Sure, you can sign up for a Day Out with Thomas at Strasburg Railroad in Pennsylvania or at various venues across the country, but why not take your kids to any one of the train and railroad museums that dot the country so they can learn about the history of real trains over the years. Here are five museums worth checking out with your kids.
- Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum (Baltimore, MD): Stop in to see one of the oldest and most historic railroad collections. Kids will enjoy hands-on activities, like climbing into the cab of a steam locomotive and watching a railroad movie in the theatre car. Stop by Wednesday through Sunday to take a train ride on the first commercial railroad track in America.
- New Jersey Museum of Transportation (Wall Township, NJ): Take a ride on a train through scenic Allaire State Park or check out vintage railway equipment, as well as antique steam engines. Stop by the second weekend in September (9/10-11) for the annual Railroader’s Weekend Celebration in which passenger and freight trains parade every hour.
- North Carolina Transportation Museum (Spencer, NC): Less than one hour from Greensboro or Charlotte, this museum features steam and diesel locomotives, a hospital car and an authentic train depot. Take a 25-minute narrated train ride as you’re pulled by an antique diesel engine. For a few dollars more, you can even ride in the cab with the train engineer.
- Travel Town Train Museum (Los Angeles, CA): Located in Griffith Park, enjoy a collection of locomotives, cabooses, passenger cars and motor cars from the 1880s to 1930s. You and your family can also take a ride on the miniature train around the park for just $2.50 per person.
- Twin City Model Railroad Museum (St. Paul, MN): If your kids prefer model trains, this is the place to be, with trains on display from American Flyer, Lionel and K-Line. The Toy Train division is only open on weekends, but you can see the famed “O-Scale” exhibit, a reproduction of the Minneapolis-St. Paul railway system around the turn of the 20th century, Tuesday through Sunday.
Have you taken your kids to a train or railroad museum? I’d love to hear about which ones you’ve been to and how your kids enjoyed the experiences.