The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is a partner of Give Me The Mike
Whether you believe it’s in Chaska or Chanhassen, a trip to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is worth the drive.
The 1,200 acre property, managed by the University of Minnesota, features professionally maintained gardens and protected nature areas. They serve as a research hub for all the different plants, flowers, and even new types of apples that call Minnesota home.
Over the holiday season, the gardens of the Landscape Arboretum turn into a holiday lights show called Winter Lights. In 2020, the Arboretum converted the show into a drive-thru display. For 2021, it’s back to its popular walk-thru format.
Winter Lights details
Nov. 18-28 (closed Thanksgiving), Dec. 1-5, 8-12, 16-23, Dec. 26-Jan. 2
It’s more simple than other light shows, which is a plus. The walking tour at Winter Lights is about 1/2 mile, making it pretty obtainable, especially if it’s cold. It’s on walking paths, but it isn’t necessarily a one-way route, meaning you can go in any direction and take your time, which is great if you want to take photos.
Winter Lights is handicapped accessible. And they don’t blast loud music, making it easier for those with sensory issues.
Winter Lights is great for all ages. Out of all the big light shows in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin, this one is going to be the best for adult couples and multi-generational families. When I walked through it, I continually thought it would be a perfect show to take grandma or grandpa to go see.
The lights are all outside, but inside, you’ll find a cash bar (beers $7-8, wine $9, spiked hot drinks $11, N/A hot drinks $3, chips $2, cookies $3, popcorn $6), a gift shop and music on select nights as part of the Arboretum’s Winter Music Series. You must wear a face covering while inside the Visitor Center.
Winter Lights has multiple themed nights. On their website, you’ll find a calendar with all of this information.
There are general admission nights. Tickets are $15 if you are not a member of the Arboretum, $10 if you are. Kids 15 and younger on general admission nights are free!
If you have a fancy camera, you might want to check out their photographer’s nights. On December 1 and 8, they’ll keep attendance down so you can capture the perfect shot. These are adults only nights. Tickets are $40, $25 if you are a member.
On December 2 and 9, you can stop by for family night. The kiddos can enjoy complimentary cocoa, cookies and crafts. Tickets are $25 for adult non-members. Kids ages 2-15 will need a ticket to attend on these dates. Each child ticket is $10.
On December 16, you may want to attend date night. This adults-only night offers dance classes and live music. Admission also gets you a drink ticket. Admission is $35 for non-members, $20 for members.
On New Year’s Eve, Winter Lights will throw a party, which goes until 10:30 p.m. You can make luminaries, take pictures in a photo booth, and enjoy live music.
General admission nights: $10 members, $15 non-members, free for youth 15 and younger
Photographer’s nights, Dec. 1 & 8: $25 members, $40 non-members (adults only)
Family nights, Dec. 2 & 9: $10 members and children 2-15, $25 non-members, free for infants 1 and younger
Date night, Dec. 16: $20 members, $35 non-members
New Year’s Eve party, Dec. 31: $15 members, $30 non-members, $5 children 2-15
If you go on a general admission night, a family of 4 with two kids would pay $30 at most, making this one of most inexpensive of the bigger light displays in the Twin Cities. In comparison, other displays will charge $50-67.
The Landscape Arboretum is located in Chaska, and is 30 minutes southwest of downtown Minneapolis. It’s just a couple minutes west of Paisley Park, the home of Minnesota icon, Prince.
When you purchase your tickets online, you will have two options for parking. You can choose to park at the Arboretum and walk the short distance from their lot to the light show.
You can also take a park and ride option, provided by Southwest Transit. Your crew will park at the Southwest Transit East Creek Transit Station in Chaska and the bus will bring you directly to the front door. It’d be a great option for kids who love the bus. Since there’s limited parking at the Arboretum, this option gives you the chance to attend on a night and time you want to go without having to spend 15 minutes waiting for a parking spot.
Along the route, you’ll find campfire pits where you can make s’mores ($7 makes 4) and a fair amount of photo opportunities.
There are plenty of photo opportunities, too.
Winter Lights runs through January 2, 2022 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. You can purchase tickets on their website.
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is the title sponsor of Give Me The Mike’s 2021 Minnesota Holiday Lights Display Guide.