Do you have a family member who loves trains? Do you live in the New York City area? If so, then I highly recommend visiting the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) Holiday Train Show. You can still see the show through January 18th.
My father is a train enthusiast and collects model trains. Since we are very much into experiences, rather than things, we bought tickets for my parents as part of their Christmas present. Our family had never been to the train show and we thought it would be a fun experience for the kids to enjoy with their grandparents.
If you arrive at the NYBG by car, you must pay $15 to park on site…welcome to The Bronx! Another transportation option is the Metro North (Harlem line) train station directly across from the NYBG. Ticket prices for the train show during the weekend are $30 for adults, $28 for seniors and $18 for children ages 2-12. Tickets are cheaper prior to the peak holiday week/weekends. Definitely a little pricey, but the ticket price includes access to all the gardens, including the children’s garden. However, depending on how cold it is, you many not want to wander through the outdoor gardens. In the middle of winter, there’s not really much to see.
When you purchase tickets you need to select a time to enter the exhibit, which is held in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. The exhibit entry times are in 15 minute increments from 9 AM to 5:30 PM weekends and 10 AM to 5 PM weekdays. We chose an 11 AM entry time but arrived at the NYBG around 10 AM. Luckily, the weather was pretty mild and we were able to walk through the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden prior to seeing the train exhibit.
The 30 minutes we spent in the children’s garden area wasn’t enough time to enjoy everything there. There are several outside, interactive displays as well as inside activities led by educators that the kids, due to lack of time, unfortunately, didn’t get a chance to participate in.
The NYBG is very efficient in lining up visitors for the train show. A clock notes the ticket boarding time that they are admitting. We arrived on line at 10:45 for our 11 AM entry and were ushered right onto line. Strollers are not permitted in the exhibit and must be parked in the designated area. You first enter a small tent and watch a short video describing the exhibits and the work that goes into making each piece. You then enter the exhibit. I am not going to post a lot of pics of the train exhibit, because it is something that should be seen in person. G-scale model trains ride through displays of over 150 famous New York sights including historical houses, the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge.
Each exhibit piece is made from natural materials including parts from flowers, trees and plants. Every year they add new pieces to the exhibit.
We visited the train show the day after Christmas. My only criticism is that the exhibit was super crowded, even with the staggered entry times. It was hard to get good looks at the exhibits without being pushed, jostled or cut in front of. I highly recommend not going during the week after Christmas!
After seeing the trains we walked through the rest of the conservatory to see some of the other plants and flowers on display. This is where we saw this staghorn fern, one of several different plants hanging from the ceiling!
We spent about 35 minutes in the train exhibit and another twenty minutes walking through the rest of the conservatory. By that time we were ready for lunch. Food was available at the Gingerbread Café. However, we decided to head back up to northern Westchester to get some lunch. Before leaving, we stopped at the NYBG Shop and picked up an ornament for our tree to remember our trip. Overall, we had a great time and our son has already noted that he wants to go back again next year! We will definitely be making a return trip sometime in the Spring or Summer, when the gardens are in bloom. There are 250-acres at the New York Botanical Gardens, which we only saw a fraction of. Hopefully we will report back on some lush gardens in a few months!