For me, train shows are as much part of the holidays as hot chocolate and watching A Christmas Story. I love watching the electric “Polar Express” trains weaving in and out of tunnels and through the snow-topped mountains. Part of the fun is seeing all the tiny, intricate details of city landmarks and cute vignettes of winter fun. This holiday season, make way to a local holiday train show in your neck of the woods. I’ve pulled together a comprehensive list of where and when to go.
New York City: Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden
In New York City, there is so much holiday festivities to experience like the beautiful window displays on Fifth Avenue and the giant Christmas tree in Rockafeller Center. Save the New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show till after the new year when you can really appreciate all it’s gloriousness. With over 150 landmarks from Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs, this exhibit is made with all natural materials—twigs, leaves, bark, you name it. This year, an additional 3,000 square feet have been added for more trains, bridges and tracks. If only the MTA was so lucky.
Head to the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx for the holiday train show through January 18th, 2016. Word of advice, get your tickets ahead of time!
Chicago: Wonderland Express at the Chicago Botanic Garden
Voted as one of Chicago’s top holiday “must-sees”, the Wonderland Express at Chicago’s Botanic Garden is an all-day affair. The train show has something for everyone; new landmark pieces from the Chicago El Trains for grownups and Thomas the Tank Engine sightings for children. Enjoy the holiday market, handmade wreaths and caroling while you’re at it.
Make a stop at Chicago Botanic Garden for the Wonderland Express. The train show is open now through January 3rd, 2016 and is closed on Christmas Day. Be sure to catch the ice sculpting show while you’re there!
Philadelphia: Holiday Railroad at Reading Terminal Market
The elaborate train display at Reading Terminal Market in Philly is one not to be missed. With about one third of a mile’s worth of track in total, this train has plenty to look at. This show is free so make an afternoon of it complete with hot chocolate and a sugar cookie from one of the merchants in the market.
Pop into the Reading Terminal Market anytime through December 31st to see the Holiday Railroad show. Just a heads up, the market is closed on Christmas Day.
Washington DC: Norwegian Giant Model Train at Union Station
For all the busy commuters passing through Union Station, the Norwegian Giant Model Train exhibit currently on display is a delight. A handmade replica of a Norwegian landscape comes complete with miniature casts of real Norwegian trains, fishing boats and fjords.
Make room in your schedule to pay a visit to this holiday treat in Union Station. This exhibit is open through January 1st, 2016, and closed on Christmas Day.
San Francisco: Holiday Train at the San Francisco Public Library
The ninth annual holiday model train display is back, outside the Fisher Children’s Center at the main San Francisco Public Library. The storybook-themed exhibit is a favorite among children who can push buttons to power the trains and lights. Electric toy trains include the Polar Express, Thomas the Tank Engine and the Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express.
From now through January 10th, you can get a view of this trains in front of the Fisher Children’s Center at the San Francisco Public Library. Check the website for visiting hours.
Los Angeles: Holiday Light Festival Train Ride at Griffith Park and Southern Railroad
Griffith Park and Southern Railroad is back with it’s Santa train ride this year. Not quite as small as electric trains that run under the Christmas tree, these train cars run on an 18 1/2 gauge track so they’re big enough for a short ride through the park. Holiday lights and festive scenes make up the mile-long track to get you into the season.
Pencil in a trip to Griffith Park and Southern Railroad before December 30, 2015 for an evening ride around the park. The railroad is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. A limited number of tickets are sold each night so grab yours ahead of time.
Boston: Gingerbread Express at Wenham Museum
From December 10th through December 20th, the Wenham Museum is hosting the Ten Days of Gingerbread, a festival celebrating Santa’s favorite cookie. Take part in the celebration by seeing the Gingerbread Express train, as well as a pajama story time and more sweet activities.
Don’t miss the Ten Days of Gingerbread at the Wenham Museum. See the website for schedule and event details.
Are train shows part of your holiday festivities? Tell us where you go to take part in the fun.