It's a little-known fact about Christmas: Santa Claus is a hardcore railroad fanatic. Sure, his main ride is the sleigh, but ol' Kris Kringle is cuckoo for choo-choos. Homes with train set-ups under their tree are 2,017 times more likely to be visited by the Man in Red on Christmas Eve. So you can bet your sweet caboose that the most likely place in St. Louis to bump into Santa before the holiday is the Gardenland Express
exhibit at the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard; 314-577-5100 or www.mobot.org
). The garden's traditional holiday display features G-scale model trains wending their way through more than 500 live plants. This year's theme for the layout is "the gifting tree," and fourteen-foot-tall towers of gifts preside over the landscape, while ornaments, a rocking horse and wooden toys will be tucked here and there in the greenery. Gardenland Express is open daily (except Christmas day) from Wednesday, November 23, through Monday, January 2. Admission is $5, in addition to the regular garden admission fee ($4 to $8).
Nov. 23-Dec. 24; Dec. 26-Jan. 2, 2011