Christmas model train displays around D.C.

Christmastime means toy trains and every year, I try to take my son to some of the following model railroad displays around greater Washington, D.C.

One of the most elaborate annual model railroad displays anywhere can be found at the United States Botanic Garden:

“It wouldn’t be the winter holiday season without the fantasy train display in the East Gallery, which chugs along more than 800 feet of track through imaginative structures created with plant materials. Explore the “World’s Fair” and see many familiar creations that resulted from a long history of public exhibitions.”

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Metro: Federal Center SW

Norwegian Embassy train display
It sounds as though the Norwegian Embassy train is back:

“However, after much work and renovation ou rHoliday Train will once again be on view in the Main Hall. The train features 3 G-Scale LGB Steam Locomotives running on 200 feet of track. The train is to scale at 1:22 the size of an actual train. A mountain landscape with 40 new structures, 25 trucks and vintage cars, 100 trees along with people, dogs and cats make for a realistic setting. This year’s festive setting will be open from 10am-7pm daily for our guests to enjoy. Happy Holidays”

Of course a trip to Union Station is usually worth it in its own right, even more so around the holidays.

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Metro: Union Station

Northern Virginia Model Railroaders at old Vienna W&OD train station
The Northern Virginia Model Railroaders have a large layout at the old Vienna W&OD train station that gets displayed throughout the year on a limited basis:
“Open House visitors include people of all ages who enjoy watching railroad activities that realistically depict an actual railroad that existed in North Carolina in the 1950’s. That railroad was called the Western North Carolina (WNC) and every hill, town, building, locomotive, rail car, and industry on our layout is modeled after those places and things as they looked in that era. Well, almost everything; we must admit that to satisfy popular demand, an occasional sighting can be made of Thomas the Tank Engine and a few of his friends chugging around among the bigger steam and diesel locomotives.”

The Vienna train station is only open on December 2 (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.) and December 15 (1 p.m. to 5 p.m.)

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There are even more model train displays, often part of a larger holiday celebration, such as the National Zoo’s Zoo Lights and the National Trolley Museum. A thorough list of model railroading in the greater D.C. area and beyond can be found at Grandpa’s Holiday Train Garden Page for 2013 by the The Washington, Virginia & Maryland Garden Railway Society. On the weekend of December 7-8, they will host Fairfax Station Railroad Museum 24th Annual Model Train Display, an “all scales” display at Fairfax Station Railroad Museum.

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