It’s full-steam ahead for one of the most popular holiday attractions in Washington: the model train display at the United States Botanic Garden. The coronavirus pandemic forced the exhibit’s cancellation last year, and the conservatory is still closed, but the garden saved the holiday season by moving the display outdoors.

This year’s theme is “Farming Around the World,” and the exhibit features seven trains winding among 13 miniature scenes, including a cranberry bog in Massachusetts, an olive grove in Spain, a vineyard in Australia, and a terrace farm in Nepal growing rice and lentils.

“It’s a teaser for the exhibit next year,” said Devin Dotson of the botanic garden. “It’s all about food and growing food and culture.”

There are also lots of food plants in and around the dioramas. Dotson challenged kids to spot them all.

“I think they know every one of the food crops that we are displaying,” he said.

More than 100 types of plants have been used throughout the exhibit. Those who have seen the model trains in past years may remember models of D.C. landmarks made of plant materials. Those couldn’t come outside, but they have been set up in the conservatory windows and will be lit at night, Dotson said.

The displays are the work of Applied Imagination, a Kentucky-based company that has been working with the botanic garden for 15 years. Dotson said the coordination on this year’s exhibit began in January and setup at the garden began in early November.

Applied Imagination is the go-to garden train designer. So if your family is traveling during the holidays, you can explore its displays in New York City; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; or Cincinnati, Ohio. Visit the website for more stops on what could be your model-train-spotting trip.

U.S. Botanic Garden

What: Farms Around the World train display

Where: 100 Maryland Avenue, Southwest Washington.

When: Daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through January 2. Closed Christmas Day.

How much: Free. No tickets required.

For more information: Visit the website The building and its bathrooms are closed to the public.

Morris Arboretum

What: Model trains wind around Philadelphia landmarks such as Independence Hall in the Holiday Garden Railway.

Where: 100 East Northwestern Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

When: Daily, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., through January 2. Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

How much: $10-$20; free for ages 2 and younger. Separate tickets needed for special weekend nighttime hours.

For more information: Visit the website

New York Botanical Garden

What: More than 175 New York landmarks and 25 trains are part of the garden’s 30th Holiday Train Show.

Where: 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York.

When: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., through January 23. Closed Christmas Day.

How much: $18-$32; free for ages 1 and younger.

For more information: Visit the website

Krohn Conservatory

What: Cincinnati’s Roebling Suspension and Big Mac bridges are among the highlights of the Trains and Traditions.

Where: 1501 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio.

When: Daily, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., through January 9. Limited hours on some days.

How much: $7-$10; free for ages 4 and younger.

For more information: Visit the website

A magical train ride

If you prefer life-size trains, the B & O Railway Museum in Baltimore offers a Polar Express holiday experience.

What: Take a ride to the North Pole aboard the Polar Express. Passengers are invited to wear pajamas for this 90-minute train ride and performance of the classic Christmas tale. A certain jolly old elf is expected to be onboard.

Where: B & O Railway Museum, 901 West Pratt Street, Baltimore, Maryland.

When: December 2, 3 and 10, from 4 to 7 p.m.; December 4, 5, 11 and 12, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

How much: $47-$67; free for ages 1 and younger.

For more information: Visit the website

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