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FUN! The Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden

January 5, 2011

NY has a lot of holiday traditions.  The tree at Rockefeller Center.  The Christmas Show at Radio City.  The decorations and windows of all the stores. 

One tradition came into my life recently – the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden.  I’ve been twice, and I can’t imagine the holidays without the Train Show. 

You see, I never went to the Botanical Garden until I was an adult.  An almost 40-year-old adult.  I know, I lived so close and never went.  My grandfather worked at the Bronx Zoo, so if there was a seasonal event for us, it was taking place for us there, and not the Garden.

Two years ago, my dad came to visit and we started looking for things the family could do together that were a. holiday themed, b. close to home, and c. fun for everyone.  After getting recommendations from friends, we decided on the train show.  We got tickets for 10am, which was the earliest slot.  It was crowded, and Jordan was a bit antsy.  That’s selective memory for “he pitched a fit of epic proportions.”  We couldn’t stroll him through the place, as strollers were not permitted.  The place was packed end to end with people, so we didn’t exactly zip through there like a train.  Still, we all enjoyed it and wanted to come back.

We didn’t go in 2009, but with Dad visiting this holiday again, we decided to go.  We made a few changes in our plan of attack.

1. I purchased a membership to the Garden.  A family membership runs $120 and will allow us to visit again next year at the beginning of the Train Show.  We also received 4 parking passes, saving $12.  Since adults are $25 for a single visit, kids $15, and seniors $22 during peak times, we paid a little more than what one visit would have cost.  And we can come back any other time we want to see what excitement the Garden has in store.  What a deal!

2. Members can get into the train show early – in our case 9am.  We were one of maybe 15 other families in at that time, giving us the run of the place, really.  Jordan was able to run around and follow all the trains as they weaved through NY landmarks.  I could follow him and not get frustrated by all the people.  We spent about 35 minutes in there, and had a sane, happy time. 

For some reason, to the amusement of many, Jordan decided to bring his clock to the show.  Not sure if he was showing his obsession with numbers, trying to be Flava Flav, or hoping to time the train, but it certainly led to a lot of conversation among those in attendance.  Of course, if we lost him in the Conservatory, all we would have had to ask was “Did you see the kid carrying the clock?” and people would have known exactly who we were looking for. 


I highly recommend the train show.  It ends this Sunday, so if you don’t have a chance to make it, or are not in the area, definitely think about it for next year.  The “conductor” told me this was the 19th year, so if they are celebrating double decades in 2011, I can’t wait to see what they have in store.   We’re hopefully going as Thomas The Tank Engine will be there to meet kids (does he have hands?  how does this work?)  Hope we can leave the clock at home.  Be sure to check out all of the Garden’s tips for making the most out of your train show visit.

What family traditions are musts for your holidays?

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