What's New at the New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show 2013
The New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show celebrates its 22nd anniversary this year, and as always it's one of New York City's top seasonal attractions for families. Little electric trains go whizzing by more than 140 NYC landmarks made out of acorns, twigs, bark, berries and leaves. My family and I make it a point to go every single year—it's truly a quintessential New York holiday experience. There's a reason it's No. 52 on our list of 100 Things to Do with Your Kids in NYC.
New this year: The NYBG has greatly expanded its kids' programming in conjunction with the Holiday Train Show and also added a Holiday Dining Pavilion inspired by the city's iconic foodie neighborhoods.
We've got the scoop on everything there is to see and do at the 2013 Holiday Train Show, which opens on Saturday, plus info on other seasonal train exhibits in NYC. You can find even more seasonal activities in our Holiday Fun Guide.
The New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show is a one-of-a-kind experience. Where else can families marvel at detailed miniature replicas of the Statue of Liberty, Yankee Stadium and other iconic NYC spots made entirely from natural materials? The trains weave in and out of these little landmarks, through tunnels, over bridges and even through waterfalls. It's a magical sight that grown-ups enjoy just as much as kids.
Although the NYBG hasn't added any new buildings for 2013, the display's layout has been changed significantly, giving it a brand-new feel. Plus there are more choo-choos than ever, including a new Metro-North train cruising through a model Hudson Valley.
Since the Holiday Train Show is located inside in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, it's a great destination, even in the dead cold of winter. Plus, the NYBG offers other seasonal attractions for families that are free with Holiday Train Show admission.
NEW Holiday Adventures
Kids can hit the Everett Children's Adventure Garden for hands-on train-themed activities at art, engineering and building stations. On weekends, families can also drop in to famed puppeteer Ralph Lee's Artist Station to create detailed railroad scenes or join in a festive holiday parade. Lee is the artist behind the fabulous Mettawee River Theatre Company so we expect these workshops will be pretty great.
NEW Streets of New York Holiday Dining Pavilion
Explore the culinary landscape of NYC at this brand-new attraction, where you can visit different "neighborhoods" to try their signature foods. Head to Harlem for fried chicken, Broadway for hot dogs, Chelsea for soups and salads, and Arthur Avenue for pizza and Italian treats.
All Aboard with Thomas & Friends™
Preschoolers' favorite blue engine and his pals are back in this mini-musical. After the show, kids can pose with the costumed characters. Runs Wednesday, January 1-Sunday, January 26, times vary. Visit the website for the complete schedule.
In 2012, the NYBG added a four-foot-tall model of Macy's Herald Square and this year there's a new botanical train circling it. Since the replica of the store was originally created for Macy's Flower Show, it's much larger than the rest of the buildings in the exhibit, so it's displayed separately in the tented waiting area.
Macy's Herald Square
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
The Brooklyn Bridge
The Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History
The old Yankee Stadium
A Christmas tree
Some of NYC's famous skyscrapers
The United Nations
Grand Central Terminal
Oh yeah, there are trains, too.
Holiday Train Show Tips
Visit during off-peak times The Holiday Train Show is extremely popular and gets jammed, especially on weekends and during the holidays. The NYBG combats the crowds by selling timed tickets. Still, if it all possible, try to go on off-peak days (weekdays or evenings in November, early December and January).
Buy tickets in advance If you try to pay at the door, you might find the show sold out.
Bring your camera The decked out NYBG is a great place to snap a photo for your holiday cards! Awesome photo ops include the Christmas trees and other decorated greenery. See our other ideas for unique holiday photo ops in NYC.
Park your stroller They aren't allowed inside the Holiday Train Show however you can leave them in the anteroom.
Take mass transit to save money There's on-site parking for $12-$15 per vehicle, but the NYBG is accessible via public transportation. Take Metro-North to the Botanical Garden station, which is located directly across the street from the main entrance.
The New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show is on view Saturday, November 16-Sunday, January 12, 2014. Weekdays: $20 for adults, $10 for children ages 2-12. Weekends and peak days: $25 for adults, $15 for children ages 2-12. Visit the website for hours, dates and additional details.
Other NYC Holiday Train Displays
The Annual Holiday Train Show at the New York Transit Museum gallery annex in Grand Central Terminal is a cute but modest layout that takes visitors on an imaginary journey from the iconic station to the North Pole. New this year: Colorful artwork from Maira Kalman's children’s book Next Stop Grand Central will also be on display. While there, tackle the Grand Central Terminal Scavenger Hunt—kids who complete it snag free passes to the big New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn Heights. The train show is on view Saturday, November 16-Sunday, February 23, 2014. FREE.
The seasonal exhibit Batteries Not Included: Toys and Trains at the New-York Historical Society features mechanical banks, wind-up playthings, toy soldiers and trains from the 19th and 20th centuries safely ensconced behind glass. On Saturday, December 14-Sunday, December 15, the Historical Society's DiMenna Children's History Museum is hosting a fun historical trains weekend in conjunction with the display featuring hands-on train-themed activities, a scavenger hunt and storytime. The exhibit is on view Monday, November 25-Sunday, January 5, 2014. Free with admission: $18 for adults, $12 for students, $6 for children ages 5-13, free for kids under 5