The Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis is a beautiful place to visit year-round. During the holiday season, the grounds are transformed into a winder wonderland filled with over a million lights on display.
The pathway runs approximately one-mile long and starts at the Visitor’s Center. Once you enter into the garden, you are immediately greeted with the Sparkling Spoehrer Plaza and lights in the shape of a tall tree.
Just past the plaza is the Blizzard Beverage Bar which is the first of several food and drink stops along the route. From here the path passes the Field of Lights as well as colorful lighted globes.
The first of several framed photo stops is located next. Stop for picture with a beautiful background and a garden glow frame.
Next, the path leads to the Climatron which changes colors. The Fire and Light show is located in front of the Climatron. Trees and globes change colors to music in a synchronized display. This is one of the most photographed spots.
If you circle around the water pools, you will spy another food kiosk with smores goodies for purchase. Fire pits are available for toasting those marshmallows.
Kids may enjoy pretending to be a snowman at the next photo op stop. Or break into song…”Do you want to build a snowmannnnn?”
The path then passes the Botanical Luminaries before heading to the Twinkling Tunnel. Take some photos here, but don’t linger in the tunnel as it can cause a traffic backup at this popular spot.
Kids will enjoy the life-sized inflatable snow globe. Normally you can hop inside for a fun photo, but with COVID the globe is viewable from the outside only.
The Magical Meadow is another beautiful spot. The lights here are also synchronized to music. Another glowing tunnel and twinkling gazebo are located in this area.
One of my favorite areas is next, the Tower Grove House and Victorian Garden. An enchanting show of projected winter scenes and stories is shown on the side of the structure. This is a beautiful spot to pause for a minute and take in the wonder of the exhibit.
White lights line the other buildings in this area. What is normally a flowing fountain in summer, is not a stunning shower of lights.
Another framed photo op is located just past this area. The path then passes the Observatory and Victorian Garden.
Restrooms are located in the next building you pass if you need a break or want to warm up for a second. A small cottage next door is decorated as the Christmas House.
One of the most stunning displays is the Frosted Forest. Vivid blue and purple lights coat the trees here. One large tree has blue lights reaching high towards the sky.
As the path passes by the Fire and Light display and pools, the building on the right has restrooms and the Cafe Flora. Snacks such as pretzel sticks, meatballs, and cookies are available along with hot cocoa and other beverages.
The next exhibit follows the theme of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Stop for a photo at the Six Geese A-Laying, look for the Seven Swans a Swimming or turn the crank to make the Nine Ladies Dance.
More beautiful lights are located along the path as it winds back towards the exit at the temporary Visitor’s Center.
The eleven drummers drumming display has real drums with provided and cleaned drumsticks are available for kid to make a little noise before posing by the giant lighted reindeer.
The path then exits into the temporary Visitor’s Center and gift shop.
Things to know:
- For 2020, the exhibit opens November 11th and runs until January 2.
- Masks are required for anyone aged 9 and up.
- The model train exhibit and poinsietta show is closed this year sadly.
- Most buildings are closed. Restrooms are located throughout.
- Entry times run from 5:00 p.m. – 8:30. You cannot enter before your time, but may enter anytime in the 15 minute time slot.
- There are lines on each side of the main entrance. Check the sign for which line corresponds to your time. D
- Capacity is at 25% or 150 tickets per time slot. Tickets must be purchased online HERE.
- If you want a less crowded time, the ones on the quarter hour such as 5:15 vs. 5:00 are slightly less popular. Later in the evening is even better. There are almost always tickets available in the 8:00 or later slots.
- Tickets range from $3-$10 for children and $18-$20 for adults. Garden members enjoy a discounted rate. Tickets are required for anyone age 3 and up.
- Through December 9th, Wednesdays are Family nights where children 3-12 are only $3. Other weekday nights are less expensive than weekends.
- Bundle up if it’s cold. Other than the restrooms, cafe, and gift shop, you will be outdoors the whole time.
- Parking is free. The main lot can fill at peak times (6:00-7:30), although with reduced capacity may not be an issue this year. Additional parking is available Metro multi-modal lots at the corner of Shaw Boulevard and South Vandeventer Avenue.
- Additional info and an interactive map are available on the Garden Glow site.