Missouri Botanical Garden: Garden Glow (St. Louis)

HOliday Garden GLow

We visited the Missouri Botanical Garden: Garden Glow event in December and we LOVED it! Check out all the great details here!

Every December, I like to head somewhere awesome to check out Christmas lights. We’ve seen lots of local places around us – neat houses, whole communities and streets covered in lights, lighted parks and parades.

But for 3 years, I’ve been trying to make the trip down to St. Louis to see their Missouri Botanical Garden’s Garden Glow.  This year, we finally made it (and it was even 50 degrees out that day)!


What is the Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden?

Starting the weekend before Thanksgiving and continuing through New Year’s (January 4th, 2019 is the last day for this year), the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis transforms into a Christmas wonderland!

They use over one million lights to decorate the gardens, and there is music, interactive displays, festive drinks, food, and more!

The cost for adults is $14-18 and for children (3+) it is $8-10, depending on the day of the week.

On Monday and Tuesday nights in December, Santa Claus is also there.

garden glow pond view 1

Garden Glow Details

We went on December 22nd, the Sunday before Christmas. We figured it would be pretty crowded, because everyone was now on Christmas break and feeling pretty festive.

The Garden Glow starts each night at 5:00pm, and when you buy your tickets, you select an entrance time. There is an entrance time every 15 minutes. By the time we bought our tickets (buy ahead! They sell out!), the earliest available time was 6:15pm.

We got in line around six (more details about that below), and we were let in at exactly 6:15pm. Everything was orderly and organized and easy.


Related: Why I Won’t Make My Child Sit on Santa’s Lap

The Nitty Gritty Details of the Botanical Garden Glow

Parking is for sure one thing you’re wondering about. I always wonder how much parking is going to cost and how crowded and difficult it is to find a spot!

Parking was free, which is a huge draw for me! There is parking right at the botanical garden, but by the time we got there at 5:45, the spots were completely full. Plus, it was super congested everywhere around it for entering and exiting, so we didn’t really want to try to park there anyway.

There are overflow parking lots before you get to the parking lots, and we had no problem finding a spot there. It only took us about 5 minutes to walk to the garden.

When we got to the garden, we were about 15 minutes early. There was a line on one side for the 6:00pm entrance, and the 6:15 line was on the other side. At exactly 6:!5, they let us in, and since we had a stroller, we took the elevator upstairs. It was a quick scan-and-enter. So no long waits – huge plus for me!

garden glow light dome 1

Our Experience at the Garden Glow

Now for the fun stuff – the actual Missouri Botanical Garden Glow! Guys, it was so neat! They had all sorts of different lights – simple lights, motion lights set to music, everything! There was a pond with beautiful balls of light set up in it. They had fire pits around it, and you could buy s’mores kits to use over the fire. There were even a few places with chimes for the kids to experiment with and play.

One of my favorite parts was the last third of the Botanical Garden Glow. The entire thing was a huge interpretation of the 12 Days of Christmas. Some of the setups were funny – 4 calling birds was four birds using a telephone – and some were interactive – at the drummers drumming, kids were able to actually drum on things!

Another favorite of mine was the labyrinth maze. The typical garden maze was decked out entirely in white lights and it was beautiful to walk through. Note: We have a pretty compact stroller, and it was still hard to push it through the garden maze. I’d recommend leaving someone to wait with it instead of hauling it through!


Related: Our Favorite Christmas Traditions

missouri botanical garden glow victorian house 1

Garden Glow – Photo Opportunities and Snacks/Drink

I loved the two bridges/tunnels that were constructed entirely of lights. They were beautiful to walk through and made for great photo opportunities. *People stop a lot to take photos, so be prepared for that.* We walked around a lot of people and didn’t wait to take a photo, since we had an impatient toddler. Ha.

There was even a snow globe that you could stand in and have someone take your photo. Camden wasn’t in the mood for it, so we skipped it, but the line wasn’t terrible. And it was so, so neat!

As far as snacks and drinks go, there are the s’mores, like I mentioned above. The Garden Glow also sells regular hot chocolate and spiked hot chocolate. We tried the most popular – hot chocolate with marshmallow vodka and peppermint schnapps – and it was pretty good!

There is also a cafe to buy food from as well.

garden glow victorian decorations 1

Even More: Victorian-Style Christmas

There’s a Victorian house-museum (Sach’s Museum) on the property, and it was all decked out in a Victorian-style Christmas. When we walked in, there were Christmas trees decorated with paper ornaments. All of the kids could color and decorate their own ornament and then either take it with them or add it to the big trees. It’s a fun activity to help keep the kids interested!

I loved walking through all of the beautiful rooms and seeing all of the gorgeous Christmas decor. there were lots of signs and information to read, but there were enough people that it was hard to take the time to stop and read them all.

Note: The house is not stroller accessible, so you have to leave your stroller at the front with the attendant. She stated that she doesn’t leave that spot and keeps an eye on the strollers. I felt okay leaving ours there. (I’m usually very nervous to leave your stroller anywhere.) 

poinsettia and miniature train show1

Bonus: Poinsettia and Miniature Train Show

Through the Christmas season, the greenhouse at the Missouri Botanical Garden holds the Poinsettia and Miniature Train Show, which, while not part of the Garden Glow, is included with your admission.

Guys – this part is so cool! There are poinsettias and beautifully decorated trees covering the entire greenhouse. And through all the beautiful greenery, there are multiple trains running through villages and over tracks. Thomas the Train even appears at one point!

When you enter, the kids are given a scavenger hunt to find all of the Rudolph characters throughout the greenhouse. It’s a smart way to keep the kids engaged and let you have some time to look at things too.

Sadly, Camden fell asleep in the stroller two-thirds of the way through the Botanical Garden Glow, and we left this for last, because we didn’t know where it was located. He would have loved this! I can’t wait to take him back another year to enjoy all of the trains!

christmas tree garden glow missouri 1

My Overall Thoughts on the Missouri Botanical Garden – Garden Glow 2019

I loved the entire thing! It wasn’t super stressful to park or get in, and I didn’t feel overly crowded the whole time. We enjoyed all of the lights and attractions.

Camden did really, really well (especially because we took him to the Magic House for the first part of the day) and I think it was because the lights and music were engaging. I think, if we went back when he was older, we’d probably skip the Victorian house, because I don’t think he’d love that.

Overall, the Missouri Botanical Garden put on a beautiful Garden Glow. I am already planning a return trip in the future!

If you missed the Garden Glow this year, save this post and add it to your Christmas agenda for next year!



Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram to see all the fun places we visit! 



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