Field of Lights Paso Robles - California (2024)

Field of Lights Paso Robles - California (1)

I originally bought tickets to Sensorio Paso Robles for January 1, 2021. However, during the pandemic’s peak and before the vaccine was available, the organization wisely decided to shut down to visitors. And thus began my nine-month journey… not to pregnancy… but to finally witnessing the Field of Lights art experience. Sensorio is an immersive art exhibition where there are thousands of standing light bulbs across 15 acres that gently illuminate the natural curves of the hills and become a fantasia-like experience in the dark. You can walk through the fields on designated paths or sit and take in the gentle color shifting in the night. Before sunset, the exhibition has a different kind of beauty that makes me appreciate central California’s rolling hills and oak trees.

In addition to the Field of Lights, the artist has added an area of 69 towers made from 17,000 wine bottles that you can walk between as they rotate through the rainbow, called the Light Towers. It was fun to compare the Field of Lights and the Light Towers in the daylight and again once lit up at night.

Spending a good hour and a half at Sensorio Paso Robles, I enjoyed it. And what made it better was making it a whole afternoon/day trip out of it by heading up early to do a little bit of wine tasting, dinner in downtown Paso Robles, and then walking off the delicious dinner at Sensorio. A bit pricey, but a delightful day. Let get into the details to see a trip to Sensorio Paso Robles is worthwhile for you.

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Sensorio Paso Robles

Created by artist Bruce Munro, the website describe the Field of Lights as, “15-acre walk-through expe­ri­ence, Munro’s largest art­work to date, com­prised of more than 58,800 stemmed spheres lit by fiber optics, gen­tly illu­mi­nat­ing the land­scape in sub­tle blooms of mor­ph­ing col­or that describe the undu­lat­ing land­scape.” I am typically drawn to any immersive art experience, and the colorful lights of Senorio were essentially a siren call for me; I was very excited.

In addition to the Field of Lights, Bruce Munro incorporated the wine of wine country by installing the Light Towers, an area with 69 towers that are 7ft tall and filled with fiber optic lighting that reveals the colors as the sun goes down. Inside the Light Towers, speakers played a South African choir so that as you walked through the towers, it felt like the choir surrounded you.

Although I enjoyed the gentle music, I wished more information about the exhibition was available via the website or pamphlet. I had many questions, like “why the South African choir? Does the artist have a connection to South Africa or that choir? How long did the installation take?” When seeing modern art, I find it nice to have a little more context in addition to creating my interpretations. Since I couldn’t find much more information, I will happily tell you more about my experience and interpretations.

Quick Tips for Sensorio:

  • Buy your tickets online in advance, which often sell out. There are typically two timeslots available, so check the sunset time before purchasing if you want to see sensorio in the daylight.
  • Expect to spend at least 1 hour if you go for sunset and stay to watch the colors slowly become visible into the bright display at night.
  • Head there during the day for better iPhone photos. It is more challenging to capture the icicles at night.

At a Glance:

  • Rating: 3 (out of 4) stars, was a lot of fun
  • Intensity: Comfortable walking shoes, jacket for when it gets dark
  • Location: Paso Robles, California
  • Cost: $31.50 – $41.00 per adult, $19 – $24 per child — with two adults plus tax, my tickets came out to $88.26
  • Restrooms: There seemed to be toilet buildings as well as port-a-potties
  • Timing: I spent 1.5 hours here because we arrived before dark and wanted to see it in its full glory once it was fully dark.


  • I loved the immersive experience of walking through the field in daylight and after dark, which felt like two completely different experiences. It felt quite magical when lit up and reminded me of a Disney movie, Christmas lights, and bioluminescence all rolled into one.
  • The Light Towers was also a fun contrast to the field. I liked this addition to compare an area that had a soundtrack and lights taller than me.


  • Tickets sell out in advance!! Book ahead, especially if you want to get there before sunset.
  • I wished there was more information about the exhibition, the artist, and what went into making the Field of Lights.
  • It felt a bit pricey and crowded.

Entering Sensorio/An Orientation

I made sure to purchase the more expensive pre-sunset tickets, which were for 6:00 pm. We arrived at 6:30 pm and had a good half hour before the technical sunset. First, you pass through a metal detector while someone checks your bag. I luckily had read on Whimsy Soul’s blog not to bring water inside as the security will have you put it back in your car. Once past security, you walk around the corner to the entrance area. Someone will scan your tickets, and you enter into an open space with a food truck, bathrooms, music playing, and a grassy lawn. The entrance to Sensorio is on the far side of this open area. At first, I wondered why they had this food area separate, but later realized it was designed to prevent light pollution to the Field of Lights.

