Hundreds of Model Train Cars Delivering Holiday Cheer

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Trains fascinate my kids, their cousins, and their friends. We enjoy train toys, books, movies, parks and museums–and The Polar Express is a classic part of our holiday festivities. The adventure and magic that railway travel conveys may be second only to Santa’s sleigh, itself. Train fans like us should add a quick stop at the Arizona Big Train Operators Holiday Open House locations around the Valley. You can expect to see some charming trains, micro-scaled water features and structures, and lot of holiday spirit. If you have train-lovers, this is really your ticket, but anyone who appreciates a hobby taken to expertise will enjoy it, too.

In 2016, fifteen model train garden railway layouts built by ABTO members will be open to the public December 16th-18th. Check the website for a map of specific locations and a schedule. In previous years, there have been last-minute changes, so be sure to double-check before you go.




The Holiday Open House is an opportunity for ABTO, a charitable organization, to raise funds to support their charitable pursuits. Member volunteers maintain the model train display that cheers patients and visitors of Cardon’s Children’s Hospital. At the Sirrine site (where you might also see Santa), they were asking for donations: $10 per family, $3 per individual. You won’t be turned away without a donation, but it feels good to help such a positive organization.
We will be there! If you see us, stop and say hello. If you just can’t fit it in, check back on their website. This is a bi-annual event; your next opportunity may be in the spring.


Add to the fun:

  • This is a chance for our kids to bundle up a bit and wear the scarves and gloves that don’t get heavy use.
  • We take our favorite jolly music, pack some treats (cocoa and marshmallow bars) and make garden railway stops as we drive between garden displays and valley light shows.


Jodee is a full-time mom to three playful boys. She was raised in the desert, educated in the Rocky Mountains, and the lived in Midwest before returning to the “dry heat.” She is passionate about learning, culture, and nature. When she isn’t shuttling her boys from school to activities, she is either planning out their next family adventure or playing Duolingo to avoid folding laundry. She dreams of visiting all of the National Parks with her family and to finding the cure for homework battles. You can peek into her life and family outings on Instagram @thatsmoxie. 

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