Monday, December 1, 2014

2014 Holiday Bucket List: Chicago Botanic Garden's Wonderland Express #Giveaway

Each year, my family aims to experience and enjoy life together during the holidays, placing less emphasis on the gift aspect and more on togetherness. This is part one of a series detailing some of our favorite Chicagoland destinations during the 2014 Christmas season. Be sure to scroll down to the end; one of our favorite places is giving away tickets! 

Destination Three: Chicago Botanic Garden's Wonderland Express
No matter your age, the Wonderland Express never gets old, which is why it makes our holiday bucket list again and again, this year being no exception

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden. 
The boys used to enjoy this holiday train exhibit because our youngest was mesmerized by trains and our oldest was interested in the detailed workings of how the trains run. At ages 5 and 7, they now really dig going through the exhibit and identifying the miniature replicas of famous Chicago-area landmarks like Soldier Field, the ferris wheel at Navy Pier and the Willis Tower. And honestly we really like that part, too, because now instead of chasing them through the exhibit as they chase the trains we actually get to see the fine details of the miniature replicas.

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden
And they each are sites at which to marvel, each being crafted out of natural materials found in nature like bark, wood, pinecones, stones, etc. It's really quite marvelous. The entire exhibit is beautifully and painstakingly detailed.

Last year we also had our first experience with the Wonderland Express and a teenaged host daughter from Eastern Europe who stayed with us for a month. She also liked it, and we found it was a great place for her to enjoy because so little language is needed to understand the exhibit. She really liked it quite a bit, and it was a great way to introduce someone from abroad to the greatness of Chicago! The Wonderland Express is open now through January 4, 2015. You can buy tickets and see more information on times here.

Would you like to see the Wonderland Express for yourself this year? The Chicago Botanic Garden has graciously provided me with four tickets to keep and four to giveaway! Just follow the Rafflecopter instructions, which are SUPER easy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Destination Four: Cuneo Mansion and Gardens Winter Wonderland

A new one on our holiday bucket list this winter, the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens Winter Wonderland promises a relaxed evening with the family as we tour the lighted garden via car. Some days you just need that, especially during the busy holiday season.

This year we plan to hit the wonderland during the week when it's less crowded, and we'll likely do something cheeky like splurge on a hot chocolate or chai for the drive.

Destination Five: Candlelight Service at Immanuel Church on Christmas Eve

If there's one thing we don't miss during the holiday season, it's the Christmas Eve service at Immanuel Church in Gurnee.

We love coming together as a family to sing Christmas songs, and the candlelight is always so beautiful!

This year, Christmas Eve services are as follows; childcare is available for children kindergarten and younger at the first two services.

Please note: I am an ambassador for the Chicago Botanic Garden, and I receive my membership in return for helping families find out what's going on at the garden, which if you've been around here for long know that isn't a hard task at all! We love the garden! All opinions expressed are my own. Also note that I work for Immanuel Church. However, I wouldn't work there if I didn't love it. So there's that. 


  1. I love all these Christmas destinations! We've gone to the Wonderland Express and greatly enjoyed it. And Winter Wonderland at Cuneo is always an amazing show!

  2. Taking the boys on a tour of the neighborhood lights in their jammies is our current favorite.

  3. Is the wonderland express indoor or outdoor? It sounds like you're describing the area where they have the trains in the summer but the photo looks like it's indoor.

    1. Yes, the Wonderland Express is indoors. They also have an outdoor train exhibit in the summer.


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