1) Welcome to a Winter Wonderland! Make sure to pre-purchase your tickets (it’s a required), park the car and prepare to be enveloped in the lights of the Entry Garden. Beautiful, colored sparkles will surround you from all angles as you climb the stairs.
2) Make a quick stop in the Visitor Center to prepare for the journey ahead. For those with children in tow, request a scavenger hunt from the reception team. Restrooms are available in the Visitor Center as well as the Garden Shop and the Farmer and the Fork Café. You’ll have an opportunity to further explore both before the end of the night. Don’t forget to pick up a map, so you don’t miss a thing.
3) Start your journey with a stroll to the Lawn Garden where the scope of the winter lights experience will come alive with thousands of lights strung throughout the trees, shrubs, and landscaping. You might notice a palette of sunset colors and shapes glowing as you stroll the loop. Peek over the railing and into the Secret Garden for a magical moon scene.?
4) Go back in time as you walk past the 18th century farmhouse. You can’t miss the botanically-inspired iron work that marks the entry to the Garden Within Reach and its ancient and inspiring towering ash tree. You might begin to imagine how many people have walked under its branches throughout hundreds of winters passed. ?
5) Step inside and head into the Limonaia, a large indoor greenhouse, just off of the Visitor Center’s lobby. Soak in the warmth and fragrance of subtropical plants, blooms, and citrus fruits as you make your way to a model train in its alpine forest. You might feel 10 years old again for just a moment.
6) Head back into the lobby and then outside into the Winter Garden where you’ll find a large heated fountain with two spouting box turtle statues. Warm your hands by the firepit and make plans to return later with s’mores ingredients sold at the concession stand.
7) When you cross through the Winter Garden, you’ll re-enter the facilities to experience the Orangerie, a second large conservatory. Close your eyes and use your other senses to be swept away to a jungle paradise. Re-open your eyes to spot the inspiring Bromeliad tree, a large holiday tree form made out of dozens of houseplants. ?
8) Upon leaving the conservatory, you’ll pass the concession stand, where you might want to pick up some hot cocoa or warm cider to carry on your next excursion through the lighted Systematic Garden and its Rainbow Tunnel, through the Firefly Forest that is one of many show-stoppers along the route, and back down to the Hilltop Forest which by day has views of the Wachusett Reservoir below and by night is covered with winter lights for your enjoyment.?
9) Once you’re back inside the Visitors Center there are decorations and discoveries around every corner including a Winter Wings celebration of pollinators and a Story Den celebration of the children’s book The Mitten in the library. You may want to purchase some farm-sourced seasonal food from the cafe before revisiting some of your favorite spots (s’mores at the firepit!). After the enlightening experience, you’ll probably want to browse the Garden Shop to take a piece of New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill home with you or stop by the membership table to learn more about how you can make them your new four season happy place. Either way, we bet you’ll be making plans to come back soon.
Content sponsored by: New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill