mild day like when we went.
Thankfully, the visitors center is available for warming up, taking pictures in front of the giant poinsettia tree (check this out), dining in their eatery (they have a limited menu), shopping in their gift shop, enjoying live entertainment when available, and more.
As you walk along the path outside, you’ll see many beautiful light displays such as this very large, red apple.
We loved the “Frozen Falls” which reminded us of Disney’s Frozen! There are illuminated lights that make it look like blue waterfalls.
This tent of lights is a great place for pictures.
I took so many pictures of interesting lights including this Winter Willow Tree.
They do have Smores on the path. They are $7 for all you need.
Don’t miss the Polar Papillon Path at the end! It’s easy to miss because it’s off the trail, but there are really cool lights for taking pictures.
My Instagram Reel:
Check out my Instagram Reel about our visit!
View this post on Instagram
What we loved:
❄️ Many beautiful lights
❄️ Tons of photos opportunities
❄️ All the lights are right outside the visitors center or a short walk from it
❄️ No crowds!
❄️ Kids can go FREE!
The cost is $25 for non-members, $10 for members. Kids 15 and under are FREE.
My Thoughts about the Price
Some of you have commented about the price. I love that kids can go for free, but $25 seems like a lot per person. I agree, and that’s higher than it was last year ($15). But from our visit, here’s what I have to say about that.
Yes, $25 is more expensive than you’ll pay at other lights events. BUT – the best thing you get for that is SMALLER CROWDS. They limit ticket sales for each timeslot so it doesn’t get too busy. At free and cheaper events, like Bentleyville in Duluth, the crowds can get terrible, especially on weekends. The wait for Bentleyville can be up to 2 hours (I know – I tried going there on a Saturday last year but the lines of cars were ridiculous).
PLUS, you get a lot for the price. Free parking – or you can take a free shuttle bus from another parking site. We parked in one of the lots onsite and didn’t have far to walk. Plus, there’s live entertainment. When we went, there was a Mandolin Orchestra playing.
Also, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum had to increase the price this year to keep up with costs, like many other attractions.
To Save Money
If you want to save money on visits here like Winter Lights and other visits year-round, consider purchasing a membership. It’s good for a year and gives you discounts on most major events and free general admission 363 days a year.
Is it wheelchair/stroller-friendly?
For the most part, I think it is, though there are some hills and it can get icy. On their website, it says “In good weather conditions, the route is wheelchair/stroller accessible. It becomes less accessible if it is snowing.” If it’s not a snowy or freezing day, and you don’t mind pushing a wheeled chair up and down some hills, then I say yes.
They have themed nights too like Date Night, Family Night, Photographer night and more.
Also, dress warm! My only wish is that there was a place to get warmed up halfway through the experience. We went on a milder night and there were fires for smores but the path was all outside. My kids and I were getting cold toward the end, despite being dressed warm. Thankfully the walk isn’t too long though and we weren’t that far from the main building.
About Winter Lights
Winter Lights is from November 17th through January 1st.
It’s Mondays – Thursdays 5:00 – 9:00pm (closed some days), and Fridays – Sundays 5:00 – 10:00pm.
Here are special nights happening:
- Opening Night – Nov. 17
- Family Nights — Dec. 1 & 15
- Date Nights — Dec. 8 & 22
- Photography Nights — Dec. 7 & 14
- New Year’s Eve Party — Dec. 31
Dress warm as it’s all outside – there are 16 outdoor light displays, featuring flowers, nature and winter fun, on an accessible, stroller-friendly walk that’s just over a half-mile.
Family Nights! On December 1st & 15th, tickets are limited so families can have an extra-special experience, including crafts, cookies, cocoa and characters from Northern Express, a winter holiday festival just up the road from the Arboretum. (If you also visit the Northern Express, save 10%, or $2 off an adult ticket with my special code: FrugalMom22)
Date Nights! On December 8th & 22nd, tickets on these nights are reserved for adults, who want to stroll in a stroller-free environment. Indoors, there will be a cash bar, dinner and dance classes every hour with instructors from Costa Rica Ballroom.
New Year’s Eve! This special event on Dec. 31st is family friendly with countdowns at 8, 9 and 10 p.m.
Note that they have a bus that will take guests from the Southwest Transit East Creek Transit Station at 2120 Chestnut St. N., Chaska, directly to the Arboretum.
Tickets cost $10 for members, $25 for non-members, free for children ages 15 and younger.
Unfortunately, coupons aren’t accepted for the Winter Lights event.
Check out the map of the event!
And check out ALL the holiday lights this winter in my guide, Holiday Lights & Events in Minnesota 2022!
And join my Minnesota Holiday Lights Facebook group!