Holiday Train Gardens

“Tis the season for parties, shopping, wrapping and train gardens…wait….train gardens?  What??

December 11th is my mother in law’s birthday and a few years ago we started a tradition of going with my husband’s family and our children to see a few holiday train gardens.

Train gardens are so different through the eyes of a child. They don’t think about the time and effort spent crafting these intricate works of art. They don’t wonder how train gardens got started or about the amount of money spent to make them look so special. They simply delight in how “cool” they look.


This year the first garden we visited was located at the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department at 5200 Southwestern Boulevard.  The gardens are done so nicely. They have something for everyone from a table all set with crabs, to a candy garden, to a gingerbread village. There is no actual cost for the visit but there is a container set up for donations of either money or canned goods. You can also purchase raffle tickets which earn you an entry to win one of several different train sets. It is fun to dream of winning and setting up our own train garden at home.

The second garden we visited was located at Arbutus Auto Painting and Bodyworks, 4621 Leeds Avenue. These gardens may be very close to one another but they are both very unique. This garden is arranged to look like a really large city. There are high rises and even a stadium, complete with the Ravens on the field beating those Steelers. One really neat feature here is an optional quiz or scavenger hunt. It asks you to locate certain items and to count the number of some other items – really causing you to notice details of the garden that you may have missed otherwise.

If you are looking to start a new tradition, train gardens can be found all over town.  A great resource for finding one near you is Grandpa’s Holiday Train Garden Page for 2011.  Here you can find train gardens located in MD, PA, VA and Washington D.C. Most gardens are free but many ask for a donation to help with the costs associated with running those wonderful gardens. Please be sure to check the details of each garden you plan to visit so you don’t miss out on any fun.


After a day of train garden hopping, there’s only one thing left to do…come home, make some hot cocoa and watch Polar Express.  It is a great way to cap off an inexpensive, family fun day.

If you do check out a train garden or two, let me know which ones are your favorites.

Michele Wieland – “The Mommy on a Mission”.  You can do a search on our blogs to find other posts by Michele with ideas for family fun.


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