Since little Devin is still pretty young, I wanted to do some holiday things with him that are cool, but warm. So we headed to the Chicago Botanic Garden.
From the minute we walked in, it felt festive. There must have been a million lights outside (the official count, they told me, was 750,000). The coolest thing of all was the Wonderland Express train exhibit. Li'l Devin was in heaven!
The first thing he wanted to do was see the trains.
On the way to the exhibit, we passed tree after tree decorated for the holidays. It was pretty awesome. It was hard to slow Dev down long enough to check them all out, though. He had his mind made up to get to the trains right away. I think he might be a kick returner, too!
The Wonderland Express exhibit was well worth the trip. The first thing we noticed was the fresh smell of a pine forest, the sound of Christmas carols and more lights. Really cool miniature trains wound in and out of the garden, which was decorated for Christmas. There were villages and tunnels, but the coolest part was watching the train cross the bridge over the walkway above our heads. The trains also passed a ton of miniature replicas of famous Chicago landmarks built into the exhibit-the trains even zipped past Soldier Field!
If that wasn't enough, it actually snowed inside the exhibit. That was cool. Watching the trains come out of the tunnels and seeing the snow falling all over the villages and plants had all the kids fired up. Every time a train came out of a tunnel, you'd hear little voices yelling, "Here it comes! Here it comes!" I think Li'l Dev was the loudest of all!
We watched the trains for a long time. There was so much to see and I had a lot of fun watching my boy, and all the other kids, chase the trains through the garden.
I eventually managed to pull Devin away long enough for hot chocolate, then we walked through the greenhouses filled with poinsettias on our way to the crafts area. Devin had a chance to build a birdhouse to take home and we both learned a lot about snowflakes and pine trees.
Devin wanted to see the trains one more time before we headed home, so back we went. And I'm glad we did, because we got to see the Gingerbread Village we missed sprinting to the trains the first time around. The gingerbread houses actually stopped Dev in his tracks and we tried to figure out what would be better, having the gingerbread village to look at or having it to eat!
We finished the day by driving down to the Magnificent Mile to check out the holiday window displays. But Li'l Devin never made it that far. He was sound asleep in the car two minutes after we left the Botanic Garden. I'm sure he was dreaming about trains and gingerbread houses.
Devin Hester is a receiver for the Chicago Bears and father of Devin, 1.
See more of Devin's stories here.