Going to a garden when winter is looming doesn’t make a lot of sense. I get that. I mean, will there be flowers? Do the trees even have leaves? Is everything just dead and dormant, and if so, why am I in this garden again?
Answer: Because lights are pretty and fountains are fun.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden’s Holidays at the Garden celebration is one of the best times to see the garden. The lights are on from 5 p.m to 9 p.m. nightly, and festivities last through the first of January.
Here are just a few reasons you should visit:
Gorgeous lights are everywhere, obviously.
It’s called “Holidays at the Garden,” but let’s be honest, that holiday is Christmas, and Christmas is all about the Christmas lights.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is divided into smaller gardens,and each one has its own color scheme, and they are all beautiful.
What’s more fun than driving around in crazy traffic looking at light displays? Well, almost everything. But more specifically: walking around a garden at night all footloose and fancy free.
There are so many Christmas trees.
Let’s start with the first Christmas tree you’ll see. You get your ticket, walk through the main building, and there it is — a Christmas tree made of orchids.
Orchids are the fanciest of flowers, and it is ridiculous that this Christmas tree exists.
As you move further into the garden, there are Christmas trees and lights everywhere. You are basically pummeled with the Christmas spirit, and it is a wonderful thing.
Did I mention fountains are fun?
Because they are. Basically, the whole garden could be dead, and the fountains would be still be worth visiting. Do you have a toddler? Go see the fountains. (Toddlers really like fountains.) Do you enjoy truth and beauty? Go see the fountains. They’re even better when reflecting Christmas lights. (The lights really emphasize both the truth and the beauty.)
Holy moly, are those Wee Houses whimsical.
This summer, the garden hosted an exhibit of “wee houses,” which was basically the best thing that has ever happened to me and my two-year-old son.
For the entire season, there were tiny child-sized houses all over the garden.
Then, they took them away, and we were both crushed. (Crushed, I say!)
Luckily, they decided to keep a few, and they are adorable and significantly lessen my feeling of loss. Go visit them. Take some pictures. The results are too darn cute.
Discover a fairyland in the Orchid Conservatory.
First of all, you need to think about the kind of life you want to be living. Shouldn’t that life involve an orchid conservatory? I think it should.
Daniel Stowe’s orchid conservatory is the most Dr. Seussian place I’ve ever been to in real life.
You are basically entering a gorgeous cartoon of beauty. And throughout the holiday season, it has a tiny fairyland with little buildings and a train running past its reflecting pool. (Did you hear me? It has a train!)
The trains! Oh, the trains.
I don’t know what world you’re living in, but mine is really train-centered right now (have I mentioned I have two-year-old son?). He and I straight-up watched the train at the garden entrance for half an hour, and that half an hour was joy filled.
There’s also a train set inside the Great Hall (Side Note: what an impressive name for a building, I mean that hall is indeed great), which my kid would have stared at for hours if I had let him (I did not let him).
Plus there’s that rainforest-wonderland that is the Orchid Conservatory complete with a fairyland that seems to depend mainly on trains for transportation. (Probably because trains are the best.)
There’s a whole bunch of excellent other stuff: You should consult a calendar, but most Fridays and Saturdays, there is some sort of food truck/Santa/live music/carriage ride situation at the gardens.
Did I just mention a few of your favorite things? Yeah. I thought so. Merry Christmas!