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Lights at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum - Chaska, MN

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is a beloved escape into nature about twenty-five miles southwest of Minneapolis. An offshoot of the University of Minnesota's College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Sciences college, it is both a public garden and an active horticultural research facility that has been bringing in visitors to the southwest suburbs since it opened in 1958.

In fact, it is where the Honeycrisp apple variety was first developed, so your holiday pies can thank us!

Each winter the Arboretum visitors can enjoy Winter Lights, an amazing light display celebrating both the season and agrictulture. Visitors can walk the one-mile trail through and around fourteen different light displays.

Maybe it's because I'm a wuss when it comes to cold (my sanity living in Minnesota despite this is in question), but my favorite part is always the giant poinsettia tree in the Oswald Visitor Center lobby. This is a perfect floral display to welcome visitors and set the tone for the evening, and allows pet owners to get their fill of this festival holiday plant outside of their own homes!

Out along the trail the plants spring from the earth, a reminder that even though life might be dormant under the cold blanket of snow and earth, in just a few short months the area will be filled again with fragrant color .

If you go

Tickets for Winter Lights are $25 per adult and free for children 15 and under. Admission into the Arboretum grounds is included in your ticket cost. Don't want to fight the traffic in the parking lots? A ticket option is also available that includes transportation from the Chaska SouthWest Transit Station (highly recommended if your tickets are not for one of the first two timeslots of the evening.

Nearby Attractions

Calling all Prince fans! Paisley Park is just three miles away. In fact, Prince himself was a huge fan of the Arboretum and it wasn't unusal to come across him walking and hiking through the 1200 acres of gardens and orchards. He was also a major donor to the Arboretum itself.

Close to Paisley is the city of Chanhassen, home to the Chanhassen Dinner Theater and year-round civic events and festivals, including the Tour of Lights.


Although the Arboretum itself is accessible, I do not recommend the walk for those with mobility issues. The ground can be unstable and slippery due to both snow and ice. However, the visitor center and its immediate surroundings have amazing displays as well as a local vendor fair, music on designated evenings, and cafe for snacks and dinner.

Navigating this event with children

Due to the unpredicatble nature of a Minnesota winter, it can be very cold! If your kids get cranky, we find that a light-up necklace from the gift shop goes a long way to put the smiles back on tiny faces. At least long enough to get a family photo!

Nearby Food

The Arboretum does have a cafe, although we greatly prefer eating before we go. Chanhassen is full of recognizable chain restaurants, but we also love both Chanhassen Brewing and Tequila Butcher for locally owned dining establishments.

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