We recently went to China Lights at Boerner Botanical Gardens. We enjoyed it so much that we’ve already marked our family calendar for next year’s exhibit. If you have a chance to go, it’s worth the drive!
Boerner Botanical Gardens is located in Hales Corner, about a 30-40 drive from the North Shore area. For those who don’t know this about me, I’m a 20-minute radius gal. I despise road trips, which I define as any car ride that’s an hour or more.
China Lights doesn’t qualify as a road trip, but it’s outside my zone. If I spend that much time driving, it should be worthwhile. For us, China Lights gets a thumbs up.
I recommend buying your tickets in advance and arriving a little before dusk. You’ll get the full effect of the lighted displays this way and be able to avoid any lines at the ticket booth.
When you first enter, you’ll be struck by the scale and detail of the installations and the music floating through the air. You’ll catch glimpses of lights through the trees all around you. Veer to the right, and you’ll be at the food vendor area with picnic tables. There’s a kettle corn stand in the center of the site, so the whole place smells wonderful! There are also sausages/brats and pizza for those who prefer standard fare. For Chinese food lovers, ordering is pretty easy, thanks to a sidewalk easel showing pictures of each dish and corresponding numbers by which to order. They have dumplings, bubble tea, rice bowls, shrimp crisps, sweet buns, and egg rolls. There’s even Tsingtao, a Chinese lager-style beer.
We got a little turned around, but some on-site employees steered us in the right direction. If you go straight upon entry and then go left, you’ll be at the starting point. Once you’re on the right path, it will take you through the entire exhibit.
There are several interactive displays too. A tree lights up as you play the drums in front of it, and a cannon blows smoke when you step on its sensor about 20 feet away. This one is fun if you coordinate with someone to blow smoke at unsuspecting members of your group. An animated bird display has a little microphone box in front of them; if you speak into it, the birds will parrot back what you say.
The restrooms are REAL and are located inside the adorable visitor’s center. It looks like an English cottage, complete with a low slanted roof, river rock, and a front porch. Inside, across from the restrooms, there’s a large room with an origami workshop. No reservation is required!
We love that the theme changes annually. We’ll be back next year!
FOR MORE INFO & TICKETS CLICK HERE