Visiting the New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show

This is a growing NYC holiday tradition: watching model trains zip through a display of 150 landmarks, each re-created with bark, leaves, and other natural materials—all under the twinkling glow of the conservatory at the NY Botanical Garden.

Here are PSP member tips about making the most of this magical event...


Go early:

"My best advice would've been to go the first time slot of the day."

 "We just went today! Our tickets were for 11am. We spent about an hour inside and when we got back out, the lines were madness. I’d recommend going as early as you can manage, and based on our experience today, no later than 11. I could easily see how the crowds grow as the day goes on. At 11, it was full but manageable inside."


Even with tickets, expect to wait in line:

"The timed entrances to the show are pretty well managed, but you will be on a line for a while. Most of the line is inside a giant tent they put up to keep you warm while you wait."


On the cafe/ restaraunt:

"The garden now has two places to eat. One is a cafe / cafeteria place and they finally opened a real (and good but expensive) restaurant. This is a link to the menus: 
The cafeteria is at the visitors entrance and has open seating, so you might get coffee at the cafe and then sit at a table eating your food from home - IF there are seats. Or get all your lunch there. Everything will be packed with happy train show families, so no matter what. I would pack your own snacks and drinks to prevent meltdowns while waiting for a seat somewhere. If it's not too cold, there are plenty of benches around to sit on and eat outside."

"the new cafe near the botanical garden entrance is excellent and even has healthier options like (if I recall correctly from earlier this year) soup and salad. It isn't cheap but it is one of the best of their sort I've run across. And it is huge."


If you have kids, pack a lunch:

"There's pretty much one place to eat; we bring our food, very expensive there.

"When I go with adults and feel like a treat, I make a reservation at the fancy restaurant. When I go with my son, I bring food and snacks I know he'll eat, and go to the cafe. And given that your ticket is at lunchtime, I would definitely eat beforehand so you and the kids can relax and take their time and not meltdown from hunger / caffeine withdrawal.


Use a backpack carrier to help little ones see:

"If you have little people who won't be able to see well, a backpack carrier helps save your arms and give them a perch to see the trains from."


On parking and transportation:

"You can park there for a fee."


It saves to become a member:

"My advice is if you can come back 1-2 more times, join the garden for the cost benefits of repeat visits. But when I've tried that we never ended up coming back from Brooklyn to the bronx to have made the annual membership cost effective so I stopped joining."

"Plug for becoming a member - THE ORHID SHOW and KIKU. These shows happen every year, and I can't think of anything better than walking into a gorgeous glass conservatory filled with warm tropical air and orchids in late February, when you are about to LOSE IT from the winter. And Kiku is another annual flower show every November celebrating a Japanese style of flower arranging involving elaborate designs from a billion chrysanthemums. This one ends tomorrow. Flowers!! And these two are of course primarily for grown ups, but hey, you need a break too. Between the tickets for you and a friend, parking and a discount in the gift shop, the membership pays for itself pretty quickly."


Related Reading on Park Slope Parents:

Cheap and Cheerful Things to Do With Kids During the Holidays

Where to see Christmas Lights?