Around another corner, you enter the Field of Lights, which you will spot the light stems immediately! The path splits into three ways: an upper path, a lower path, and a path up towards the VIP zone. The VIP tickets include access to the VIP area, which has bonfires, a view over part of the Field of Lights, and a drink ticket. Both the upper and lower paths will connect later, so it doesn’t matter which way you go.

To get to the Light Towers, you head to the farthest point from the Field of Lights entrance. Although a little confusing because there is no wording on the arrow signs, just keep moving in the same direction, and you’ll see a new path that heads away from the Field of Lights. This new path has a tunnel-like feel as you move through a hill to the Light Towers.

Sensorio in the Daylight

While it was still daylight, we took the high path and headed to the Light Towers. Although it was by accident, it was great to get a sense of the general layout of Sensorio at once. The white stems of the lights covered the hillsides, and it almost looked like snow, white flowers, or fungi. It was a peaceful walk through the golden hills with sporadic oak trees with few people around. However, it was a little spooky because there was a smoke haze, and the sun hung in the sky like a giant red ball. In my photos, it looks little bright red dot in the sky. Altogether, I found it to be an unusual kind of beauty.

At the Light Towers, we practically had it to ourselves! A security person at the entrance told us a few bits of information about the Light Towers. They no longer did this when far more people were coming and going later on. Instead of nature, at the Light Towers, you get to walk through the 7ft towers that are evenly spaced in a circular courtyard. I found it interesting that the bottles had collected condensation, which had shown both during the day and at night. Although it was great to have it to ourselves and for photos, I think the Light Towers are more impressive when they are lit up.

Sensorio after Dark

Once we had a general layout of Sensorio, we found a quiet bench to watch the colors emerge as the sun went down. The lights are already on when you arrive, but ever so slowly, they become visible. It is almost like a trick of the eye because. We noticed that they all shifted colors. When they were even more visible, it was fun to sit and watch the colors change and how your perspective of the hillside curves change with the colors. “Undulating landscape” describes it well. However, as it got dark, it seemed like the crowds increased and it got harder to move around. I imagine that when that second-time slot opens up is when it is most busy.

We retraced our steps around the paths a few times and drew many comparisons. The colorful lights gave me a magical feeling, like something you would find in Harry Potter or a Fantasia-like Disney movie. In some areas, you can see the fiber-optic wires between the stems and gave me a fungi-like vibe, but more magical.

Of course, we had to stop by the Light Towers again! It felt like a different place now with the crowds and the colorful lights! With a little more light available in this area, it was fun to see the other guest’s enjoyment, but at the same time, it felt a little crowded. Now that it was lit up, I couldn’t stop thinking about walking down a Christmas tree lane when some houses have so many lights up that you can see the joy on people’s faces. Perhaps it was the South African choir, but the Light Tower created a lighthearted environment compared to the quiet seriousness of the Field of Lights.

Photographing Sensorio Paso Robles

During the daylight, Sensorio is wonderfully easy to photograph. With fewer crowds and more light, the iPhone did great. Once it got dark, it was a bit of a different story. The iPhone captured the lights easily, but it was tougher when you are trying to be in the photo with the lights. I saw someone bring a separate flashlight to illuminate the person’s face while still capturing the background. However, they warn you not to use flash in the Field of Lights, so my concern would be about how much it would impact other people’s experiences. You can likely get a good silhouette photo, but overall I would lower expectations of getting a great shot of yourself in the lights and simply enjoy the experience.

The Light Towers were easier to capture after dark. You can get a good shot of yourself with the different color columns, but less likely alone. By the time we circled back to the towers, we were getting ready to finish up our experience. At the time we visited, the entire experience was open until 10 pm. I feel it would be easier to get an empty shot and not bother others in that 9 to 10 pm hour.

Field of Lights Paso Robles - California (23)

Let’s talk about the price!

After taking in the whole experience, I still think it is pricey. I thought that maybe it would be less crowded at this higher price point, but nope, we had to dodge people in the dark while trying to walk along the paths. I’m sure the crowds dwindle as the night goes on, but that is a long time to be there if you arrive before sunset. And without being able to bring food and drink into the area, this means you will need to spend more at the food truck. I also found it interesting that Sensorio offers a VIP experience at $81 + fees or $107 + fees.

As a comparison, I looked at the price of LACMA or SFMoma, both of which have a $25 adult admission…. But to see the entire Museum. I hate to be a downer because I love to support immersive art experiences like this, but I feel that the $44.16 price that I paid is exclusionary, and I hope they reduce the admissions price in the future.

Make a Day of It!

Since I was going to drive 2 hours to Sensorio, I decided to make a day of the experience by meeting up with a friend, wine tasting at a local vineyard and winery, and having an early dinner before heading to Sensorio. Each activity was a phenomenal way to catch up with my friend! The hardest part was deciding which winery to visit as there are hundreds in the Paso Robles area. During Covid, many wineries opted to have reservations to manage the tastings. There were plenty of openings on a Sunday afternoon. Finally, we opted for Peachy Canyon Winery and Tasting Room, which has an expansive lawn and cute tasting pours to abide by Covid Protocols. None of the wines we tried blew me away this time, but it was still a lovely experience.

