Photos: Stunning Miniature Chicago Landmarks Shine At Botanic Garden

By Marielle Shaw in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 19, 2016 4:31PM

Now in its 11th year, the Chicago Botanic Garden's Wonderland Express exhibit never fails to bring on the warm cozy holiday feelings.

Each year, it takes a sizable staff, the help of forklifts, and several weeks of work to install the train track, cedar and amazing plants and miniatures that make up the Winter Wonderland Express exhibit. Meanwhile, employees from all departments deck the halls with wreaths of their own design, lights are strung outside, greenhouses garnished with holiday greenery, and the garden's main tree is erected on the Esplanade.

Inside, staff dressed like train conductors help kids find hidden snowmen, learn about the different trains, and catch the organic snowflakes as they fall lazily from the ceiling. Meanwhile, adults wander from area to area marveling at over 80 miniatures representing Chicago's landmarks. Though the theme remains the same, each year brings new things. This year we were treated to real gingerbread houses and, at Wrigley Field, a shiny new "World Series Champs" banner, real LCD screens showing the winning moment, and a fully organic World Series trophy on display right outside the friendly confines.

Wonderland Express is awash in holiday finery, from outdoor lights at night to washes of poinsettias, model trains and more. If you've got family in town, are looking for a holiday themed date night, or just haven't quite found your holiday spirit yet, we suggest taking a drive (or hopping on the Metra to the Glencoe or Northbrook stations) and having a stroll in the greenest, lushest, most pastoral version of our fair city you'll ever find. Tickets for Wonderland Express, which runs until January 2nd, are $13 general admission, and $11 for members, with additional fees for parking. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets online.