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A Ride through the Wonderland Express

Trains, flowers and Chicago all in one short visit. Do you know a kid (or kids) that are into trains or likes viewing trains passing by and through the City of Chicago? Then a visit to the Wonderland Express at the Chicago Botanic Garden is in order for you and your family.

I have been to the Wonderland Express and Chicago Botanic Garden before but my wife and 20 month old son have not. So when my son became obsessed with trains when we put one under our Christmas tree this year, I thought it would be a good idea to take him to the Wonderland Express exhibit at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Once I told my wife about it, she said, “He is going to LOVE it.” We decided to head to the Chicago Botanic Garden during their push this last week to reach 1 million visitors during 2013 so parking was only $10. They also had a Groupon offer going to save money when attending the Wonderland Express but we could not find it, so it may have expired. I need to watch for those better in the new year.

Anyways, we were absolutely right, our son loved the exhibit, and so did we. We purchased our tickets and got an entry time of 12:15pm. Which was no problem at all, we just headed over to the building the exhibit was in and walked through the indoor gardens. Even in winter, they are absolutely stunning. The colors, the smells, for a few minutes it was as if it was not 10 degrees and snowing outside.

Back to the train exhibit. They let us in a few minutes before our scheduled time, which was nice. The first room had 1 train display running and everyone was snapping photos. There was even a conductor walking around talking to the parents and kids. He came up to my kid and ask if he had a ticket and proceed to give my son a train boarding pass. Such a nice gesture that my wife and I loved it. We arrived in the main exhibit and there were trains running every where. Over bridges above you, in gardens next to you, past Chicago Stadium and President Obama’s house. They even had snow falling in the the exhibit. Besides the trains the exhibits are something to marvel at. The detail that is put into making them is amazing and you can even watch a video after viewing the exhibit of how the exhibit is made and put together. There are around 80 mini-replica Chicago buildings on display and the trains wind over bridges, under trestles, past waterfalls and past each famous Chicago landmark. My wife and I enjoyed viewing the landmarks and seeing the trains, while our little guy was in awe of all the trains. It was definitely a hit with our family and we will be attending the exhibit next holiday season as while. We can not wait to head back to the garden in the spring and summer.

The Chicago Botanic Garden attracted 1 millions visitors in a calendar year for the first time in its 41 year history. They even are saying that attendance is up 5% over 2012. If you have not been to the Chicago Botanic Garden, I highly suggest you plan a visit there in 2014 and be sure to bring your camera with.

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