by Linda (minnemom) of Travels with Children
Like many little boys, my sons have been drawn to trains since they were babies. “Mom, can we go to the train museum?” is a question I hear often, and we’re fortunate to live in an area where we have several railroad-museum options available. If you’re in Minnesota and want a railroad-themed outing, consider these possibilities:
- The Luce Line Railroad Club in Hutchinson operates model railroad layouts in the Hutchinson Mall on Tuesday evenings and alternating Saturdays. Their primary layouts are hands-off, but they have a “You Be the Engineer” area where kids are allowed to take the controls. The club also hosts an annual train show that has additional layouts set up.
- The Twin Cities Model Railroad Museum has a large model train setup that portrays Minneapolis and St. Paul. Located in St. Paul’s Bandana Square, it’s a favorite with the kids. There are raised areas so the little ones can see the action, buttons that the kids can push, and Thomas the Tank Engine can be seen on the tracks on certain days.
- Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store in St. Paul sells a wide variety of gear for train enthusiasts, but it also has wooden play tables for the kids and models running around the store. They also have a room for kids’ birthday parties.
- The Jackson Street Roundhouse is part of the Minnesota Transportation Museum. There are several train cars inside the building, and short caboose rides are offered as well. There are train tables and activity areas for kids here, too.
- The End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum in Currie, MN, is off the beaten path but well worth the trip. Visitors can climb aboard a caboose, visit a restored depot, view collections of railroad artifacts, and watch a model setup, then visit the “old-days” buildings in the park area.
- In the other corner of the state, “The Depot” in Duluth has a large collection of trains, including an engine the kids can pretend to drive. Admission to the Duluth Children’s Museum, just down the hall, is included in the ticket price.
- The train museum in Dassel, MN, features a caboose and restored depot, and outside is a child-sized train for the kids to drive.
- The Excelsior and Lake Harriet Streetcar lines run seasonally in Excelsior and Minnesota, respectively. Kids love dropping their real fare tokens into the box, and the rides are just the right length for kids who wouldn’t enjoy an hour-long train ride.
What fun places have you found to delight your train lovers, young or old?