Visit the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in the spring or summer and you'll get lost in 1,300 acres of blossoming gardens and lush woods.
Visit in the winter and it's a serene winter wonderland only 30 minutes from downtown Minneapolis. But you won't hear any sirens or traffic – just the crunching of snow beneath your feet and woodland creatures soaring and scurrying about.
If you're looking for a reason to get outdoors this winter, the arboretum has several.
The new light exhibit
Brand new this year is the arboretum's staff-designed light display.
It's perfect for families or for a date night. (Tip: There's wine inside.)
The arboretum's public relations and media specialist Susie Eaton Hopper says there are seven totally different vignettes to explore.
The one Hopper worked on is like an old farmstead. It's complete with horses, a 1950s tractor, and a big windmill.
Hopper says it's been a huge success this year and they're planning to do it even bigger and better next winter.
The light exhibit is open 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday until Christmas. Then it's open every night until Jan. 1.
Afterwards, you can warm up in the visitor center. There's an indoor light display as well as a 25-foot poinsettia tree that's made up of 550 plants.
Miles of trails
If you're looking for something a bit more active, the arboretum has 16 miles of trails to hike, snowshoe or cross-country ski.
All the trails are rated from easy to difficult. There are also signs at the start of each trail detailing how long it is and how far away the nearest building is, so you know what you're getting into.
You can see all sorts of wildlife if you're quiet. Hopper says they've had albino squirrels, red and gray foxes, eagles, coyotes, and all sorts of birds show up. They actually have three big barred owls that regularly hang out around the trails.
The trails are open year-round and only close on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
A full calendar
The arboretum is constantly hosting different events and offering classes on everything from photography to identifying mushrooms.
On New Year's Eve Day, they will offer guided treks on birding, winter landscapes, and snowshoeing.
You can check out the full calendar here.
The arboretum is free to members or anyone under 15. Otherwise, it's usually $15 to get in the gate.
Hopper says they'll be having two-for-one deals in January though, because that month's theme is health and wellness.
The nonprofit has 27,000 members and gets 500,000 visitors a year.