If you haven’t yet wandered through the magical lights and sights and sounds of The NightGarden, well, you might want to get on that. All your friends and neighbors have great photos and videos by now, and all you have are tired Instagrams of your Thanksgiving dinner. And it looks like you overcooked that turkey.
But we are here to help you navigate this 23-acre display at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, which runs through Jan. 6.
As always, we have a few tips on how to make your ramble through this sensory overload of a forest a little more enjoyable.
The food and drink situation
First things first. There’s a bar to your left when you first walk in (after you show your ticket or wristband and run the security gauntlet). The glow of The NightGarden shines brighter after an adult beverage, though not if you’re trying to keep a couple of toddlers from diving into the fairy grotto.
There’s a window open for snacks at The Glasshouse Cafe. Not too far past that, you’ll find a few food trucks, too. One of them has churros. Miami loves churros.
Don’t let your kids rip these out of the ground, OK?
This seems obvious, but we are taking no chances. On opening night we had barely crossed the entrance to this wonderland when some kid of about 8 or 9 yanked one of these lights out of the ground. PARENTING FAIL. There’s lots to see here, not so much to touch. Maybe discuss this important fact while waiting to get in?
Don’t panic if there’s a line
The first section of The NightGarden is the most crowded, because everyone stops and oohs and ahhs and takes a bunch of photos. You should do this, too. That’s the whole point. Just ask the little kids. When they spot their first fairy hologram, happy chaos ensues.
Want to avoid the crowds and the kids? Go later in the evening. The NightGarden is packed at 6 p.m., but by 8:30 when we left there was no line. It’s open until 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and until 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
The pathway is a rainbow of color. Side note: Later on the route, the path isn’t paved, so watch your step. It’s dark, remember?
Pro tip: Keep doing this.
Look at the people around you
Sometimes they’re part of the show (and so are you).
Some images vanish, then reappear. Take your time to see them all, or better yet, go back through the NightGarden a second time.
This talking tree imparts wisdom
When we asked him the best place to live in Miami, he said, “Kendall.”
You can let your kids run around here
This part is kind of like a rave minus drugs plus shrieking, joyful kids. Also there’s another bar so the adults are shrieking and joyful, too.
The dandelion forest is lit
You are absolutely required to take a photo here.
They saved the best for last
Butterflies! Colorful trees!
Now you can go to bed happy.
The NightGarden at Fairchild
Where: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Road, Miami
Hours: 6-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 6-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; from Nov. 23-Jan. 6
Tickets: Fairchild members: $20 for adults, $15 for kids. Nonmembers: $28 adults, $20 for kids. Season passes also available. Visit TheNightGarden.com