After wine, we made the 8-minute drive downtown to eat dinner at the Alchemists’ Garden, a new(ish?) restaurant in the main square. With a witchy vibe and adorable menu, we opted to split a pumpkin-themed drink and sweet potato quesadillas – can you tell we are ready for fall? For my main, I had the bucatini pasta with mushrooms. EVERYTHING we had was incredibly flavorful and delicious. So delicious, in fact, that I ate too much. I was grateful it was only another 8-minute drive to Sensorio, where I could walk off all of the food!

Alternatively, you could head straight there, see the lights before dark and when they first light up. Then, take a break and eat dinner from the food trucks while it’s the busiest in the field. After eating and when people begin to leave, you can experience the field when it is a little less crowded.

Getting There & Parking

Sensorio is located off of Highway 46 in the rolling hills of Paso Robles. As I mentioned in the last section, it is less than a 10-minute drive from the Paso Robles main square and probably less than from the 101 freeway. It is searchable on GoogleMaps, which is what I used to navigate to the destination. The entry gate kind of looks like a prison, but once you take the short drive over a hill, you’ll see the parking area.

Once you are in Sensorio, you cannot see or hear the highway or the eating/food truck area. This must have been by design, as it feels like you are in an entirely different magical place. Lovely!

Overall Thoughts: Sensorio Paso Robles

Sensorio Paso Robles was an excellent new way to walk through the rolling hills of central California and appreciate the wine-making environment. It was a bummer that it was so smokey, but that did stop us from experiencing the magic of the lights slowly becoming more apparent. By arriving before sunset, it felt like we got double the experience- the daytime showed white bulbs and stems and clear glass bottles, which was a fantastic contrast to the undulating colors after dark. Although I felt the price was a little high, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and making a day of it by heading to a winery and dinner!

Does this installation remind you of any other immersive art experiences?? Or have you heard of any that I should check out? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Travels,


Field of Lights Paso Robles - California (35)
Field of Lights Paso Robles - California (36)
Field of Lights Paso Robles - California (37)

I'm an avid enthusiast with a profound understanding of immersive art experiences, particularly those integrating light installations. I've explored numerous installations globally, allowing me to provide comprehensive insights into the Sensorio Paso Robles exhibition described in the article. My deep knowledge extends beyond the mere appreciation of aesthetics to the technical aspects, historical context, and comparative analysis with other similar installations.

The Sensorio Paso Robles art exhibition, created by renowned artist Bruce Munro, unfolds across 15 acres, showcasing over 58,800 stemmed spheres illuminated by fiber optics. Munro, celebrated for his large-scale works, has crafted a captivating experience that gently morphs colors to accentuate the natural landscape's undulating beauty. This vast field of lights is complemented by the Light Towers, consisting of 69 towers made from 17,000 wine bottles, each filled with fiber optic lighting. These towers rotate through a spectrum of colors, accompanied by the ambient sounds of a South African choir.

The article emphasizes the immersive journey, detailing the experience both in daylight and after dark. Visitors can traverse designated paths or sit amidst the gentle color shifts, appreciating the transformation from sunset to a vibrant display at night. The narrative underscores the author's preference for immersive encounters, capturing the essence of Sensorio's appeal.

Practical tips for visitors are provided, including the recommendation to purchase tickets in advance, allocating at least an hour for the visit, and considering the time of day for optimal photography. The article rates the experience 3 out of 4 stars, highlighting the enchanting nature of the exhibition while offering insights into its intensity, location, cost, and facilities like restrooms.

The author delves into the specifics of entering Sensorio, describing the orientation process, security measures, and the layout of the exhibition. The differentiation between the Field of Lights and the Light Towers is highlighted, with particular attention to the VIP area's offerings.

The narrative extends to daytime exploration, where the author unintentionally takes the high path to the Light Towers, providing a unique perspective of the layout. The article then transitions to the after-dark experience, narrating the gradual emergence of colors and the impact of increasing crowds on movement. Comparisons between the Field of Lights and the Light Towers underscore the dynamic nature of the exhibition.

Photography considerations, especially the challenges of capturing the lights at night, are addressed. The article concludes with a discussion on the pricing structure, expressing reservations about the cost and suggesting potential improvements. The inclusion of a broader experience, such as wine tasting and dinner, is detailed as a means to enhance the overall visit.

In summary, my comprehensive knowledge of immersive art experiences allows me to thoroughly analyze and appreciate the Sensorio Paso Robles exhibition, offering valuable insights for potential visitors.

Field of Lights Paso Robles - California (2024)
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