Monday, December 12, 2016

Share the Love: Wonderland Express at Chicago Botanic Garden {2016}

It's an unusual blend when you think of it -- a garden at the holiday time during a typically cold and snowy Chicago winter -- but it perfectly fits together to make one of the best family holiday experiences in the entire Chicagoland.

If there's one thing that pops up on the Christmas bucket list every year, it's venturing over to the Chicago Botanic Garden to enjoy the Wonderland Express and all the festivities thoughtfully crafted by the garden staff.

The Wonderland Express features an elaborately designed indoor model train running through a beautifully landscaped miniature Chicago.

Little ones love the trains so much! Photo courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden 

While my youngest kids are always smitten with following the trains as they chug along the tracks and the "snow" that floats down from the ceiling, my older kids and adults are continually impressed by the design of more than 80 famous Chicago landmarks like the Hancock Building, Navy Pier ferris wheel and, of course, especially this year, Wrigley Field.

Aside from the joy glimmering in my kids' eyes as we engage in this family tradition, the best part of the entire railroad experience for me personally is that railroad garden guru Paul Busse and his team at Applied Imagination construct the buildings of natural materials like gourds, pine cones, bark, acorns, pods, seeds, grains and grasses; the Wonderland Express is a truly an artist or art-lover's wonderland!

My art-loving children are also beginning to marvel at the construction materials in the aftermath of their forming, too. They have often left Wonderland Express inspired by nature in their future creative endeavors, which is a huge bonus for this half-time homeschooling and art-teaching mama.

Aside from checking out the Wonderland Express while at the garden and spending time appreciating the beauty of it, the garden also focuses a great deal of energy on other fun winter activities like ice sculpting artists setting up shop outside of green houses and creating lovely sculptures and providing family drop-in activities. One year, our kids made bird feeders to hang in our trees after we enjoyed the Wonderland Express and sipped hot chocolate at one of the cafes nearby the exhibit.

So would you like to check out the Wonderland Express and spend an afternoon or day exploring the Garden? The Chicago Botanic Garden generously is giving away four Wonderland Express tickets AND a parking pass so one family can experience this family favorite tradition!

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. we make a point of making new ornaments every year - for us and for family members.

  3. We love Chirstmas lights!

  4. We used to go to the Cuneo Museum lights every year. This year we are beginning a new Christmas light tradition at the yogi Bear campground in Caledonia.

  5. I love everything about Christmas! We are still working on making family traditions here but the one thing I make sure we always do is visit the Zoo Lights! Sometimes it is Lincoln Park Zoo and sometimes it is Brookfield, but either way we make sure to visit!

  6. I love making Christmas cookies with the kids.

  7. Yes please! It's been awhile since we have enjoyed this experience!

  8. We can't miss our annual drive around town in our pjs and hot cocoa or our Chinese food on Christmas Day.

  9. we go every year on my son's birthday (the 31st). so magical!


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