The Christmas season is one of my favorite times of the year. I love seeing all the decorations and lights go up around town, listening to holiday music and snuggling up with the kids drinking hot chocolate watching Christmas movies. Holiday baking and reading Christmas books are also common occurrences in our house during this festive season. This year however, it has been difficult for me to throw myself into the Christmas season like I usually do. Perhaps it’s because we’ve been so busy, I’m not certain. Whatever the reason, I haven’t had much time to think about Christmas. To change that, I’ve tried to pack in as many Christmas activities as possible. First, we visited the Christkindlmarket in Chicago. We have a trip to Lincoln Park Zoo planned to see Zoo Lights next week. And last Saturday, we visited the Wonderland Express at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
The Chicago Botanic Garden has become one of my favorite places in the Chicago area. The grounds are beautiful in the spring through the fall, carefully groomed to perfection. This was our first experience going to the Wonderland Express. We found that it only adds to the charm of the garden.
The Wonderland Express will keep any guest, young or old, captivated throughout the whole exhibit. Upon entrance, I felt as though we were transported into a fairytale full of lights and magic. In a small way, I felt like Clara from The Nutcracker- like I fell asleep and woke up in a dream world. Trees wrapped in charming white lights towered above small red flowers expertly arranged around miniature replicas of notable Chicago landmarks. Artificial snow realistically dusted each scene. Trains weaved in and out of each scene and captivated the many children in attendance. Train whistles added to the charm of the exhibit.
Ladybug had her eyes peeled the entire time; it was hard to get her to move on to the next scene. She loved watching the trains pass and always wanted to wait until they came back. Even Buddy, who is usually only interested in perfecting his crawling skills and causing destruction- in the name of curiosity, of course- everywhere he goes, squealed with excitement and stopped to watch every time he heard a whistle or saw a train pass.
To make the Wonderland Express even more fun for everyone, guests are given a bingo board at the entrance of the exhibit with stickers to mark the things they see. The boxes ranged from notable Chicago landmarks like Navy Pier or the Willis Tower to general items they see like snow or a suitcase. Ladybug loved being able to put the sticker on the picture, though I’m pretty sure I did most of the finding. I don’t mind, though, since I was having just as much fun as she was.
Children aren’t the only ones who love the Wonderland Express. The further I went in this fairytale world the more enchanted I became. I didn’t want it to end. But eventually, all good things do come to an end and we returned to the real world. Until next year, that is. We look forward to visiting the Wonderland Express again next holiday season.
Tips for Visiting the Wonderland Express
- Admission to the Wonderland Express is $13 for adults, $10 for children. Under 3s get in free. You can buy your tickets here or at the exhibit.
- Admission to the Botanic Garden is free, however, unless you are a member, you will need to pay for parking.
- Hours are 10 am- 5 pm until December 15th. After the 15th, they switch to 10 am- 7 pm.
- Strollers are not permitted in the exhibit but there is ample stroller parking outside the building if you need it to see more of the garden.
Would you want to visit the Wonderland Express?
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