This Field of Light is the Coolest After-dark Activity in California

Artist Bruce Munro's work is a colorful fusion of nature, technology, and art.

Photo: Bruce Munro ©

Located just three hours north of Los Angeles, travelers will find what can only be described as one of the coolest outdoor art exhibits in the nation. Artist Bruce Munro fully transformed a hillside farm in Paso Robles into an outdoor walk-through art experience known as "Light at Sensorio." The site is comprised of two exhibits: The 15-acre sprawling Field of Light exhibit, which opened in 2019, and the adjacent Light Towers exhibit, which opened in 2021. Both pieces are entirely powered by solar, for a completely green display that adds to the awe of their inspiration.

Field of Light

Munro used more than 58,800 thinly-stemmed spheres lit by fiber-optics to "gently illuminate the landscape in subtle blooms of morphing color that describe the undulating landscape," according to the exhibit's website.

The spheres light up at sunset, growing stronger as the sky gets darker, and eventually filling the entire hillside with a colorful fusion of nature, technology, and art. Launched in May 2019 and considered to be one of Paso's most popular attractions, people come from all around to walk among the oak trees on paths adorned with light.

Light Towers

Munro's second installation, Light Towers, opened in April of 2021. This eco-friendly display is made of 17,388 wine bottles to celebrate Paso Robles' wine country and will be on exhibit for years to come before the materials are properly recycled at the end of its span.

Light Towers features 69 towers, each seven feet tall and made up of 252 wine bottles that come alive to music using optic fiber technology. Orlando Gough composed the song "Rise and Shine" — a piece that utilizes rubbed wine glasses paired with a vocal ensemble — specifically for the space. The Guardian describes the entire experience as, "Art you feel, rather than art you view."

Operating Schedule and Ticketing

Light at Sensorio is open Thursday to Sunday through December 31, with a few notable exceptions — it's open Monday, Sept. 5, for Labor Day; Wednesday, Nov. 23 instead of Thursday, Nov. 24 for Thanksgiving; closed on Dec. 24 and 25 for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day; and open all week from Dec. 26–31. Beyond that, check the exhibit's website for future dates.

While the exhibits' hours of operation vary depending on the date, the attraction is generally open between 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. through September, with special hours of 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Sep. 1–5; 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. October through Nov. 5; and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. the rest of November and December.

Several ticketing options are available for purchase. General admission costs $47, and children ages three to 12 get in for $26 (ages two and under get in free). General admission guests can show up anytime during hours of operation. Once inside, you're welcome to stay as long as you want up until closing, though 60–90 minutes are recommended to fully enjoy the exhibits.

For those looking for a grander experience, the VIP Experience is the way to go, as it grants you admission to the exhibit, as well as access to a private viewing terrace for the best vantage point. The pass costs $85.00, plus a $6.79 fee, which also includes access to an Airstream bar and fire tables, and one drink ticket, redeemable for either a glass of house red or white wine, a beer, or a soft drink. You can also opt for the VIP Experience & VIP Platter option, complete with your choice of charcuterie or crudité platter, for $110, plus a $7.42 fee (all prices mentioned are per person).

Food and Live Music

Don't worry! General admission viewers won't go hungry, as the Sensorio Kitchen offers a variety of appetizers, entrées, and desserts, all made with local ingredients. The kitchen's menu is also graced with desserts like beignets and filled churros, as well as vegetarian options, hot dogs, burgers, and chicken and salmon sandwiches, among other tasty treats. There's also an on-site Ricky's Tacos food truck in case you're in the mood for tacos, burritos, nachos, housemade guacamole and salsa, and other Mexican food favorites.

Though the star of the show, most certainly, is the flickering light display, live local musicians take the stage every night from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Guests can enjoy everything from folk and funk to rock and blues depending on the night's lineup, alongside food and drink on the main lawn area.

Sensorio is truly an interactive art experience unlike any other. Come wearing comfortable shoes to enjoy the half-mile stroll around the property. It may take some time, but it's wildly worth it.

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