Since my oldest could walk, we’ve been making our annual trek from our home in Arlington to Brookside Gardens for their Garden of Lights. Every year we love it, and we have our routine down pat. This year, we’re taking advantage of the fact that the incredible light display will be turned on after we return from our Christmas travels. The display is nothing short of fantastic – and I love that we can get out and walk around to enjoy it, rather than being stuck in our car.

Here’s how we make the most of our visit. My son loves trains, and the conservatory at Brookside Gardens has an elaborate display. We try and arrive at the gardens around 4:00. We spend an hour enjoying the trains – searching for all the hidden goodies in the display. Then, we walk up the hill to the main building of the gardens where we grab dinner and some hot chocolate. The lights turn on at 5:30, so once we’ve bundled ourselves up after dinner, we start our walk. The advantages of this plan are that we don’t have to wait in a line of cars to get into the display – something we often see on our way out. We get to see the trains and the lights on the same visit without feeling too rushed. And, we get to make sure we’re toasty warm before heading out for our walk through the lights (although given this year’s unseasonably warm weather – the chill in the air to remind us winter might not even be present).

The train display at Brookside Gardens is free. According to the Brookside website, the light show costs $20 per car on weekdays; $25 per car on weekends. The light display is open now and will stay open through January 8, except for December 24 and 25 and January 2 – 5. Brookside Gardens is located at 1800 Glenallen Avenue; Wheaton, Maryland.

Elaine documents other happenings of her kids at Connor And Helen Grow Up.

photo courtesy of Brookside Gardens