Is your child experiencing the typical train obsession? Whether they always go crazy at the sight of a real train, love to play with model trains or want to be a train conductor one day, there are plenty of train-themed activities to make their day.
We rounded up our favorite kid-friendly train activities and experiences in Chicago and the suburbs.
Your kids will love this train restaurant chain! The owners behind 2Toots Train Whistle Grill believe in old-fashioned fun and their passion for toy trains brings lots of charm to their suburban locations. Join the 2Toots Birthday Club for a personalized letter in the mail, along with a free kids meal and train whistle cupcake.
- Address: 7025 Ogden Ave., Berwyn
Local toy stores are known for having a train track, but Berwyn’s Toys & Trains take it to the next level. The shop specializes in an operating model train for customers to enjoy. While you’re there, go shopping for trains, dolls, Legos and more.
- Address: 100 S. Barnes Road, Aurora
While Blackberry Farm is always worth the visit, your kids would immediately ask for a chance to ride the farm’s Big Rock Steam Train. The seven-minute ride takes a trip around Lake Gregory and you’ll be able enjoy unlimited rides since all attractions are included in general admission.
- Address: 5100 Museum Drive, Oak Lawn
Enjoy this train exhibit where kids can make the train move around and light up. The exhibit also goes over the train’s history and train safety.
Did you know kids under 7 years old ride free on the CTA? The Chicago L offers more than 140 stations, which gives you easy access to the elevated trains. Buy a 1-Day pass ($5) to make it a day of exploring all the colored rail lines.
- Address: 365 S. La Fox St., South Elgin
Your family can rediscover the simpler life at this unique Trolley Museum. It often hosts events perfect for families and offers 40-minute electric trolley rides through the Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve and back to the South Elgin museum.
- Address: 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton
Every month, The Great Midwest Train Show entertains train enthusiasts with an average of 180 exhibitors. See operating train tables, train Lego exhibits, discounts and more family fun. Kids under 11 get in for free.
- Address: 7000 Olson Road, Union
This museum is worth the drive to Union since it’s one of the largest railway museums in the United States. Your kids can run around outside to see historic railway equipment from gigantic train artifacts to railroad signs. Don’t forget to buy a train-themed souvenir on the way out!
- Address: 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago
On your next Lincoln Park Zoo trip, spend $4 to take a ride on the Lionel Train. You can find the attraction near the zoo’s West Gate. The trackless, 28-passenger train takes passengers over a bridge and past some nature scenery. Definitely a ride for your train-loving littles!
You have so many options when riding with Metra. If you head downtown, spend extra time at these downtown stations to see all different kinds of trains lined up in one spot. Children under 7 ride free with a fare-paying adult and look out for Metra’s Family Fares program where kids can ride free on weekends and select holidays.
- Address: 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe
Chicago Botanic Garden showcases America with a 7,500-square-foot layout. With 26 bridges and up to 50 miniature national landmarks and tiny trees and plants, you can spend hours watching the 18 model trains running on 18 tracks.
- Address:124 N. 9th St., Rochelle
Open 24 hours a day, Rochelle Railroad Park operates as a park to see operating trains. Pack up a picnic because you’ll have to sit and wait for the trains to pass by. Rail fans will love to see the variety of real trains working in action. Other features include public restrooms, railroad artifacts, a gift shop and more.
- Address: 600 Lee St., Des Plaines
Experience a one-of-a-kind dining adventure in this train-themed diner. Your kiddos will get a kick out of the train serving their burgers and fries. Sign up for the kids birthday club (ages 12 and under) in advance to get one free meal coupon during your child’s birthday month.
- Address: 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
The Great Train Story is a classic attraction at MSI, since you can travel around the country in minutes from Chicago to Seattle. Your little ones won’t get bored looking at all the scenery and remarkable details on the 1,400-foot moving track.
- Address: 33W519 Kenyon Road, South Elgin
You might have seen Valley Model Railroad Club at the annual Lambs Farm Model Train Day or the Great Midwest Train Show. The club also has a main train layout where it takes up most of the space in its South Elgin location. Check its calendar to find out when you can next see the model trains in motion.