If you’re traveling to New York this holiday season you might want to add the NY Botanical Garden to your itinerary. The annual Holiday Train Show features twinkling lights, a quarter mile of train tracks, replicas of New York landmarks fabricated from natural plant materials as well as authentic looking model trains speeding along the rails. These big motorized marvels appeal to a sense of adventure in children of all ages. Package this excitement in unique trappings such as the NY Botanical Gardens and you arrive at a winning family experience.
As you enter the Enid A Haupt Conservatory where the show is held you are magically transported to a tropical environment. Oversize rain forest vegetation flourishes throughout. Any discernible sign of winter weather vanishes once you’re inside the Conservatory’s confines. A large fountain greets you with a placid pool of water and a model train running its route on a small oval shaped track on a platform. This leads to the main hall. You proceed through the double doors and find yourself immersed in the heart of the train show. Well known New York Bridges above and landmark historical building below fill the hall. It’s best to pace yourself as there are many details one could miss in this intricately designed exhibit. For budding photographers, the show provides a bonanza of interesting shots.
As a parent, I can’t emphasize enough to visit this exhibit during off peak hours such as a weekday in the late afternoon in order to avoid the crowds. Children can be overwhelmed by the visual and auditory stimulation prompting them to dart from place to place as they try to see each train on the move. Preparation prior to taking children to the show is essential. Stress the idea of not running. Also explain the trains, tracks, and model buildings are to be seen but not handled. Easier said than done, I know, but nonetheless, it’s important to plant that seed in their minds. And lastly, there’s a cafe nearby within the Garden which offers numerous treats such as Abigail Kirsch cupcakes, hot chocolate and more. A useful tool to reward a child’s good behavior.
Below is a clip from the PBS documentary about the New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show with David Hartman: