The Paul Busse Garden Railway at Franklin Park Conservatory is Now on Display and it is Magical

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The Paul Busse Garden Railway at Franklin Park Conservatory is an outdoor model railroad that will delight children AND adults through January 2021!

On July 1, 2020, the newest exhibition at Franklin Park Conservatory opened to the public and it is MAGICAL! This exhibit makes its temporary home in the Grand Mallway outside Franklin Park Conservatory and is made up of 1,122 feet of track!

A train runs a long a track in the Paul Busse Garden Railway.

Paul Busse graduated from Ohio State University in 1972 and he first created a public garden railroad in 1982 for the Ohio State Fair! He started a business called Applied Imagination which creates garden railway displays all over the United States! He has since retired, but the company is run by his daughter and he remains involved in the work! 

The Garden Railway is made of all- natural plant materials and features 4 botanical themes: Fairytale Land, Wild West Town and an animal themed “Who Lives Here” and a European Travels section!

A whimsical hanging house made to look like an acorn.

 My kids especially enjoyed the animal houses. Each house was made with the theme of a different animal such as a zebra, turtle, giraffe and snake as pictured below! They are adorable!

houses on the model railway made with animal themes

Don’t miss the waterfalls, the magical lights inside the tree cove or the Thomas Trains scooting around the tracks! There is so much to see and so many details that are easy to miss!

A boy looking up in a Tree Cove

Each theme has its own section of the display and there is a sign listing what each building is and what to look for! It was fun to try to find all of the different displays!

A sign listing things for people to look for in the railway scenes

Enjoy some photos from our visit on July 1, but make sure to get your timed ticket to visit yourself this summer!

train on the track of the garden railway

Bridges from the Paul Busse Railway Garden crossing over the path overhead.

Two boys watching the train at the Garden Railway at Franklin Park Conservatory

boy watching the model train at the Garden Railway in Columbus, Ohio 

Some things to know before visiting Franklin Park Conservatory:

  • You need to reserved a timed ticket before visiting. The ticket designates your arrival time but you are free to stay as long as you want to.
  • Members are still asked to reserve their tickets online.
  • You must maintain a social distance of 6 feet between groups.
  • Face coverings are strongly requested unless you have a health issue or your child is under 2 years old.
  • The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden will be limited in capacity.
  • Restrooms are open.
  • Hours are available specifically for vulnerable populations on Thursdays at 9:00 AM.
  • No cash will be accepted within the Conservatory.

model train made of plant based materials

–>> Need more to do this summer? Try 5 Cool Outdoor Activities for Kids in the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks or one of these 25 Fun Outdoor Activities in Columbus for the Whole Family <<–

Exploring Columbus with Your Kids

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Paul Busse Garden Railway at Franklin Park Conservatory


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