New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show® is back for another year of Holiday magic! With precision craftsmanship and ornate detailing – the world famous NYBG Train Show is ready for another showing! This beloved New York City tradition that showcases magical model trains that zip through a variety of incredible landmarks and displays is a must see for every family. With a recent expansion that includes more trains, an all-new Queensboro bridge, and a true New York finale featuring a whimsical tribute to the iconic Coney Island amusement park’s famous architecture and attractions.
While the trains are amazing – the true stars of this very popular exhibit are the small recreations of NYC’s past and present iconic bridges and buildings! All of the 150+ replica buildings are carefully constructed by precision hand, using only bark, leaves, trees, and natural material from the land.
An artistic feat that is an absolute must see! Read on for our experience and see why you must make tracks to see this incredible show with your family!
We are often asked how to best access the NY Botanical Garden from Manhattan – and it couldn’t be easier! Head to Grand Central Station and take the Metro North Railroad to the Botanical Garden Station, which stops right next to the garden.
Simply cross Southern Boulevard to the Mosholu Gate entrance – and you are there! So easy – It’s only a 20 minute ride from the city!
Tickets to the Train Show
Advance tickets are STRONGLY encouraged, as the show often sells out for many dates and times. Due to the overwhelming popularity of the show – NYBG offers timed tickets for entry to help alleviate overcrowding. Note the time you reserve is the time you can enter the show. The crowds are controlled by timed entry lines, and they are usually completely full! (We had booked an early morning time slot – thus the reason why the lines pictured above are empty!)
For those traveling with young children – please note that strollers are not permitted in the train show due to space constraints. There is a stroller check after entering.
Say cheese for a fun photo opportunity! Photographers are stationed at a green screen near the entrance for a quick pic if you wish (of course we couldn’t resist!) Taking the photo itself is free – but photo packages do have a fee.
A short (quite fascinating!) video describing the show history and inspiration behind the model buildings awaits upon entry. After the video concludes – its showtime! How fitting that the first table is an incredible model structure of the New York Botanical Garden building.
Another display may look familiar to some – its the exterior of Grand Central Station! Having just come from the station to attend the show – it is a always a fun sight.
Train fans will love the model train scale display. The sign below stated the size and their letter classification by each – noting that most in the show are “G” (large) trains.
You’ll never forget your fist time entering the train show under the glass glow of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory! It is such magical scene. A wide array of model trains zip through over 150 meticulously perfected NYC buildings and greens in perfect harmony. Each building is spectacular, each train unique. To see all the details in these rooms would take over a week!
Entering the domed building itself is a spectacular feeling. The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory was constructed in the early 1900s, and houses more than an acre (!) under glass. It is the largest Victorian-era glasshouse in the United States, and a New York City Landmark.
Quite fittingly the Midtown Manhattan Skyscrapers take center stage under the soaring 90 foot dome – and include incredible fan favorites such as Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building and Chrysler building.
Loved exploring each and every building. Rockefeller Center wouldn’t be complete with out their famous tree!
The incredible. intricate, impeccable detail of St. Patrick’s cathedral.
The stunning Statue of Liberty stands tall over it all.
Perhaps the most impressive view is that of childrens reactions to the trains themselves. Children love watching the amazing trains in action – the anticipation of their arrival, and discovery of their detail is incredible to watch. Lil New Yorkers love recognizing the many buildings, and the familiar city settings.
A couple familiar faces were hidden within the tracks – including James from Thomas and Friends fame.
Walk across to the wings of the Haupt Conservatory to find all of New York City’s bridges waiting!
The beautiful Bethesda Fountain and famous Central Park Bridges.
Photo Credit: New York Botanical Garden
Keep walking through the show to reach the reflecting pool of the palms of the world gallery in the Enid A. Haupt gallery. Here is where you will find the new exhibit for 2016 – Coney Island NYC! New this year is a collection of Coney Island’s model buildings – including the Wonder Wheel structure (complete with LED sign) and the Elephantine Colossus, a gigantic elephant-shaped hotel from the 1890s, as well as the famous rollercoaster the Cyclone!
Train time sure works up an appetite! There are a few dining options on site – including The Pine Tree Café, Hudson Garden Grill, and seasonal favorite – Gingerbread Café.
The Gingerbread café offers sandwiches, soups and salads, and a LARGE selection of sweets and treats all while dining under a cutely decorated tent.
Note the Gingerbread Café is separate from the Conservatory. While its quite warm inside – you do need to exit the train show (and go into the cold) to enter. The café is open on weekends and during peek weeks until Christmas.
Children’s Adventure Garden
With a full belly we hopped aboard the Evergreen Express – and ventured to the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden to see their amazing children’s holiday and train themed activities.
Our first stop – the Discovery Center Depot to explore plant parts from assorted evergreens! Children were able to discover and mount a sample of a conifer tree such as spruce, pine, or fir trees, and craft their own mini scented sachet to take home.
Looking to learn more about the famous evergreen? A scavenger hunt was offered for children to learn about the various evergreen trees and shrubs located within the Children’s garden itself.
The scavenger hunt encouraged learning about the different shapes and sizes of these trees all while enjoying the wonders of winter in a hike through the garden. Loved that these programs teach the children how to identify and appreciate the trees that are so celebrated during the holiday season.
A short walk to the second building for train building! Here children could create their own custom train puppet.
Costumed conductors helped children complete and decorate their puppets, while others provided the perfect train tunes accompanied by an accordion. The scene was magical.
After the puppets were completed – they ventured outside to form a musical marching parade! The parade was led by a conductor, an engine car, and followed by a caboose. The march went through the children’s garden to the beat of an accordion song to the delight of all the onlookers who followed along! (Weekends and school holidays only.)
Our little engine that could! He loved being part of this amazing parade.
Silly pose in front of the trees before we leave!
Our train has arrived – until next time!
The New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show
Location: 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY
Hours: November 19 to January 16, 2017; Tuesday–Sunday, 10am–6pm
More fun to come! Check out the upcoming (adult only) Box Car Nights and Thomas the Train events at the garden HERE
Looking for a stocking stuffer? In celebration of the 25th Annual showcase, a new book entitled The Holiday Train Show: A City within a City will be published. (Available in the giftshop!)
Thank you to New York Botanical Garden for hosting us. As always, all opinions and reviews are our own.