The holidays are the only time of the year when it’s appropriate to point at a dead plant and expect a kiss. Channel your mistletoe horticultural failure into romance with today’s Groupon: for $9, you get two adult admissions to Luminaria Nights from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Choose one of the following dates:
- Friday, December 2
- Saturday, December 3
- Sunday, December 4<p>
For 25 years, stylists of seasonal lights have picked a wintry weekend to line Tucson’s diverse gardens with thousands of luminarias before inviting visitors to take an after-hours stroll among the brightened trees and wreaths. Luminaria Nights visitors have access to every acre of foliage, from the backyard bird garden and herb garden to Aloe Alley. Electrifying the garden grounds are 30 entertainment troupes, including a Flamenco fusion band, an Irish folk trio, a bluegrass outfit, and a reindeer-baiting hand-bell choir. Local vendors fuel twilight treks through the seedy scenery with flavorful fare, such as pizza and hot dogs, and cups of Trader Joe’s cider warm hands and hearts.
Tucson Botanical Gardens
Nearly a half century ago, horticulturist Harrison G. Yocum opened his backyard to the public, displaying a bounteous collection of cacti and palms. After a few relocations, expansions, and the establishment of a nonprofit charter, Tucson Botanical Gardens now spreads 17 distinct plots across more than 5 acres. A delicate rumble hearkens the arrival of the Garden Railway miniature train, which winds through gardens uniquely dedicated to birds, butterflies, wildflowers, and traditional Native American crops. Admission—which is free for garden members and children younger than 3—grants passage to five different tours, and groups of 10 or more can arrange self-guided or docent-led tours at a discounted rate. If visitors awaken their appetites by savoring aromas from the onsite herb garden or by staring at clouds shaped like canned goods, they can dig in at the Gardens' Café, where sun spills through a slatted gazebo onto iron tables loaded with roast-beef baguettes and mexican tortilla soup.